11 Tips to Avoid Freshman 15.

Hey Davey,

I’m in college. I’ve been overweight most of my life. As a nursing major, if I want to be able to take care of my future patients I need to take care of myself. Do you have any suggestions on weight release for college students? Especially, those of us who live on campus and don’t have mom and/or dad cooking for us anymore?


Hey Cas,

It’s back to school season and it’s estimated that more than 150 million individuals will be attending colleges and universities this year. Higher education can be a wonderful thing for the mind – but it’s often not-so-wonderful for the body.

Though the term “freshman 15” refers to the ubiquitous notion that students gain 15 pounds in the first year of university, most students actually gain 5.29 pounds.

Nonetheless, university need not be a time of weight gain and unhealthy eating. Here are a 11 tips to make all of your college or university years a little bit healthier:

  1. Make use of the mini fridge. Most campuses allow for mini fridges; make the most of yours. Stock it with healthy (but delicious) options like fruits, vegetables and other nutritional foods. It’s easier to eat healthy when you’re preparing your own food.
  2. Schedule time at the recreation center. Almost every campus has a rec center that’s open to students; use it! Look at your schedule and find chunks of free time that you can dedicate to exercise. Think of your gym time as another class and plan your day accordingly.
  3. Pick your liquor carefully. If you’re legally able to drink, make wiser alcohol choices. Many drinks are packed with calories and yet totally devoid of nutrients. Straight liquor and gin and vodka tonics are among the lesser of evils – and always remember to drink in moderation. The calories really add up.
  4. Walk more. Walking is one of those little things that can add up. Instead of driving across campus or taking buses, walk as much as possible. These little bits of exercise will help you burn more calories throughout the day.
  5. Join a recreational sports team or group. Most schools have organized intramural sports teams. It’s a great way to stay fit, socialize and have fun. In addition, your campus may have student groups geared towards exercise – like yoga, hiking, running, etc. Join them!
  6. Use pizza as a treat. While the typical American might eat 46 slices of pizza per year, that number is presumably much higher for college and university students. Unfortunately, pizza is loaded with calories and unhealthy fats. Trying to eliminate pizza altogether isn’t practical; instead, use it as a treat for special occasions.
  7. Opt for healthier cafeteria options. Not all cafeteria food is created equal. While it might be tempting to reach for the french fries and fried chicken, look for alternative options. Start with a healthy salad, for example, and top it with grilled chicken. If you go back for multiple plates of food, ensure that you wait for a few minutes in between courses – your stomach may be full before your hunger ceases.
  8. Don’t keep junk food in your room. Duh. While studying or watching TV, mindless snacking is all too easy. You’ll be much less likely to indulge in this destructive habit if you don’t buy unhealthy snacks like chips and candy in the first place. Instead, cut up an apple and top it with some peanut butter. Or snack on some berries and nuts.
  9. Eat breakfast. Skipping breakfast has been linked to slower metabolism and weight gain; never skip breakfast. If you can’t make it to the cafeteria, keep some cereal and milk or hard boiled eggs in your room. Don’t miss the most important meal of the day.
  10. Sleep. Sleep deprivation has been associated with weight gain – so do your best to get a full eight hours, even if it means getting to bed a bit earlier than your friends. You’ll feel healthier and more energized.
  11. Have fun! Don’t let yourself become obsessed with your weight or diet. It’s all about balance; enjoy this amazing time in your life.

Did I miss anything? Share your best tips in the comments below.

About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.


  1. Dear Davey, when I saw this article in Facebook seconds ago it took my attention, mainly because all those advices i never used… instead I did them all in opposite ways, fast food, junk food, wine, vodca, cheap liquors, beer, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, unsafe sex.. a teenage hell.

    If I had acess to those tips and advices years ago I would have a better brain. As a 33yo man who abused of [almost all kind of] drugs and alcoholic drinks I may sound/look dated but those “(…)11 tips [will] make all of your college or university years a little bit healthier”.

  2. Those are all great tips and the exact reasons that I certainly gained a little weight when I started school. Here’s 2 other quick tips I have:

    1) GO TRAYLESS! –
    This goes along with your tip about finishing eating before going back for seconds. A lot of college cafeterias are doing away with trays because it reduces student waste and a number of studies in recent years have shown that students take more food when trays are provided. So this a good chance not only to help with portion control, but also be environmentally friendly! (Think more dishes = more water to clean)

    Another problem with heavy (read “binge”) drinking, especially in college, is the inevitable hunger that follows and follows you as you ward off a hangover. And when the hunger strikes, people usually don’t reach for celery sticks, it’s greasy, fatty food you crave. Plus it’s probably late and the only things open are fast food and you’re a poor college student, so the cheapness will appeal to you. It’s not bad for an occasional indulgence, but it’ll catch up to you if it becomes a habit, so yet another reason to monitor drinking – or spend an extra hour working out.

    Oh, and one more thing – take the stairs! A good life tip in general, but on every college campus I’ve been on, the elevators are incredibly slow and the buildings usually aren’t too tall, so it just makes more sense to make a healthy habit of choosing the stairs.

    • Scootie Pa Tootie says:

      Further to the one about the stairs…when walking across campus or wherever, ensure that you do not stray off the beaten path to make your walk shorter. Take those extra steps even if you are late for class. If you are late already, getting there quicker does not negate the fact that you are already late. Own up to it and try not to do it again. Thinking this way will also help train your mind not to take shortcuts in life either. Those extra steps will add up for you physically and mentally.

  3. Hi Davey, is it possible to lose 60 pounds in a month ? If so, what is perfect workout program for that ?

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  5. Drink lots & lots of water, avoid beverages with sugar.

  6. Hey, I remember the the first year of my university, which was last year, I gained almost 4 kgs. I realized this as I was not sure of what I was eating chips, snacks, unhealthy biscuits, soft drinks, whatever seemed to be in my reach, I used to get hold of it. I could get a hold to it because I had the money to buy it. So, you can REFRAIN YOURSELF FROM SPLURGING MONEY on such unhealthy things by planning where to invest your money. If you will see a lot of money in your pocket, then you’ll definitely want to have those things which will add to your weight. So set aside a little amount that you minimally require during the whole day and keep the rest of it in your ATM or locked in your safe. This is working for me this time. Secondly, as my friends told me EATING A HEALTHY AND WHOLESOME BREAKFAST can really help you lose weight. I am trying it this year and I am really seeing the result. They say, that metabolism rates are quite high during the morning so we must eat a healthy breakfast.

  7. My recommendation in college is to find something to motivate you to lose weight. At UMass, Physical Training with ROTC is offered as a class. A letter grade is the thing that keeps me moving through the workout…. That is besides all the wonderfully sculpted bodies I can stare at without being a creeper. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    See Davey’s motivational posts. He goes over a lot of helpful motivation topics, but the easiest one is the one that works for you!

  8. NEVER eat out of the vending machines — it’s ALL garbage.

    I actually LOST 15 pounds my first year of college because I was eating less, often never got around to it because I was busy with classes.

    But when I started working at a retail hell place and eating out of vending machines I put on around 15 pounds.


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