How To Avoid Freshman 15?

freshman 15

College students are familiar with the term “freshman 15”. However, it is not a common experience, but it has earned the nickname over several decades. 

It refers to the weight gained by college students in the first year of college. 

So what really causes this college weight gain in new students? How can they avoid it? 

Let’s find out the answers to all your questions down below.

What is the freshman 15?

Fresh 15 is a popular term in America used to describe weight gain during the freshman year in college. This weight gain is believed to be 15 pounds or 7 kgs. However, students do not gain this exact weight in the first year. 

A study found that more than 60 percent of college students gain a 7.5-pound average during the freshman year of college. This college weight gain is faster compared to the rest of the population.

Considering college brings a major lifestyle change, weight gain is not surprising for students. It is also the first time even students get to make their own decisions regarding exercise and eating. 

What are the causes of college weight gain?

There are many reasons for freshman 15. Below we have explained some of the common weight gain reasons in college.

Eating in dorms and at social events.

In the US, students move onto the school campus in freshman year, where they get prepared meal plans during the semester. As cooking in the dorm is difficult and even impossible because of the lack of kitchen facilities, prepaid meal plans are the best option. The students just have to swipe their id cards to get access to prepaid meals in the cafeteria and fill the tray with anything they would like to have. 

Several campuses are offering healthy options; however, fast food is always the most tempting option. This is especially when people around you are eating less healthy food or having had a long stressful day.

Control portion sizes are also difficult when the food is served in a buffet-like system, contributing to more calorie intake, ultimately leading to weight gain. College is full of social events and parties put up by different dorms, organizations, and clubs. This includes multiple food options ranging from takeout pizza to cold drinks and whatnot. 

According to a study done on 756 students of a college in their freshman year, it was found that students living on campus eat less healthy food like dairy, veggies, and fruits.

Read More– Cute Outfit Ideas for Girls to Try This Year in College

Eating late at night.

Another one of the main causes of college weight gain is eating late at night. Most incoming freshman develop this habit of eating late at night when staying up for studying or party and sometimes hunger just sneaks up. This sudden craving can lead to late-night overeating or maybe binge eating, sometimes leading to Freshman 15. 

According to a study, people who eat between 11 pm to 5 am consume 500 more calories per day, eventually leading to 3.5 pounds more weight gain than people who eat during the day only. 

This happens because people who eat late tend to pick high-calorie and processed foods instead of healthier options because making healthy choices at night is even more difficult. 

Stress and emotional eating

College experiences are full of excitement and challenges, including new friendships, classes, relationships, and at times feeling homesick. Some people deal with stress better in exams, cope with financial crises of student loans, and balancing their social life and studies. 

People dealing with mental or emotional stress tend to indulge in emotional eating, including consuming calories even when not feeling hungry. This happens because they are trying to fill that emotional void with food; it feels good, even if it is a temporary feeling. 

According to studies, people who are stressed gain weight more because of altered hunger hormones and increased cravings. (source) 

If you have been emotional eating, it’s time to stop before you reach a point where it becomes dreadful to lose weight, and you officially become Freshman 15. Also, students tend to reach out to their comfort food during stressful times. They eat less nutritious and high in fat and sugar food items like chocolate, icecreams, potato chips, and lollipops.   

Increased alcohol intake

Yes, college is when most people start drinking alcohol. While having occasional drinks does not affect college weight gain, regular drinking in the freshman year can hike up those calories quickly. 

According to studies, about 30 percent of students drink heavily in college, and about 42 percent of students are involved in heavy drinking more than once a month. 

This contributes to freshman 15 in two main ways. Alcoholic beverages are high in calories. Second, excessive alcohol can damage muscle tissue and lower the metabolism level. 

Consuming alcohol frequently will increase calories and weight gain as every gram of alcohol has seven calories. Also, these have additional fat and carbohydrates, depending on what you drink. 

When you drink, the boy metabolizes it first before fat or carbs, meaning the calorie from those nutrients will be stored as fat.

Also, researchers say that alcohol causes an increase in the appetite and decreased inhibition of food around you. This means you will choose high-fat, less nutrition-rich food. 

Not Enough Exercise

Sure running from one class to another is like a workout, but is it enough to keep you in shape? Most college students get busier as they were in high school, left with less time to do regular exercise and being involved in physical activities. This is one of the major causes of Freshman 15 or college weight gain.

Although it can be difficult to take out time to do regular exercise, doing something is always better than doing nothing. Try to find some workout that fits with your schedule. 

Regular workout routines can also help to relieve school stress, even a walk on a treadmill or campus while you review the notes can help to get rid of those extra calories you gained last night. 

Sedentary behavior

Doing exercise is great for your mental and physical health. However, with the increasing load of studies, students tend to transition from active high school kids too lazy college students. 

Sitting for longer periods while studying or hanging in dorm rooms is part of a sedentary lifestyle. This leads to burning fewer calories during the day and leading to more weight gain because you also keep eating as you used to when you were actually active. 

A sedentary lifestyle has various negative health impacts like depression, anxiety, and stress, which is not good for overall health. 

Read More- Healthy Breakfast Smoothie Recipes for Weight Loss

How to lose weight in college?

While gaining weight in college seems like an unavoidable task, here are some weight management tips to keep your Freshman 15 away and stay fit in the long run.

Stay active

It is always a great idea to stay active whenever you can get into college. Try to take part in regular exercise routines weekly. You can opt for running, jogging, lifting weights, doing workouts at home, watching youtube, or maybe join a group fitness club.

Increasing daily activities doesn’t mean you can only achieve that by going to a gym. Simple things like taking the stairs, walking to the class can make a big difference. 

Prepare healthy snacks

If you are someone who likes to study late at night and craves for snacks to stay focused, then it’s time to prepare some healthy snacks. Curbing your appetite while consuming fewer calories simultaneously is the best thing you can do to your body. This way, you will also stay away from less nutritious and high-fat processed food.

It is always a good idea to pack some healthy snack options in your room to keep a check on the urge to eat unhealthy when hunger strikes.

Here are some healthy snack options for you to eat when in college or later in life.

It is always a good idea to cut back on sugar and alcohol. These are high in calories and lack in essential nutrients. Also, these do not curb hunger and add to unnecessary calories. 

Fill your plate with nutrient-dense foods.

When you navigate the dining hall or cafeteria, start by putting healthy foods on your plate first. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and clean proteins. When your plate is filled with healthy food, you will have less space to put unhealthy options. 

Eating a balanced meal is the first step towards weight management and losing weight in college. This will also keep you full for long times, increase your energy and prevent you from gaining unwanted weight. Bye, Bye Freshman 15.

Manage your stress levels

Stress becomes a part of life, especially in the case of college students. This can have negative effects on weight and mental health. There are many different ways of stress management; therefore, it is always a good idea to find out healthy ways to manage your stress levels and keep a check on your health.

Here are some methods that you can try to relieve stress:

  • Spend more time outdoors
  • go for a walk in the park or maybe on a hike outdoors
  • practice breathing exercises
  • do yoga
  • meditation
  • listen to music that you like
  • make a meaningful social connection

Read More-6 Best Home Exercise Equipment For Beginners

Final Words

Freshman 15 is a term used to commonly describe the weight gained by students during their first year in college. Although the weight gain is not exactly 15 pounds, this is the average weight gained by college students in the first year.

There can be many reasons for college weight gain like eating during late-night study sessions, attending too many parties, alcohol consumption, etc., to lose weight in college or practice weight management; this article can be very helpful in finding different ways. From managing stress to indulging in regular exercises, good eating habits, there is so much you can do. 

If you find this article helpful, do not forget to leave a comment down below!


Hey There! I am A Makeup Artist turned into a Content writer. Intrigued by the world of digital marketing, I am currently working as an SEO Content Writer. Being a fashion enthusiast I enjoy writing blogs on Beauty, Fashion and Fitness Trends.