Avoiding the New Dad Weight Gain

  • 01 of 07


    Man frustrated about weight gain
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    The transition from no children to children is an important one for men, and for most men, it has been a transition that they have anticipated for their entire lives. But one of the challenges that accompany becoming a new dad is that many men put on some extra weight when they become fathers.

    A Duke University study quoted in Parents Magazine indicates that with each child, the risk of obesity increases in a man by 4%. This study suggests that it is due to lifestyle changes like less time to...MORE exercise and to prepare healthy food.

    A more recent study in the American Journal of Men's Health goes more into depth on this phenomenon ​and breaks the data down further. For a 6' tall dad becoming a father for the first time and living with his children, the average weight gain is about 4.4 pounds and the increase in BMI is about 2.6%. For the same father not living with his children, the weight gain is about 3.3 pounds. This suggests to me that while lifestyle may play a part, there is more going on than just a lack of time be healthy.

    So, if you are a new dad or shortly becoming one, what should you do about your growing "dad bod?"

    I talked with several young fathers who have managed to escape the new dad weight gain, and their suggestions are as follows.

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  • 02 of 07

    Maximize Sleep Opportunities

    Father and Child Sleeping in Chair
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    One of the biggest lifestyle changes for new fathers is that they sleep a bit less. Dads are often up at night for feedings or diaper changes, and babies are notorious for going to sleep late and getting up early.

    But a lack of sleep can cause you to gain weight and to make getting the weight off a lot harder.  A study cited in Men's Health magazine concluded that men who sleep less than 7 hours a night have a higher BMI that those who sleep 9 hours each night. According to the study,...MORE genetics has a lot to do with BMI, but sleep seems to influence how much the genes contribute to weight gain or loss.  

    So find times to catch a little sleep, or put some things that matter less on hold so you can sleep when the baby is sleeping.

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  • 03 of 07

    Get Active - and Involve the Baby

    Dad Exercising with a Child
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    New fathers often find themselves become a lot more sedentary after the baby comes. Rocking a baby in a rocking chair or a cradle doesn't burn as many calories as a run or bicycle excursion. But one of the keys to managing weight after the baby comes is getting more active and setting your metabolism up a notch or two.  

    But your exercise regimen will need to change after the baby arrives. You can't just hit the neighborhood gym as easily as you used to with a new baby in tow. So, try to...MORE find ways to exercise with the baby. Getting a dad-sized stroller and going for a daily walk or jog is a good idea. You can get a baby carrier for your bicycle and take the baby along.  

    You can also fit a little more fitness into your workday by parking further away from the office or taking the bus or train and walking.  You can use the stairs instead of the elevator, and get out for a brisk walk at lunch.  Small strategies can add up and help you burn more calories.

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  • 04 of 07

    Manage Portion Sizes

    Father eating a healthy salad
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    One of the best ways to get your weight under control, or to avoid weight gain as a new father is to better control portion sizes. It is always amazing to me when I eat out how much food comes on a plate or a tray. One new dad I know decided to never eat more than half of a meal at a restaurant. He asked for a to go box right after getting his food and put half of the plateful of food in the box. He was more than satisfied with the portion he ate, and he had an entire meal to warm up on a...MORE subsequent day.

    At home, you can also control portion sizes. Another dad said that he bought some 9" paper plates and never put more food on the plate than it could hold.  He also filled half of the plate with vegetables and less than 1/4 of the plate with carbohydrates.  

    Getting control of your food portions can make a huge difference in the weight you gain or lose a new dad.

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  • 05 of 07

    Water, Water and Only Water

    Man drinking water
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    Your water intake can make a really significant difference in your weight loss efforts.  Several studies suggest that weight loss can be enhanced by increasing the intake of water, especially when done about 30 minutes before a meal.

    But the big impact happens when you replace sugary sodas and fruit juices with water and get those big and ineffective calories out of your diet.  So getting some significant calorie laden drinks out of your intake and bringing more water in has lots of benefits for...MORE weight loss and for overall health.   

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  • 06 of 07

    Record Your Stats

    Man with a laptop recording weight loss
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    One of the most effective tools the dads I spoke with used was an online calorie counter or calorie counting app on their smartphone. Recording every calorie that goes into your body and every calorie burned in exercise seems tedious, but it makes it stay uppermost in your mind and gives you an accountability tool.  Several dads mentioned the LiveStrong MyPlate application and My Fitness Pal as among their favorites.  

    Keeping track can take some time, but one dad said that every time he was...MORE holding a sleeping baby, he would whip out his iPhone and update his weight loss and calorie counting app.  

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  • 07 of 07

    Celebrate the Successes

    Celebrating Weight Loss Success
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    When you have a small success - like having your calorie count below your daily goal or losing 2 pounds in a week, stop and congratulate yourself. Lots of small successes along the way make all the difference, and when you have them, it is important to celebrate.  Little rewards like a new shirt that fits better or a new book can help you acknowledge the milestones. When you achieve a major goal, celebrate in a bigger way with something that really matters to you.

    If you involve your significant...MORE other in the process, you can celebrate together. Leave the baby with a sitter and go out for a healthy dinner. Don't blow all your efforts with a celebration, but make sure that you take the time to do something nice for yourself.

    There are so many benefits to a healthier you when you are a new father. Making the effort to avoid new dad weight gain and to lose the weight if you have already gained it is worth it to you, your partner and your new baby!