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Top 12 Ways To Beat The Freshman 15

Updated on December 29, 2009

Unlike the rumor that says your report card will be painted with straight A's if your roommate turns up DOA (RIP) or the one that vows you're allowed to leave lecture if your professor doesn't show up 10 minutes after the beginning bell, this one is real … really. Typical freshmen can expect to gain 15 pounds during their first year at college.

Stick to healthy, low fat meals.
Stick to healthy, low fat meals.

So? What's the big deal? Well, research has shown that males who remain within 10 pounds of their high school graduating weight significantly reduce their risk of suffering a heart attack. On average, those who shave off 5 to 10 percent their body weight can expect to their lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In turn, their risk of heart disease decreases while their life expectancy increases.

There are endless explanations for a freshman's newfound girth (extreme boredom, extra freedom, loneliness, convenience, stress, academic procrastination, lots of drinking, the munchies) but, regardless of the reason that may suit you, here is some information that will help you prevent the Freshman 15 from soon ballooning to the Senior 60:

1) Don't stockpile fatty snacks in your dorm room: if a craving kicks in, jog to the store.

2) Instead of Intro to Basket Weaving, enroll in an athletic class (badminton anyone?).

3) Use the school gym and play intramural sports. It's probably the last time you'll have free rein of such a nice facility.

4) Even if you drive to school, park off-campus and walk to class. Then take the stairs.

5) Make "bad" foods (those condensed, sugar coated, battered and fried) an exception... not a part of your daily diet.

6) Find other ways of relieving stress. Take a walk with a friend or organize a rowdy game of kickball. 20 to 30 minutes of exercise a day will increase your energy and alertness. And if you keep your heart rate at 80 percent of your max, you will burn fat for the following 24 hours. A leaner body burns calories more efficiently.

7) Muscle takes up less space than fat. If you are weight training, don't be overly concerned with body weight: remember, muscle outweighs fat.

Hit the gym.
Hit the gym.

8) "Failing to plan is planning to fail:" make an appointment with the school's nutritionist to create a personalized plan. For example, students at Columbia University can make an appointment a registered dietician, who will help them develop an exercise program and diet regimen that fits their specific lifestyle and schedule.

9) Eat a low-fat diet where fat calories equal less than 33 percent of your total intake. The average man should not eat more than 60 grams of fat per day; the average woman should not eat more than 50 grams of fat per day.

10) Lots of nonfat snacks = major calories, but don't be afraid to eat a little bit of fat: it will fill you up and can actually be good for you!

11) Listen to your stomach and only eat when hungry. Instead of three mammoth meals, eat more meals with smaller portions and try to avoid eating after 10 p.m.

12) Dance, especially if drinking. This will help burn alcohol's empty calories.

The four food groups to avoid:

1) Polysyllabics: anything containing ingredients your little brother couldn't pronounce.

2) Saturated fats. Typically, these are animal extracts and will maintain their shape at room temperature. Conversely, unsaturated fats (usually those from plants and vegetables) are liquids at room temperature and can actually promote health and well-being.

3) Fried foods (again, make them the occasional exception to the rule).

4) Olestra. Sure, it tastes good, but you may want to think twice about a food that will make you run the risk of "anal seepage."

Take some precautions now and avoid waddling around like a partially deflated beach ball for the rest of your life!

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