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 a 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 Essay Writing Solutions UK, Smile Tutor, and other sources that have proved to be helpful for maintain your body shape while you are in college!
How to Stay in Shape in College – Diet Tips
As a social group, college students practice more unhealthy habits than most other social groups. There are many reasons for this, and one of the main ones is that college students do not want or do not have time to prepare their food.
As someone who played Division One basketball in college, I can assure you that cooking food is a long and time – consuming process, and even college students who have more free time than I did do not want to spend their time cooking.
Students do not have time enough to prepare their food because they are too busy with their studies, doing homework, preparing for their exams, socializing, and so on.
On the other hand, most of the students do not know how to cook their food. Some students consider cooking your own lunch are more expensive than just buying a burger or pizza, or some other junk food.
Although it is a bit more difficult to stick to a healthy diet while in college, it certainly isn’t impossible!
A healthy diet will improve your overall health, it will make your skin look better, it will make you feel better and even think better!
On the other hand, eating junk food such as pizza, burgers, fries and so on, will weaken the immune system of the students due to a lack of vitamins, minerals, etc.
Eating a poor diet will result in getting sick more often, and having worse health overall.
Excessive consumption of fast food can lead to gaining weight, which may result in cardiovascular diseases.
Furthermore, staying fit in college on a students budget is more complicated than at times during your life when you have more disposable income to spend.
However, it doesn’t mean that college students can’t change their dietary habits. A study published in The Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences stated that,
“Despite several methodological limitations, we found that significant and beneficial changes in dietary habits have been found for college students after the implementation of nutrition interventions via various techniques”
In other words, after receiving proper guidance on how to eat properly, college students accepted the changes which needed to be made and improved their diets.
It might be difficult to practice a healthy diet for the students during college, so here are some tips on how to eat healthy during college:
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, he first options that come to your mind then are some 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.
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!
Eat Snacks More Often
Dr. Diekman says that to avoid gaining a sudden amount of weight, you should eat mini-meals around the clock. He insists that the meals should be little so that you can lose weight effectively.
Eating small and concise “meals” increases the number of calories that you burn while resting, because your body has nutrition to metabolize.
If you are consistently eating healthy snacks, you will also develop the habit of sticking to healthy foods more quickly. Overall, consuming healthy snacks throughout the day will keep you on the right path towards losing or maintaining your weight.
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.
Limit 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 to taste so good, however, sugar is addictive. 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 the cognitive skills and so on.
Avoid consuming sugar and sugary snacks and drinks. They have little nutritional value and provide a lot of calories.
Additional Reading: Sugar Alternatives for Coffee
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.
Eat Before Drinking Alcohol
When you drink on an empty stomach, the effect of alcohol comes hits you faster. Alcohol drops the level of sugar in the blood which makes you feel very hungry, and you will likely end up overeating.
Throughout the process, you will end up consuming a lot more calories than you would have if you had eaten throughout the day. Try eating normal, healthy meals before you have a night out.
But still, limit your drinking.
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.
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.”
Drink Black Coffee
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.”
Being Fit and Healthy in College – Exercise Tips
Although diet is the main portion of your life that will make the difference in being fit and healthy in college, exercising can make a huge difference as well. Check out these tips:
Find a Fitness Buddy
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!
Be an Active Member of a Sports Club
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 the 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.
Staying Fit in College – Lifestyle Tips
Here are a couple of tips for your college lifestyle which can help you stay fit and healthy in college:
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.
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.
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 short list!
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!