The College Diet: How to Keep it Clean in College

The College Diet: How to Keep It Clean in College

Contrary to popular belief, it IS possible to eat [moderately] healthy in college while more broke than a Shaquille O’Neal foul shot. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Eat Lots of Protein:

We all know that the typical college dining hall has slim pickings, so let’s talk about how to make the most out of what we have.

Your protein consumption should be highly prioritized – focus on getting at least 1-2 servings of a protein source per meal. This is vital in all aspects of nutrition, no matter your goal – male or female.

Chicken, Beef, Fish, Eggs, Turkey, and most other meats (maybe hold off on the pepperoni and salami), should be satisfying a majority of your daily protein intake. I’m sure your dining hall offers at least one of these options every day.

Generally speaking, chicken is the best meat option for all of you calorie conscious individuals. I personally think beef tastes the best, but unless it is high quality, it will contain excess amounts of fat.

The first thing I do upon entering my dining hall is scope out all of the protein options available. I then determine which one would be the best option. I assure you, chicken tenders are never the answer.

  1. *Enters dining hall
  2. *Notices attractive girl
  3. *Surveys protein options
  4. *Stands over top of chicken tender section. *Breathes heavily*
  5. *Remembers this Blog and decides to go with the healthier option
  6. *Checks mirror for abs after eating the healthy meal

Sure, chicken tenders taste great with your sauce of choice, but the short-term satisfaction does not out weigh the long-term gratification of feeling and looking healthy. These small decisions add up over time.

A Protein powder is also a very helpful tool. Now, you can’t rely on supplements like protein powders – but you can definitely utilize them to assist you.

I know, I know… you are “broke” and can’t afford protein. Wal-Mart sells 2lbs of protein for $17.

I know what you’re thinking. This article is about being broke and NOT having money, yet you’re telling me to go buy protein… I guess you’re right, but maybe if you stop buying 30 racks of Busch Light for $16.99, then you would have a few extra bucks to help you out.

More Carbs, Less Fat:

What? No way. “Carbs are the devil”

I assure you, Carbs are not the devil. Want to know what is? Maybe later…

There is a terrible stigma surrounding carbohydrates. Carbs provide the body with glucose. For the sake of simplicity, let’s just refer to this glucose creature as energy.

So, carbs provide us with energy. We need energy for bodily functions and physical activity. Don’t get me wrong – not all carbs are created equal. Some options are definitely better than others. Here are a few solid options for your carbohydrate sources:

  • White or Brown Rice.
  • Sweet or White Potatoes
  • Oatmeal (a solid (boring) breakfast option)
  • Fruits

Many people’s problem is their excessive consumption of fats, without even realizing it. Understand this:

  • 1g of Carbohydrate = 4 calories
  • 1g of Protein = 4 calories
  • 1g of Fat = 9 calories
  • 1g of Alcohol = 7 calories

If you are eating a lot of oily, greasy, or fried foods, then you are consuming an excessive amount of fat, and probably eating in a large caloric surplus because of it.

Caloric surplus = consuming more calories than your body needs (eating more than your body is burning on a daily basis)

Consuming more calories than your body needs = weight gain

It’s pretty simple. My recommendation would be to worry about your protein and carbohydrate intakes. Clean those options up and you will, in turn, be consuming an adequate amount of fat from the meat you are eating (most fish and red meats have moderate amounts of fat)

 Get Your Food Togo:

Now, I’m not sure if all dining halls have this option, but if yours does, you should take advantage of it – especially if you are trying to eat healthier and alter your body composition.

Get Togo.

This is what I do 95% of the time (we will ignore the fact that I don’t have friends to eat with). Let’s face it, a large portion of the food in dining halls is greasy, fried, and becomes more appealing the longer you are in its proximity.

I get in and get out as fast as I can, filling my box with the healthiest options available. This way, I have no choice but to eat the food I put into my box.

Even if I wanted to, I don’t have the option to go for round 2 and 3, topping it all off with a bowl of cereal or ice cream.

This seems so simple, but it really is helpful. Usually, the longer you sit surrounded by the aromas of pizza, chicken tenders, and macaroni & cheese, the more likely you will convince yourself you deserve some, “Just a little bit”, right?

Drink Water:

 There is not much to say about this one. Do yourself a favor, and drink more water. You don’t need soda, or that syrupy concoction they call Gatorade. This is free & abundant; so all you Shaquille O’Neal-ers shouldn’t have a problem with this one.

This is the easiest thing you can do to improve your health, while on a budget.

The More Vegetables, The Better:

 Let’s get this out of the way… No – you should not count vegetables as a source of carbohydrates.

Vegetables are high in fiber. Among other things, fiber helps give you that “full” feeling. If you eat more vegetables, you will stay satisfied longer and won’t feel as hungry, if you don’t feel as hungry, you will be less susceptible to binge eating 3 scoops of Mac & Cheese and 2 hamburgers.

Personally, the hungrier I am, the more clouded my judgment. I always make my worst food choices when I am extremely hungry – so try to avoid that feeling by simply eating a handful of vegetables with every meal.

Liquor Before Beer, You’re in the Clear:

Drinking is apart of college. Fortunately, there are ways to make it [a little] healthier (even though it normally ends by raiding the 7/11 for $5.99 pizza, cookout, or ramen noodles).

Simply put: Drink Liquor. It is [most times] going to be the best option, with the least amount of calories. You can buy calorie free mixers to help mask the taste.

Also, don’t go overboard. You can go out and have a good time without blacking out and pissing all over yourself. Getting to that point is senseless and only ruins the following day. Have fun, but do it in moderation.

In Review:

Make your health important to you.

I am a college student, so I understand how difficult it is to eat healthy, but it is possible. There is no need to go on a drastic “diet” or undergo a radical change.

Work on mastering the basics of nutrition, make conscious decisions, and make your health a priority in life.

  1. Eat lots of protein – 1-2 servings per meal.
  2. More carbs, less fat – stay away from the obviously unhealthy foods.
  3. Get your food Togo – avoid the “just a little bit” feeling.
  4. Drink Water – the easiest way to improve your health.
  5. Liquor Before Beer, you’re in the clear – drink liquor – don’t go overboard.

None of these are mind blowing, crazy discoveries I’ve made – Just a few simple ways that help me. I hope you enjoyed the article and I appreciate you reading.

Oh yeah, I almost forget… Macaroni & Cheese… That s*** is the devil.

From one broke college student to another,

Good luck and make the best out of what you have.

Until next time,

Patrick Burns


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