5 Ways To Banish The Dad Bod And Get Fit Forever

Over 40 Alpha Funk Roberts

Have you ever had people make jokes about your “dad bod” when you thought you were in pretty good shape?

It’s a run-of-the-mill insult to all the dads out there that have let themselves go because life gets busy.

5 WAYS TO BANISH THE DAD BOD AND GET FIT FOREVER

 

Hey man, I totally get it.

 

Work takes over, family life is crazy, and working out is pretty much the last thing on your mind.

Even though Hollywood stars were rocking the dad bod and memes were being created about them from every direction, dad bods AREN’T COOL. They’re actually super unhealthy for men, especially past the age of 35 (yeah, you can totally have a dad bod and not BE a dad…).

But when you’re the joke of the town and all your friends are walking around shirtless with their abs popping, the gut that you’re rocking isn’t going to cut it–and making it into a joke isn’t the way to solve that. Rather, it’s time we start doing something about it.

I’m not talking about some crazy “NO DAYS OFF” mentality where you have to bust your a** for hours at a time. I’m talking about quick and dirty, sustainable, high-intensity training that will banish the dad bod for good (and improve all the health markers that are out of whack because of it).

 

WHAT IS A DAD BOD AND WHY ARE THEY NOT COOL…

Over 40 Alpha Funk Roberts

 

What comes to your mind when you think about the dad bod?

For most people, it’s the epitome of the middle-aged unhealthy male that eats like trash and doesn’t work out.

The gut popping over the pants; the arms that fail to have any definition. It’s pretty much the standard “I’ve seen worse…” but we’ve also seen better.

It’s the stereotypical “I’ve found a wife, we’ve had a child, and now I don’t need to worry about those sculpted abs” kind of physique. All care goes out the window because who do they have to work for now…

But if you want to put a more concrete definition to it, it’s what health experts call the “mediomorph.”

It’s the type of body where you’re not “fat” but you’re not fit and muscular; you’re the in-between kind of body type where you’re not really concerned about the layer of fat covering your (probably) once visible abdominal muscles.

And you’re totally cool with it. You’re unphased by the fat that hangs off your body and there’s really no effort being put into getting rid of it. You’re just chugging along all happy-go-lucky.

Listen up–I want to be really clear about something.

The dad bod may not seem like a huge stick in the mud when you’ve got guys over here weighing upwards of 400lbs, but just like obesity, the dad bod IS an issue. Disguised under the mask of meme-central is a real problem where your health and hormones are concerned.

Give it another 10 years and you’ll wish you did something about it sooner.

So, instead of playing Russian Roulette with your health, let’s hit on why the dad bod happens in the first place (and it’s not just because you skipped the gym one too many times…) and what you can do about it NOW.

PROBLEMS WITH THE DAD BOD

Over 40 Alpha Funk Roberts

One of the pinnacle signs that you have a dad bod is that gut that’s hanging over your jeans. But it may not just be the visible belly fat that’s hurting your health–it can also be the visceral (hidden) fat that you can’t see (it’s hidden under the fat that you can see). Visceral fat is a type of fat that’s stored around your organs. It gives them a nice tight embrace and while that may seem like a kind thing to do, it’s actually doing a lot of harm; it interferes with the function of your internal organs and can cause some major health complications, including [1, 2]:

  • Low testosterone
  • High estrogen
  • Excessive body fat
  • Systemic inflammation
  • Insulin resistance
  • Poor muscle mass and strength
  • Chronic disease (diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc.)

But it’s not all bad news here. Visceral fat is highly receptive to exercise, diet, and lifestyle modifications that help to reduce weight and burn fat, so if you’re not keen on dealing with long-term complications of the dad bod, it’s best to get into Mr. Fix It mode now.

THE REAL CULPRITS OF THE DAD BOD

The dad bod may result for a lot of men from lack of care and laziness, but it’s not where all the blame needs to go. There are some physiological imbalances going on within the body (that mostly result from poor lifestyle choices) that can contribute to and exacerbate the issue.

#1 INSULIN

Over 40 Alpha Funk Roberts

If there’s one thing (aside from a crappy diet and lack of exercise) that’s going to cause fat storage and weight gain, you can blame it on insulin. It’s the hormone released by your pancreas that allows your cells to pick up glucose either for energy or for storage.

Now don’t get me wrong, your body needs insulin. That is, at normal levels. It’s the hormone responsible for telling your fat cells to store fat and preventing stored fat from being broken down.

It happens because either there’s too much insulin being released and your cells are picking up too much glucose, or your cells are resistant to insulin and there are copious amounts of glucose floating around the blood leading to high blood sugar (and eventually diabetes if you don’t do something about it).

But while insulin is the major regulator of your blood sugar, it’s also the major fat-storage hormone, so imbalances in insulin levels are going to be a big factor in weight and fat gain [3].

And then there’s the part about insulin resistance–the response your body elicits when it’s sick and tired of constantly being bombarded with insulin. Think of it this way. Have you ever had that one person that just texts you incessantly?

Your reply for so long, and then eventually you just get sick and tired, and the replies stop. That’s kind of how your body works. Insulin is going to come knocking on the cell’s door to open up and let glucose in, but when the cells are constantly being bothered, they’re eventually going to start to ignore insulin and it won’t be able to do its job. The result is glucose upon glucose floating around the bloodstream, high blood sugar, and weight gain.

It’s a really simplistic way of looking at it, but you get what I’m saying.

Insulin resistance is not a good thing and it’s one of the contributing factors to several chronic health conditions, along with the infamous dad bod.

So, what actually damages your insulin response?

  • Excess body weight
  • Belly fat
  • Lack of exercise
  • Poor diet
  • Poor sleep
  • Smoking
  • Age

#2 CORTISOL

Over 40 Alpha Funk Roberts

You know that kid in middle school that everyone really just didn’t like but he was useful? That’s kind of like cortisol… it’s an essential part of your body, but when you let it loose, it goes a little too wild and can do a lot of damage.

It’s naturally secreted in your body during times of stress to help activate the body’s fight-or-flight system; if you’re in danger, you gotta run and you need fuel for that, which cortisol releases. It’s also released during high-intensity exercise, but that stress response is shut down when the body returns to homeostasis.

Under normal circumstances, that should happen pretty quick, but when you’re chronically stressed and you’re doing nothing to manage it, your cortisol is going to stay elevated and it’s eventually going to start causing damage.

For one, cortisol is a catabolic hormone. Yes, that’s right–catabolic. It breaks things down, including your muscle tissue. So, while your dad bod might not be housing a whole lot of muscle, to begin with, cortisol is going to break down the stuff that you do have.

And another issue is that cortisol, like insulin, causes your body to store fat and gain weight. One study found a pretty good link between high cortisol and a higher amount of belly fat in 172 men and women suggesting that it may influence appetite regulation [4].

One of the biggest reasons why we see things like fat gain, weight gain, fatigue, poor muscle growth, low testosterone, and the dreaded dad bod is because your cortisol levels are constantly through the roof. So, when you drop those you can also drop the dad bod.

#3 ESTROGEN

Over 40 Alpha Funk Roberts

Men and estrogen?

Yeah, it’s a thing. And just like high estrogen in women causes problems, it does in men, too.

Estrogen is inherently a female hormone, and while men do have it in small quantities, it should never exceed that of testosterone. In order for your body to work properly, estrogen and testosterone need to be balanced (we’ll talk more about T in a minute).

The form of estrogen that is particularly important for men is called estradiol.

Estrogen receptors, along with aromatase, the enzyme that converts testosterone to estrogen, are abundant in several organs essential for male sexual function [5].

Low testosterone and high estrogen drastically increase the risk of erectile dysfunction because every level of spermatogenesis (sperm formation) is regulated by estrogen; it starts with the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis and continues along every path until the sperm is fully matured.

The reason why estrogen and testosterone are so closely linked is that estrogen acts on the brain and inhibits the hypothalamus-pituitary axis and subsequently follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), thereby reducing levels of circulating testosterone [5].

High estrogen in men is, like you may have heard, going to leave you with ‘man boobs’, along with belly fat, poor muscle strength, muscle loss, fatigue, increased body fat, low libido, infertility, and low testosterone (and the whole slew of side effects associated with that).

Some of the most common reasons for high estrogen include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Herbs (ginseng, gingko, etc.)
  • Stress
  • Weight gain or obesity
  • Liver conditions
  • Hypogonadism

#4 TESTOSTERONE

Over 40 Alpha Funk Roberts

Last but definitely not least we get to the hormone of all hormones.

Testosterone is the ultimate manly hormone. It’s what makes you a complete beast and it’s what defines your manliness. Without it (or without enough of it), you’re going to experience some pretty nasty side effects.

Like I just mentioned about estrogen, levels of testosterone are dependent on levels of estrogen. As estrogen increases, testosterone is going to decrease.

Roughly 15% of the estrogen in men is produced by the testes, while the remaining 85% is from the aromatization of circulating androgen precursors [6].

Age-associated decreases in testosterone levels are reflected in plasma estradiol levels as a result of increasing aromatase activity that occurs naturally with aging and the resulting age-associated increases in fat mass [7].

Fat mass is what houses the aromatase enzyme, so the more fat you’re packing the more aromatase enzymes you have, and the more estrogen your body is going to produce. But it’s not overall body fat levels that matter here–it’s more so directed at abdominal fat (the potbelly that goes along with the dad bod).

But aside from playing a crucial role in male sexual development and sexual health, there are plenty more jobs that testosterone plays both directly and indirectly.

The male body requires sufficient levels of T to maintain a healthy fat distribution, but research has actually shown that higher levels of visceral fat can interfere with testosterone production and further exacerbate belly fat accumulation and the dad bod. When estrogen levels are high, the hormonal system basically tells the body to slow down its production of testosterone, which tends to lead to even more belly fat.

While it’s common for testosterone to drop as men age, putting on the pounds can accelerate that process, so making lifestyle changes conducive to a healthy body can help men avoid the annoying habit of developing the infamous dad bod and pot belly.

Over 40 Alpha Funk Roberts

With all of that said, aside from being your major male hormone, testosterone is essential for:

  • Weight Loss
  • Fat burning
  • Building muscle and strength
  • Supporting sex drive
  • Joint health
  • Energy levels
  • Mood
  • Confidence
  • Sleep
  • Risk of chronic disease

Basically, it makes you a man, a better father, and a super dad. The trifecta of what every man wants. So, make sure you have enough of it should really go without saying…

5 SURE-FIRE WAYS TO BANISH THE DAD BOD

Funk Roberts

So, now that you know the reasons behind why the dad bod can happen, let’s dive into the ways that you can banish it for good and become your fittest self ever.

1.  MANAGE YOUR ESTROGEN LEVELS

Over 40 Alpha Funk Roberts

Men with dad bods seem to lead an estrogenic life, which means making lifestyle changes that support estrogen reduction is the #1 priority if you want to boost testosterone levels. Roughly 95% of the decrease in testosterone we see with aging is caused by lifestyle choices, so swapping testosterone-busting ones out is key to getting levels back up to par.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Avoid estrogenic chemicals – For both men and women, avoiding chemicals that interfere with estrogen levels is key to keeping them low (or within a normal range). You’re probably thinking “hey man, my wife uses those kinds of things, not me” but BPA, parabens, and another hormone disrupts are everywhere. Plastic water bottles, shampoo, shaving gels, toothpaste, deodorant, cleaning supplies… Need I say more? Studies find that long-term these chemicals can interfere with hormonal production and disrupt testosterone levels [8].
  • Have a healthy sex life – Testosterone is the foundation of your sex drive, and when you don’t have enough of it you’re probably going to be a bit frustrated (and so is your partner). Aside from pure enjoyment and pleasure, research finds that men who lead a healthier sex life have higher levels of testosterone [9].
  • Cut back on the drinks – Cracking open a beer after a long day at work may seem well deserved, but it’s not doing your testosterone levels any favors. A higher intake of alcohol is correlated with decreasing levels of testosterone according to research published in the Steroids Journal, and interestingly, beer may have the strongest estrogenic effects of them all [10, 11].

2. MAKE NUTRITION KING

Over 40 Alpha Funk Roberts

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is cutting foods out and restricting them in an attempt to try to fix hormonal balances. IT DOES NOT WORK. Keto, paleo, low-carb, vegan, and all of the other eating styles out there aren’t targeting your hormones. So, rather than focusing on what you can’t eat, you want to focus on eating to support hormonal balance.

Meta Test Boost Nutrition is 3 meals per day with a balanced plate and absolutely no calorie counting.

And proper nutrition means hitting all three pillars of food:

1. Complex carbohydrates — Men always think about carbs for gaining muscle and size when they’re training hard at the gym and needing them to replenish glycogen stores and support muscle recovery, but it’s not their only role. Try regulating your hormones with a low carb intake. It’s going to be pretty brutal.

The thyroid requires complex carbohydrates to function and produce adequate thyroid hormones, so if you’re in short supply, your fat-burning switch is going to be stuck in the off position, along with your energy and your testosterone levels [12]. Some of the best choices to support your thyroid and metabolism are:

  • Quinoa (and other non-glutinous grains)
  • Root vegetables (carrots, turnips, parsnips, beets, rutabaga)
  • Wild rice (white rice can be consumed as a quick-burning carb after intense training sessions)
  • Sweet potatoes, yams
  • Winter squash

2. Healthy fats — Hormones and healthy fats go hand-in-hand, so when people cut back on the healthy fats because they’re under the impression that fat makes you fat, your hormones are the first thing to plummet. Fats are the building blocks of cholesterol, and cholesterol is the precursor to testosterone. Studies confirm that men consuming a diet low in dietary fat (but containing primarily unsaturated fatty acids) reduces serum concentrations of androstenedione, testosterone, and free testosterone [13]. Long story short, it’s not just any old fat that will do the trick. Dietary saturated fatty acids boost synthesis of cholesterol, which means great testosterone production [14]. That’s things like animal fats (fattier cuts of meat, butter, ghee, lard, tallow), cold-water fatty fish, and coconut oil, but also other healthy fats like olive oil and olives, avocados, nuts, and seeds.

3. Protein — There are a couple of reasons why we need a good protein intake, regardless of if you’re doing intense training or not. Protein is the building block of every single muscle in your body. It breaks down into amino acids that serve to help muscle repair and grow after damage and the normal wear and tear of aging. But the other key reason why protein is a huge part of killing the dad bod is that it supports fat loss by regulating metabolic rate and promoting satiety. Countless studies reinforce the fact that the proper function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis is dependent on adequate protein and fat reserves [15]. That means eating foods like eggs, high-quality animal proteins, and fish and seafood at every meal to support healthy hormone production and maintain muscle mass.

4. Veggies/Fruits – And in addition to the three pillars, you want to be loading up on vegetables and low-sugar fruits to provide you with the micronutrients needed to support testosterone production and estrogen reduction. Zinc and vitamin D are two huge nutrients for supporting testosterone production that is found primarily in animal foods (fish and seafood, egg yolks, red meat, etc.), but also in beans and legumes, nuts, and seeds. As well, you want to ensure you’re consuming an abundance of fruits and veggies that support liver function and bowel health, as there’s only one way out for excess estrogen–poop. Cruciferous vegetables are high in fiber and support liver health, which makes them some of the best veggies you can consume for lowering estrogen and boosting testosterone production.

3. GET MORE SLEEP

Over 40 Alpha Funk Roberts

Less is not more when it comes to sleep. SO many people think that they can function optimally on 5-6 hours of sleeping and I am telling you THAT YOU CANNOT. Sleep is critical to every single function in your body, especially fat loss and weight management.

How many times have you woken up feeling like you’d been hit by a truck? Or you’re hitting a serious mid-day energy crash and are in desperate need of a coffee to wake you up… Those are all signals from your body that you’re not getting enough sleep, and poor sleep quality and poor sleep duration are two of the biggest impediments to testosterone production. They’ll kill your T levels faster than you can imagine.

Studies find that people who are sleep-restricted have significantly lower testosterone levels than those who get adequate sleep (8 hours or more) [16]. Considering the fact that most men will naturally see a decrease in T production by about 1-2% per year, if you’re adding sleep deprivation on top of that you could be walking around with the testosterone levels of a man for a full decade older than you. How’s that for a wake-up call?

And it’s not just that. Sleep is also critical for glucose and insulin regulation, so when you’re not sleeping enough, your glucose control is thrown off and you’re more likely to gain weight and store fat. That's exacerbated by high cortisol levels, so you’re getting a two-for-one deal here.

Poor sleep is not a joke and it’s totally within your control by practicing proper sleep hygiene:

  • Eliminate external light sources by using blackout blinds or a sleep mask
  • Avoid using devices with a screen 2 hours before bed, as blue light interferes with melatonin secretion
  • Limit stimulating tasks before bed
  • Drop the thermostat and wear loose clothing (or sleep naked) to support the natural decrease in core body temperature during sleep
  • Use a white noise machine to block out external noises
  • Limit caffeine consumption during the day and avoid consuming any after 12-2pm
  • Reduce food intake 2-3 hours before bed (and avoid super heavy food)

4. MANAGE YOUR STRESS

Over 40 Alpha Funk Roberts

We always harp on you about managing your stress, but chronically high-stress levels are a huge issue for hormone balance. The reality is that a large chunk of our population is walking around with stress levels through the roof and they never do anything to fix it. They go about their merry lives just accepting the fact that they’re stressed. It’s not until something happens, like low testosterone, that they’re forced to manage them.

Chronic stress means your body is constantly in sympathetic mode and cortisol is continually being pumped into your body to keep you mentally alert and ready to fight at a moment's notice. And like I said earlier about cortisol, it's not a bad thing in normal amounts. But when it’s chronically elevated, it literally kills your hormones, especially testosterone, along with increasing fat deposition and further exacerbating the dad bod problem [17, 18].

Studies find that an increase in abdominal obesity, which is generally the case with chronically high cortisol, increases the risk of aromatization of androgens (testosterone) in men [19].            So, if you want to avoid having your T levels fall because you can’t control your stress, learn and implement stress management practices now:

  • Try deep breathing
  • Get out in nature
  • Connect with friends and family
  • Exercise
  • Meditate or do yoga
  • Sleep more
  • Write in a journal

And hey, sex can even help to reduce stress levels by releasing endorphins that boost mood, and that way you’re killing two birds with one stone.

5.  DO METABOLIC RESISTANCE TRAINING (MRT)

Funk Roberts

Now we get to the final piece of the puzzle for banishing your dad bod for good and becoming the fittest you’ve ever been–metabolic resistance training (MRT). And it’s one of the best ways to shred your body while maximizing muscle growth (yes, it’s possible to shed fat and build muscle at the same time).

And we’re not talking about spending hours on end in the gym daily. We’re talking 30 minutes to your fittest self.

Most men think that cardio is the way to burn body fat and get lean, but it’s honestly not. It’s a great way to ramp up your endurance capabilities, but if you’re looking to get that really defined, shredded body, cardio isn’t going to cut it.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is one of the most effective ways to burn body fat. The issue with moderate-intensity steady-state cardio is that it doesn’t create a hormonal effect in the body like intense exercise does. Intense exercise boosts testosterone levels and growth hormone levels, both of which are essential for burning fat and building muscle [20, 21].

All steady-state cardio really does is increase cortisol levels and subsequently cause more hormonal imbalances and more fat storage. It’s the ideal way to sabotage your body.

But if you’re over 40 and looking for the quickest and more effective training style to get you shredded beyond belief and max out your testosterone levels, metabolic training is it. Just 20-30 minutes of high-intensity workouts daily can get you lean faster than any other program, and when you combine it with resistance training as MRT does, there’s no fear of losing muscle.

Part of the reason why MRT training is so effective at torching fat is that once you’re done training your body continues to burn calories, which it doesn’t do with other forms of exercise. It’s called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) and it’s the energy required to return your body back to baseline, which is substantially more when you’re exerting the energy that you do during HIIT.

Basically, there’s no end to the research supporting high-intensity intervals and metabolic training as one of the best ways to improve virtually every aspect of your health and performance, along with boosting growth hormones and testosterone so you can burn fat while holding onto lean muscle.

20 Minute Full Body Home Muscle Building Workout

This is exactly what I’m talking about. A full-body workout that burns maximum calories and fat in the minimum amount of time, while helping you put on lean muscle and boost testosterone levels. It’s the ultimate way to can the dad bod and gets shredded–regardless of age.

In this workout, I’ll take you through a 20-minute full-body home muscle-building workout using dumbbells and the metabolic protocol so you can burn fat and build muscle at the same time.

But before you get started, make sure your body is revived and prepared to get going. A quick 5–10-minute warmup to increase blood flow, loosen up muscles, and prepare them for work helps to set the stage for training and reduce the risk of injury.

  1. Dumbbell Squats
  2. DB Bent Over Alternating Rows
  3. Alternating Chest Press
  4. Biceps Curls
  5. Floor Skull Crushers
  6. DB Seated Shoulder Presses

 

References:

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3725490/

[2] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/j.1550-8528.1995.tb00462.x

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6832997/

[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15211363/

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4854098/

[6] https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jos/2011/230671/

[7] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12198740/

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4117729/

[9] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7069152/

[10] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0039128X74900646

[11] https://europepmc.org/article/med/8116832

[12] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3900181/

[13] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6538617/

[14] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8281983/

[15] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10355847/

[16] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4445839/

[17] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8884416/

[18] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9626108/

[19] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/234975/

[20] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2943968/

[21] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2262468/

 

 

 

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