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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - Sunnybrook

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Sioux City, IA 51106

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Rocking the Dad Bod in a Healthy Way

Man spending time with two children; Rocking the Dad Bod in a Healthy Way

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

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 what your age.

What is the Dad Bod?

In their teens and 20s, 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 are 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 are a male between the ages of 20 – 55 and fall anywhere in the chart below, you likely have a dad bod.


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“While BMI is a good measurement tool, it can be inaccurate for some body types. If you are overly muscular, your body will weigh 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. There is a social phenomenon of having to give everything a hashtag right now. One word, like #dadbod, 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 also good for your future.

“One of the good things about realizing you have a dad bod is admitting your body habits are not ideal for long-term health. When men have families, they tend to shift their priorities to long-term thinking. Some men will 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 is 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 just recommends that 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 four times a week 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. Instead, 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 TV watching. 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 be getting at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise at least three times a week. If you struggle to get away, combine exercise time and family time, and enjoy the best of both worlds.

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

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