Staying fit in college is not easy, but it certainly is possible!
Many people assume that the average 15-pound weight gain during your first years in college is a phenomenon that only girls relate with, but that is certainly not a fact. In fact, all students heading into their “freshman” year of college are subject to the risk of rapid weight gain as they develop new life habits and live on their own for the first time.
However, girls are certainly at greater risk due to metabolic changes in their body around this time. Dr. Connie Diekman confirmed that as they join college, most girls experience a change in metabolism as they switch into adulthood. If they reach a balance between what they eat and how much they exercise, there is a chance that they can get back to the body shape that they had before they landed on campus.
Men, on the other hand, go through the maturity stage later on. Changes in the bodies of men are witnessed later- during their final years in college.
The 15 pounds is only an estimate, as some people gain more than that, and some gain less. Others, do not experience drastic changes in weight at all.
There are very many sources online that have different formulas that help avoid the dreaded “freshman 15-pound”. Here is a list of fitness advice from Smile Tutor, and other sources that have proved to be helpful for maintaining your body shape while you are in college!
Why is it Difficult to Stay Fit in College?
Although weight gain is common for people entering college and throughout the college years, there are specific and well-known reasons that it is hard to stay fit in college. In fact, there have been several studies conducted on why college students often gain weight even when they are aware of the common causes of weight gain.
One of the main causes for the weight gain of college students is what is known as Social Cognitive Theory, and one of the best studies that demonstrated this effect was the Nelson et al study in 2009.
Social Cognitive Theory strongly influences college students, and it appears that Social Cognitive Theory may have a stronger influence than the Health Belief Model for this demographic. The Health Belief Model states that if an individual believes they are susceptible to a condition, the condition can have serious effects on them, a course of action could help them avoid the condition and be beneficial, and believe the benefits outweigh the costs or barriers, they will take the action to reduce their risk of the condition (Glanz et al., n.d., pp. 45–65).
However, in the Nelson et al study, the participants noted that entering college posed a risk for weight gain because they had seen it happen to others before and accepted the risk, but still often gained weight.
Social Cognitive Theory states that human functioning is rooted in social systems and people operate within a wide network of socio-structural influences (Van Lange et al., 2012). In the Nelson et al study, there were several instances where Social Cognitive Theory clearly determined the actions or activities of the participants of the study.
Examples where Social Cognitive Theory influenced decisions and choices related to food choices and food consumption included eating late at night, eating for social reasons, drinking alcohol, and eating excess food in the cafeteria (Nelson et al., 2009).
In simpler terms, what these studies are proving is that the environment of being in college makes it very difficult to stay fit or be healthy. However, it is not impossible.
The list of tips for staying fit in college in this article was developed to help college students make healthy choices that fit into the social construct of the college school system, so they can make simple changes that will have a very powerful effect!
The Top 10 Tips for Staying Fit in College
Here are the top 10 tips for staying fit in college, which includes diet, exercise, and lifestyle advice:
1.) Buy Healthy Snacks
An attack of hunger usually appears between meals, late in the night when you are studying for your exam, or before going to bed. If you haven’t eaten in a while and you get an attack of huger, the first options that come to your mind are usually things like donuts, Pop-Tarts, ice cream, chips, pizza, and so on.
Instead of those unhealthy options, try to eat nuts, vegetables, fruits, low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, and so on.
However, you need to purchase these snacks ahead of time so they are ready when hunger strikes! You are less likely to eat unhealthy food when you fill up your or snack-bin with vegetables and fresh fruits.
After a few hours of sitting down, looking at examples of essays, and writing your own, you’re going to feel tired. This often leads to you wanting something to eat.
Packing healthy foods to have as a lunch or snack during your day will help avoid fast food and save you money!
Healthy snacks will provide the energy you need and will eliminate the feeling of hunger
These types of snacks are perfect to help fill the gaps between your healthy lunches and dinners!
Also, if you are consistently eating healthy snacks, you will also develop the habit of sticking to healthy foods more quickly. Choosing healthy, nutritious snacks such as the Redd Bar or those from Optifast can help you avoid succumbing to temptation and reaching for sugary substitutes.
Overall, consuming healthy, nutrient-dense snacks throughout the day will keep you on the right path towards losing or maintaining your weight.
2.) Eat Breakfast (Unless Intermittent Fasting)
Most students avoid eating breakfast because they do not want to wake up a bit earlier or because they feel lazy in the morning and do not want to prepare something to eat. So, they decide to buy something (usually an unhealthy option) on their way to class.
This is generally very wrong.
It’s well-known that breakfast is the most important meal in the day, and that is certainly true if you are trying to stay fit in college. Studies have shown that those who have a habit of skipping breakfast are most likely to gain weight.
According to a study published in Preventative Medicine,
“This meta-analysis suggests that a positive association between skipping breakfast and overweight and obesity is globally observed regardless of cultural diversity among countries. Promoting the eating of breakfast in all populations may be beneficial.”
The reason that skipping breakfast causes weight gain is because when you skip a meal, especially after sleeping, you will feel extremely hungry after a while.
Most likely, skipping breakfast will lead to overeating.
If you want to stay fit and healthy in college, make sure your breakfast is rich in metabolism boosting foods such as complex carbohydrates, proteins, fibers, vitamins, and minerals. Avoid eating at fast-food restaurants and avoid eating sugary snacks for breakfast.
This type of food will not give you the energy you need for the day.
However, the one exception is if you are adhering to the intermittent fasting diet plan. I did intermittent fasting for nearly all four years of college (and I still do it), and it works very well for me. However, this isn’t an effective strategy for everyone.
3.) Limit Overall Sugar Intake
Sugar is everywhere around us. You can find it in cakes, chocolate, sodas, bread, donuts, and so on.
Sugar is the substance that makes all of this food mentioned taste so good. However, sugar is addictive and harmful. According to Neuroscience & Biobehavorial Reviews,
“The evidence supports the hypothesis that under certain circumstances rats can become sugar dependent. This may translate to some human conditions as suggested by the literature on eating disorders and obesity.”
The more you eat, the more you want of it. Excessive sugar intake can result in diabetes, weight gain, and problems with cognitive skills, and so on.
Avoid consuming sugar and sugary snacks and drinks. They have little nutritional value and provide a lot of calories.
4.) Keep Your Alcohol Consumption In Check
Drinking beer or other forms of alcohol cause you to consume far more calories than you normally would, and will result in weight gain if overly consumed.
According to a study published by the American Journal of Health Behavior,
“Binge drinking was associated with poor diets, unhealthy weight control, body dissatisfaction, and sedentary behavior. Neither year in school nor age modified these relationships. Alcohol-related eating was associated with increased risk of overweight/obesity.”
Apart from the vast amount of calories, excess drinking will also leave a person with a severe hangover, and no one ever wants to do any workout with a hangover.
No matter what, your drinking should be limited if you don’t want to gain weight. If you are going to drink alcohol, try only drinking a moderate amount of red wine before bed.
If you do have one night where you go out and drink too much, don’t work you can cure your hangover and get back on track the next day. Don’t beat yourself up over having one night of fun once in a while!
Hangovers essentially boil down to two major factors: lack of hydration, and an attack on the liver.
Since alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it sends you to the bathroom often, it flushes out too much water, so much so that your body is left dehydrated. This, of course, affects all of your body’s functions.
Along with that, when we consume alcohol, we’re ingesting a number of toxins, most notably acetaldehyde. Darker liquors and drinks, like whiskeys and stouts, have even more congeners, which lead to greater hangovers.
Those toxins directly attack the liver, which then cripples the central nervous system. (Hence the drunk feeling.) But that has ripple effects across our body — migraines, nausea, etc. — and elevates the hangover even higher.
In other words: the hangover you’re experiencing is the body recovering from the damage.
If you want to avoid a bad hangover, there are a couple of main things you must do.
If your body is dehydrated by alcohol, then you’ll want to make sure you’re drinking water constantly throughout your drinking bout — before, during, and after. Experts attest to coconut water as a mixture containing both water and electrolytes, which are drained when you drink.
And about those toxins.
Basically, you’re going to want any foods or nutrients that restore amino acids — the natural defense against toxins — and energy. Food is a major component of hangover recovery, as you can get those ingredients from everyday eats. Instead of greasy foods, like bacon and hamburgers, we recommend high-fat foods, like eggs, as well as asparagus, both of which contain those vital supplements.
Coffee can help, but sometimes the caffeine may be a little too much of a jolt for your body. Be cautious with this.
And ditch the junk food — that’ll only make your stomach feel worse.
But what if there was a natural hangover aid you could take, that has all of these things in them — the amino acids, electrolytes, energy, and the recovery?
Recently, the natural supplement OverEZ, another standout natural supplement from the EZ Lifestyle team, has shown to be very beneficial for people looking for a hangover cure. It is chock full of organic and pure ingredients that focus on liver recovery: the l-cysteine attacks the toxins; the zinc protects your liver; the chicory root helps with sugar levels, and the others lend their efforts to recovery.
What’s different, too, about OverEZ is that you take it beforehand. So, before your liver is met with toxins, it beefs up its defenses, and prepares the body for the recovery it’ll ultimately need.
Thousands of users are attesting to OverEZ, and how it’s changed their perspective of hangovers. They’re waking up the next day, feeling refreshed, and not letting a night out get them down.
Give it a try!
5.) Always Drink A Lot of Water
The body needs water to run smoothly.
An average person needs to drink about 2 to 3 liters of water a day.
The body needs water to burn calories and improve your metabolism, which means that a slight change in the supply of water will slow down the process.
To avoid being dehydrated, you should eat fresh fruits and vegetables along with the water you drink each day. Fruits and vegetables have some water in them as well.
Drinking water also helps you to feel full and help manage headaches- which are a side effect of dehydration and over-tiredness.
Try taking a bottle of water with you when you go to class in order to avoid the adverse effects of dehydration.
6.) Don’t Multi-Task While Eating
When you eat while doing something else, like watching TV, you are more likely to overeat because you aren’t paying attention to how much you are consuming.
A study conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that those who are distracted when eating not only eat more during that particular meal but also later on during other meals. As stated by the study,
“Evidence indicates that attentive eating is likely to influence food intake, and incorporation of attentive-eating principles into interventions provides a novel approach to aid weight loss and maintenance without the need for conscious calorie counting.”
7.) Drink Black Coffee Instead of Sweetened Coffee Drinks
Drinking coffee is good for weight loss. However, drinking sweetened or flavored coffee drinks is not.
Coffee helps you stay alert in class, but the drink also helps to increase your metabolic rate. An increased metabolism reduces the chances of gaining weight, and it also helps with endurance during training.
Some scientists believe that black coffee suppresses the desire to eat as well, which further minimizes your chances of gaining weight. As stated by a study published in Appetite,
“Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world and has a number of potential health benefits. Coffee may influence energy expenditure and energy intake, which in turn may affect body weight.”
8.) Find an Enjoyable Way to Exercise
Exercise cannot make up for a poor diet and unhealthy drinking habits, but it is still a crucial part of staying fit in college. However, exercise can be a daunting task while you are in a college environment.
Having a friend as a gym or exercise partner makes the whole process fun. If you often need additional motivation to make yourself go workout, a training partner is an awesome tool to help you.
You won’t feel tempted to cancel a gym session when you are going to hang out with your friend the entire time!
Another great option is to join an intramural sport.
Many schools offer recreational sports as part of their extracurricular activities. There are all sorts of sports that you can take part in while on campus.
You don’t have to be part of the school team to play either!
Club sports accept members regardless of their experience in the sport. By joining these clubs, not only do you have friends to work out with, but you also stand a good chance of losing a couple of pounds while exercising.
Lastly, you can simply walk more each day! Fasted walking is an excellent form of exercise that helps burn calories ad improve your overall health, and walking itself is one of the best cardio workouts.
So, find the form of exercise that is enjoyable for you, and do it!
9.) Get a Good Sleep at Night
When you combine all the nights out with the demanding amount of homework you will have each day, you will most likely cut down time meant for sleep.
However, that is a costly mistake. According to the American Psychological Association,
“Young adults entering college face newfound autonomy and adult responsibility. A consequence of this change is that many students alter their sleep habits and patterns to meet the demands of their new environment. These changes in sleep habits and patterns may have grave consequences for the student’s health and academic success.”
Reducing the amount of sleep you get each night triggers weight gain and poor habits.
10.) Manage Stress in a Healthy Way
Chronic stress can prevent you from losing weight, even if you are exercising regularly and have your diet in the check.
As stated by a study in Physiology & Behavior,
“Our findings confirm a modest weight gain over the first year at university, which was associated with higher levels of perceived stress in women.”
When you are stressed, it is easier to feel the need to eat more to replace the energy that the stress has used up.
For natural stress relief, consider CBD oil or other natural remedies for stress.
Concluding Thoughts – Tips for Staying Fit in College
There are many other ways of keeping your weight in check or reducing it while you are in college, this is only a shortlist!
Staying in shape in college should be one of your priorities, apart from the books.
Don’t let the stress of college compromise your health.
For more information, you can contact Anthony Maldonado. He has over Twenty Five (25) years of experience in the field of Education. He is an expert in the area of developing strategies of education and has a lot of experience with college students. He is presently working at his private tuition Singapore class. He has many additional tips for college students on staying fit as well.
Use these tips and stay fit through your college years!