Dad Bod: What Is It & How to Rock It

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When you’re young and not much is tying you down, it’s easier to make time for the gym. Plus, your metabolism helps take care of those late-night food splurges. Eventually, the on-the-go lifestyle of college is in the past and softball, volleyball and kickball teams give way to diapers, t-ball and being the designated eater of leftovers.

Enter – the dad bod.

Quentin Stenger, PA-C, UnityPoint Health, explains the main causes of the dad bod, why it’s not always a bad thing and four pieces of advice, so you can keep up with the kids, no matter your age.

What is the Dad Bod?

In their teens and twenties, men are usually more physically active, but after those first two decades, exercise habits slow down. Stenger says the slowdown usually aligns with the start of a family. The characteristic most often identified with the dad bod is fat deposits around the abdomen.

“Men tend to gain weight from their 30s until they’re 55,” Stenger says. “Research shows most men between 55 and 65 tend to have a stable weight. After 65, weight generally trends slightly downward due to loss of muscle mass.” Stenger says three other main causes lead to the dad bod:

  • Slowing metabolism
  • Decline of muscle mass
  • Poor eating habits

Do I Have a Dad Bod?

Your Body Mass Index (BMI) can help determine if you have a dad bod. Most people are considered overweight, but not obese, if they have a BMI between 25 and 29.9. You can use online BMI calculators to help figure out your number. If you’re a male between the ages of 20 – 55 and fall anywhere in the chart below, you likely have a dad bod. 

BMI 25 BMI 26 BMI 27 BMI 28 BMI 29


150 lbs

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155 lbs

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159 lbs

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169 lbs

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174 lbs

181 lbs

188 lbs

195 lbs

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179 lbs

186 lbs

193 lbs

201 lbs

208 lbs


184 lbs

192 lbs

199 lbs

206 lbs

214 lbs


189 lbs

197 lbs

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220 lbs


195 lbs

202 lbs

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“While BMI is a good measurement tool, it can be inaccurate for some body types. If you’re overly muscular, your body weighs more. A BMI measurement might put those individuals in the wrong category. Overall, if you’re worried about your weight, talk to your doctor,” Stenger says.

When the Dad Bod is Healthy

“I believe it gives men a way to connect. The term “dad bod” can convey multiple levels of frustration and quickly describe a man’s struggles,” Stenger says.

But, Stenger says if you acknowledge you have a dad bod, that’s better for your future.

“One of the good things about realizing you have a dad bod is admitting your body habits aren’t ideal for long-term health. When men have families, they tend to shift their priorities to long- term thinking. Some men realize that unless they change their body shape, they might have a difficult time enjoying their child’s activities, retirement or even grandchildren,” Stenger says.

Stenger says it’s a very decent and loving thing to give up personal time you may have spent on exercise to, instead, spend it with your family. But, at some point, there’s a cost.

When the Dad Bod is Unhealthy

Stenger says the two biggest risks associated with the dad bod, or an increased body mass index (BMI), are heart disease and diabetes.

“Increased abdominal weight is a sign of Type 2 diabetes. That extra fat can also penetrate into the liver and cause a fatty liver disease, which can inhibit its function,” Stenger says.

If you have a dad bod, Stenger recommends you talk to your doctor. A few minor changes can go a long way.

How to Get Rid of a Dad Bod

Your doctor will consider your lifestyle, medications and health history before making recommendations. However, Stenger says there are four things he often suggests.

  • Start with a small food goal. Do you eat ice cream as your daily, evening snack? Try making a small change by switching to a lower carbohydrate snack, such as an apple or orange, which could still satisfy a sweet tooth craving. Save the unhealthy snacks for special occasions, such as three times a month at a restaurant of choice. When those special treats come, try not to go overboard.
  • Turn off the television. The sedentary activity that most accurately predicts developing an unhealthy weight is watching TV. Turn off the TV, or at least minimize your consumption. That includes watching movies or shows on your smartphone.
  • Avoid over-the-counter supplements. Don’t try to treat your dad bod with supplements. Supplements are not evaluated by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for safety and long-term side effects. Stenger says he’s seen liver damage from over-the-counter supplements, especially testosterone or “fat burners."
  • Make exercise a family event. You should get at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise at least three times a week. If you struggle to get to the gym, combine exercise time and family time, and enjoy the best of both worlds.

“If you’re leaving to exercise, tell your child where you’re going and what you’re doing, like running or lifting weights. You can use modeling even at a young age. My son wanted to wear my headband when he was two, because he knew it was part of my workout routine. I got him a child-sized one which made him excited to exercise with me,” Stenger says.