Raising a child increases the risk of weight gain, some nutritionists say, and that’s true, for both the mother and the father. In this article, we’ll talk about the fathers, and more specifically about how and why new fathers gain weight.
This topic was also debated by Mark MacDonald, an author and an expert in fitness and nutrition, in his book called Why Kids Make You Fat. Mark MacDonald himself has gained 15 kg after his wife has given birth to their child, despite the fact that he is a fitness coach and a nutrition expert.
Lack of time for more demanding activities, the occurrence of hormonal changes, higher stress level than usual, and having an unbalanced diet are among just some of the factors that make new fathers gain weight.
The main factors that cause new fathers gain weight
- Bad sleep.
Invariably, every childbirth is followed by parents’ sleep problems. Not sleeping deep, and waking up at night from time to time when the newborn cries of hunger, or because he’s disturbed about something, is in equal measure affecting both the mother and the father. Besides, these negative sleeping conditions are in fact lowering the quality of sleep, and this leads, in the most of the cases, to an increased appetite for food. And the problem is not that the parents have an increased appetite, but the real problem is that most of them are preferring fast food instead of healthy food.
One solution is to eat healthy products that contain all the nutrients your body needs, without being high-calorie foods. The necessary nutrients are proteins (meat, fish, eggs), carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, whole grains), minerals, and healthy fats (seeds, nuts, olive oil, avocado). Meals should be frequent, 5 or 7 meals per day, but quantitatively smaller than usual. Simply, eat less but frequent.
Another solution is scheduling with your partner who will take care of the baby at night. Although is normal and common, many parents are making the mistake of nursing their babies during the nights in shifts, so one time the mother wakes up, next time when the baby cries the father wakes up, and so on. Even though this method offers few hours of extra sleep for the parents, it is not optimized and can still lead to weight gain.
A better version of this solution is to schedule with your partner a much more optimized nursery for your baby during the nights. For example, on one night let the mother take care of the baby, while you’re sleeping in another room. Next night you’ll go to nurse your baby, and while the mother sleeps in another room. It’s hard for the mother to accept not to be next to her baby for one night, but this way your baby will also enjoy his father’s presence and protection. Also, this solution reduced the effects of bad sleep, letting the body get the necessary amount of sleeping in order to recover.
If your baby is breastfed, a breast pump to extract the breast milk should be used, so the presence of the mother is not mandatory when it comes to feeding the baby and the baby will still get all the benefits of the breast milk.
- Lack of an eating schedule.
In the process of the newborn nursery, many parents, both the mothers and the fathers, no longer have their own schedule to follow, and the new schedule is dictated by the baby’s needs. Therefore, there is no fixed schedule for parents’ meals. If the baby is more demanding the parents can’t find time to prepare their food or to it in peace as they’ve used to. Many parents prefer to eat in the hurry when the baby’s asleep, so they opt for fast-food or pizza home delivery restaurants because it’s easier and faster. The problem is not only the junk-food but the number of daily meals. When spending most of the day taking care of the baby needs, parents, as said before, can’t find some time for themselves so they can’t have 5-7 healthy meals per day. Therefore, the metabolism is getting slower leading to weight gain.
The solution is to make time for cooking healthy food and to find a way to have at least 3 main meals and 2 snacks per day. Eating healthy food doesn’t mean eating only salads, vegetables, or fruits.
For breakfast you can go for boiled eggs, a slice or two of bread spread with butter, some cheese, and a glass of fresh juice, or a cup of coffee or green tea. At lunch, you can choose to eat a soup, with a salad on the side or noodles with tuna and vegetables. At dinner, you can opt for a meat steak, with a salad and a glass of fresh oranges juice or a lemonade sweetened with honey.
As for the snacks, you can opt for fruits or low-calorie sandwiches, such as sandwiches with sliced tomatoes, salad leaves, and light cottage cheese.
While preparing the meals, let your partner take care of the baby. Once the meals are prepared, trick your kid into eating at the same time with you, so he will stay put eating and you’ll have time to eat peacefully and relaxed.
- Unbalanced hormonal levels and stress.
Raising a baby automatically involves stress, and this condition leads to new fathers gain weight because of the increasing production of cortisol, which is a hormone that, in large quantities, favors increasing the body fat, especially around the waist.
The solution is obviously to lower the stress level but when it comes to the role of a parent, this is difficult to do. The only way that can lower the risk of stress fattening substance occurrence is to have a balanced diet.
- One glass of alcohol as a reward.
After they managed to put their babies to sleep, many fathers are rewarding themselves with a glass of alcohol or something sweet at the end of the day, to enjoy the silence and to get more relaxed. But such rewards can not possibly lead to anything good but on the contrary, these habits lead to weight gain, and the only solution that exists to prevent it is abstaining from these rewards.
Men gain weight after becoming fathers
Men gain, on average, between 2 pounds and 4.5 pounds after becoming fathers, while men of the same age without children lose weight, according to a study conducted by the doctors from the Northwestern University in the US.
Researchers monitored the body mass index of more than 10,000 men from adolescence to adulthood, for a period of about 20 years, and according to the study, which was also published in the American Journal of Men’s Health, new fathers gain weight whether they are living with their babies, or not.
For example, a man, subject of this study, having 6’0” in height, and after he has become a father gained 4.5 pounds, while living with his baby and his wife. Meanwhile, a man who became a father but hasn’t lived with his baby gained about 2 pounds.
On the other hand, the men who haven’t become fathers lost about 1 pound of weight.
Weight gain was attributed by experts to the changes in lifestyle and eating habits that automatically occur after the birth of the first child in the family.
There are new responsibilities when you have children and there is no more time to take care of you as you did once, with regard to physical activity, said doctor Craig Garfield, associate professor of pediatrics and social science at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
New fathers gain weight because, in most cases, they’re facing hormonal changes, stress, bad sleep, and lack of a balanced diet, and all these are leading to weight gain. The most difficult period for the parents are the first months after the childbirth, so, give yourself some time to get used to your new lifestyle, and as soon as you feel ready, go for a diet or attend to the gym. Weight loss supplements are also a solution because you’ll lose weight and you’ll have more time to spend with your baby.