Weight Gain and the College Freshman

Weight Gain and the College Freshman
  • Opening Intro -

    Its back: stories about the Freshman 15, what some contend is the average weight gain for first-year college students.

    Fortunately, most people realize that the term "Freshman 15" is erroneous as college students typically gain much less weight during their first year away from home.


Indeed, the typical freshman student weight gain ranges from 2.5 to 3.5 pounds according to an Oct. 2011 Science Daily report. Moreover, that weight gain cannot be attributed to college cafeteria fare alone, rather it is a result of students becoming young adults and experiencing the resultant changes in their metabolism.

Given that young people may be particularly concerned about their weight and may also be worried about gaining too much poundage over the next four years, the following tips can help students avoid excessive weight gain.

Know This First

Most adults gain weight over time, averaging 1.5 pounds per year as they age. After 10 years, that’s 15 extra pounds. After 20 years, its an additional 30 pounds of girth.

Busy college students may look at their lives through a narrow prism, seeing how they live now only instead of looking at the larger and long-range picture. Students that have been made aware that gaining weight can continue throughout their lives will be better suited to counter this trend.

An Exercise Regimen

One way for young adults to counter excessive weight gains is to incorporate an exercise regimen. A body in motion is much less likely to gain weight than the one that is sedentary.

If you can exercise up to 30 minutes daily, you should avoid weight gain. Even if committing to regular exercise is a challenge you cannot always meet, you can exercise in other ways. Walk to your classes. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Ride your bike. For some students, dividing their exercise time into smaller segments is more manageable than exercising in 30-minute groups.

Breakfast or Not

“You should eat breakfast daily to give your body fuel for the day,” some people contend. Others might say, “skipping breakfast is a good way to lose weight.”

So, which is it?

A Cornell University study, “Effect of Skipping Breakfast on Subsequent Energy Intake,” indicates that missing breakfast “may be a healthy way to shed weight.” Instead of eating more to compensate what they missed earlier in the day, the researchers found that study participants consumed 408 fewer calories during the day despite having skipped breakfast.

The results of the study fly in the face of conventional wisdom that breakfast should be consumed without question. Indeed, researchers did find that if people are diabetic or hypoglycemic, then eating breakfast is necessary to maintain glucose levels.

Snacks and Alcohol

Two ways that people gain weight is by consuming unhealthy snacks and by drinking alcohol. Both in moderation may be fine, but the caloric intake of some of our favorite snacks and even one glass of beer can put on the pounds.

Choose more healthful snacks when you are hungry, looking for those items that combine protein and carbohydrates. And if you consume alcohol, drink water between alcoholic beverages, avoiding sugary beverages that can pack on the pounds.

At the Cafeteria

One area where students can find pounds just waiting to be packed on is at the college cafeteria. Here, your food choices can go a long way in determining whether you gain weight and, if so, in moderation or not at all.

College students should familiarize themselves with the federal government’s MyPlate guidelines to choose foods from five groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy. Whole grains, steamed and baked foods and a sensibly sized dessert are the best approaches to take.

Staying Healthy

By following a carefully planned exercise regimen, making good meal choices and limiting your consumption of alcohol and fatty desserts, you can maintain a healthy weight. If you do notice that you’re still gaining weight far above what you should, then see your doctor or college health clinic for assistance.

See Also12 Foundational Tips for College Freshmen


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