I recently surveyed a group of Super Fit Dads and asked what their number one health objective or challenge is.
A lack of time & motivation to train is a major pain point. But almost as many pointed to their dadbod, specifically packing on a bit of extra timber around the middle since junior came on the scene.
When you combine a burgeoning girth with a lack of motivation & time to workout you’re effectively welcoming Satan to your door. Your waistline grows as your chest, shoulders and arms shrink and regress, leaving you looking a little more like your Dad than you’d care to admit.
I once looked at the mirror and saw a reflection that was somehow managing to be both fat AND thin at the same time. Not at all the look I was aiming for.
Last week we looked at ways to stop the rot for those with a gym membership, a little time (but not too much) and a desire to fire up the central nervous system & a little testosterone by chucking a barbell around for half an hour.
Here’s that post and the workout plan to make sure you burn fat whilst you’re getting stronger.
For those who can’t get to the gym but still want some quick wins, there’s another way: you make a few small adjustments to your diet and stick to them like a limpet.
Obviously in a utopian scenario,we’d do both but, look, this is real life and we’re trying our best, right?
Ways To Banish The Dadbod
1. No Carbs For Breakfast
The easiest things to eat at breakfast a) require no cooking, b) can be handed to you by your friendly barista or coffee haunt waitress, and c) all nearly all contain bread.
Which is precisely why you shouldn’t eat them.
No nutritional value, empty white carbs that are off the glycemic-index charts, fueling an insulin spike that will have you crashing down and hungry again in a matter of an hour or two.
In only they weren’t so delicious.
Remedy: Go cold turkey for 1 week. No bread, no croissants, no muffins.
2. No Protein At Breakfast
Dovetailing with #1, this is a slippery sucker that goes unnoticed.
Once you reach a certain vintage, a couple of things happen. Well, a lot of things happen, but these are two of the worst.
Firstly, bone density starts to decrease. That’s not our primary concern here. Good ways to remedy it are to start pumping iron. Yep, get thee to the nearest gym, lad, and chuck a barbell around. Here’s how to do it really simply.
No, here we’re concerned with lean muscle mass which is harder and harder to pack on as you get older.
And, assuming your breakfast is your first meal of the day and you ain’t eating again until lunchtime, and your last meal of any meaningful description was dinner at around 7.30pm last night, that’s an awful long time between protein fixes.
And that sucks, because protein is the absolute building block of muscle.
Without it we’re going to struggle to build or even maintain any meaningful musculature.
So the carb-heavy breakfast is actually a double-bind, an absolute sh*tter, because it’s easy simplicity not only serves no nutritional purpose and makes us fat, it also deprives us of the very fuel we need to thrive and remain muscly and virile.
Can you see now how these dual factors – too many empty carbs and not nearly enough protein – is music to the ears of the crafty DadBod?
Remedy: Eggs and greens for breakfast.
3. Carbs In The Evening
Bodybuilders have been wise to this for years; no carbs after 5pm. Or 7pm.
Empty, nutritionally moribund, white carbs fill you up, leave you feeling bloated and with little time left to burn the suckers off with vigorous exercise (unless it’s Cheeky Tuesday or Thrusting Thursday), there’s a chance they’ll be heading straight to your waistline.
Remedy: Fill your dinner plate with protein and vegetables, all cooked in the same pan.
4. Mid-afternoon Sugary Snacks
For years my Achilles heel was the mid-arvo coffee (decaf, of course at that time) and brownie.
Whether this was a fightback against the mundanity of office cubicle life or simply because those brownies tasted so good, I’m not really sure.
But eventually I kicked the habit. By going cold turkey.
Remedy: Buy a bag of almonds at the start of the week and take a small tub to work each day, making sure you save them until the afternoon.
4. Too Much Alcohol
Never mind gin being Mother’s ruin, I reckon wine is Gen X’s Parent’s ruin.
The hours of 5.30-7.30pm are so fraught with the veritable minefields of dinner time and bathtime that by the time the wee bairn/s is in bed, it’s a race to the bottom of the bottle for Mum and Dad.
This is where an evening trip to the gym works wonders for the easily tempted. The last thing you fancy after a weight sesh is a delicate glass of Pinot Gris.
But if you’re in the no-sleep saloon, then the last thing you fancy is a trip to the gym.
Remedy: If your schedule allows, plan a couple of evening activities that will enforce a grog-free night. Or be firm on those night when you really don’t fancy a beer but you end up being cajoled into it.
5. Not Enough Vegetables
A guy called Michael Pollen came up with possibly the most succinct, accurate and yet seemingly impossible-to-follow nutrition plan ever put to paper.
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
Isn’t that incredible? Seven words that tell us exactly what we need to do for longevity and health.
But do we do it? Erm…I’m guessing maybe less than five percent of us do.
Remedy: At least three types of vegetable with lunch and dinner is a solid start for hitherto staunch carnivores.
6. Protein Supplements
Not really a crime but generally pretty dumb.
And I’ve been there.
Most protein powders are choc-full of all manner of chemicals that are so unnatural not even a stray dog would eat them if you left them out in the garden overnight.
And the supplement industry in general (vitamin pills et al) is a massive, massive scam.
There are shops on the high street devoted to selling ever-growing tubs of the stuff, all screaming science BS about the Vector 2.3 muscular bolster they contain. And the colours of these tubs. Makes a shopping trip a life or death experience for anyone with epilepsy.
Caveat to the above: if you’re trying to bulk up and add some muscle, supping your protein can be helpful. Similarly, if a shake is the only way to fit getting in your morning protein into your schedule.
In that case, opt for a natural protein like those from 180 Nutrition and Sun Warrior.
Remedy: Buy natural protein powder or save the money and buy the missus some flowers.
7. Weight-loss Supplements
The best and only weight-loss supplements are supplementing the amount of activity you do with…some more activity.
And supplementing your current diet (which probably has a few holes in it, hence you considering weight-loss supplements) with…better food choices on a consistent basis.
Remedy: Stop being silly and even considering stuff like that.
8. Eating portions that are too big
The Japanese are a wily bunch, alright.
They have a saying that goes “hara hachi bu,” which means eat until you are four fifths full. They also have the world’s highest number of centenarians per capita (that’s folks who live to 100 and over).
Whilst there are carby elements to a typical Japanese diet, a moderate approach to food combined with high levels of (good) fat consumed seems to be supportive of the literature coming out of Japan linking under-eating with longevity.
Now, if you compare this with a typical American (or UK or Australian) diet, well, let’s just say there is probably not the same level of discernment being employed.
A fist of each macro food group is probably more than sufficient.
And the 2 supplements you should be taking…
9. Magnesium & Fish Oil
As for tablets, the only ones that seem to be consistently recommended are magnesium and fish oil.
Magnesium I’ve seen benefits from in terms of less crampy legs when training and running a lot and better sleep. With fish oil, you need to take between 6-12 (1000mg) tablets to see any real benefits.
Here are some conditions that maggers may be able to help with:
- Muscle cramps and spasms
- Restless leg syndrome
I doubt there’s very much written here that is a surprise to you.
If you’re anything like me you know what you should be doing. The hard part is putting it into practise.
Just wishing for it to happen is a surefire way to fail. Start with one of these adjustments for a week. Pick anything – preferably one that will make a difference to your health and your life.
Tell others what you aim to do. Make yourself accountable to them. Write it down and set your intention. You’re much more likely to stick to it this way.
NEED A HAND WITH BREAKFAST?
Start the day with all the good stuff to fuel the furnace and keep hunger at bay until lunchtime.
We won't spam you.