College is a crazy and fun time, yet is full of distractions especially when it comes to training. Many find it difficult to fit classes, homework, friends, partying, and training all into a day and I do not blame them. It is difficult to remain disciplined while in college, but that is why weight training is not a sport for everyone. Schwarzenegger said it best:
"Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decided not to surrender, that is strength."
College is full of hardships and will test your strength and commitment to how much you want to improve yourself. I found this out not too long ago when I left my home and headed for college. Being a college student, I have learned a lot not only in the classroom but also in how to blend weight training and college life. In this article, I plan to cover many aspects of college training that a college student encounters and give some advice.
As most bodybuilders know, developing lean mass takes more than training hard in the weightroom, but also eating a clean and adequate diet. In a college atmosphere, eating a clean and adequate diet is not always an option when you are at the dining halls that serve objects that barely resemble food or at a party full of people that usually drink their dinners.
Normal dining halls and meal plans offer three square meals a day, which falls a bit short for hard training athletes. So when you are at the dining hall you have to get the most for your money here. Look for foods that are fit your goals so look for lean meats, complex carbohydrates, fruits, and a good salad bar.
Some foods you can look for are:
- Subs - Most colleges offer some type offer subs or a Subway type place where you can pick and choose what you would like on your sub. A good example of a sub would be a whole wheat sub bun with lean turkey breast, lettuce, tomatoes, onion, and banana peppers. If you use condiments try to stick with low fat condiments; mustard is a great option. If you construct it right a sub could yield 40 grams of protein, 50-60 carbs, 15 grams of fat, and 300-350 calories.
- Eggs - Eggs are a pretty universal item in the dining halls, but make sure you choose the right kind. One eggs does not offer a large amount of protein so eating several is necessary, yet you want to keep the fat low so only eat egg whites. Stick with hard boiled eggs because it is very easy to separate the egg from the yolk and they are a great source of protein.
- Chicken Breast - A small personal grille is a great item to have in college especially for cooking chicken breast. Try opting for a chicken breast instead of the cheeseburger in the dining hall because chicken contains less fat and is usually a better type of meat in a dining hall. You have to consider that the dining halls are feeding thousands of people so they usually do not have very high quality and lean types of burger so chicken is a very good alternative. One chicken breast usually yields about 20-25 grams of protein.
- Milk/Cottage Cheese - Many people forget that cottage cheese and milk contain a fairly good amount of protein and vitamins. Skim milk normally yields about 8 grams of protein in 8 ounces. Fat-free cottage cheese normally yields about 12 grams of protein and is an excellent source of casein protein. I normally eat at least one serving of cottage cheese a day especially before I go to sleep because of the amount of casein protein in it. Casein protein is the most anti-catabolic protein in food and digests slowly.
- Fruits/Vegetables - Fruit and vegetables are normally foods that are widespread in dining halls so stock up. Fruits yield good simple sugars and antioxidants. Vegetables provide many necessary nutrients as well. They are also easy to grab and save for later.
- Cereals - This is generally an area that is easy to slip up. Dining halls generally offer many varieties of cereals but most are usually packed with sugar. Try to stick to bran cereals that will offer good carbohydrates that will properly fuel you throughout the day. Raisin bran and Crispix are good options.
It is also very important to schedule times throughout the day for training and for eating. Try spacing out your classes so that you have time for a quick meal. If you have too many classes in a row then try eating during class because most professors do not mind. Also when you are at the dining hall bring some Tupperware with you so that you can sneak some extra food out enabling you to eat every couple hours.
Alcohol is everywhere in college and there is also a great deal of pressure that you must drink while you are in college. If you are in college then you have probably already noticed how much people change through the semester or quarter. They begin a little small and a little tight but after all that drinking, partying, and bad eating habits hits they have just went through one of the most unsuccessful bulking phases of their lives. Some college students that train a couple days a week can get away with drinking a six pack every weekend, but most can not.
If you want to limit how much you drink during college try to drink only once a week and limit yourself on how many drinks you have. If you want to train competitively or want a competitive looking body then there is only one choice to drinking, which is not to drink. If you must have a drink, then limit yourself to drinking about once a month. Alcohol contains too many calories and has too many negative effects on the body to consume it if you want to train competitively.
The caloric content of alcohol is seven calories per gram. A shot of gin contains around 110 calories, while an average 12-oz beer contains 146 calories, 13 grams of carbohydrates, and some vitamins and minerals. The types of nutrients in alcohol have almost no positive affect on your body. After the consumption of alcohol your body's metabolism falls sharply. The reason why alcohol has this dramatic effect on fat metabolism has to do with the way alcohol is handled in the body. When alcohol is consumed, it readily passes from the stomach and intestines into the blood and goes to the liver.
In the liver, an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase mediates the conversion of alcohol to acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is rapidly converted to acetate by other enzymes. So rather than getting stored as fat, the main fate of alcohol is conversion into acetate, the amount of acetate formed is dose dependant on the amount of alcohol consumed. For example, blood levels of acetate after drinking the vodka were 2.5 times higher than normal. And it appears this sharp rise in acetate puts the brakes on fat loss .
Consuming alcohol dramatically decreases testosterone levels, causing them to take as much as two weeks before they return to normal. Consumption of alcohol also lowers your Growth Hormone production, and increases your estrogen production. Basically it is better to abstain from alcohol if you take your training seriously. Personally I have never really been a big drinker and I do take my training seriously so I drink very seldom.
The best advice to make yourself feel more comfortable around drinkers when you are not is to be the designated driver when you are going out, keep reminding yourself why are not drinking and how hard you worked in the gym during your last workout, carry solid colored/opaque cups full of something other than alcohol so that it gives you the appearance that you are drinking, or simply tell those who ask that you why you are not drinking that you do not drink.
Make training time sacred. College is full of distractions but make sure you allot yourself at least an hour a day to do some kind training. Personally when I schedule for classes I leave at least a three hour block open for training at a time where I know the gym will not be overcrowded with people. Another option is to train early in the morning. Most people do not get to the gym before noon, so I have learned that the gym is usually empty early in the morning. This allows you to train before class and have the rest of the day to repair.
Supplementation is also a perplexing topic while in college because of the lack of money a college student usually has. Since supplements usually are not cheap try to obtain as many of your nutrients from whole foods, which is recommended anyway. If you feel that you do need some of the extra help from supplements stick to the basics such as a good multi-vitamin, whey protein, and branch chain amino acids.
College is tough. It is really is; not only in the classroom but also physically and socially. There are many types of obstacles that can get you distracted and keep you from the gym. Keep training hard and you will achieve your goals. Hopefully this article has been some kind of benefit to you and feel free to email me if you have any comments or questions.
- St. Clair, Corey. Does Alcohol Affect Your Strength and Performance? Bodybuilding.com
- Di Pasquale, Mauro. Alcohol and It's Impact on Metabolism. Bodybuilding.com
- Norton, Layne. College Nutrition. Bodybuilding.com
- Schwarzenegger, Arnold. The Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding. Simon and Schuster. 1985, 1998.
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