Nutrition Weight Management

Effective Ways To Lose Weight In College – Methods, Exercises & Tips 2024

Many students put on a lot of weight during their first year at university. However, unwanted weight gain doesn’t have to be inevitable. Instead, you can use several nutritious strategies to maintain a healthy weight. Enhance your weight loss efforts by getting a good night’s sleep, staying hydrated, using a fat burner and eating nutritious meals. Your focus should be on your personal and academic development at university, not on worrying about your weight.

How To Reduce Weight In College

University students can gain excessive weight if they are not careful. Dealing with intense stress, following fad diets, changing sleep and eating habits, and juggling new responsibilities can all lead to weight gain. Discover these 13 effective tips to keep you fit:

  • Stick to portion sizes
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Always eat breakfast
  • Opt for healthy snacks
  • Keep physically active
  • Keep a food diary
  • Get enough rest
  • Control stress levels
  • Opt for the stairs
  • Seek emotional support
  • Avoid junk food and vending machines
  • Avoid eating late at night
  • Avoid excessive drinking

Is Being Overweight A Health Risk?

Yes, being overweight is a health risk. It increases the likelihood of several diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, certain cancers and joint problems. It can also contribute to mental health problems such as depression. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise is important for overall health.

13 Effective Strategies For Losing Weight At University

Don’t be alarmed by the weight gain of college and turn to quick fix diets, innovative methods of self-discipline, or skipping meals to outsmart your metabolism. Instead, these effective strategies can help you lose weight, manage your overall health and establish routines for success.

1. Stick To Portion Sizes

Resist the urge to overfill your tray in the university canteen or dining hall. It can be easy to gain weight if your meal plan only allows you to take what fits on your tray, which can lead to food waste and overeating. A useful guideline is to eat only a handful or two of certain foods and wait a while to see if you’re still hungry. Also, avoid eating directly from bags or boxes of processed foods and stick to recommended portion sizes. Eating sensibly will help prevent overeating and the unwanted weight gain that comes with it.

2. Drink Plenty Of Water

Keep a water bottle handy throughout the day to ensure frequent water consumption. Dehydration is often misinterpreted as hunger or leads to snacking. Instead of opting for cheap, low-calorie fast food or overindulging in cafeteria treats, hydrate first with water. Aim to drink water immediately after waking and just before bedtime to maintain hydration.

3. Eat Breakfast Regularly

The idea of skipping breakfast may seem appealing, especially if you’re always rushing to get to your morning class. However, it’s important to eat breakfast to avoid overeating, cravings for unhealthy snacks and to help manage your weight at university. Typically, many adults skip breakfast or eat minimal amounts, leaving high-calorie meals for the evening or dinner.

Choose nutritious breakfast options that are high in fibre and protein to keep you full and reduce the temptation to snack. Practice portion control and make breakfast an enjoyable and anticipated meal. It’s important to eat a variety of nutritious foods to fuel both your mind and body.

4. Choose Healthy Snacks

If you’re up all night, don’t have much time or find the canteen closed at mealtimes, opt for nutritious snacks. The tendency to indulge in late-night treats is common among students, often due to missed meals, challenges with self-catering, or a need for a satisfying serotonin boost.

Choose healthier alternatives such as fibre- and protein-rich foods to keep you feeling full. Choose nutritious snacks such as Greek yoghurt, almond butter, raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and drink plenty of water to keep you feeling full longer. Frequent snacking on processed, fast or high sugar, salt and fat foods can lead to rapid weight gain.

5. Maintaining Physical Fitness

University life can be emotionally and mentally draining, leaving many students looking for a break to relax and escape. The temptation to spend more time in your halls of residence binge-watching, playing games or endlessly browsing social media is strong.

Being inactive at university quickly leads to a decline in overall wellbeing as you gain weight. Make time for exercise, outdoor activities, gym sessions or other forms of physical activity several days a week. Regular exercise or a commitment to physical fitness boosts morale, increases serotonin levels and helps with weight management.

6. Keep A Food Diary

Keep A Food Diary

Make sure you’re accountable for your food choices by keeping a food diary. Transitioning from home-cooked meals to college cafeteria meals, quick service restaurants, microwaveable meals, or munching on processed snacks to fill up can be challenging.

If you get a stomach bug, develop a food sensitivity or are puzzled by a sudden weight gain, your food diary is a useful reference. Writing down what you eat, how much you eat and when you eat it will help you understand your habits and identify any changes you need to make.

7. Get Enough Rest

Lack of sleep can lead to poor concentration, memory lapses, mood swings and weight gain. Many students believe that they need to sacrifice sleep in order to cram for exams, complete lengthy assignments or engage in social activities.

Put aside any concerns about missing out and focus on getting enough rest to improve your wellbeing and prevent weight gain. Sleeping less than recommended can put a strain on your immune system and gut flora, leading to more frequent and quicker illnesses. Adults who do not get enough sleep are at higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome, which often leads to unhealthy food choices, overeating, a sedentary lifestyle and significant weight gain.

8. Control Your Stress

Attending college can be filled with stress. For numerous students, it’s the initial occasion of being responsible for all life aspects, from timely assignment submission to ensuring adequate sleep and nutritious eating. Adapting to college demands requires time.

Resist emotional eating, oversleeping, substance misuse, or procrastinating to manage intense stress. Constant stress can lead to weight gain due to high cortisol and adverse reactions. When necessary, seek emotional support and opt for healthy stress relief methods like deep breathing, optimistic visualization, meditation, and physical activity.

9. Opt For The Stairs

In places like campus or student accommodations with elevators or escalators, never miss a chance to use stairs for fitness and weight loss over a brief period. Stair climbing offers a fast exercise, helps reduce persistent abdominal fat, and enhances mood.

10. Seek Emotional Support

Try to connect with a friend who shares your weight loss and wellness goals to help you stay on track with your health and provide the emotional support you need. If necessary, consider using your school’s counselling services, especially if stress is making you binge eat, you’re struggling with an eating disorder, or you just need someone to talk to about various issues.

Enjoy the richness of college life and all it has to offer, but also celebrate your small victories and be gentle with yourself. If you notice rapid weight gain, poor sleep, unhealthy food choices, or a decline in physical activity and social engagement, it’s important to seek emotional support.

11. Don’t Rely On Quick Meals Or Vending Options

Quick meals and vending options might fulfill your need for convenience, but they can deplete your energy levels and make you hungry later. Gaining weight is easy when your diet is mostly quick meals or vending products with elevated fat, salt, and sugar. Allocate time for eating nutritious meals and snacks to maintain energy.

12. Avoid Late Night Snacking

During late night study sessions, it’s common to opt for unhealthy snacks from vending machines or local eateries. However, students often face the consequences of these choices faster than student loan repayments, mainly in the form of unwanted weight gain.

The occasional late-night meal won’t drastically derail your health and weight goals. However, habitual late-night eating affects sleep quality, causes irritability, increases stress and reduces cognitive performance the next day. Frequent late meals and snacks significantly disrupt your circadian rhythm and gut health.

Stress, digestive problems and mental fog increase the risk of overweight, obesity or metabolic health problems. Avoid late meals; prioritise sleep instead!

13. Limit Excessive Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol seems to be inextricably linked with college culture in films and TV series. But there are many health risks associated with excessive drinking, in addition to weight gain and obesity. High alcohol consumption can lead to a beer gut, physical dependence, impaired mental performance and disrupted sleep patterns. Instead of choosing beer or spirits to socialise with, choose non-alcoholic drinks, water or simply moderate your alcohol consumption. Your wellbeing and weight will thank you.

How Fast Can I Lose Weight?

The rate at which you can safely lose weight varies, but generally a loss of 1-2 pounds (0.45-0.9 kg) per week is considered healthy and sustainable. Factors that affect this rate include your diet, exercise habits, general health and metabolic rate. Rapid weight loss can be unhealthy and often leads to weight regain. It’s important to take a balanced approach to weight loss, focusing on diet, exercise and lifestyle changes. Consultation with a healthcare professional for personalised advice is recommended.

Why Do Students Often Gain Weight?

Our bodies respond to changes in lifestyle, stress, diet and sleep patterns. For many students, enrolling in college or university marks their first experience of independent living as young adults. While learning to adapt to a new environment, college students must manage attending classes, completing coursework and balancing a social life, which often leads to weight gain.

Most college campuses have dining halls where students are free to fill their plates. In college, many students struggle with portion control and making healthy food choices. Excessive or unhealthy eating is often due to stress, a need for comfort, emotional coping, or compensating for missed meals.

Many students face considerable pressure to excel in college, often from supportive friends and family. Living independently as a college student presents significant challenges, including dealing with peer pressure, academic responsibilities, and various other demands. The infamous “freshman 15” is not exclusive to female students; college students of all genders are susceptible to unwanted weight gain.

Can Joining College Sports Teams Or Clubs Help In Losing Weight?

Joining college sports teams or clubs can be an important part of weight loss. These activities increase physical activity, which burns calories and builds muscle, helping to manage weight. They also often encourage healthier lifestyle choices, such as a balanced diet and regular exercise. Being part of a team also provides motivation and social support, making it easier to stick to fitness goals. However, the effectiveness depends on the individual’s level of participation and the type of sport or club activity.

What Factors Affect Weight Loss?

Weight loss is influenced by a combination of factors. Diet, both in terms of quality and quantity of food, plays a crucial role, as consuming fewer calories than you burn leads to weight loss. Regular physical activity helps to increase the number of calories burned. Individual metabolic rates also affect the rate at which calories are burned.

Getting enough sleep is essential, as lack of sleep can disrupt appetite-regulating hormones. Stress and emotional factors can lead to overeating or unhealthy eating habits. Health conditions and medications can affect weight, and finally, factors such as age and genetics can affect the efficiency of weight loss.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I incorporate exercise into my busy college schedule?

Utilize campus resources like gyms or fitness classes. Opt for walking or biking over driving. Short, high-intensity workouts can be effective if time is limited. Consider joining intramural sports or exercise groups for motivation.

Can meal planning help with weight loss in college?

Yes, meal planning helps control portions, ensures balanced nutrition, and prevents impulsive unhealthy eating. Plan meals weekly and include a variety of healthy foods.

How can I handle social eating and peer pressure?

Choose healthier options at social events, eat a small healthy snack beforehand to avoid overeating, and don’t feel pressured to eat or drink just because others are. Be confident in your healthy choices.

Are there any quick and healthy recipes suitable for college students?

Quick, healthy recipes include stir-fries with vegetables and lean protein, salads with various toppings, whole-grain wraps or sandwiches, and simple pasta dishes with vegetables and a protein source.

How can I stay motivated to lose weight in college?

Set realistic goals, track your progress, find a workout buddy, reward yourself for milestones, and remember why you started. Join college health clubs or groups for support and motivation.


Going to university is an adventure that many young people look forward to as they transition into adulthood and gain recognition for their autonomy. However, it can be difficult to manage your self-image, manage your time efficiently, cope with stress and find time to eat nutritious food.

Before making any drastic changes to your diet or lifestyle, seek the advice of a trusted, recognised health professional. If you have an existing medical condition, are taking certain medications, or have concerns about your physical or mental health, major changes could have a significant impact.

Implementing useful tips to help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight at university can also improve your academic performance, mental health, physical fitness and appearance. Choose to prioritise your wellbeing and cultivate your best version to maximise your university experience.


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By Jayson Peterson

Jayson Peterson is an experienced pharmacist, naturopathic physician, medical examiner, and minister. After earning his Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the Medical University of South Carolina, Jayson Peterson completed clinical rotations at several prestigious healthcare institutions and has been affiliated with several pharmacy chains throughout his career. His main passion and zeal is focused on providing world-class patient care by giving precise details and thorough instructions to those who need it most.