The combination of unlimited dining hall buffets, a meager food budget, lack of access to anything other than a machine with the proficiency to undercook hot pockets, and more kegs than eggs at any given time can make college life less than easy to dominate. However, you’re thinking this year is different, then again you may have said that last year but this year you’ll avoid the cliché freshman 15 or maybe you’ll shovel down every last tater tot (not advised by USPlabs or Dr. Mike ) to finally gain 15lb onto your post high school frame, which mildly resembles your pre-highschool frame.
So how can you make gains in this wild environment, and keep your physique on point? Dr. Mike Roussel has the roadmap for you.
As Sun Tzu wrote in the Art of War, “Every battle is won or lost before it’s ever fought.” The same goes for your physique as you head back to school. If you have your mind right and your plan set, this won’t be a problem. If you try to do this haphazardly, and allow for excuses to creep in – you might as well just phone it in now and only show up on Friday afternoons to do curls.
To dial in your diet at college, you need to take the same steps as anyone else who is trying to hone in their physique. You need to set priorities, make a plan, and be relentless about execution.
The biggest excuse from college kids that I hear is about money. “Eating healthy is too expensive.” I totally get that, I’ve been there. But if you say that, and then have seemingly unlimited funds on the weekends for beer – you obviously don’t have your priorities straight. Being that college is a tight budget time for most students, let’s look at how you can fill your macronutrient needs on a slim budget, and with limited access to cooking.
Protein is going to be your most expensive and hardest food to source at school.
For the non-student, it is very hard to meet 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight without the use of protein powder. For a student, it is near impossible. A protein powder such as ModernPROTEIN is portable, doesn’t require refrigeration, is versatile, and very cost effective. It is a college student’s dream.
Canned fish is another staple for the college life of the muscle crowd. I crushed two cans of tuna per day for a whole semester my sophomore year, as I worked up to squatting 500lbs. I wouldn’t recommend this, as one can is the upper limit of what you should consume as to not overtax your system with mercury (the nasty tagalong to canned tuna). Chunk lite has less mercury than chunk white (and it is cheaper, so that’s a win for you).
When you hit the dining hall, stock up on all of the protein that you can find that isn’t breaded and deep fried. In the morning, go for eggs, and lunch and dinner should be a poultry and beef feast.
These are all too easy to eat in the dining hall, in your dorm, or just about anywhere. Rice and oats are two dorm-friendly carbs that you can cook in the microwave. Rolled oats are also great in smoothies for more carbs and calories. The biggest red flag with carbs in college are refined carbs. Steer clear of white, refined, and liquid carbohydrates. They are all very easy to overconsume, and even the most budget strapped student can find a better source of calories to meet their needs.
When you are eating at the dining hall, you don’t need to worry about getting enough fat in your meals – they add plenty. Otherwise, keep mixed nuts, almonds, cashews, and walnuts on hand to add to shakes or to have as a standalone snack. If you are having trouble gaining weight, try having ½ a cup of nuts twice per day to pack over 600 quality calories into your diet.
Avocados are a dorm friendly fat source, and also a great source of fiber. One avocado has ~10 grams of fiber. Just cut it open, remove the pit, season with salt & pepper and eat. Pair it with two scoops of your favorite flavor of ModernProtein (in water), and you have a fast meal in order to fuel recovery.
Get a blender for your dorm room. It doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive, just something that fits in your cramped space and can blend. This will be your most used piece of nutritional equipment during your entire college career. Shakes are good for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and can be loaded with nutrients for little money.
Simple meals that require a microwave (or less) are key to dorm diet survival so that you don’t resort to hot pockets and ramen. Here are three of my favorite meals for dorm life.
Protein Cookie Dough
In a bowl, combine 1 scoop of ModernPROTEIN, 2 Tbsp natural peanut butter, 1-2 Tbsp water. The less water the better, otherwise it gets too sticky. Mix with a fork until cookie dough consistency and devour.
Easy Post Workout Eggs
This was my go-to, solid post-training meal for years when I lived in a dorm. It is cheap, and it gets your body simple carbs and essential amino acid-packed protein at lightning speed. In a microwave safe bowl with lid, add 1 cup minute rice and 1 cup water. Microwave for 7 minutes, then let sit covered for 5 more minutes. Next, while the rice is sitting, in another microwave safe bowl, microwave 1 cup egg whites for 1.5 minutes, stopping ½ way to stir/scramble. Stir egg whites into rice and add your favorite seasoning.
This shake is closing in on 1,000 calories and will get the scale moving up for any hardgainer. In your blender, add 1 cup rolled oats, 3 scoops Modern PROTEIN, 1 medium diced apple, ¼ cup almonds, 1 tsp. cinnamon (optional), 2-3 cups water, and 4 ice cubes. Blend and drink.
College is the best time to make a lot of progress on your physique. You have a lot of time on your hands, your ability to recover is the best that it ever will be, and your hormones are raging. Dial in your nutrition with the tips from this article and reap the benefits.
Dr. Mike is known for transforming complex nutritional concepts into practical nutritional habits that his clients can use to ensure permanent weight loss and long lasting health. Dr. Mike holds a degree in biochemistry from Hobart College and a doctorate in nutrition from Pennsylvania State University.
Dr. Mike’s academic background coupled with his broad range of experience from consulting with pharmaceutical and food companies, medical schools, top rated fitness facilities, professional athletes, and individual clients, gives him the unique ability to translate scientific findings into relevant, understandable, and actionable strategies that get results. As a scientist, his research has been published in the premiere clinical nutrition journal in the world, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Dr. Mike is a sought after continuing educator, speaking across the country to physicians, dietitians, nurses, and other health professionals on the most recent advances in the nutritional treatments for cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Mike’s unique approach to scientifically derived yet practical nutrition has made him a well-known expert contributor to both national print publications and leading online fitness outlets. In addition to being an adjunct assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Mike serves on the Advisory Board for both Men’s Health magazine and LIVESTRONG.com. He also writes the monthly “Ask The Nutrition Know-It-All” column for Men’s Health Magazine. In addition to authoring three books, Your Naked Nutrition Guide (2007), The 6 Pillars of Nutrition (2011), and Dr. Mike’s Ultimate Book of Smoothies (2015) he has served as the nutritionist for Men’s Health Book of Power Training (Rodale, 2007), Strength Training Cardio (Rodale, 2010), the Women’s Health Big Book of Abs (Rodale, 2012), the Men’s Health Big Book of Abs (Rodale, 2012), and Your Body Is Your Barbell (Rodale, 2014).
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of USPlabs or any employee thereof. Examples used within this article are only examples. USPlabs is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the authors of this article. Authors may have been remunerated by USPlabs.
The information provided in this article, as well as this web-site blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice for any condition. Always consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. By reading this disclaimer, you hereby agree and understand that the information provided in this column is not medical advice and relying upon it shall be done at your sole risk.