David Zinczenko, author of Eat This, Not That! on steak, pizza and why the relationship between dudes and food doesn’t have to be a weighty one

Looking at David Zinczenko, you’d think he was just a regular guy. He’s much more than that. Since 2007, when his mega-best-selling Eat This, Not That! hit bookstores, the editor-in-chief of Mens Health has written one hit book after another including ETNT cookbooks and the Abs Diet series. Recently, Zinczenko took a break from his busy schedule to chat with Healthy Living Made Simple about his favorite subject: guys and their chow.

How have the foods that are considered acceptable guy foods changed since you wrote the first Eat This, Not That! book?

One of the eye-openers of doing the Eat This, Not That! books was that there’s almost no consistency within foods that fall under the label hamburger, pizza or even steak. All three are classic favorites, but they can come freighted with calories and piled with extras. At that point, they go a long way toward explaining why men live, on average, four fewer years than women. If we eat wrong, well suffer the consequences.

The upside of this is that if we choose well, we can have our indulgences and they wont be indulgences anymore. They’ll be the kinds of food we can enjoy twice, once when were eating them, and again when we see the kind of health and weight-loss effects they produce. But we have to take the time and trouble to learn what will work best and act on that knowledge.

What’s the healthy eating concept you find that men struggle with most?

Portion control! Guys are classic gobblers. I know from growing up with an older brother that there’s competitiveness with eating. Around our family dinner table, it was survival of the fullest whoever got the biggest second helping, grabbed the second or third piece of pie or finished off the ice cream container was ahead of the game.

That was fine when my brother, Eric, and I were teenagers and had raging metabolisms to burn off all that food. But as we reached our late 20s, we realized that we couldn’t eat like we did when we were young. We also realized that we didn’t have to compete with each other anymore. Thats when both of us began learning what a reasonable amount of food was to have on our plates and what was reasonable to consume during an average meal. If you don’t learn to control portion sizes, your own size spins out of control. It’s as simple as that.

Whats the most common guy misconception when it comes to diet?

Guys think they’re actually doing pretty well! There have been some interesting studies that show how guys can delude themselves into thinking that they’re really not doing so badly on a diet. Their gut isn’t that big, or their health isn’t being harmed.

Guys need to wake up to the fact that the metabolic benefits they enjoyed as younger men will not last past their 27th birthdays. As they age, they need to adjust their fitness regimens and their diets to accommodate that slowdown. In fact, guys, you’re probably not doing so well, so fight the good fight.

On the flip side, what are men really good at when it comes to eating healthy and controlling their weight?

It turns out that many of the foods men instinctively gravitate toward major forms of protein, the bloodier the better can be excellent helpers toward a healthy diet. Protein is slow to digest and provides the building blocks of muscle fiber, so making it a major part of your diet is a great strategy.

Also, because men have testosterone circulating in their bloodstreams, they have an advantage in building muscle. So if they take the time to go to the gym and lift some weights, they have a chance to develop the 24/7 calorie burn that muscles provide. Yes, were naturals at gaining weight another round, bartender!but we can also be natural-born losers as well.

Finally, if you had to give our male readers one piece of diet or weight-loss advice, what would it be?

Yield to your vanity. You know that gut hanging over your belt doesn’t look good, and your wife or girlfriend knows it, too. It also happens to be your biggest indicator of poor health. Weight loss and living fit are the surest paths to happiness that I know, and more guys should jump on board.

Visit eatthis.menshealth.com for more healthy eating tips.