Fresher's 15

Fresher's 15

We have all heard about the 'fresher's 15' concept. The idea that in your first year at university you will gain about 15lb. Having survived my first year at Loughborough, I think I am well qualified to vouch for this unfortunate fact. 

My first term

In my first term at uni, it has to be said that I slacked on my fitness, diet and healthy lifestyle. Playing lacrosse most days of the week meant I didn't have the energy or time to go to the gym and lift weights - (the way I keep slim and toned). Being catered and offered stodge and desert at every meal meant I wasn't watching my food intake. And sleeping all of the day and drinking alcohol meant my healthy lifestyle went out of the window. I came back at Christmas well on my way to fulfilling the fresher's 15 poster child. 

Caught in the act

Thankfully I managed to catch myself before all of this went too far. On returning to uni in January, I made a promise to myself I would not let this weight gain continue. Training, diet and healthy lifestyle had to get back in action and this is exactly what happened. I finished the year at an extremely happy and healthy size, ready for a summer filled of sun, fun and friends.


So, for all you uni go-ers this year, I thought I would share my advice when it comes to not falling into the Fresher's 15 trap. Of course I only attended Loughborough and so am not completely sure how all universities work when it comes to food, locations, nights out etc. but having spoken to other friends I think I have a decent idea on what to expect no matter where you go. Hope it helps!


For all you lucky catered students, be aware that you will be served mostly carbs. Halls will find over 15 different ways to serve potatoes - wedges, chips, fried potato balls etc and serve variations of pasta most days -  lasagne, cannelloni, pasta bake, spaghetti bolognese etc. My advice is to limit taking these and go for other options. Give yourself a couple of days a week where you indulge in a bowl of pasta, or take chips with your meal, but otherwise try to stay away from the grease. Take advantage when they serve boiled potatoes and choose rice over pasta to have with your meal. It may look exciting in your first week, but trust me, you will be dying for some clean food a few weeks in!

Getting the day off to a healthy start is very important. Avoid having a full english or buttery croissant more than once a week and try to stick to eggs, yoghurt or low sugar cereals for breakfast.
At lunch time, my advice would be to go to the baguette bar and ask for the filling (tuna, ham, turkey etc) on a plate without the bread and then head for the salad bar to create a clean, healthy meal. If you want something hot, try combining a stodge free meal with a bowl of soup.
When it comes to dinner, if you are lucky, halls will occasionally serve plain meat or fish. Make sure you take advantage of these meals as they will not be served too often. Ask for the meat without sauce, or for the sauce on the side and fill your plate with vegetables and a nice lean piece of protein. It may not be as fun as eating your large plate filled with a cheesy pasta bake, but trust me when I say it is a much better option.

Never in my life have I had the opportunity to take dessert twice a day everyday, that is until uni. This was like heaven for me and I couldn't resist trying all the different variations of pudding as I have such a sweet tooth. However... trust me when I say it's not worth it. Think school puddings and as nice as the chocolate sponge looks, it is always plain, dry and a waste of calories. Limit yourself to a couple of deserts a week and only take when you really crave it. If you need something sweet after your meal, choose fruit as a better option and if you really need something naughty, have a few squares of chocolate. 


As a student, your activity levels will dramatically decrease as you spend hours lying on your bed either asleep or watching TV. It is therefore important to get involved in some sort of exercise to compensate for the general lack of movement. At uni there is a huge variety of sports to play, ranging from the standard football, tennis etc to American football, Water polo and triathlon. You can get involved in dance societies or even branch out and go to Pole dancing clubs if you want. It doesn't matter what type of exercise you are doing, as long as you do some. If clubs and societies aren't for you, invest in a uni gym membership. They usually have good deals for students and run exercise classes if you need a bit of extra motivation. 

Bus v Walk
I was lucky enough to be at a campus uni where lectures were no more than a 10 minute walk, so I never had to take the bus. However, at other universities where you are living outside of campus, it is important to get into a routine of walking to lectures rather than always taking public transport. This may mean that you have to wake up a little bit earlier, but it will mean you get a bit of exercise everyday. Otherwise you will literally be spending your whole day sitting on your ass. Unfortunately this is not a position which burns many calories or tones any muscles! 


For the majority of people, alcohol will become a huge part of your university life and you better get used to day drinking, pre lash, lash and post lash. It is therefore extremely hard to give advice when it comes to alcohol. I am not going to say don't drink, but my advice is to know which drinks contain the most calories, and when mixing spirits, stick to diet coke. FYI, a standard shot of a spirit tends to be about 65 calories, but once you add in a mixer like coke, you are pretty much doubling the calorie content. Also, remember that you don't have to get absolutely smashed every time you go out, just drink enough to get happy and have a good time, rather than consuming your daily intake of calories in drink. 

Here is a quick list of alcoholic calories, just in case you weren't aware. Remember that the chances are you will consume multiple shots/glasses, so this is only what you consume after your first drink! This, coupled with the huge chance of buying some sort of unhealthy food on the way home from the club, turns a night into a bit of a calorie disaster. Whilst I totally sympathise, if you can, try to avoid that take away pizza after every night out you do!

A standard glass of 12% wine (175ml) - 126 calories

A pint of 5% strength standard beer - 170 calories

A standard bottle of 5% alcopop (330ml) - 237 calories

Vodka shot - 64 calories

Single Vodka Coke (175ml) - 120 calories

Tequila shot - 65 calories

Bacardi Rum shot - 65 calories

One standard Jaeger Bomb- 158 calories

Enjoy it!

It is extremely important to enjoy your time at uni, especially your first year where it doesn't count. However, you have to weigh up the benefits of pigging out and drinking to your hearts content with the inevitable weight gain that will go with it. I am not saying don't treat yourself or don't drink, but don't go overboard with it all. I know the feeling of getting home at Christmas pounds heavier and inches wider wasn't as good as that extra drink or piece of cake felt at the time.

Good luck with it all and enjoy your first year! Remember, no matter how much you think it at the time, Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

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