The Freshman 15 is a bit of a misnomer. Most guys gain weight all four years of college, according to research published in Appetite.
One reason? Calories in generally exceed calories burned. All-you-can-eat cafeteria meals (however good or bad they might be), nights fueled by ramen and microwaveable mac and cheese, beer pong, and vending machine food can all add calories in. Meanwhile, if you’re coming off of a high school career as a quarterback and track star to a college career as a bookworm, you’re not going to come anywhere near burning off the crazy huge meals you used to pride yourself on putting away, says sports dietitian and strength coach Marie Spano, R.D., C.S.S.D., C.S.C.S.
Another factor: Sleep. (Or, to be more specific, lack of sleep.) Between frat parties, late-night cram sessions, part-time jobs, and early-morning tailgaters, most college guys don't sleep often—and when they do, it's periodic naps through chemistry lectures. That combination of sleeping fewer hours and sleeping erratically contributes to weight gain, especially among guys, according to a study published in the journal Behavioral Sleep Medicine.
The solution to that problem is simpler than you might realize: Prioritize sleep time, and try to wake up in time for a meal, since a high-protein breakfast is an important way to manage your weight. Here are 10 more expert-approved tips to getting jacked (not fat) in college.