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Beating the Freshman 15 Weight Gain


The fabled Freshman 15 may be a myth. Recent studies showed it is not true that during your first year as a college student, you will gain 15 extra pounds. Studies suggested that some freshmen do gain a few extra pounds, but 15 pounds is more than average. But it does not mean that you can devour an entire slice of chocolate cake whenever you can and enjoy a can of beer every night. 

As a college student, you're more likely to have freedom on what you decide to eat and how you take care of yourself. But also remember that college can be stressful and you need to be on your good shape to complete all your requirements and other responsibilities.

To do this, even during your first year of college, you should be able to practice what healthy habits suits you the most. Here's where to start:

1. Get enough sleep

Studies have shown that there is a positive relationship between getting enough sleep and maintaining a healthy weight. Sleep allows your body and mind to rest. More than that, sleep can affect your hunger-promoting hormone and hunger-suppressing hormone. Meaning, if you lack sleep, chances are you will have the urge to eat more than you used to. 

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), sleep helps you maintain a healthy weight by balancing the hormones that make your feel hungry. Basically, the more tired you are, the hungrier you feel. The hungrier you feel, the more you eat. The more you eat, the more the Freshman Fifteen becomes a reality.

Tons of research also showed that people who pull an all-nighter before an exam get lower grades than those students who get a good night’s sleep. Additionally, according to U.S. News, pulling all-nighter’s also leads to worse memory and less effective study methods. This is because your brain needs sleep to retain memories as well as connect information. 

So while pulling an all-nighter may be considered a badge of honor to some, perhaps getting an A on your exam is a better one. Getting a good night sleep can help make that a reality. 

One last thing about sleep deprivation, it makes you really crabby. Not only will you be miserable, your friends will be miserable being around you. Don’t make anyone miserable. And as college students, sleep is the first thing we sacrifice to finish our tasks. So it is important to make sleep a priority, and try to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep. 

2. Don't skip your meals and avoid emotional eating

Research have suggested that if you miss breakfast which is the most important meal of the day - you will increase your chances of becoming overweight or obese.  You are more likely to be hungry and impulsively snack on high-calorie meals. Eating gives you the energy to do whatever you need, so don't skip a meal - whether breakfast, lunch or dinner. And if you feel hungry, eat smaller amounts of food throughout the day. 

Try to be conscious of why you're eating. Emotional eating is a major cause of weight gain for college students. You may eat due to stress or boredom, for example. If you find yourself stopping for a snack on the way home from class, pause and ask yourself, "Am I eating because I'm hungry or because I'm stressed?" If the answer is the latter, try doing something else to de-stress. Go for a long walk or watch a movie you enjoy. This is a healthier option than eating due to emotional stress.

3. Stock up on healthy snacks and beverages

Yes, you're now on your own, but that shouldn't mean you can't eat healthy food. Feasting on junk food will not satisfy your hunger. Instead, you'll find yourself wanting to eat more a few minutes later. So, instead, keep healthy snacks within arm's reach. If you're planning to study, have a pack of nuts or a cup of yogurt by your side. If you have a full day of classes, do the same thing - fill up your school bag with nuts or granola bars. Doing this will lessen your urge to buy junk foods from vending machines, plus packing your snacks will help you save money. 

Whether you're downing energy drinks and mochas to wake up for class or having one too many beers on the weekend, those calories add up fast. For a caffeine boost, stick to black coffee or tea — or add just one packet of sugar, rather than ordering a pre-sweetened drink that's loaded with sugar.

Freshmen shouldn't be drinking alcohol in the first place, but it ends up happening whether it's legal or not. Remember that alcohol is empty calories, and most cocktails add more empty calories from sugar, too.

4. Exercise regularly and try extracurricular activities

Try to stay healthy by joining extracurricular activities in your colleges and universities. You can try out the sports teams or fitness clubs. 

Most schools charge you a student activities fee which is hidden in your tuition. Usually, the fee includes access to an on campus gym as well as activities such as intramural sports, tennis and basketball courts and many other programs. If you don’t take advantage of these tools, it’s as if you’re paying for a gym membership and not using it. In this case since you can’t cancel it, you might as well use it. But if you want to go solo, try working out at your dorm room or go for a run at your campus. 

Don't put off a workout. If you have time, go. Don’t put it off until later that evening. You may not have anything planned later, but being around so many peers, things can pop up at any time. There might be a party your friends just invited you to so you want to go. Or maybe it’s an assignment due at midnight that you forgot about. Whatever it is, it’s preventing you from going to workout because you chose to wait until later. 

5. Drink plenty of water

Most importantly, keep yourself hydrated! You may have heard of this before but  drink at least 8 glasses of water everyday, or drink two glasses every before meal. Carry a reusable water bottle and drink it throughout the day, filling up at water fountains for free. Not only will you keep the urge to snack in check, but you’ll also be more likely to avoid calorie-laden sodas. Train yourself to drink water every now and then, you'll thank yourself one day.

Food Guide

Works as Management Team at Our School and Us