How To Lose Weight In College

Most high schoolers dream of going to college. They look forward to the period of independence that is experienced in college. However, college is different from high school. There is more work to be done, extracurricular activities to be involved in and actually living independently of parents.

Moving to college is a major change in one’s life and the first year may be difficult to adjust to. In this first year, some changes in behavior can happen and these changes may be unhealthy.

These unhealthy changes can lead to weight gain and this phenomenon is known as “Freshman 15” which means that a freshman puts on about 15 pounds in college, but this could be more or less.

This article will explain how to lose weight in college, some common causes of the ‘Freshman 15’ weight gain and how it can be avoided or changed.

How Can I Lose Weight In College?

Losing weight in college

Losing weight will involve discipline. Going to a vending machine or getting a quick snack can help reduce your appetite and keep your hunger at bay but discipline will enable you to be conscious about adopting a new healthy behavior.


Here are some of the major ways we can lose weight in college.

Healthy breakfast

  1. Managing your day-to-day activities will go a long way to achieving a healthy lifestyle. When looking at the major causes of weight gain, time has a role to play. Like waking up early to prepare a healthy breakfast, ensuring you move around for a particular period of time, water breaks and so on.
  2. Study with healthy snacks. This can be almond nuts that can be carried around easily without preservatives or carrot sticks or cucumber slices or fruits like apples and blueberries. Have them with you or in your accommodation to reduce the rate at which you reach your hand out for a bag of potato chips (or an order of a mega-sized burger with fries and onion rings and extra cheese on your pizza).
  3. WHO has designed guidelines for different age groups concerning being physically active. College students are usually within the adult age bracket, which is between 18 to 65 years. This guideline states that:
  • We should be active for at least 150 minutes a week
  • Our activities should involve muscle-strengthening exercises 2 to 3 times a week
  • Aerobics should be done in bouts of 10 minutes

Join a nearby gym or form a walking club with some of your roommates or classmates and try going for walks for 30 minutes every day.

If your dorm is not too far from your classes, go for a walk to your class or to the library if you want to study or you can cycle.

drinking water

  1. Drinking a lot of water can have a lot of benefits to the body. It washes out impurities in our system that leaves our bodies through urination and sweating and can also act in hunger suppression. It also has zero calories and does not increase our weight like our carbonated drinks and alcoholic drinks. Also, drinking lots of water will make you visit the toilet frequently to empty your bladder.
  2. Get enough sleep.
  3. Avoid late night eating as this contributes to weight gain. If you are really hungry, drink water or go for fruits.
  4. Take a study break. Too much studying can stress you out and headaches may set in. Taking a study break can involve moving around or going for a glass of water.
  5. Ensure you eat breakfast. A healthy breakfast like oatmeal or any other type of cereal can reduce your appetite for a period of time so you are not too hungry and forced to go to the vending machine.
  6. Do not get upset with yourself for not sticking to your goals. Ensure your goals are realistic and do not give up.

What Causes Weight Gain In College?

Eating habits

1. New Eating Habits

Going into college demands a lot of work and there will be a change in eating habits. Let’s look at this scenario; Classes start at 9 am and you get up by 8:30 am. You rush out of bed to get ready for class and you skip breakfast.

Getting to school, you have classes till 12 noon and an hour break. You try to eat as much as possible to make up for breakfast or go to the nearest vending machine for snacks. Getting home, tiredness sets in and then you call a fast food restaurant to have food delivered to you.

This cycle repeats itself every day and this gradually leads to weight gain.

2. Reduced Active Lifestyle

Daily, you go from the dormitory to class to the library to the cafeteria. It involves a lot of sitting and not enough moving around especially if we move about with the college shuttle or cars.

The college student will start to have a sedentary lifestyle by sitting more and moving around less. A sedentary lifestyle has been shown to contribute to weight gain because calories are not getting used up or burnt.

3. Eating Late

eating late

After classes end, students go to the library to read up further and get home late. This forces them to get home late, eat late and sleep almost immediately after, which causes weight gain.

4. Not Getting Enough Sleep

Sleep is necessary for the overall well being of the body. Not having enough sleep can lead to weight gain. This is because while we sleep, the body regulates every aspect of itself including our appetite and the hormones in charge of hunger and satiety.


Not getting enough sleep causes these hormones to be out of whack making you need to eat more than you normally would.

5. Stress

This is the way a body reacts to a lot of demand. The life of a college student is very demanding with a lot of pressures like getting good grades, having a social life, and sometimes, having a part-time job. As a result, some of them may tend to ‘stress – eat’ which can cause weight gain.

Seeing as stress is a response, the hormones that help to regulate appetite may increase the urge to eat and overeat which can lead to weight gain



Weight gain in college students is due to a lot of factors. These factors can be controlled to ensure that there is no unhealthy weight gain which may lead to complications that may be hazardous to health.

A change in lifestyle goes a long way in ensuring that weight gain is properly controlled and also can have a positive influence on academic and social excellence.

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Adekanmi Lipede, M.Sc, MPH

Adekanmi Lipede is a licensed physiotherapist with a Master's degree in physical activity and public health from Loughborough University. She joined 25 Doctors in 2018 and is passionate about educating people about the best steps to take when trying to be physically fit or when recovering from a mobility-related condition. For fun, she loves to exercise and read.
Adekanmi Lipede, M.Sc, MPH