You’re in college! There is a ton to handle in these four crazy years. Is your weight a struggle? Do you feel like you’re doing everything right and just can’t make any progress? Want to get healthier? Here are a few common reasons why you may be struggling to lose weight while in college.
1. … DRINKING
Well, duh. I put this one first out of the 7 reasons because it honestly is the main contribution to weight gain in college. Here’s a scenario: you eat healthy, you workout hard 5 times a week but every single weekend you binge drink 2-3 nights. The average shot has 80-120 calories per 1oz of liquor. If you’re averaging 8-10 shots per night, that’s around 1,000 extra calories in your diet. There is no way that you’re going to make any significant progress if you’re drinking every single weekend. You don’t need to drink to have fun, and you don’t need to drink to go out and socialize on the weekends. Do not compensate for a night of drinking with not eating a lot during the day!!!! Your metabolism will slow down when there isn’t enough food, and when you drink at night, it will be stored as fat, glucose and empty calories because your body hasn’t eaten a lot that day. If you do want to drink, be mindful of what you’re drinking and how much.
2. You’re not eating enough
Believe it or not, you have to eat to lose weight. If you put your body into a calorie deficit for too long, your metabolism will lower to what you’re minimally eating and it will be harder to adjust to a new plan. To figure out how many calories you should be eating a day, you will need to calculate your BMR (basal metabolic rate), and subtract or add from there. Generally, a healthy guideline would be to decrease your BMR by 500 calories to lose around 1 pound a week. For example, if your BMR says you should be eating 2,200 calories a day, you can subtract 500 and get 1,700 a day for a weight loss goal. And make sure your calories are not just calories to fill the goal. Eat lots of veggies, lean protein like chicken or turkey, and plenty of whole grains.
You can read more about calories and how to calculate your BMR according to your goals here.
3. You’re too stressed out
When you’re stressed, your body releases hormones that trigger different responses in your body. Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone”. When released in our body, it signals the body to replenish the food supply and will store fat and glucose for energy. Excess cortisol slows down your metabolism because our bodies want to make sure we have enough energy stored for the constant stressful situations. Emotional eating when stressed is very common also. So try to take breaks often when studying for tests, and make sure you have a healthy way to cope with stressors such as talking to a friend, going for a run, or listening to music.
4. You’re not mixing it up
This is one of the most important reasons why you might be struggling to lose those last couple pounds. If you do the same workouts at the gym every day or every week, and eat relatively the same foods every day, your body will get used to those things and you will plateau. A plateau is when you stop making progress for whatever reason. If you always do cardio, add some weight training or circuit training a couple days a week! If you only lift, add in some cardio! CHALLENGE YOURSELF with the weights you use when using a machine or when lifting. You will NOT get bulky. You will acquire lean muscle if training consistently and properly.
5. Just because it’s a salad, doesn’t mean its “healthy”
Be wise when choosing a salad for your meal. Make sure it is high in a lean protein source such as chicken or turkey and has plenty of colorful vegetables. Dressings have a lot of simple sugars, fats and saturated fats, so try to stay away from heavy, creamy dressings. These include: Ranch, Honey Mustard and French, and try to opt for balsamic vinaigrette, Italian or ask which dressing is a light version. (For Scranton students- the Greek Feta at the POD has the lowest fat content and lowest calorie content! I asked.)
6. You’re not drinking enough water
This is so vitally important to weight loss. Drinking enough water is critical because it cleanses out your system each day. When trying to lose weight, adequate amounts of water also help to effectively metabolize fat and make you feel fuller. Try to drink more than just the basic recommended 8 glasses a day. A good minimal guideline would be to drink to drink half your weight in ounces of water. So if you weigh 140 pounds, try to drink AT LEAST 70 ounces of water a day. A lot of water bottles tell you how many ounces it holds, so adjust accordingly to how many you need to drink. Also a glass of ice water or hot water with lemon in the morning right when you wake up will help boost your metabolism!
7. Coffee spots on Campus
This one breaks my heart a little, but unfortunately it has some truth. I love coffee drinks more than anything on this earth, but I don’t have them every single day. If you’re having a latte or macchiato every single day, the calories, sugar and fats are going to add up. For example, a Grande Iced Vanilla Latte from Starbucks has 190 calories, 4g of fat, 2g of saturated fat, 30g of carbohydrates and a shocking 28g of sugar. So if you have one of those every day, 5 times a week, that’s an extra 950 calories per week. Try opting for a drink with skim milk, sugar-free syrup or just get black coffee then add in your own milk and sweetener. I recommend either Stevia sugar or Truvia sugar, no calories and they make my coffee taste really sweet.
Don’t get discouraged from this article and please don’t go making crazy changes in your diet or workout routine. Start slow and make small changes for healthy, maintainable results. Make sure you’re eating good quality foods, sleeping enough, having fun, getting active, and relaxing when needed. If you want to lose some weight and make HEALTHY lifestyle changes, it’s all about balance, moderation, and making small consecutive changes to reach a goal!
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