Avoiding the Freshman Fifteen: 10 Tips for Staying in Shape


It can be difficult to keep the weight off when you’re living on your own for the first time. Without mom there to guide your portion sizes and nutritional intake, what’s a college freshman to do? Here are just a few ideas.

  1. Don’t Skip Breakfast

According to a study from the Journal of Nutrition, calories consumed at breakfast will give you more energy than calories consumed during any other time of day. As a bonus, you’ll also kick-start your metabolism with a morning meal. If you wait to eat until lunchtime, you’ll be missing out on hours of fat burning.

  1. Wait Out Your Cravings

Most cravings will disappear if you wait 20-30 minutes before acting on them. This is your best line of defense against leftover pizza, so pay attention! Before you indulge in something that you know you shouldn’t eat, make yourself wait and see if the craving will fade in time.

  1. Do the Downward Dog

If you’re too busy cramming for finals to hit the gym, consider switching to yoga. It’s a gentle, non-demanding exercise that can be performed by all ages and body types, and you can fit short sessions before classes and after meals. It will help with your stress levels as well, so it’s good for both your mind and your body.

  1. Brew Your Own Coffee

Starbucks might be convenient on your way to class, but you can never be sure what kinds of calories and sugars that you’re racking up with the barista eyeballing everything behind the counter. Invest in a countertop coffee maker to make your own java and control your own cup.

  1. Watch Your Portions

It’s easy to overindulge when you’re cooking the entire box of macaroni at once because you forgot to bring measuring cups from home. However, you might want to take a look at the serving sizes listed on the label. It can be quite surprising to realize how many portions you’re eating at once.

  1. Don’t Binge

At the end of a long week filled with classes, tests and social drama, you might want nothing more than to veg out in front of Netflix with a bag of chips and an extra-large soda. Resist this urge! Binging food will build up craving/reward cycles in your brain that are difficult to break after they’ve been formed.

  1. Pick Up a Sport

You don’t have to join one of your college teams if you’re not super-athletic. There should be a number of casual games happening around campus, including fun group activities like dodgeball, kickball and flag football. Instead of walking by them, why not stop and ask if you can join? You might even make some new friends.

  1. Avoid Fad Diets

There’s no such thing as a weight loss pill that will magically drop six inches from your waistline before the Thanksgiving holiday. You should also beware things like no-carb and gluten-free diets. At the end of the day, hard work is the only thing that results in real weight loss.

  1. Get More Sleep

You’re more likely to reach for junk food and energy drinks when you’re tired and hoping for a quick boost of energy. You’ll also struggle with impaired judgement due to sleep deprivation. How are you supposed to make good nutritional decisions when you’re wrestling your own eyelids to stay awake?

  1. Watch Out For Alcohol

If you’re over the age of 21, it can be mighty tempting to cut loose at a kegger. Just know that you’ll be consuming “empty calories” with each and every beer. Nutritionally speaking, the kind of alcohol available at a party will do nothing for you, so you’re just chugging fat cells into your body for no reason.

The freshman 15 can be a difficult fate to avoid, but you might find it a little easier if you take advantage of these tips, tricks and general fitness suggestions. Good luck!