Skinny fat celebrities from Hollywood

What is the cause of dad bod?

What causes the dad bod? Why does it seem like the pounds pack on quickly to the belly and the neck not long after having kids?

My Story As a Dad Of Three

A few years ago, I was trying to pack on some more muscle. I was eating a bulking diet (calorie surplus) for many, many months while lifting weights. I got stronger, sure. But I didn’t gain much muscle and became too fat for my liking.

So I switched to a cut, a calorie deficit, to lean out. I had already done little cuts before a couple of times, no problem when I was in my twenties.

However, this time, while doing the exact same things, I lost a lot of muscle and only a little bit of fat.

So I ended up skinny-fat for the first time in my life, with more fat on my belly than I’ve ever seen before.

I also noticed I was struggling with some new issues like the beginning of balding on my crown, persistent acne, and feeling tired all the time. (Hard to wake up in the morning.)

Obviously, I must be missing something that’s beyond calories in/out.

  • Why wasn’t the bulk/cut model working for me anymore, like it did before?
  • Do other people who are in their thirties or older also struggle with this same problem?
  • What causes fat gain specifically at the belly?
  • Why am I feeling so unhealthy when I’m eating clean foods and exercising?

There were too many questions that needed answering.

Stubborn Fat On The Belly

So I started reading a ton of books on fat loss, particularly stubborn/belly fat loss. And I started watching pretty much every video on Youtube about it.

All I saw was a lot of extreme/restrictive diets or heavy exercising. And none of the people “repping” these plans looked that healthy to me. If anything, they seemed to look gaunt and aging really fast.

Frustrated that I couldn’t find anyone who had solved this problem, I started digging into Pubmed to read the research on fat for myself. Pubmed is a database created by a US government institution that indexes studies, reviews, and academic books. It’s sort of like Google—but for research.

After a bit of digging, what I found shocked me.

Stubborn Dad bod Fat Is Different Than Regular Fat

Not only is there a distinct “stubborn” fat around the belly that is scientifically verified, but it’s been known by researchers for a long time.

Deep stubborn fat

Stubborn Deep Fat

Some of these studies that I’ve read go back nearly twenty years.

This type of dad bod fat is linked to stress. This stress response in the body is due to inflammation. Over time, if this inflammation isn’t fixed, it leads to diabetes and heart disease.

Hence the link between obesity and heart disease/diabetes. The problem is that people think fat is the cause—when it’s only a symptom of inflammation.

This stubborn type of fat accumulates around the organs, which is why it gets stored around the belly (organs like liver/kidney, etc.) and the neck (thyroid).

Why Does The Fat Store At The Belly & Neck?

Researchers have a number of theories as to why the body stores fat around the organs.

One reason is that this type of fat is there to “protect” the organs somehow. Our body will often use fat to protect sensitive organs like bubble wrap around your ceramic plates and glasses when you’re moving apartments. In a healthy example, our body stores a lot of fat around the eye and the bottom of our feet to cushion it from shock.

Another way our body uses fat is to provide insulation to organs. It could be that under stress, our organs need to be insulated more.

Whatever the reasons are, the body chooses to store extra fat around sensitive organs when under chronic stress/inflammation.

So the solution to the mom/dad bod isn’t starvation—stubborn fat doesn’t respond to that—especially if you want to fix the problem permanently.

How Do You Fix Dad Bod / Mom Bod?

The solution is to:

  • Lower stress on the body
  • Increase the ability to handle stress (resilience/recovery)

I started reading any study that had documented tactics/food/environment/lifestyle that was lowering inflammation or had anti-diabetic or anti-heart-disease properties.

Then I started putting these principles into action and getting results. And I knew I had to get the word out to people.

When I started in 2019, I hadn’t seen a single person covering this.

I’ve been doing this for 3.5 years now, and I *still* haven’t seen anyone else talking about this.

Every coach, program, and influencer I’ve seen is still telling people with this type of stubborn fat to:

  • Track calories to eat less energy (starve yourself)
  • Exercise more to burn more calories (overtrain during starvation)
  • Take stimulants, like caffeine (or worse), to force a higher metabolism (ramp up stress)

It’s no wonder that people who do these programs will yo-yo with their body weight and feel worse than they ever have before.

Anyone can track their calories and slowly starve themselves down to a stick. Eventually, they’ll crack so that they don’t die, as organs shrink during long periods of calorie restriction. Once they begin eating more again, then their stubborn fat will pile up. Even more so than before as the inflammation got worse.

We all know that diet soda with zero calories makes the stubborn fat problem worse. We’ve seen it with our own eyes in other people, and it’s been verified in studies. Diet soda has now been linked to gaining fat at the belly and increases waist size.

Cutting calories is not the answer.

Doing more exercise, like jogging for miles, overtraining, and killing yourself with HIIT circuits, also isn’t helpful.

Too much exercise can introduce even more stress on a body that is already in retreat mode.

Exercising more is not the answer.

(To be totally clear, low-stress walking and a bit of lighter high-rep lifting can be helpful for most as both types of exercise can help with clearing higher blood sugars without insulin, reducing inflammation. But exercise doesn’t fix the root cause of what’s causing the stress.)

So what is the answer?

Resolve Chronic Inflammation To Melt Dad Bod Fat & Get Strong

Resolving chronic inflammation is the answer.

The amazing thing is that when you resolve this chronic inflammation—everything else gets better.

Your skin becomes clearer. You wake up earlier and with more energy in the morning. Your teeth become whiter.

And if you care about gaining muscle, that becomes easier too, especially if you’re in your 30s or older. It’s hard for your body to dedicate energy to building muscle when it’s putting out a fire in your body.

Starving yourself can’t do all that.

Beginner Action Steps To Resolve Inflammation

Eat More Of These Foods

  • 100% grass-fed meats like lamb, beef, goat, and other ruminants
  • Wild seafood like cod, sockeye salmon, mackerel, etc.
  • Raw honey
  • Raw dairy
  • Fresh fruit
  • Berries
  • Sprouted rice
  • Squashes, cucumbers, etc.
  • Organ meats to help heal your body (Liver, sweetbreads, kidney, etc.)
  • Meat stock/bone broth for collagen and fat-soluble vitamins
  • Overnight oats
  • Sourdough bread

Eat Less Of These Inflammatory Foods

  • Alcohol—limit as much as possible
  • White sugar
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • White flour
  • Pasteurized dairy
  • Deep-fried foods
  • Foods with additives (come out of a box, restaurant foods, etc.)
  • Unprocessed carbs (brown rice, brown wheat, etc.)

Other Factors Related To Inflammation

  • Water quality (spring or well water is best)
  • Fluoride exposure (toothpaste, water, soda pop, non-stick pans)
  • Food additives/preservatives/pesticides
  • Lack of sleep (under 7 hours is not enough, 7.5 for okay, 9 hours is ideal)
  • Artificial light at night
  • Air pollution (includes moldy homes, living near smoke stacks, etc.)
  • Sedentary lifestyle (try walking at least 7,500 steps a day)
  • Lack of sunshine (try and get outside into the fresh air every day. You are less likely to burn in the early morning and sunset.)

Want More Advanced Tips?

This is just the beginning to reversing the dad bod and reclaiming your healthy, strong, fit, and lean body. Many people can successfully fix their problem just by integrating these principles. The amazing thing is these tips will also help mom reclaim her pre-kid bod too. You can become a strong, lean, fit couple. If you want to learn some intermediate and advanced tactics to melt off stubborn belly fat while gaining weight from lean mass, you’d love our programs.

Burn Stubborn Fat, Gain Muscle

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