Avoid college weight gain
As students begin the new semester, it’s a good time to think about how these changes will affect your eating and exercise habits.
While some weight gain in the first year of college has been called the “freshman 15,” that’s a bit of an exaggeration, says Barbara Cerniauskas, a registered dietician at Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
“According to recent studies the actual weight gain of freshman students is actually 2.5 to 3.5 pounds,” Cerniauskas says. “However, it seems that this weight gain continues through college, which could definitely become significant over time.”
She offers this advice for healthy eating and exercise habits that can help prevent weight gain, and help you feel and look great:
Eat breakfast — Get your metabolism going and feed your brain and muscles so you can think clearly and have more energy. Keep it simple with whole grain bagels and peanut or almond butter, a granola bar and some Greek yogurt, or high-fiber cereal with fruit and milk. Hardboiled eggs are a good choice and are easy to take with you.
Practice portion control — Especially with high-calorie foods, such as pizza, chips and sweets, which can quickly add up to unwanted pounds. Fill up on healthier things, such as fruits and vegetables.
Don’t drink your calories — “High-calorie drinks such as sodas, sweet coffee drinks and other drinks sweetened with sugar don’t fill you up, so it’s easy to get a lot of calories from them,” says Cerniauskas, noting that a 20-ounce soft drink has almost 250 calories. “Stick to water as your beverage of choice, adding lemon or lime for extra flavor.”
Don’t drink your calories, part two — Alcohol is also a source of empty calories, and it can also lead to increased hunger and late-night snacking, says Cerniauskas. If you’re 21 or older and choose to drink, be mindful of how much you are drinking,” she says. “Try alternating a drink and then a glass of water.”
Move it! Stay active — Consider joining the fitness center on campus; walk with friends; take a weekend hike, ride bikes or train for a 5K with a local running group. “That’s a great way to meet people in a healthy environment and have fun,” she says.