Helping men open up about their health struggles

Q: I’m worried about my husband — he’s getting more and more grumpy and unhappy…

Helping men open up about their health struggles

Q: I’m worried about my husband — he’s getting more and more grumpy and unhappy the longer this coronavirus mess goes on. What can I do to help?

Ginger R., Cleveland

A: That’s a major issue for many guys and one that the Cleveland Clinic has been looking at. Their National MENtion campaign (started originally because the docs noticed how hard it is for guys to talk about their physical and mental challenges) has turned its attention recently to how COVID-19 has affected men’s outlook on health and how they’re coping with all the changes in daily life.

An online survey of around 1,000 adult males found 77 percent say the pandemic has increased their stress level and 45 percent say their emotional/mental health has declined. In addition, half of the men have put off seeing a doctor over the past few months, while at the same time 40 percent say they’re struggling to stay healthy and 24 percent report weight gain.

The MENtion campaign suggests you can help your husband open up about how he is feeling — and get the medical attention he may need — with the following techniques.

  Make it easier for your husband to see and talk with his doctor about health issues. Schedule virtual visits; ask the doctor for appointments outside of work hours; and find local health-screening opportunities. Check with your local medical centers to see what’s available.

  Suggest talk therapy online. If it helped super-athlete Michael Phelps, it may be worth a try.

  Encourage opening up by asking questions — one at a time — about how he’s feeling and what he’s thinking. As the Clinic’s Dr. Eric Klein, chairman of Cleveland Clinic’s Glickman Urological & Kidney Institute, says, “It’s time to get rid of the stigma that a man isn’t allowed to show weakness by admitting something might be wrong — it could save his life.”

Q: Why do you always hear that it is better to eat protein than carbohydrates after you exercise?

Geraldo F., Miami

A: The advice about eating protein after you work out — either doing aerobics or strength training — focuses on maximizing muscle synthesis while it ignores basic science about the virtues of healthy carbs post-workout.

Most folks want to help their body build muscle, since increased muscle mass helps improve endurance, balance, and weight and glucose control, plus it helps you achieve a younger RealAge. Protein does that. However, eating unprocessed grains or other plant-based carbs after a prolonged workout (an hour or more) replenishes glycogen that your body uses for fuel and the carbs work with the proteins you eat to fire up muscle tissue repair. In short, it takes both carbs and protein to improve your overall muscle tone and health.

So when and what should you eat — and drink? Experts advise eating carbs within 15 minutes to two hours of stopping your routine. Mango, watermelon and blueberries are particularly good glycogen-replenishing carbs, and their vitamin C aids in repair of muscle tissue. For effective muscle building, protein can be consumed within four hours after stopping your workout. Make sure it’s lean, quality protein from low-mercury, nonfried fish and plants. You also want to rehydrate effectively. The American Council on Exercise suggests drinking 17 to 20 ounces of fluid two to three hours before exercising and 8 ounces before you get started. Then don’t get thirsty while exercising and have 8 ounces of water 30 minutes after exercise.

Our basic post-workout nutrition plan includes foods that combine quality proteins and carbs: Try peanut butter on whole-grain crackers or black beans with brown rice. Enjoy smoothies made with fruit and dark leafy greens, yogurt and pulpy fruit juices. And remember to avoid bars, foods and drinks loaded with added sugars — they never do folks who’ve done moderate exercise (with occasional bouts of high intensity) any favors.

Contact Drs. Oz and Roizen at