Course 104
Prevent College Weight Gain
Stay Active to Avoid the Freshman Fifteen

There are 3 factors that contribute to college weight gain and gaining the "freshman fifteen:"

  • Overeating
  • Over-drinking
  • Under-exercising

For overeating and over-drinking info, go back and review:

Under-exercising is likely to occur for one of 3 reasons in college:

  • No more gym class or organized sports
  • "Good enough" exercise
  • Hectic schedule and "not enough time" to exercise
No More Gym

While you might be thrilled not to "have" to go to gym class or sports practice anymore, think about all the calories you won't be expending as a result.

Unless you're one of the small handful who'll play team sports in college, you're likely saying goodbye to planned exercise time when you graduate from high school. Get ready to say hello to Freshman 15 weight gain!

Cheerleading practice, baton twirling, volleyball, basketball, softball, track practices, etc., may all be a thing of your past. College weight gain may therefore be a thing of your future.

Do The Math

  • Suppose you burned 350 calories in 1 hr of gym or sports practice.
  • Suppose you practiced 5 days/week.
  • 350 x 5 = 1750.
  • That means you're missing out on expending 1750 calories/wk once you permanently ditch sports practice or gym.
  • Over a 15 week semester that means you'd be expending 26,250 calories less than you previously did. (1750 x 15 = 26,250)
  • That translates to 7.5 pounds of college weight gain! (26,250 calories / 3500 calories per pound)

"Good Enough" Exercise

When you consider just a little movement, "good enough," you're on your way to college weight gain (aka, " The Frosh 15").

Here's a common scenario:

  • You go to the campus gym regularly because you understand the importance of exercising.
  • You're physically in the gym for an hour, but you spend half that time socializing.
  • You manage to fit in a 30 minute (moderate intensity) workout.
  • You do this 3 x per week.
  • The story in your head says, "I work out regularly. I go to the gym for an hour almost every other day. That should be good enough to fight freshman 15 weight gain."

Do The Math

  • Very roughly, you can estimate calorie burn at 6-8 calories per minute.
  • Let's be conservative and use 6 calories per minute for this example.
  • If you exercise for 30 minutes, burning 6 calories per minute, that's 180 calories per workout.
  • At 3 workouts per week, that's 540 calories you're burning per week.
  • Suppose in high school you were burning 1750 calories per week (as in the example above).
  • NOW, you're only burning 540. That's a 1210 calorie difference per week.
  • 1210 x 15 week semester = 18,150.
  • 18,150 / 3400 calories per pound = 5.2
  • That means, even if you workout moderately 3 times per week when you go away to college in place of regular gym class or sports practice, you could gain 5 pounds!

That's how easily college weight gain happens. (Or how easily it happens any time in life....)

Kudos to you if you make it to the gym regularly while on campus. Just don't OVERESTIMATE the effects it has.

Don't settle for "good enough" workouts. It's ok to socialize in the gym. Just do it while you're legs are moving on a treadmill or bike :)

College Weight Gain: Hectic schedule and "not enough time" to exercise

Yes, you're going to be very busy given all the new activities college has to offer and it will be quite easy to make the excuse, "there's just NO TIME to exercise!"

There’s no better time than when you're in college to start fine tuning your time management skills.

Time management exercise

There are 168 hours in a week to fit in everything you need and want to do:

24h/d x 7d/wk = 168hrs/wk

Budget 10 hours/night for sleeping:
10h x 7d/wk = 70hrs/wk

Budget 1 hour/day for showering/dressing/hair/makeup:
1h x 7d/wk = 7hrs/wk

Budget 1 (combined) hour/day for eating:
1h x 7d/wk = 7hrs/wk

Budget 15 hours/wk for each class credit (assuming 15 credits or 5 classes at 3 credits each):
15 hrs/wk

Budget 3 hours/wk/per class for homework:
3 x 5 classes = 15 hrs/wk

70 + 7 + 7 + 15 + 15 = 114 hours

In this example, 114 hours per week (out of 168 hours in a week) are budgeted for "must do" things.

That leaves 54 hours per week (168-114 = 54) for fun, fitness, and work.

So plan to devote 5-7 hours per week (of the 54 hours left) to exercise!

'nough said.

No exercise AT ALL

If your exercise routine looks like this:

  • lift
  • open
  • eat
  • repeat can pretty much count on the fact you'll experience notorious college weight gain.

So get moving and stay moving!

Proceed to:

Course 105: Healthy Eating in College: Timeless Tips

Or go back and review:

Freshman Weight Gain Overview

Free Weight Loss Help

Personal Nutrition Guide Home Page