Whether it’s the all-you-can-eat buffets and unlimited access to unhealthy snacks or the simple fact that weight gain can often times start to occur at age 18 (or a little of both), here’s some tips on how to avoid packing on the pounds when going away to college.

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Eat Breakfast

Studies have shown that breakfast calories are more filling and satisfying than calories eaten later in the day.  Additionally, it has been shown that weight gain is more common in those individuals who skip breakfast.  Of course, it’s best to include protein (eggs, meat, nuts, seeds, beans, etc.) at breakfast meal and at all meals.  Eating a breakfast with protein boosts your brain activity and helps to stabilize blood sugar levels.

Always Have Healthy Snacks on Hand

Always keep healthy snacks on hand in your dorm.  Fruits, vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, etc., will help you to avoid binge eating with unhealthy alternatives like fast foods, vending machines, and campus convenience store foods. 

Limit Alcohol & Soda Consumption

It’s easy to rack up the empty calories in downing beer and other alcoholic beverages, as well as soda.  And that’s not even taking into account the late night munchies that typically accompany drinking alcohol.  So it may be a good idea to plan ahead and schedule in some extra time and effort at the gym the next day.  If you do decide to go out for beer or cocktails, drink a glass of water in between alcoholic beverages.  With alcohol, always remember moderation is key.  Also, instead of drinking soda, choose water or iced teas.

Enlist a workout buddy

Stay motivated by enlisting a workout buddy to keep you in check.  This will more than likely help to keep you motivated and stick to your fitness plan.

Boost your metabolism

Replace some of your carbs with lean meats, fish, and healthy fats like nuts and seeds.  Also aerobic activity can boost your metabolism for hours after your workout.  The more intense the workout, the more your resting metabolic rate rises.

Build more muscle

Building more muscle also boosts your metabolism.  For every pound of muscle, you burn about six calories a day at rest.  However, for every pound of fat, you’re only burning two calories a day.  So be sure to include weight bearing exercises (like weight training, walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, tennis, and dancing) in your regular workout regimen.

Drink water

Always and forever – stay hydrated.  Even being slightly dehydrated will slow down your metabolism.  Carry a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go.  Drinking adequate amounts of water can ward off some of the side effects of dehydration like headaches and fatigue.

Adequate sleep is key

As we know, school schedules can be quite hectic and our sleeping habits may be adversely impacted.  Unfortunately, disrupted sleep patterns can lead to a vicious cycle of weight gain.   In addition, you’re more likely to grab those sugar-laden drinks and comfort foods when you’re fatigued. Hormones can become imbalanced as a result, as well.  Some individuals can get away with only six hours of sleep, but most of us do best with 7.5 to 8 hours sleep nightly.

Manage your stress

School can be stressful in many ways – new people and surroundings, lots of homework, etc.  Stress can have a negative impact on your health, both mentally and physically.  High levels of the stress hormone cortisol can also make you store fat.  It’s a good idea to practice some form of stress management – like deep breathing, guided imagery, visualization, meditation, etc. – on a daily basis to combat the ill effect of stress.

Live an active lifestyle

If you’re living in a college town where you don’t need to drive everywhere, walk or ride a bicycle to your destination.  Take the stairs instead of using an elevator.  In general, live an active lifestyle.  Also make good use of the campus gym and check out the fitness class schedule.

Make sure you know what you’re really eating

Check out the nutritional information online provided by most campus dining services BEFORE you eat.   Make the best choices available to you.


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