Freshman 15: Truth or Lie

For years, rumors of the dreaded 'Freshman 15' have haunted incoming college students, but how much truth really lies in this weight-gain saga? I’m here to tell you -- not much.

Gaining weight in college isn’t inevitable. In fact, many people actually lose weight when they start college because they no longer have unlimited access to a fridge. While some may experience weight gain, the actual amount is way lower than 15 pounds. Studies show it’s actually around two to five pounds.

Change in weight is very individualized and has everything to do with our genetics, habits, and lifestyle. Here are some factors that may be affecting your weight:

Lack of sleep: With a never-ending pile of assignments, exams to study for, extracurricular's, and a job, sleep is usually the first luxury to go for a college student. A lack of sleep can affect hunger and appetite levels and cause you to eat more. Also, constant midnight snacking while studying can quickly add up over time.

Alcohol: We all know that alcohol isn’t always our friend, but it definitely isn’t very kind to our waistlines. While it’s not a direct contributor to weight gain, alcohol does carry its own set of calories, so you have to be mindful when drinking. Drinking too much along with your regular consumption of food is sure to put you over your calories for the day, leading to weight gain.

Eating habits: Our eating habits are probably the biggest contributor to weight loss/gain. College comes with almost 24-hour access to food and many take advantage of this without considering how many calories they’re consuming. This is especially true when first starting college, causing many to think they’re experiencing the 'Freshman 15', when in reality you’re just consuming more calories than your body needs.

Lifestyle: Our lifestyle's play another major role in whether we gain or lose weight. If you’re not exercising regularly or leading an active lifestyle, you’ll most likely gain weight unless you consume fewer calories than you need. Usually, this isn’t ideal. A lot of incoming freshmen experience weight gain because they’re not as active as they were in high school and don’t even realize it. So even though their eating habits haven’t changed, their activity level has, and there’s nowhere for the extra calories to go. If you’re more of a bread than veggie gal then you might have to work to shave off the extra pounds. Luckily, you’re already paying for an FIU gym membership and they offer tons of fun classes you can take that will allow you to continue eating your bread, guilt-free.

Everything in life is about balance, so while you’re most likely not going to gain 15 pounds when you start college, a little weight gain is to be expected if you’re not doing anything to combat it.