“Freshman 15” is the worst fear of many teenagers who are starting their college adventure. A famous study conducted by Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine claims that students eventually do gain weight during their first years of college. However, they don’t have to fall victim to this if they can prevent it.
Stress of College Studies
Even the most brilliant and competent students can feel the stress when midterms, final exams and term papers are near. Exams, homesickness, making new friends, missing old ones and most importantly, work, can cause a lot of stress. For, freshmen, the stress associated with college life can be strange and new, and that can lead to weight gain. Cortisol, a hormone, secreted during stress is a contributing factor to weight gain.
Calories from Alcohol
Most students cope up with stress with alcohol. Alcohol is a big part of the freshman year for most of the students. A survey by USA Today claims that “College freshman study booze more than books,” of 30,000 college freshmen among 76 colleges, more than half did more drinking than they did studying. Meeting new people, trying new things and playing games involves alcohol for college freshman. Alcohol has several drawbacks, and calorie in it is a huge contributing factor to weight gain. Most students and as a matter of fact most people often do not take into consideration calories from alcohol and this can lead to unexpected weight gain over a long period of time.
Changes in Diet
Unless college freshmen stay close at home, many students do not get a home-cooked meal very often. Fast foods, Cafeteria and Midnight Snacks stuffed with hundreds of calories are also main reasons to gain weight. If unhealthy snacking goes unchecked, it may lead to gain of several pounds and eventually, severe weight gain.
College life can be extremely busy for freshmen. Between classes, work, social events many students have little time to exercise. In high school, athletics and extracurricular activities do keep the metabolism going, however, in college, these things change.
And why might college freshman struggle with those factors more than other students?
It’s difficult to imagine the changes that a student goes through when moving from high school to college. It’s a huge change that involves more stress and personal challenges when moving up the ladder.
For a freshmen food becomes a way to feel control over their lives as compared to seniors.
As compared to other students, college life for a freshman is like starting from square one. College seniors or high school students have friends but for a freshman its completely different, they have to make new friends, there are academic demands, boy-girl relationship troubles, money worries and easily available alcohol tends to change the lifestyle of such students. As a personal experience and while talking to some of my students they say “It can’t be that much different,” but I’ve often seen they are quickly neck deep into a real difficult time of transformation.
Plus, making new friends isn’t easy, however, socializing is easier when there is food around. Hence one develops “emotional eating”
Breaking the Freshman 15
Don’t forget Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. A study published by The American Society of Nutritional Sciences, researchers found that breakfast calories are more satisfying than calories eaten later in the day.
Studies have also shown that weight gain is more common among those who skip breakfast. If you skip the first meal, it is highly likely that you become famished later and that may cause overeating.
Stock up your room with healthy snacks
Foods like fresh fruits and vegetables will completely change your lifestyle. The point is to get yourself a good diet.
The truth about alcohol
Each beer has an average 150 calories. 6 or 7 drinks and you have consumed 1000 calories which is absolutely no good for your health.
There is absolutely no stopping of students from alcohol, what you can do is PLAN AHEAD. When you know you will be heading out for a party, try to fit in some extra time at the gym.
Can I eat less to drink more?
Absolutely not. Not only drinking on an empty stomach increases the potency of alcohol, but that rapid effect drops your blood sugar and triggers hunger. Lowered inhibition due to alcohol and hunger will most likely lead you to eat a lot more calories than you intended.
Get a gym partner
Having a workout buddy is the perfect way to keep you in check. Whether he or she is a roommate, a classmate or someone who follows a similar schedule as you do, the chances of sticking to your fitness regime significantly increases.
Join the athlete club
Join the sports club, most of them ask for $15 annually. Most of these clubs will even accept you regardless of whether you’ve played sports before or not.
Boost your metabolism
Consider replacing your larger meals with lean meats, chicken, fish and other forms of protein. It’s a known fact that the body burns more calories in digesting protein that it does with fats and carbs.
Aerobic exercises are also a great alternative to boost your metabolism.
Aim for building more muscle
Muscle does not weigh more than fat; it just takes up less room in your body. Its pretty obvious that one pound of muscle weighs the same as one pound of fat, however, muscles take up less than half of the room in your body as compared to fat.
Building more muscle also boosts the basic metabolic rate.
Rest and sleep are your best friends
Terms and papers can easily cut the amount of sleep you need each night in half. An altered sleep pattern can lead to a vicious cycle of weight gain.
According to most researchers, when a person is tired, they are more likely to consume sugary drinks and snacks for a boost in energy. Furthermore, sleep deprivation also disrupts the metabolism.
Ghrelin is the hormone that tells you when to eat, and when you are sleep-deprived, you have more ghrelin. Leptin, another hormone, tells you to stop eating. If you’re sleep deprived, you have less leptin. Either way, sleep deprivation is definitely not good for the body.
Give it time
If you quickly consume your meal, you will probably go to the kitchen for more. The reason for that is that it takes around 20 minutes for your brain and stomach to synchronize and to realize that it’s full.
In a study published in the journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers found that those who eat slower tend to consume less calories and more water.
So, try to schedule your meal time around 20 to 30 minutes. You can do this by slowing down or you can divide up your food into portions allowing yourself to eat more after some time has passed from the first portion.
Try biking or walking
Try walking through the campus. If you’re always in a hurry, it’s a good idea to get a bike for yourself. If you’re going into town and taking a bus, it’s better to get off a stop or two early and walk the rest of the way. Taking stairs instead of the elevator is also a good way to burn calories.
Find out calories in the food that you eat
Most campus dining services provide you a daily menu and all the nutrition details in it. It’s always good to check the calories in each meal that you take. Following this method will help you make an informed decision about the drawbacks of a big grub.
Coffee doesn’t only help you stay awake but it can also boost your metabolism and it can help prevent weight gain.
Some studies have shown that drinking coffee with caffeine may increase weight loss because it can suppress the appetite.
If you have to drink coffee, take it black. Creams and sugars will only make you gain weight.
Stay away from drinkable calories.
This goes for both alcohol and fizzy drinks.
However, most students won’t give up alcohol, but if you have to drink, drinking a glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage helps.
Soda is another drink with tons of calories which students consume because they need a boost in energy. For quick energy fixes, try switching to black coffee, tea or any other less calorie packed energy supplements.
Visit the health and wellness center
Most colleges offer a wellness and nutritional center. Over there you will be able to find dietitians or other trained professionals who can help you in making the right choices when it comes to food and exercises.
If you feel like that’s to hectic, you can find students who are majoring in this field. Talk to them, tell them about your schedule and they should be able to help you out.