The following is a guest post from the founder of College Body, Danny Coleman (also my little bro), who is an ACSM and Metabolic Effect-certified personal trainer with 6 years in the industry and a current college student. Dan started College Body almost 2 years ago, with the goal of making staying lean in college easier (hello, freshman 15!). He recently launched his newest online 4 week fat loss program for college kids, Spring Break 2013, which includes 2 bonuses from JillFit (my 4 Weeks to Tight Core Training & my BAS Salad Recipe Booklet), and an exclusive audio interview I did with him.
I asked Dan to take over my blog for a day to offer some great tips for college-aged women (or those just wanting to get their “college body” back!) regarding fat loss, stress management and general health. And without further ado…
College is a tough place to stay healthy and fit. Whatever the “experts” say not to do for your health, we seem to do. We get limited hours of sleep every night. We eat greasy processed food (admittedly at 2am sometimes). We live in an environment that causes us to feel chronically stressed 90% of the time. We get “too busy” to workout (for weeks on end). We certainly don’t drink alcohol in moderation.
Okay, I may be generalizing, but trying to stay healthy and fit in a dorm room is no easy feat. To make things a little easier, I put together my top 10 tips to stay healthy and fit in college, below.
10 Tips to Stay Healthy & Fit In College:
1) Efficient Exercise
Intensity of your workout is more important than duration. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for muscle gains or fat loss, hanging in a gym for 2+ hours/day isn’t necessary and can actually be counterproductive. Ain’t nobody got time for that! With limited time in a day, tweets to send out, Bud Lights to crush, term papers due (in > 12-hours), and significant others to spend with, we really can’t spend all day in a gym. When you are exercising, make it count. Break a sweat, feel that burning sensation in your muscles, use heavy weight, and get breathless.
2) You Cannot Tone What’s Not There
A common theme among many young women is “toning”. The thing they forget is that if there is no muscle then there is nothing to be toned. You simply cannot lift those brightly colored/light weight dumbbells for high repetitions and expect to get lean. To tone, you need to be lifting heavy weights with short rest periods.
3) Don’t Overdo Cardio
At many schools across the country you will walk into their fitness facility and see the females lined up across the treadmill, and the men gazing into one another’s eyes across the bench press. Yes, I am generalizing again, but go ahead and see for yourself. I’ll wait…. But ladies, it is time to switch over the weight room! Excessive amounts of cardio lead to an overproduction of the stress hormone cortisol. Which can be a culprit in actually storing belly fat.
4) Sprints & Walking
Sprinting is a great way to build lean and strong physiques. The degree & amount of time the muscle is activated and under tension is a major factor of muscle function and growth. And there is no exercise that generates more force and muscle activation (especially in your core!) than sprints. Sprinting s a great way to build the outer cage of your 6-pack. Walking, on the other had, is also a great fat burning technique because it lowers stress hormones.
Easier said than done, right? Tests, term papers, being seen as “cool”, romantic relationships, pressure from parents, minimal sleep, and everything else that comes along with the college lifestyle makes it difficult to relax. However, it is important to take the time to de-stress at points throughout your day. When chronically stressed, you could still have a higher body fat even while on a perfect diet and exercise regimen. To de-stress: Mediate, laugh, read, have sex, walk, or anything you find relaxing and rejuvenating.
6) Sleep & Nap
Sleeping is your body’s “reset” button. When you’re sleep deprived your willpower is nonexistent, your focus is lacking, energy is low, and cravings for sweet and fatty foods are heightened. On days in which you are unable to get your Z’s, taking naps can be beneficial in resetting your stress hormone levels.
7) Use the Metabolic Effect Label Rule
The ME Label Rule is a cool trick (especially for college students) to use when looking at nutrition labels. Considering almost everything stored in our dorm room or apartment is in a bag or box, pretty much everything has a nutrition label.
- What you do is take the total amount of carbohydrates, subtract out the amount of fiber, and then subtract out the amount of protein. You want that number to be less than 10.
- Carbs (–) Fiber (–) Protein = < 10
- This is a good reference guide because foods that score lower than 10 will keep your hunger, energy, and cravings in check for an extended period of time. Which is essential for fat loss!
8) Use Cocoa
This “magic supplement” has been around for many centuries. The ancient people of Central America, the Mayans and Aztecs, believed this plant could impart immortality. Now, I am not talking about Hersey’s Kisses. I am talking about 100% raw organic cocoa baking powder. This can be found at your local grocery store for cheap (~$6 container will last you months). I would strongly recommend getting organic from your local Whole Foods or Trader Joes because otherwise cocoa is found to have high amounts of lead. Lead can cause damage to your body in any amount, so beware!
Benefits of cocoa include:
- Shown to improve cardiovascular health and lower blood pressure
- Full of antioxidants
- Has antidepressant effects of drugs like Prozac because it contains the chemical phenyethlamine (PEA) – which is what makes dogs sick – but in humans, helps the body release its own opium-like compounds, called the endorphins, and also boosts levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Just FYI, PEA & dopamine flood the brain when we fall in love or have an orgasm.
- Cocoa is a rich source of many nutritive minerals, most importantly magnesium. Magnesium, along with zinc and vitamin B6, is the number one depleted micronutrient when under stress (college can be stressful you know..)
- Increases focus and energy
- Is an aphrodisiac in that it increases pleasures of the brain. It also increases blood flow to ALL body parts, including the genitals. Just sayin.
Cocoa usage: I mix 1 tablespoon with hot water and drink it like hot cocoa. Sweeten with stevia or Splenda if desired. It is possible to drink too much, though. Too much cocoa can have the same effects as drinking too much coffee.
9) Decrease Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol causes dehydration, compromises liver function, & impairs brain function. Yeah, we all know that. But here’s the deal–when your body burns fat it naturally produces what is called acetate. When you drink excess alcohol, there is an excess of acetate in your body which your body knows (or thinks) that you are burning fat, so it doesn’t have to do it anymore. When you drink, you literally cannot burn fat at the biochemical level.
10) Intermittent Fasting
IF is all the craze right now in the health/fitness world. Does it work? Yeah, no doubt. It is an awesome technique for fat loss. IF is simply going an extended period of time without eating to reset your glycogen stores, and lower insulin (hormone notorious for fat storing/muscle building). And it actually plays into the college student hands. Have you ever woken up late, scrambled to class, and got back later that evening realizing you haven’t eaten since 8 the night before? Well congrats, that was your first of many intermittent fasts.