There are horror stories about the things that college kids do (and don’t) consume in order to avoid the “Freshman Fifteen” myth. Students worry about how to balance beer with bikinis in order to stay a relevant hottie, when really they should be focusing on how to properly fuel themselves for optimal brain function during class and setting themselves up for biological success in the future. That’s why I created my campaign Mind Over Platter to identify and educate the masses of collegians about their eatings patterns and what they can do to change them!
Everyone nowadays seems to deem themselves a professional at something so the different radical theories of thought and tid-bits of advice can be heard campus wide. This blog will cover the 8 most common myths/exaggerations about college eating that I have come across during my 3 years at Cal Poly:
Myth #1: The “Freshman Fifteen” is real.
- False.(Woo!) Chances of gaining the “Freshman Fifteen” are slim. A Boston University nutrition expert suggests that although college students do often gain weight, it is usually less than 5 pounds during their freshman year, and less than 10 pounds throughout their entire college experience.
Myth #2: All alcohol is bad for you.
- True and False. The old adage “Everything in moderation” applies lightly to alcohol. While a beer or glass of wine every once in awhile won’t hurt you, the binge drinking that occurs on college campuses has reached epidemic proportions and is not a healthy habit. However, a glass of red wine contains antioxidants, such as flavonoids and resveratrol, that increase the HDL cholesterol (“good”) in the blood which may help prevent heart disease.
Myth #3: Consuming excess protein is necessary to build muscle.
- False. I cannot tell you how often I hear this in my peer education nutritional counseling. People (usually guys) are convinced that you must “eat big to get big.” If you are eating excess protein your body will go into ketosis. Ketosis is a normal metabolic process that occurs when the body does not have enough glucose to break down for energy, so it begins to break down fats which creates a build-up of ketones in the blood. Although ketosis does lead to short term fat loss, if maintained it can result in ketoacidosis, which can be dangerous if not caught in time.
Myth #4: Eating carbs will make you fat.
- False. Carbohydrates are crucial for not only normal metabolic function due to the fact that glycogen is the main source of energy in the body, but also because the brain runs solely off of carbohydrates, which means that as a college student it is necessary for learning and studying. Carbs should make up 45-65% to your total caloric intake every day in order to maintain proper energy levels.As long as you are eating whole sources of carbs, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, carbs will not cause weight gain.
Myth #5: You must take a multi-vitamin.
- False. Every single nutrition major that I have ever talked to dislikes this myth that multi-vitamins are “dietary insurance”. In theory, humans should be able to get their recommended vitamin and mineral intake from the food they eat, but given the food industry, the nutritional benefits are more often than not processed out of our food. One should look at the nutritional holes in their diet before supplementing with non-food sourced vitamins and minerals. Taking a multi-vitamin can cause overconsumption of vitamins that can be toxic with high levels in the blood.
Myth #6: Don’t eat past 6pm.
- False. Although 6pm is an arbitrary time to stop eating your internal clock depends on your eating habits so when you eat when you should be asleep you are more likely to store those calories as fat since your body won’t have time to burn them before you fall asleep. Eating after dinner also increases insulin and blood sugar levels which can lower levels of melatonin and make it harder for you to sleep. If you are going to eat later at night be sure to eat at least 3 hours before bed to avoid increased energy levels or possible fat storage.
Myth #7: Drink eight 8 oz. glasses of water per day.
- False. The recommended intake of fluid per day for men is 13 cups and 9 cups for women. Again, emphasis on fluid, not just water (but keep it mostly water). While the “8×8 rule” is easy to remember it is more commonly recommended nowadays to judge your fluid intake on thirst rather than counting. Depending on your activity levels and the weather your fluid intake can vary drastically, so be sure to be your own judge and keep track of your hydration.
Myth #8: Don’t skip breakfast!
- True! Mother knows best on this one. By skipping breakfast your body panics and slows your metabolism in order to conserve energy, which means that the next time you eat your body will hold onto those calories for dear life. Eating breakfast provides you with the energy necessary to complete morning activities and prevents snacking on high-fat or high-sugar foods before lunch.
I personally was convinced by a couple of myths before writing this blog which goes to show that misinformation is rampant and we have to make an active effort to stay current. A couple of sources that I recommend on basic nutritional information are:
- Harvard School of Public Health | you can also follow them on Twitter @HarvardChanSPH
When in doubt, google it out; be sure to cross-check any advice you receive about nutrition or exercise with the professionals. Or if you have any questions/comments/concerns/disputes/dilemmas feel free to contact me and I can direct you to the proper source! Keep up the good work team!