Sven Wombwell
Article by: Sven Wombwell
Estimated 6 minutes read

The term 'dad bod' refers to men with a physique that is neither lean nor muscular, often characterized by a relaxed approach to fitness and diet. This body type has gained popularity as a cultural phenomenon, but it also has significant health implications. In this article, we explore what a dad bod is, its origins, scientific insights, health risks, and practical tips for managing this body type.

What Is a 'Dad Bod?'

A 'dad bod' refers to any guy who doesn't have a lean, muscular physique. We consider them average guys who, while not fat, aren't exactly chiseled either. They may work out and are relatively fit, but they aren't obsessive about their bodies and are pretty relaxed about their diet.

One important clarification is that a 'dad bod' isn't exclusive to fathers. Men of any age, whether they have children or not, can have this body type. The term describes a physique that is not particularly lean or muscular, often characterized by a pear shape, skinny fat, or a generally toned appearance, rather than being directly linked to fatherhood.

The term wasn't new when Clemson University student Mackenzie Pearson wrote a piece for her school newspaper that went viral online. Her 2015 article, 'Why Girls Love the Dad Bod,' gained much media attention from heavy hitters such as New York Magazine, the Washington Post and GQ, all talking about 'dad bods' and what it meant to have one.

It may have hit home for so many because it spotlighted men's bodies in a way that wasn't the norm and sparked numerous conversations. 

Fast forward to the pandemic, and attention to the 'dad bod' is back again. When we went on lockdown, many things changed, and no one could get out. Dating moved to Zoom calls with dates consisting of dinner and movies. Drinking, eating and binging new series became a new way of life, and working out and getting out fell by the wayside.

So, with all the buzz around 'dad bods,' we decided to see if there was more to it than a popular cultural moment. What we found may surprise you.

Why Do Women Love a Dad Bod?

Many women find the dad bod appealing for several reasons:

  1. Approachability: It suggests a man who enjoys life and isn't overly focused on his appearance.
  2. Comfort and Stability: It can symbolize a sense of maturity and reliability.
  3. Confidence: Men with dad bods often exude self-assurance and acceptance.
  4. Realism: It represents a more attainable and realistic physique, promoting a healthier, balanced lifestyle.

These qualities can make the dad bod an attractive and relatable body type.

The Science Behind the 'Dad Bod'

First of all, yes, the 'dad bod' is a real thing. According to a study, ¹ new dads undergo changes affecting their hormonal levels and brains. To prepare for fatherhood, they become more in tune with the stimuli relating to parenthood and experience a drop in testosterone levels and a rise in plasma oxytocin. This love hormone promotes an empathetic response in relationships, including with newborn babies. 

This combination of home changes often produces weight gain, altered work habits, relaxation, workout routines and sleep cycles. 

Another study ², researched the changes in a new father's body chemistry and found that when shown photos of children, their brain chemistry showed stronger reactions to emotion, reward and motivation than that of non-fathers. 

In the same study, provocative images were shown to new dads and non-dads. The non-dads had a stronger response, possibly due to the additional energy and focus required by a new parent.

While the rise of oxytocin doesn't seem permanent, it offers paternal benefits when bonding with children. New dads show increased touch, care, and play and less aggression when interacting with their babies.

Life Changes With Fatherhood

It's not surprising that becoming a dad comes with its own set of challenges. They tend to have more stress as they are responsible for another life, so they sleep less ³ and gain weight. Like moms, their lives change, and the focus shifts from themselves to their children.

One study 4 even found that after a man has become a father, he tends to hear a baby cry much faster than those who haven't been dads. This shift happens in fathers who are frequently with the child and provide hands-on care, such as holding, changing diapers, and bathing the baby vs. just being in the room. It's one reason experts find paternity leave such a vital time for dads to bond with their new babies.

Health Risks Associated With the 'Dad Bod'

Despite some positive news surrounding the 'dad bod,' having a fuller midsection has serious health implications. 

According to Cleveland Clinic, 6 extra weight around the midsection can lead to diabetes, and metabolic syndrome, comprising of high blood pressure, high sugar levels and high blood lipids, which can put you at risk for stroke and heart attacks.

Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome occurs due to insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes. One sign of insulin resistance is belly fat. Insulin resistance,  high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol cause inflammation in the blood vessels and are key factors in the causation of heart disease.

So, while the 'dad bod; may have some value regarding fatherhood, the health risks associated with it can be more damaging than it's worth.

How to Get Rid of The 'Dad Bod?'

If you're serious about losing the 'dad bod,' there are some steps you can take. 

Practical Tips to Lose the Dad Bod:

  • Choose Healthy Options: Keep fruits, nuts, and greens on hand for quick, nutritious meals.
  • Maximize Small Time Slots: Use short breaks for push-ups, sit-ups, and jumping jacks.
  • Get Outside: Walk with your baby or use a jogging stroller.
  • Build Muscle: Use dumbbells at home to increase muscle mass and burn fat.
  • Prioritize Sleep: Sleep as much as possible when the baby is down.
  • Consider TRT: For men over thirty, hormone level checks and possible testosterone replacement therapy might help.

While the 'dad bod' gained popularity online and through social media, science proves that the changes men experience when they become dads and the 'dad bod' itself are a natural part of the experience of becoming a father and a common symptom of aging.

Take Charge of Your Health With TRT

If you're concerned about your dad bod and the associated health risks, here are some steps to get started:

  1. Check Your Hormones: Schedule a hormone assessment to understand your levels and how they might affect your health.
  2. Consult a Professional: Talk to a healthcare provider about whether Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) is right for you.
  3. Adopt Healthy Habits: Follow practical tips for diet, exercise, and sleep to improve your overall fitness.

For personalized advice and more information on TRT, visit Male Excel.

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