Worried About the Freshman 15? Here is How You Can Avoid This Weight Gain

With students heading back to college all across the nation, the dreaded term "Freshman 15" is sneaking back into many conversations. This term references the weight gain that college freshmen may put on during their first time living away from home. While 15 pounds is certainly on the high end of weight gain, it is not uncommon for new college students to gain a bit of weight during this time of transition.

Here are a few ways that you can help to avoid the freshman 15.

Be Prepared and Have a Plan

One of the biggest roadblocks in trying to maintain a healthy diet when away at college is a lack of available nutritious foods. Instead, you will be tempted with hearty dorm cafeteria meals, fast food, and late-night snacking. You can help to keep your diet on track by having a plan and being prepared with healthier foods in your room. Smart snacks such as protein bars, fresh fruit, and nuts will keep you from reaching for the foods that are more likely to contribute to weight gain.

Steer Clear of Liquid Calories

You may not even be aware of how many extra calories you are getting each day in your diet through liquid alone. That big glass of orange juice in the morning could be adding another 200 calories to your daily total. Alcoholic beverages and fancy coffee drinks are particularly bad offenders when it comes to excessive liquid calories. If you are looking to keep your calories in check, be sure to read the labels and understand what is in that favorite beverage.

Do Not Skip Meals

Many students living alone for the first time naturally get out of the habit of eating three solid meals a day. While you may think you are saving calories for later, you may end up sabotaging your diet plans by skipping meals. Eating a good breakfast is especially important. This is because studies have shown that skipping breakfast may lead to overeating later in the day. As a bonus, a good breakfast before heading to class will increase performance and help you to focus better.

Focus on Hydration

Oftentimes, students mistake dehydration for hunger. Staying hydrated will make it less likely that you eat when you should be drinking water instead. Combat this problem by being intentional about staying hydrated. It is a good idea to take a water bottle to campus with you and fill it up as needed. Staying hydrated will also boost the appearance of your skin, improve digestion, and more.

Get Your Sleep

Burning the midnight oil can also be a detriment to your efforts to stave off weight gain. Research has shown that you will be less likely to overeat if you are diligent about getting quality sleep each night. Not getting enough sleep can lead to an increase in the hunger hormone known as ghrelin, causing a decrease in the appetite suppressant hormone leptin. Rather than head out for that greasy spoon breakfast after a night out on the town, choose to head back to your room for an extra hour of sleep. This is also the perfect season in life to take advantage of naps.

Move Your Body

It is easy to fall into the trap of sitting around your dorm room and binge-watching Netflix with friends during your free time. Instead, make it a point to get your body moving. Most college campuses boast comprehensive fitness centers for students to use. Be sure to take advantage of all of these perks. If you are able to do so, you can burn a significant amount of calories simply walking to and from class rather than taking the bus or other types of transport.

All About Moderation

Like most all things in life, you will see the most success if you approach everything with an attitude of moderation. It is understandable if you want to lean into college life by indulging in that late-night pizza run. Watching your portion sizes and balancing the indulgences with mostly healthy food choices will help you to avoid gaining any unwanted weight.

Following these tips will ensure that you do not pack on the pounds during this transitional season in life.

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