It’s a common tale. When you start your first year of college you can expect to gain weight. Often to the tune of about 15 pounds, hence the popularity of the phrase, “freshman 15.” But here’s a bit of good news. There is growing research showing that that in the first year of school, the average amount of weight gained by students is only between 2.5 and 3.5 pounds. A Social Science Quarterly study from 2011 found, instead, that over a four-year span college men will gain a total of 13 pounds and college women will gain 9 pounds.
Of course, whether you will or won’t gain weight during your collegiate years depends on your habits. There are a number of things you can do to keep extra pounds off. Here are 15 ways to avoid college weight gain:
- Use the student fitness center – The majority of schools have an onsite recreation and fitness center that students can use for free. Use it.
- Get enough sleep – Try to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. Lack of sleep has been shown to promote overeating.
- Walk or bike – Try to walk or bike as much as possible, whether it’s to classes or social functions.
- Say no to the frappuccino – Fancy coffee drinks with whipped cream, milkshakes and sodas contain high numbers of calories. Instead of these choose water, regular coffee and if you must – diet soda.
- Get on schedule – Get on a regular eating schedule and don’t skip meals. Skipping meals negatively affects your metabolism.
- Don’t stress – Undue stress can often trigger overeating tendencies.
- Split it – If you go out to eat, split meals with friends. Doing so saves both calories and money.
- Eat your fruits and veggies – About 2/3rds of your plate should be filled with fruits and veggies at each meal.
- Avoid junk foods – Junk foods are empty calories that help you pack on the pounds but not feel full.
- Join a team – Join an intramural sports team. Not only will you burn calories, it will also help eliminate stress.
- Stock up – Even if you live in a dorm, you can still stock up on healthy foods like fruits, nuts and seeds that don’t have to be refrigerated.
- Treat yourself – When you have a healthy week of eating, treat yourself by buying yourself something. Maybe that cute t-shirt with your school logo on it.
- Hydrate – Drinking water throughout the day will make you feel full and less likely to overeat. Invest in a reusable water bottle to take with you to classes and to study sessions.
- Don’t party hungry – Eat before going to social functions otherwise you might be tempted to hang out by the snack table and eat junk food.
- Join a sorority or fraternity – Surrounding yourself with healthy, active people is a great way to keep your weight in check.
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