It can be very easy for new college students to gain weight in their first year of school by partying too much along with a lack of exercise and unhealthy eating habits. Below are effective diet and exercise tips to help new students keep the pounds off during this time so they can stay on track with their fitness goals. It’s very important to watch out for all of the tempting junk food and tasty alcoholic drinks that can be consumed at parties and other fun social events. Hopefully this article will provide the information you need to keep your weight in check!
With the start of a new school year many college students have discovered that the dreaded “Freshman 15” is very real! The Freshman 15 is when a student gains 15 pounds (and sometimes more) during their first year of college. What I hope to achieve in this article is to offer you some great tips and suggestions on how to avoid packing on the Freshman 15 while keeping your overall health, wellness and fitness levels up and your stress levels down.
Who is susceptible to the Freshman 15? For most, it’s the college students who are living away from home for the first time. Although most (if not all) college campuses offer healthy food options, being away from home for the first time doesn’t equate to making great choices for most students.
This often means eating unlimited sweets, cereals, snacks and other unhealthy foods which you would not normally eat if you were still living at home. This is not to say that you’re unable to make better food choices, it just means you may not be making the best choices for your body and your activity level. When it comes to eating healthy, you should always try to eat foods that are higher in protein by adding foods like chicken, turkey, fish, eggs and even protein supplements when you’re rushed for time. Stock up on fresh vegetables from the cafeteria, as there are usually plenty of green leafy veggies available along with delicious fresh fruit.
Exercise and Move Your Body!
Exercise should be a given but keep in mind that walking around campus is not quite as much exercise as you should be getting every day. One of the best things about campus life is that your college or university offers some awesome fitness classes that you can take advantage of and, in some instances, they are even required to take in order to graduate.
Step outside of your comfort zone and try some new classes such as Zumba, CrossFit, cardio kickboxing and other fun workouts to keep you entertained and motivated. Take advantage of the cardio equipment in the gym as well as the strength training machines and free weights. You can even take part in lacrosse, basketball, volleyball, running and cross country!
Shoot for 30 minutes of cardio per day (minimum), which means continuously moving for 30 minutes and you’ll find that your results are much greater when combined with resistance training which will help to keep the Freshman 15 at bay. You can even add an outdoor sprint workout to your routine or run up hills around the college for some great HIIT training!
Watch The Partying!
It’s understandable that when you’re living on campus you will be invited to parties and other fun social events with your friends, roommates or your fraternity/sorority. However, it’s important that you make both healthy choices and smart decisions when you are partying or the Freshman 15 will quickly rear its ugly head!
Alcoholic consumption is one of the biggest reasons for added weight gain since it’s basically liquid calories which go down quickly and pack on the extra pounds extremely fast! Alcohol is high in calories (7 calories per gram) and it’s basically empty calories that you don’t need in your body – especially if you are an athlete or if you’re trying to lose weight and live a healthier life. So, try your best to watch the total number of drinks you consume at parties and choose healthier options (light beer versus regular beer) or diet soda mixers instead of sugary ones. Choosing better options for alcoholic drinks can literally save you hundreds of calories every night!
21 Tips To Avoid Gaining The Freshman 15
Here are 21 diet and exercise tips to help you keep off the Freshman 15 so you can avoid gaining weight during your first year of college:
- Get plenty of sleep. Try to get to bed at the same time every night and make sure that all of your study materials are put away so that you’re not tempted to keep studying. Try to get in a minimum of 8 hours of sleep per night so that you can awake refreshed and ready to handle whatever the new day may bring.
- Stay hydrated. Dehydration can cause your body to feel tired and sluggish. Staying hydrated can help reduce your appetite, clear your skin of toxins, assist with kidney function, aid in digestion and helps to improve circulation.
- Make sure you go to bed at the same time every night. Scheduling a set pattern for sleeping will help get you on a routine and make your day much more efficient.
- Take 5 to 10 minute breaks every hour. Taking a 5-10 minute break every hour will help to clear your mind of clutter and allow you to refocus on the task at hand. Taking a break can include a quick body stretch, a walk or jog as well as a 5-minute HIIT workout (High Intensity Interval Training) by doing cardio for 30 seconds hard and then resting for 10 seconds (jumping rope, sprinting).
- Make sure you are stretching and avoid sitting for long periods of time. Stretching can help relieve stress and tension as well as helping with sore muscles especially in your low back, neck and shoulders during long periods of studying.
- Add Yoga or Pilates classes or DVD workouts to your weekly schedule. Yoga and Pilates are great exercises that you can do at school or at your local gym. Yoga and Pilates can help decrease stress, tension and improve your flexibility, balance and your overall sense of wellness. You can also use DVD workouts (P90X, Insanity) to get a great calorie burning workout in your dorm room or apartment.
- Perform 30 to 45 minutes of cardio daily. This is in addition to your normal routine of walking to your classes during the day.
- Strength train 3 to 4 days a week. Lifting weights for just 30 minutes 3 times a week will benefit you greatly. Sign up for classes at your school since you will be able to workout with certified professionals who will help assist you with different exercises.
- Consume plenty of green leafy vegetables. Whether you’re adding them to your smoothies, juicing with them or eating them raw, you will be ahead of the health and fitness game by eating green leafy vegetables every day.
- Eat 2-3 servings of fresh fruit daily. Cut up some fresh fruit and place them in a baggy or container for a quick pick-me-up or add them to your smoothie for added nutrients and natural sweetness!
- Frozen fruit is fine too. Fresh fruits and vegetables are always king, but when you can’t get access to them, choosing frozen options is just fine.
- Limit your salt intake. Did you know that salt can contribute to bloating? If you’ve ever felt like you’re retaining water, decrease your salt consumption and drink plenty of water to flush out your system.
- Use a blender for smoothies. If you have a blender, use it! Adding a variety of both fruits and vegetables will help to curb your sweet tooth along with giving you a longer feeling of fullness and it will ensure that you’re getting your daily requirements of many powerful nutrients.
- Read food labels. Knowledge is power! Check the labels on all foods (when possible) before mindlessly eating them. Your diet is the number one indicator of whether you will pack on those 15 pounds during your first year, so always be aware of what you’re putting into your mouth!
- When reading labels check the sugar content as well as the sodium and calorie content before eating. Don’t just look for the fat content of the food. Too much sugar can both spike your blood sugar and lead to unnecessary weight gain. Do your homework and closely review the information on the back of the label!
- Pick the right snacks. When choosing cereals or bars, choose products that are high in fiber, low in sugar, low in calories and high in protein.
- Eat quality protein sources. Include muscle building foods like chicken, tuna, fish and turkey in your diet.
- Challenge yourself with a meatless day. There are plenty of tasty meatless, vegetarian and even vegan meals that you can enjoy. Look online for hundreds of different recipes and try going meat-free once a week.
- Visit your local farmers market. This is the best place to find fresh produce that is locally grown in your area while helping to support local farmers.
- Add a protein supplement. Protein powders and bars come in very handy when you’re rushed for time and need a quick protein snack. Put a box of protein bars in the freezer and throw a couple of them in your school bag to snack on during the day.
- Socialize! Making new friends and joining different clubs will help you to stay active along with having fun. You might find a fitness group that enjoys doing obstacle course races like the Tough Mudder, Spartan Race or the Warrior Dash. You can have fun and make friends while also burning tons of calories!
Your freshman and college years should be some of the happiest times of your life so take advantage of them, but also keep an open mind to your surroundings. By creating healthy diet and exercise habits you will be able to stay fit during these important years and live lean and healthy for the rest of your life!