Posted by on Mar 25, 2014

Mike Vacanti is a NYC based Nutrition Coach and Trainer. He blogs – mostly on diet, training and psychology – and also runs a successful online coaching business. Part head in the clouds, part nose to the grindstone – Mike believes owning your fitness regimen will blur the line between dream and reality as every area of your life is enhanced. Visit Mike on his WebsiteFacebookTwitter or Fitocracy.

Dollar beers and wild tailgates.

Plus, no shortage of your favorite gluttony – from cheesy bread to cheesesteaks.

College is amazing. The best years of your life, many would argue. But the lifestyle can take a toll on your waistline if you let it.

So, how do can you strike a balance between party animal and… just plain old fat animal?

Here are a few ideas.


1. Count Your Damn Macros For One Month

Macros, as in Macronutrients: Protein, Fat and Carboyhydrates. Please, just track them for one month, and I promise I’ll leave you alone forever.

You will learn so much about food, weight gain/loss, and your body through this process.

And you don’t need to count forever! But having this skill is incredibly useful for managing your weight and keeping that lean, healthy body in check.

(Protip: if you’re an iOS user, check out Fitocracy Macros App for easier tracking. It’s free!)


Harold and Kumar go to no just don't do it

Harold and Kumar go to no just don’t do it.

2. No Drunk Food

You will be going out three nights per week minimum.  That means you will be tempted to eat 3 half pizzas, 3 burritos or 3 dollar menu binges at 2 o’clock in the morning. Your body can’t afford these extra calories.

If you need to eat something before bedtime for sleep/hangover management, bro out with a quick late-night protein shake. Yes, you ladies should bro out too.

In addition to being 700 calories fewer than standard drunk food options, protein is muscle sparing and highly metabolic. You can keep that hard earned muscle in your biceps or butt AND burn more calories through the digestion process.


 3. Try Intermittent Fasting (IF)

You guys have heard all about IF, but I’ll explain quickly.

The 16/8 method of intermittent fasting simply requires you eat all of your calories during an 8 hour window. Applied loosely, you skip breakfast on days you want to “IF”.

No, this won’t slow your metabolism or bring on “starvation mode”; those myths have been debunked.

Instead of eating breakfast, most people load up on caffeine for the first 4-5 hours they are awake and get super productive – then proceed to eat normally the rest of the day. IF is very effective for maintaining a lean physique.


The rec center: it's where the cool kids hang out.

The rec center: it’s where the cool kids hang out.

4. Don’t Fear The Rec Center

Look, I understand that the free weight section is a zoo. Everywhere you look, there seem to be gorillas in nipple-exposing neon tank tops, “SAE BID DAY” across the back, hogging barbells and acting generally unpleasant.

It’s a turn off. And it’s intimidating, especially if you are a beginner. Don’t worry, no one is judging you, and the real free weight vets actually want you there.

You might be tempted to avoid the weight room altogether. It would be easier to log 30-45 minutes upstairs with the cardio bunnies – you know, the frail girls in lulu gear and the flaccidly unintimidating skinnyfat males.

Please, please, please don’t do it.

Get on a good strength training program; the best physiques are built under the bar, not on an elliptical or treadmill.

To start, I’ve made a beginner strength program for you on Fitocracy. Clicking on the image below gets you started on a great workout which includes the following exercises:

  • Bodyweight Squat
  • Wide Arm Push Up
  • Jump Lunge
  • Plank
  • Bodyweight Reverse Lunge
  • Step Up
  • Close Grip Push Up
  • Glute Bridge
  • Let Me In
  • Incline Push Up

On the Regimen by Mike Vacanti on Fitoracy

5.  Never Eat A “No Protein” Meal

How did Easy Mac become a college diet staple? Not only does it degrade students’ competency, but it actually tastes like a foot.

You might be strapped for cash, that’s fine. But don’t take the cheap and timely way out by microwaving starch and dumping cheese powder on it.

High carb/low protein meals, like easy mac, are not satisfying. They cause you to become hungry again soon after the meal thus making your total calories higher. Additionally, you miss out on the many benefits of protein – more calories burnt through digestion, greater satiety, muscle sparing/building to name a few.

Include some meat, fish, eggs or dairy in every meal (and no, Easy Mac does NOT count as dairy).


Walk to class!

Walk to class!

6. Take Advantage Of The Walking

I know mopeds are way cooler. And driving your car is sure tempting, but use those legs whenever you can.

While people generally overestimate calories burnt through activity, walking is an exception. Your commute between classes, the library, social events and bars will burn an extra few hundred calories per day.

That adds up.

Plus college campuses are literally packed with 30,000 of your peers – most of whom have zero real responsibility. Go have fun. Skip class and play lawn games, day drink, join some clubs, be social. These will be some of the best years of your life.

Bluto: "My advice to you is to start drinking heavily."

Bluto: “My advice to you is to start drinking heavily.”

7.  Choose The Right Drinks

Fact: Swapping out regular coke for diet in just a few mixed drinks per weekend will save you 14 pounds over the course of a year.

You can make or break your body with alcohol choices. Generally, “making” it involves avoiding sugary mixers and chasers (unless you are having frozen margaritas which are 100% OTR approved).

There are also many good beer and wine choices. I ranked them from best to worst on a calorie/alcohol basis here. Or, if you are interested in how to incorporate frequent drinking with a great physique, you can start at the beginning of the 4 part series here.



Alright, time to hit the stair-stepper, gotta burn off that Easy Mac!

I’m kidding, you guys. ;)


Featured image courtesy of Adam Fagen and used under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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