Tackling the Freshman Fifteen

Friday, February 24, 2012

“The Freshman Fifteen” has been a curse on college campuses for decades. Many students are able to fend off the extra pounds, but the majority fall victim. There are several reasons for this accelerated weight gain. Strict schedules that only allot for one or two meals a day, all-you-can-eat dining halls, lack of exercise and a lack of funds are but a few factors.

But, there are a few things everyone can do to shed those pounds.

The Numbers Game – 3,500. That’s how many calories are in one pound of fat. To gain one pound you’d have to have consumed 3,500 more calories than you’ve burned over ANY period of time, according to Donna Mincieli, a registered dietician specializing in counseling for weight loss, exercise and sports nutrition.

On the flip side if you burn 3,500 more calories than you consume over ANY period of time, you will lose one pound of fat.
    
What’s a Calorie? – Energy, plain and simple. Calories are units used to measure the amount of energy in whatever you’re eating. Think of food as energy. Before you grab a midnight snack or fast food, think about how much energy is in what you're going to eat. Ask yourself if you will be using that energy, because if not it will become fat.

Eat Often - Eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and between meal snacks. Eating frequently speeds up your metabolism. Spread your allotted calories out between these meals and snacks, but don’t go over.

Drink More Water - Cold water if possible. Water dilutes fat, adds to fullness and speeds up your metabolism. Soft drinks contain lots of calories, sugars and carbohydrates that we often don’t think about and don’t use.

Eat a Big Breakfast – Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Strive for a 400-500 calorie breakfast, but make healthy choices. A hearty breakfast provides much-needed energy, starts up the metabolism and can improve your overall mood.

Scout the Cafeteria - Do a lap or two around the dining hall to consider all your options. Consider what foods you really want, and experiment with the healthy options. This prevents the spontaneous cookies, french fries and pizza slices from ending up on your plate.

Snack Smart, Snack Often – A balanced diet isn’t about going hungry. Consider 100-200 calorie snack options, like beef jerky. It's very low in fat and high in protein, which is a great addition to any exercise regimen. It’s also low in calories and helps satisfy that meat craving.

Remember, no diet is complete without exercise. One major contributing factor to student weight gain is the adoption of sedentary lifestyles. If you want to adopt a 1,500 or 2,000 calorie diet, you should couple that with an exercise regimen that fits your schedule. Remember that magic number 3,500? Just imagine if you ate 2,000 calories a day but burned 2,500. You’d lose a pound of fat every week. That’s 52 pounds a year!