This just in: The dad bod is a real thing. We reported it on back when it became “popular,” bringing you the 10 keys to a perfect dad bod. (Tips: Choose the elliptical over weights and always go for fried rather than grilled anything). But no matter how trendy it is, does the Men’s Fitness guy really want a dad bod? We think not. That’s why we crafted the perfect anti-dad bod workout. And now, research confirms that the routine is even more neccessary than we could have imagined.
Northwestern University researchers studied over 10,000 men for 20 years, checking in with them twice in adolescence, again during their mid-20’s, and finally in their early 30’s. A third of those men ended up becoming dads during that timeframe. Those guys? They gained 3.5 to 4.5 pounds. And that’s only guys in their early 30’s—who knows what could happen in their late 30’s, 40’s, and beyond. Non-dads, on the other hand, lost weight.
The scary thing? The dad bod can sneak up on you. It’s not like one day you wake up and notice you’ve gone from shredded to sloppy. One pound here, two there, and suddenly you have that slightly out-of-shape-physique you definitely aren’t slaving away in the gym to acheive.
So, we rounded up 10 ways the dad bod can sneak up on you—whether you’re actually a dad or not. (Yup, you can have a dad bod and not actually be a dad, too!)
You’re eating unnecessary “fitness foods”
A new study in The Journal of Marketing Research found that people tend to eat more when foods are labeled with “fitness” related jargon. So, you may think that protein bar is “healthy,” but unless you just finished an intense workout, you probably don’t need it—and it could be giving you a “dad bod.”
You don’t have a consistent workout time
You may think that getting to the gym—period—is a good thing. And it is—but per new research, not having a routine could be sabatoging your efforts. University of Iowa researchers found that people who tend to exercise at the same time every day are more likely to stick to working out long-term.
You’re eating at sit-down restaurants
It’s not just fast food joints that are wreaking havoc on your abs. Guys (and gals) who ate at dine-in restaurants downed an extra 200 calories per day compared with those who cooked for themselves.
You already know that ripped guys avoid alcohol. Drinking too much—in and of itself—isn’t going to help ward off the dad bod. But what you may not know is that it’s not just the extra cals from the booze that are doing you in. When you’re tipsy, aromoas of food are more enticing, prompting you to eat that extra slice of pizza or down the whole bag of chips. That’s according to science.
You’re cardio-ing yourself to death
To effectively shed—and keep off—excess pounds, you need to exercise. But slogging miles on the treadmill isn’t going to keep the dad bod at bay. Make sure to add strength training to your workout at least three times a week.
You don’t do ANY cardio
That said, cardio is still really important for weight loss—and preventing the stubborn gut that sneaks up on dads everywhere. Loathe cardio? Try these 8 cardio workouts for the guy who hates cardio workouts.
You’re eating low fat
We’re just going to come right out and say it: You’re just being foolish if you still fear fat. Healthy fats, like those in avocados and olive oil, can actually help you maintain your weight and even get you that “pumped up” look after working out, according to experts.
You skimp on the last 30 minutes of sleep a night
Yup, that’s all it takes to add inches to your waistline, per a new study by the Endocrine Society. In fact, researchers say losing just 30 minutes a day for a year can can up your risk for obesity by 17 percent—that’s certainly worse than a dad bod.
You’re not managing stress
Being constantly stressed out means you have a steady stream of cortisol coursing through your body. That, in turn, makes you crave calm-inducing sugar and carbs. (Yes, carbs really do calm you down—short term—by triggering the release of serotonin.) You’re way better off de-stressing with these breathing exercises or starting a meditation practice (yes, really).
You celebrate everything
National Hot Dog Day? Flag Day? Any excuse for a party and you’re game. But experts say that celebrating too much—with food rewards—will catch up with you. Just as stress can make you eat more, positive emotions can have a similar effect, according to Cynthia Bulik, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of Crave, Binge Control, and other books on binge eating.