Becoming a dad, especially for the first time, is a celebrated occasion. What’s not as celebrated is the ‘dad bod’ that can follow in the years to come.
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Family medicine physician Dan Allan, MD, says weight gain, especially in the abdomen is more than just a physique problem. It can lead to real health concerns.
“Weight gain around the middle is especially dangerous for diabetes and metabolic syndrome,” he says. “It will increase your triglycerides, your blood sugar and inflammation. It also is associated with hormonal changes.”
How to avoid that gain
Watching your diet ― by not overeating carbs, avoiding processed foods and sugar-sweetened drinks ― can go a long way toward avoiding weight gain, Dr. Allan says.
And while it’s sometimes easy to overlook, a big contributor to the ‘dad bod,’ is alcohol.
“Alcohol is notorious for going right to the middle and turning into visceral fat, which creates inflammation and causes negative health effects,” Dr. Allan explains. “People say they’re having a ‘cold one’ ― and I usually tell people, ‘Just try to stop at one,’ ― because it is a lot of empty calories and it is not good for your health.”
And don’t forget to move!
Dads should make a point to get any kind of movement into their day ― and it doesn’t have to involve going to the gym, Dr. Allan adds. Anything that breaks a sweat or gets the heart rate up is going to help ward off weight gain.
For brand new dads, Dr. Allan says it’s important to be realistic. Realize it’s OK to give yourself a break every now and then.
But that’s not a get-out-of-jail-free card forever! He says it’s a good idea to have a plan to get back on track. The more time that passes (and weight that’s gained), the harder it is to get yourself back to a healthy weight.
“Real life is messy and it’s not always really easy to be regular with your diet and your exercise,” Dr. Allan says. “There absolutely are periods of your life where you’re going to slide, and that’s OK. You just don’t want a week to turn into month, turn into a year, turn into a long time.”