Eating clean can be tough for college students, but remember: You're in control. No one can force you to eat junk food. Keep your goals in mind—more muscle, more strength, better test scores, a healthier life—and you will navigate college nutrition with ease. High marks in Nutrition 101 lead to even greater athletic and aesthetic success.
Big Man On Campus: Nutrition Overview
Watch The Video - 09:56
In college, you're young, still growing, and your metabolism is fast. Unless you're competing, I don't think you should stress about each and every meal. Even so, good nutrition is good nutrition.
Your diet has a huge impact on your results, as well as your mood and overall health. You need to eat for physical and mental performance. Keep your brain fueled and your muscles fed.
Good nutrition sets the foundation for great results. The basics of nutrition start with the macronutrients. There are three macronutrients that make up whole foods: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Each nutrient plays a variety of roles.
- Protein is responsible for tissue growth and repair. It's essential for building muscle.
- Carbohydrates are the body's preferred energy source.
- Dietary fat is required to digest fat-soluble vitamins; it also plays a role in healthy skin and hair, organ protection, cell function, and more.
Your diet should be comprised primarily of:
College is fast-paced and hectic. It can be tough to count calories and track how much food you eat each and every day. I suggest eating at least one gram of protein per pound of body weight daily. If you weigh 200 pounds, you'd eat at least 200 g of protein-from a combination of food and supplement sources-for muscle growth. If you really want to pack on more size in a short amount of time, don't be afraid to eat 1.5-to-2 g of protein per pound, per day.
The protein target is a great starting point for most people. However, if you like to be as detailed as possible, take your weight and multiply it by 17.5. The resulting number is how many calories you should be eating per day. A 200-pound male would eat 3,500 calories daily, roughly split between: 40% protein, 40% carbs, and 20% fat.
Big Man Mass Calculator
It might look like a lot of calories, but remember: You can't build muscle and add mass without a caloric excess. You need to eat more than you're burning for your body to grow. Also, your total daily calories will be spread across multiple meals.
Eat every few hours to fuel your body with enough nutrients to build and repair muscle throughout the day. Eating small, frequent meals can also help you manage hunger and curb cravings. I like to eat 6-or-7 relatively small meals throughout the day. It might sound crazy, but snacks, protein supplements, and meal preparation make frequent eating easy.
Even though there's a lot of peer pressure and social activity in college, it's fairly easy to eat clean. Most college cafeterias offer numerous healthful options. Even campus cafes typically offer lighter fare and low-carb choices. When you're at parties, you can always modify food to make it better for your goals. I would pass on pizza and doughnuts, but I'd grab a burger, ditch the bun, and eat the patty.
Meal preparation is critical to beating bad nutrition and achieving your muscle-building goals. Keep a stash of pre-made, ready-to-eat, muscle-building meals or snacks readily available. Stockpile protein bars, low-sodium jerky, Greek yogurt, veggies, fruits, and almonds in your dorm room. With healthful food at hand, you won't spring for nutritionally bankrupt junk.
Avoid candy bars and sugar-loaded energy drinks. They're addicting, packed with fast carbs, will make your energy crash, and won't do anything to help your muscle-building goals.
Food is fuel; eat like you're a Ferrari, not a minivan. If you haven't already, watch my video on Time Management, where I cover easy ways to tackle meal prep and planning.
To build muscle, you need nutrient-dense food. There's a myth that healthful food is expensive, but you can definitely eat clean on the cheap. Bulk brown rice is a perfect, inexpensive, complex carbohydrate.
Follow these additional tips to build your body without breaking the bank:
- Buy in bulk
- Watch for sales
- Shop with coupons
- Ask about student discounts
Even if you're forced to grab cheap fast food, you can still make a muscle-building meal. Order off the dollar menu and skip the condiments. Drop the white-bread bun. Get a grilled chicken sandwich from McDonald's and ask them to wrap it in lettuce. Believe me, it works. It's not ideal, but you have to get the most from what you have available.
When you go to restaurants, don't be afraid to make special requests. Most places are willing to swap fries with a vegetable, withhold fatty condiments, or make other adjustments.
Sample Meal Plan
- Calories: 3,430
- Carbs: 311.165 g
- Fat: 101.222 g
- Protein: 321.33 g
Calories: 111 | Fats: 8 g | Protein: 8 g | Carbs: 685 mg
Calories: 69 | Fats: 224 mg | Protein: 14 g | Carbs: 1 g
Veggies of choice (Bell Pepper)
Calories: 24 | Fats: 202 mg | Protein: 1 g | Carbs: 6 g
Calories: 157 | Fats: 3 g | Protein: 6 g | Carbs: 28 g
Calories: 42 | Fats: 244 mg | Protein: 548 mg | Carbs: 11 g
Omelet and Oats
Egg White Omelet with Chicken and Oatmeal
Try a clean, convenient, and delicious B-Elite Fuel meal!
Calories: 160 | Fats: 1 g | Protein: 8 g | Carbs: 28 g
Calories: 192 | Fats: 5.5 g | Protein: 33 g | Carbs: 0 g
Calories: 76 | Fats: 3 g | Protein: 10.3 g | Carbs: 1.48 g
Piece of Fruit (Banana)
Calories: 105 | Fats: 389 mg | Protein: 1 g | Carbs: 27 g
Sandwich and Fruit
Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Green Beans
Try a clean, convenient, and delicious B-Elite Fuel meal!
Calories: 140 | Fats: 1 g | Protein: 30 g | Carbs: 2 g
Calories: 120 | Fats: 1 g | Protein: 24 g | Carbs: 3 g