BY ANTON LUCANUS
The Freshman 15 might be a myth, but there are plenty of studies that show weight gain during college is a real issue for plenty of students.
A 2012 study in Alabama followed 131 students over the four years of their college degree. What it found was that 70% of them put on between 12 and 37 pounds over this period. The researchers also noted gains in body fat composition and waist circumference as too.
There are plenty of factors contributing to weight gain for college students. Stress is part and parcel of studying, and for some people, binge eating is part and parcel of stress. Healthier options tend to cost more too, and for a cash-strapped college student, that means sacrificing smashed avocados on toast for ramen noodles and fast foods.
Bad sleeping habits are also a contributor. A study in the journal Behavioural Sleep Medicine had 132 freshmen at Brown University keep sleep diaries for nine weeks, and tracked their weight during this period. By the time the study was complete, over half of the students had gained up to six pounds.
There’s a social element that needs to be considered as well. In college, most opportunities for socialising revolve around food or alcohol. Either grabbing lunch together at the refectory on a break between classes, heading out to eat, or signing up for a game of beer pong. This adds an element of social pressure, some people may worry their friends will view them as fussy when they turn down fast-food options, or anti-social, if they decline.
So how can you avoid gaining weight during your college days? Here are a few simple tips you can follow, especially if you’re aiming to slim down before swimsuit season.
Water is life. So, drink plenty of it. It’s well known that too many calories from sugary drinks and alcoholic beverages can lead to weight gain. These drinks can also cause spikes in your blood sugar that actually increase hunger!
Keep your dorm room refrigerator stocked with quick, healthy, snacks. You can’t go wrong if you stick to things like fresh fruit, Greek yogurt, hummus, and baby carrots and celery sticks. Or try one of these nutritious microwave meals, all of them are easy enough to cook right in your dorm!
Eat three meals a day, every day, and don’t skip breakfast! Eating breakfast will not only jumpstart your metabolism, it can help you concentrate in class. It can be tricky for students to find the time to prepare and cook healthy meals between study and work. If you’re serious about losing weight, try one of the pre-prepared meal delivery plans out there! You can check out a comprehensive review of two delivered meal-plan options over on the blog Fitij.
Exercise! Even if you just walk to class, it’s important to stay active. Exercise plays a key role in both losing weight and keeping it off. College is the perfect time to get involved with a regular team sport or fitness class. Don’t be afraid to try some out. Exercise will also help decrease your stress levels, it’s the perfect reason to sign up for a kick-boxing class around finals time!
Get enough sleep. Less than six hours a night can affect hormone levels that control your appetite, cravings, and metabolism. The body craves the high-calories in junk food, so it can break it down quickly for energy. Eating healthier food will keep you full for longer, as well as helping you avoid the crash after a sugar high.
Byline – Anton Lucanus is the Director of Neliti. During his college years, he maintained a perfect GPA, was published in a top cancer journal, and received many of his country’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarships. Anton writes for The College Puzzle as a means to share the lessons learnt throughout his degree and to guide current students to achieve personal and educational fulfilment during college life.