How to Lose Weight in College

Learn How to Lose the Freshman 15 and More

Break time
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There are some college experiences that are almost universal. Learning to get along with a new roommate, blanking on that first mid-term (you thought you were going to ace) and of course trying to lose the freshman 15.

If you haven't heard the term, "the freshman 15" is the name for that pesky weight gain many young people experience their first year of college. The experience is likely to happen if you live in a dorm where food is available all the time. But the weight gain doesn't need to be permanent. You can learn to lose the freshman 15 with simple eating tips and sound advice.

How to Lose Weight in College

There are a lot of great ways to manage losing weight in college. But what if you are already dealing with those extra pounds? Who wants to follow a diet at college?

The good news is that you don't have to actually go on a diet to manage your weight. With a few, simple lifestyle changes you can lose the freshman 15 and keep the weight from coming back

Planning Pays Off

Be honest. Have you been making the best choices in the dining hall? You probably find it harder to resist comforting, fattening food when you're hungry and it's in front of you. But comfort food can make your skinny jeans too tight.

Find out if your school posts the weekly menu in the cafeteria, commons, or online. By getting advance warning of each day's menu you will be able to identify healthier choices. When you know what you're going to eat ahead of time, the sight and aroma of rich comfort foods wafting through the cafeteria will prove far less tempting.

Avoid Multi-Tasking

Could you be munching without even realizing it? If the pounds have crept on while you've uttered, "I don't eat that much!" you may be falling victim to mindless eating. It's not uncommon.

Whether you're stressed, studying, or relaxing by watching a movie, it's easy to eat on auto-pilot. When your mind is on other things, it isn't monitoring what or how much you eat. Try to separate eating from other activities.

Timing Is Everything

When you don't take your time and eat slowly, sometimes you don't feel like you've eaten even though you have. This can lead to second or even third helpings and take in extra snacks throughout the day, even when you're not hungry. Try to relax and take a breath when you have a meal. You will be more likely to register that you've eaten. Remember, it can take up to 20 minutes for you to feel full after eating.

It's also very important to eat at regular times and try not to skip meals. Doing both will help keep your blood sugar in check, which will keep your energy level up and help you to avoid becoming overly hungry. You can also carry a healthy snack with you. Skipping meals almost always lead to overeating later. Healthy snacking is the solution.

Snack Smarter

Snacking too often can cause weight gain. If you snack between classes, you can bet your weight isn't going to taper off until you learn nutritious foods. Chips, soda, and candy are cheap, convenient and satisfying, but these foods have no nutritional benefit and really pack in extra fat and calories. Don’t keep these types of snacks in your room. The following snacks are good ideas for healthier choices:

  • String cheese and apple slices
  • Baked tortilla chips and salsa or reduced-fat bean dip
  • Tuna packed in water and whole-grain crackers
  • Broth-based soup and a slice of whole-grain bread

Nix Late-Night Noshing

This may seem virtually impossible when you're up late studying, but try to keep late-night snacking at a minimum. Instead of eating while you're studying, take a snack break. A quick snack can easily turn into a long night of overeating if you eat in tandem with studying.

If you do feel hungry at the start of a particularly tough study session, you may need to quell your hunger to improve your concentration level. Just try to avoid high-fat munchies like chips or leftover pizza slices. Instead, choose fruit like apples or oranges, pretzels, light popcorn, or cheese on whole grain crackers.

Bye-Bye Bottle

If you didn't drink alcohol before college and are now, it is very likely that drinking may be causing those excess pounds to pile on. Just one bottle of beer has about 200 calories. Have a couple, and you're taking in as many calories as a meal—without any of the nutrition or sense of fullness.

There are so many reasons to limit (if not eliminate) alcoholic beverages. They can cause health problems, increase your risk of getting hurt or causing an accident, and are habit-forming. They also don't do your weight any favors. Not only are alcoholic beverages high in calories, they also make you more likely to over-eat by lessening your inhibition.​

Get Moving

Becoming less active could be to blame for your weight gain. If you participated in sports in high school and now you're not, your metabolism is slowing down. Try to get enough exercise by incorporating about 30 minutes of moderate activity into your schedule each day, even if it's just brisk walking; not only will doing so slow — or even prevent — weight gain, you'll feel better, too.

You might also consider checking out your campus activity center for exercise classes. Grab some friends and hold each other accountable. If there is no health club on campus, look for budget-friendly gyms like Planet Fitness. With new guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Planet Fitness plans to launch new workouts and wellness opportunities for young adults in 2019.

A Word From Verywell

Your college experience is multi-faceted, but your focus will be on academic challenges. Staying healthy and maintaining your weight can help you reach your goals. If you need to, learn how to lose weight in college with help from your health center and if necessary take steps to lose the freshman 15 as a way to maintain your energy and stay focused on your goals—both physical and academic.

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