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Living a Healthy Lifestyle in College
College is the best years of one’s life. It’s a time to find your career path and meet some of your best friends for life. Living the college life at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I have a first-hand experience of this “good life”. However, I want to use my experience and knowledge to educate those on the right way to live a healthy college experience.
The following information will guide you to a better college exercise and eating routine that will require minimal time in your already busy day:
How to train: Try to include a 15-20 minute run after you weight train. However, a more fun alternative would be to play basketball or racquetball if your school gym provides them. The average college student can burn about 500 calories during a vigorous basketball game. That’s better than a 15-minute run on a treadmill or elliptical for some people. (Note: It depends on your level of training when playing basketball vs. running on a treadmill to make a more accurate comparison in terms of calorie burn). Remember, if you like to do cardio after your workout with the weights then that’s fine too. However, doing cardio before lifting weights will warm you up better and give you a nice sweat before you lift. Either way, any time you do cardio, you want to go hard enough to trim the fat and get in better shape, but never overtrain to the point where you can’t work the weights and vice versa. Weight training is just as important as cardio, so never sacrifice one for the other. If youareweight training, try to go with a high intensity, where you keep your heart rate up. Whenever you exercise in college, you really want to burn off all the unnecessary “junk” you consume in college. Even if you choose to train at a moderate or even light intensity, it is certainly 100x better than not training at all. Try not to weight train for more than an hour so you don’t overtrain, which can dramatically hinder muscle growth and recovery time. Moreover, students endure constant stress in college. When you exercise, your endorphins will increase, which can lead to a “runner’s high”, thus increasing the happiness and joy you will experience throughout the day. In addition, exercise can help improve your mood by increasing self-confidence and help reduce the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety.
How to eat: When it comes to food intake, try to stick to smaller meals. You’ll find that eating smaller meals increases your metabolism and makes you hungrier throughout the day, so you can constantly fuel your body with food. Constant food and water are essential in college to fuel your body and mind. Remember, you should eat junk food in moderation. If you just constantly eat shit, you will look like shit! Your metabolism is your best friend throughout college, so treat it well. It will burn fat and keep you lean. In addition, larger meals can lead to more fat storage due to the fact that your body cannot digest everything that is eaten. Here would be the ideal routine for eating small meals in college.
Breakfast (meal 1): 3 eggs, 2 pieces of whole wheat toast, oatmeal and some fruit
Meal 2: Protein bar
Lunch (Meal 3): Turkey sandwich with carrots
Meal 4: Crackers and cheese
Preworkout meal (Meal 5): 1 teaspoon of whey protein, banana and pretzels. (Remember to have an adequate amount of protein and carbohydrates before and after your workout)
Meal after workout (meal 6): 2 scoops of whey protein and 100% fruit juice
Dinner (Meal 7): Grilled Chicken with brown rice and vegetables
Meal 8: Whole Wheat Toast with cottage cheese
Note: You should always drink fluids with your meals and also drink plenty of water throughout the day when you are not eating. Try to have a liter of water a day. Drinking an adequate amount of water daily is as important as eating.
The aforementioned meal plan requires a little food each time, but it provides a constant flow of food throughout the day that will ensure a healthy diet.
Time limitation: You have to workout between classes. Sometimes you will find yourself with a one to two hour break between classes. You see many students using this time to rest and just “hangout” between classes. You should see this as an opportunity to get your workout done so you have the whole day ahead of you. Another good alternative would be to go at night between homework assignments or after you have completed them. The later it gets in the night, the less people are in the gym. Therefore, you may find that you can get in and out faster because there are more machines available and fewer distractions. Also, try eating meals that can be taken on the go if you can’t find the time to sit down and eat. Never let your time interfere with your food!
Alcohol intake: While alcohol consumption should never be encouraged and has huge consequences on your overall health, college students tend to drink. However, if you like to party, you should keep the facts in mind: the average 12-ounce beer has 149 calories. Light beer has a little less at 110 calories, but don’t let the word “light” fool you. Although light beer has fewer calories, it fills you up less, so you can drink more light beer and burn more calories. Furthermore, a one-ounce shot of the drink averages about 70 calories. The heavier liqueurs can have almost 200 calories in one shot!
“Chasers” can also be a big problem in terms of weight gain. You’d be surprised to find that many college students are drowning themselves in these sugar-filled chasers just to pack on the calories. Cut out these sugary chasers. Sometimes it’s the sugar that makes the difference in being slim or chubby. Most importantly, limit your alcohol intake if you choose to drink at all. Always remember, alcohol consumption should never be encouraged and it can have profound effects on overall health and well-being.
The absolute no no: try to stop eating right before bed, especially carbohydrates. Food you eat before bed will stay in your body as fat when you sleep. Think about it: when you sleep, where does the food go? Of course, your body’s natural metabolism will help burn it off, but it won’t be nearly enough to burn off those carbs you burned off during the day if you do your daily exercise to burn it off. I can almost guarantee you that if you limit your eating 2 hours before bed, it will make a dramatic difference in your body in the long run. See it yourself.
Remember one thing though: College consists of the best four years of your life, and for some, more than four so live it up! However, you will find that the healthier lifestyle you live in college, the more productive you will be and the better you will feel about yourself. I can promise you that.
While doing homework and studying is almost every student’s top priority (and rightly so), no student should ignore the importance of a healthy lifestyle in college.
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