If you think fatherhood has made you overweight, chances are you're not imagining it. A comprehensive review of literature on men's health finds that fathers are generally associated with greater weight and BMI compared to similarly aged men who are not fathers. Fathers also have more comparably accelerated weight gain and are around 14 lbs heavier, increasing their chances of being overweight or obese.
Unlike mothers, the correlation between fatherhood and weight gain is less obvious. But the lifestyle changes accompanying parenthood can lead to less sleep and exercise, more stress, and shared diets with their partners.
Fortunately, adopting a few simple habits into your routine can help you manage your weight better. Here are some ways you can become healthier for yourself and your family.
Cook healthy meals in batches
Raising a family often leaves little time for cooking healthy foods. But instead of reaching for convenient pre-packaged foods, you should cook batches of nutritious meals to be reheated throughout the week. This will save you time when you have to rush between home, school, and work. The best foods for reheating are soups, pies, stews, and pasta sauces. Load these up with protein and vegetables and serve them alongside healthy sources of carbohydrates like brown rice, wheat bread, or wholegrain pasta. Making your diet work with your family schedule like this helps you optimize your time while avoiding excess calories that your body will store as fat.
Maintain a good sleep schedule
A healthy sleep schedule isn't commonly associated with weight loss. But if you are looking to burn fat while you sleep, you need to focus on maintaining the recommended hours. If you don’t you could experience some unintended consequences. A study from the Annals of Internal Medicine found that any weight loss that occurs during fewer hours of sleep largely comes from lean muscle mass rather than fat. Additionally, undersleeping can cause you to consume 300 extra calories the following day. That's because it increases the hormone ghrelin (which triggers your appetite) and lowers leptin (which makes you feel full). As such, you should prioritize sleep. Try not to indulge in leisure time after putting your kids to bed. If you have to care for your kids at night, get some Z's throughout the day. That way, you're in a better position to naturally regulate your hormones for weight loss.
Stay physically active
Exercise helps you burn fat and raise your metabolism through the muscle you build. However don't resolve to try and spend 2 hours at the gym daily as you will struggle to follow this through. Instead, develop a workout plan that you can sustain over a long time. To do this, you have to create a resolution you can maintain. Set achievable short-term goals, like being able to run a certain amount or losing a certain weight in a couple of months or weeks. You should also choose a meaningful exercise you enjoy, like boxing, weight training or the new sport that people are raving about—PICKLE BALL! You can even find something that involves your family, like biking or hiking together. Finally, incorporate these into your routine. You can walk your kids to school, bike to work, or get up early in the morning to swim. Simplifying your exercise routine like this helps you build a sustainable weight loss plan that can last for years.
Consider medical intervention
Weight loss doesn't work equally well for everyone: factors like genetics influence your success. Consider seeking help to even out the playing field. If you have a BMI of 30 or higher or a BMI of at least 27 with qualifying health conditions like diabetes, consult your doctor about medical weight loss. This involves taking medications like semaglutide and liraglutide that target your biology as an overweight individual. They work by helping you manage your appetite and make healthier food choices. That said, they don't serve as a replacement for healthy habits. Instead, they complement other weight management methods to guide you toward a sustainable lifestyle for weight management.
Fatherhood can explain why you're overweight—but that doesn't change the fact that, as a parent, having optimum health is critical to caring for your family. With healthy weight loss methods, you can rest easy knowing you'll be ready whenever your partner and children need you.