When you are a college student, life can be hectic and your days can be fast, really fast. You wake up from only a couple hours of sleep because you have been studying all night. Then you need to get to your other class then back to studying and you do this for a couple weeks before your final or midterm exams. This can be very stressful. Even if you are just starting the year or you’re going through your college life, you need to have some tips and tricks to help you stay healthy. Staying healthy means eating a healthy diet in college which can lead to many more positive opportunities by giving you a clear head and keeping your mood leveled. There are many tips to stay fit during school but life gets much crazier when exams are coming up. Whether it is the vitamins to take during college or the easy recipes for college students, life shouldn’t get harder.
1. Take your daily vitamins
What are vitamins and minerals for?
Vitamins, multi-vitamins and minerals are all supplements that are essentially needed by the body especially during college during stressful times. Vitamins are organic substances that are required for normal cell functions, development and growth. Minerals are inorganic substances which are important for body functions and development. Supplements can usually give off a negative connotation however in this case they are important. As time and time has gone, our soil in the ground we farm on has lost its nutrients through a variety of reasons like low organic matter, loss of soil structure, poor internal drainage or another reason. This has caused the nutrients in our fruit, vegetables and food lose their nutrients which is why we take supplements, well to supplement what we are not getting enough of. It is also because we have evolved into carb loading off unhealthy junk food rather than enjoy the nutritious healthy foods. For example, who’s going to go for the oatmeal with an apple and orange in the morning when they are perfectly capable of reaching over and stacking 5 waffles on top of each filled with butter and maple syrup then wash it down with coffee that is made with 4 teaspoons of sugar and creamer? I understand, the latter is much better and believe me there are days when I do pig out but on average I know it Is better to stick to the healthier alternative. You are what you eat and you may not see it today but health defects and illnesses will definitely show themselves one days.
Have a nutrition deficiency can cause different health and mental problems which vary from muscle weakness, numbness or tingling in your hands or feet, irregular heartbeats, dry skin, hair loss, rash, muscle cramps, irregular metabolism, hormonal changes, irregular tooth growth and much more. As you can see vitamins and minerals can definitely help a lot and are absolutely needed for your body. With this idea in mind, do not start taking vitamins and minerals in substitution of food. There is no better way to get your nutrients than food itself. Vitamins and minerals just supplement food. Fruit and vegetables usually contain more than one type of vitamin or mineral which helps you get a plethora of necessities.
- Vitamin A – Vitamin A keeps many things in check and running smoothly. As many know vitamin A is great for good vision but it also helps other things too like cell production and immune system. Vitamin A is very big for the eyes as some people with vitamin A deficiency can get night blindness and if not treated properly, it can lead to blindness. Vitamin A can come from different sources like dairy, eggs and carrots but higher concentrations are found in the liver and fish oils.
- Vitamin B – Vitamin B can be complex and be different kinds from Vitamin B3 (Niacin), B1 (Thiamine) and B12. These different vitamin B’s work together to product and give energy to your body while also forming red blood cells. Proteins are a major source of Vitamin B, which can be found in dairy, chicken, meat, fish, eggs and more. Salads are a great source of Vitamin B which can be meat mixed with leafy green vegetables, beans and peas which all provide a great amount of Vitamin B.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C is probably the most noted and known vitamin from the spectrum. Everyone hears emerge`n-c and oranges to keep from getting sick. As you might have guessed it, vitamin C is very important for our immune system but it also plays a vital role for growth and development. Vitamin C isn’t does not really help in keeping you from getting sick but it can help with keeping your colds shorter. Vitamin C can help with forming into a protein that is used to make skin, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels along with healing scar tissue, cartilage, bones and teeth. Good sources of vitamin C are citrus fruit, mango, pineapple, berries, broccoli, tomato, leafy green and more.
- Vitamin D – Vitamin D helps with the promotion of calcium absorption in your stomach along with healthy bone growth. If you suffer from vitamin D deficiency bones can become weaker leading to osteoporosis or easier fractures. Food that’s are rich in vitamin D are salmon, tuna, fish oil, egg yolks, orange juice and more.
- Vitamin E – Vitamin E helps as an antioxidant which helps to protect your body’s cell against damage. Damage can be caused from free radical which is a word used to describe things that can harm us like a drastic diet change, stress, drugs, alcohols, infections and more. Vitamin E comes from nuts, vegetables, seeds, peanut butter, spinach and more.
- Vitamin K – Vitamin K helps your blood clot and also keeps your bones healthy. The K is from its German name, Koagulationsvitamin. Vitamin K is important because if you’re deficient, you can start bleeding from your gums or nose but it is not common to be vitamin K. You cannot be deficient in vitamin K since your stomach already makes it along with it being in green leafy vegetables. Good sources for vitamin K are kale, fish, parsley, turnip, Brussels and more.
- Fish Oil – Fish oil can come from eating a fish like tuna, salmon and cod liver directly or taking fish oil supplements. Fish oil can lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, help with eye related illnesses, stomach ulcers and much more.
- Iron – Iron is mineral that is in many foods and assists with getting oxygen from the lungs to the tissues and muscles. It also helps with metabolism, growth and development of cells along with hormone tissues. Iron is found in lean meat, seafood, nuts, beans, vegetables, and grains.
- Calcium – Calcium promotes healthy and strong bones which is a necessity in the daily dietary requirements. It also can help with blood clot, nerves and muscle contract. Calcium is one of the only minerals that focuses its benefits on one main thing which is the bones and teeth but our bodies cannot make it so it is only brought into the body through proper nutrition. We can lose calcium through our sweat, urine, nails, hair and more. The daily requirement for calcium is about 1,000mg to 1200mg daily. Calcium is found in a plethora of foods but it is mainly in dairy products like non-fat or low-fat milk and cheese. Cereals and bread can consist of calcium that have been added into it too.
- Magnesium – Magnesium is a major source for energy production and muscle contraction along with the balance of cholesterol levels. Magnesium can regulate enzyme activity along with energy production in the ATP (the powerhouse of the cells). If you are deficient in magnesium, some signs to look out for are poor sleep, chronic pain, muscle cramps and muscle tics. Foods rich in magnesium are spinach, yogurt, almonds, avocado, bananas and more.
- Potassium – Potassium is a mineral that is important for certain organs to work properly like the heart and kidneys. Potassium can be a weird one due it not have a specific dietary daily value but in large amounts can be fatal. About 4,500-5,000 mg daily of potassium should be the rough limit. Foods with high sources of potassium are bananas, avocadoes, nuts, milk and more.
- Zinc – Zinc is found in metal but small amounts can be found in our body. It can be used for strengthening your immune system, tread colds and infections. It can have many other uses like treating attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), asthma, diabetes and more. Foods high in Zinc are veal liver, various seeds, dark chocolate, spinach and many more.
2. Keep your eating times consistent
Keeping the same caloric intake while eating at roughly the same times daily is very helpful in losing weight, maintaining your weight, keeping your energy up and not getting hangry! Making sure you keep the same eating habit may be hard as many things can cause it to vary like the weather, mood, stress or hangovers for all your college students. The right diet for students can also make sure you are feeling good for the day ahead which is why breakfast is really important. When you sleep, your body slows down to prevent from starving so it goes into a fasting state. When it fasts metabolism slows down since there is no food that needs to be metabolized. Breakfast does exactly its name, it breaks your fast. Keeping your body at an anabolic state (using fuel like food for energy) where as if you don’t eat enough or are at a deficiency in calories, your body will eat muscles to survive, which is a catabolic state.
A healthy breakfast can lower the risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Your daily diet should look like a pyramid. Start big by building a nice base at the bottom and as the day goes on start eating lighter. Most people barely eat breakfast if at all and then start eating heavier and heavier throughout lunch and dinner then finish off with dessert. The idea behind this not working is you’re fueling your body when it’s not needed as much rather than the start of the day.
Try to aim for eating every 2.5-3 hours. This doesn’t consist of big meals really but rather snacking on something in between meals. Healthy snacks for student consist of nuts, fruit and protein bars. Meal prepping for college students is a huge benefit if you want to keep your eating habits and eating times consistent. The best way to go about this is to get meal prepping containers which will help you meal prep in the beginning of the week so all you need to do is take a container on your way out of your home.
3. Eat more meals but smaller portions
You may have heard people say “Eat little but keep eating”. You may have people also questioning whether they should eat 3 big meals a day or 5-6 smaller ones. Well before we touch on this topic, it is much easier to eat less throughout the day along with it being better due to energy levels. You wake up and eat a big breakfast, wait until 12 or 1pm and eat a giant sandwich with French fries. You’re bloated for the first hour and within 2 hours, your body has crashed and is in need of coffee. With coffee you decide to eat a pastry or chocolate bar that is only going to give you energy for 30 minutes to an hour top. By the time you come home to fix dinner you are so tired and hungry, you decide to get fast food. All that takes a toll on the body, especially when you’re a high school or college student. Eating habits must be right when studying or going to classes so often which is why college students need fitness and diet plans. Eating often but in small meals can increase baseline metabolic rate (BMR) which is essentially your resting metabolism. It is how many calories you burn while resting.
The best thing to do is eat breakfast within an hour of waking up. 2.5 hours to 3 hours later, make sure to have a small snack like a small bag of nuts or a couple of fruit. In 2 hours eat lunch whether that’s only a sandwich (no side) or something light. Don’t add on the extra sides as this will cause you to bloat and get tired quicker which is what this whole thing is the opposite of. The bigger your meal the bigger the crash. About 3 hours after, eat another light snack like nuts, pretzels, trail mix, fruit or a piece of dark chocolate with some almonds. In about 2 hours after your snack, dinner should be good carbs like brown or white rice with some steamed vegetables will be a good choice. Dinner is one meal you do not want to pig out on since you are most sedentary after dinner. After dinner is where most of you unwind and relax by either watching television or studying eat a decent portion as usual but with proper amount of protein and carbs. Protein intake can vary from your weight to your goals. The average person’s body needs about .7-1g of protein per pound of body weight is just enough.
4. Don’t skip breakfast!
As we noted earlier, a healthy breakfast can lower the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. It can also be a great way to boost your metabolism. Since breakfast is literally just breaking your fast that you had from sleeping, your body starts raising its basal metabolic rate. Some students believe they can sleep in a bit more and get away with eating breakfast since you are taking in less calories but your body burns calories more consistently when you wake up early and eat a balanced breakfast early. Eating a balanced breakfast also helps your brain to wake up, allowing you to make better decisions. Balanced breakfast is directed towards a breakfast with more protein and grains rather than fats and carbs. Dont make it hard on yourself by going all out, just find simple health breakfasts that you can make quickly.
Mixed Scrambled Eggs: Scrambled eggs mixed with other nutritious recipes is a wonderful choice for a healthy balanced breakfast in the morning. Using coconut oil, heat it up in the pan and throw a couple peppers in there and let it heat up for a bit. Then throw a slice of cheese on it waiting for it to melt. At the end, throw 2 broken eggs in there and scramble it up until it is ready.
Egg in a Basket: Using coconut oil, heat it up in a pan. Cut a circle in the middle of a whole wheat toast and throw in the pan. Let is heat up on one side and flip it. Crack an egg right into the middle of the toast. Flip around once more in about 2-3 minutes and you’re ready to eat it.
5. Eat brain food
Eggs: Eggs are a wonderful brain food because they are rich in choline which use to make a neurotransmitter that is used for memory and communication along the brain cells. Choline has been directly correlated to positive brain performance. This is one of the reason we encourage eating eggs in the morning.Brain food is food or nutrients that are good to the brain for intellectual needs or cognition. Eating brain foods can protect brain cells, support and supply glucose to the brain for steady supply of energy, improve memory, reduce the chances of Alzheimer’s and more. Certain Vitamin B’s are great for reducing homocysteine in the blood which decrease chances of stroke, Alzheimer’s, and cognitive impairments.
Fruit: Fruit is a wonderful choice when it comes to getting brain food. Avocados are a great nutritional fruit that are rich in monounsaturated fat, which support proper blood flow to the brain. Blueberries are also a wonderful choice as they have found that they protect the brain from oxidative stress along with delaying or improving short term memory loss. They also help against age-related diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. Tomatoes are another good one because they have been proven to help against free radical damage to cells.
Vegetables: Kale is one of the best vegetables you can eat for brain food. They contain powerful antioxidants that can protect your brain from toxic free radicals. A study done on older women showed that Kale had reduced their minds to function like women that were two years younger. Broccoli is another one because it is rich in vitamin K which improves cognitive functions and improves brainpower.
Fish: Oily fish are great essential fatty acids which cannot be made by the body naturally. The main one as many of you know is omega-3 which can be found in fish oil. Omega-3 is also found in walnuts, soy beans and various seeds. Essential fats support a healthy brain, heart, joints and overall health. The main fishes to remember that contain the most of these essential fatty acids are salmon, mackerel, sardines, herrings, kippers and trout’s.
Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is a wonderful oil based supplement that can be used for many body benefits. Coconut oil has many uses from balancing hormones to giving you energy and burning body fats to moisturizing skin. It can be used instead of butter for most things, body lotion, mixed with coffee or just plain eating by the spoonful. Some benefits of Coconut oil for the brain consist of being a natural Alzheimer disease treatment, improving memory and brain functions.
Exercising and Working Out: Working out and exercise can remove toxins from your body by helping you sweat. Junk food with a lot of Trans and saturated fats don’t work well with your brain but good diet and exercise can help your brain not go through a fog. It also helps you sleep better which can lead to a better cleared minded day and a regular consistent diet. Exercising improves mood and stress levels which all can eventually lead to cognitive impairment if not treated.
6. Eat Vegetables and Fruit
Vegetables are a good source of nutrients which help the body focus and remain healthy. The rule of thumb for vegetables is the darker the vegetable, the higher the nutritious benefits and supplements it has. Like spinach can offer more to the brain and body than a lettuce can. Vegetables are also a great way to keep hydrated. Vegetables consist of a heavy amount of water which helps hydrate your body. Vegetables also are known to help reduce stress as they contain vitamin C, omega-3 and B vitamins. Some preferred vegetables are Brussel sprouts, spinach, asparagus and broccoli. Broccoli is a good vegetable because it helps with short term and long term memory.
Fruit are wonderful because of the many benefits they give. First and foremost, fruit like berries, peppers, and citrus type fruit are very rich in antioxidants along with green tea and dark chocolates (don’t go crazy on these). Apples are a great brain booster because of the acetylcholine which increases sensory reception and reduces stress. Blueberries are also great at improve reasoning skills, decision making, numerical ability and boost concentration. Bananas are incredibly rich in potassium which are known to make you more alert along with it being good for the brain. Fruits rich in anti-oxidants are really great for when you want to clean your colon. It can have many benefits like feeling less bloated, more energetic, weight loss and over all well being.
7. Eat Nuts
Nuts come in all different shapes and sizes. Two things you cannot deny is that they are good for your brain and make a great snack. They have a lot of protein and different healthy fats which keep you full longer. Nuts are beneficial by lowering cholesterol to improving memory to lowering blood pressure and even preventing age-related brain diseases.
Walnuts: Walnuts are the best one for brain food. They contain a lot of Omega-3, specifically DHA or Docosahexaenoic acid. Some benefits DHA has been known to have is to protect brain health in newborns, prevent age-related cognitive decline and improve cognitive performance in adults. They can cause faster processing and information storing along with raising the brains serotonin levels. Another two important things that got caught our eyes were that is helps develop neurotransmitters in the brain and promotes natural waste removal processes in the brain.
Almonds: Almonds are great and they are even better when they are dipped in water then salt them. Almonds are great for neurotransmitters boosting dopamine and adrenaline which can cause the mind to move react faster. It helps increase attention and lessen the effects of Parkinson’s disease. They can also lower cholesterol levels and restore memory.
Pistachios: Pistachios are a great source of Vitamin B6, prevent inflammation in the brain and can lift your mood. Pistachios are also rich in antioxidant and essential fatty acids like DHA. It is a huge source of fiber which is known to support a healthy bowel movement. It also has a good source of protein which is good for tissue growth and repair. The amount of vitamin E in Pistachios can also promote healthy skin if you eat in regular amounts.
8. Snack smartly
Making sure you don’t eat too much or too fast is very good to remember. Depending on how you eat, it might be a good idea to change your behaviors. Some people will grab nuts by the handful and shove it in their mouth. This will cause you to snack more which will lead to a bloated stomach and dry mouth from the sodium levels in the nuts. Instead of shoving a handful in your mouth, eat them one by one and chew more. Portion control is huge to your health and it can affect many different parts of your body. Even if you get a break in between class or an exam, definitely eat a snack. Eat an apple or a handful of nuts.
If you break it down you can realize why you need to snack sometimes when you don’t even have the appetite for it. It all comes down to body fuel and mind fuel. You need body fuel to keep going throughout the day since our days can be long and strung out which can make you sluggish as well as slower reactions. Depending on your diet, eating a small snack that has carbs or fat and protein is wonderful to keep your body up. They are perfect for body fuel when you feel like you are getting sleepy. Glucose is another thing to keep in mind which you got to maintain. Glucose is your blood sugar level.
On the other hand, brain food will help your mind be more active and quicker reacting. Brain food can consist of fruit, vegetables and nuts. Keeping a small contain filled with them is a good idea. Bananas, apples, spinach and broccoli are great examples. As far as nuts, almonds, walnuts and pistachios are great sources of nutrients to keep you full and fueled.
There are different behaviors that can lead to snacking smarter. Chewing more can help you stay full longer especially with almonds. Citrus is good way to curb your appetite which lowers insulin levels. Eating a slice of grapefruit with each meal throughout the day can make major improvements on your health. Snacking smartly does not mean you can’t have your favorite treat. If you want to have a piece of chocolate a day (because a chocolate a day is good for you!) then do it, just make room for it by cutting out small portions in other places. A smart move is to not drink your calories and save that for your favorite treat. When you eat your food, make sure you are mindful of what you are eat. When you study next to a plate of food, you tend to eat without thinking and you overeat.
9. Stay hydrated
It takes about 600ml of water and 45 minutes to be considered hydrated. This does not state that you just ran a race course in the desert which will require much more water. Electrolytes can definitely help you rejuvenate faster. Dehydration can lead to sluggish thinking and slower reactions. Drinking an average of 8 cups a days is ideal but if depending on your diet, you don’t have to monitor to drink exactly 8 cups a day. You must remember that you get hydrated throughout the day from various meals like fruit, fish and more. Just remember to intake your coffee if you have not had enough water. Coffee can definitely make you dehydrated which can make you feel light headed, dizzy and nasty over all. A good alternative to coffee is tea, especially green tea. Green tea is the most caffeinated tea which will do what coffee does to you too. On the plus side, it contains more water in it and is rich in antioxidants which can flush your body of toxins. Sugar and salt are also big factors of dehydration. Sugar can make your body work faster and then make you crash. Salt is a very big one where people overdo on a daily basis but don’t drink enough water to combat it. A good rule of thumb for salt is the size of a fingernail worth is enough for the day. Water can also help with anxiety whether it’s before a test or just a regular day.
Drinking on sports drinks or coconut water is another good alternative if you don’t want that simple plain old water taste. Sports drinks like Gatorade or PowerAde are great because of the electrolytes they contain even though they have sugar in it. You don’t have to chug your drink but make sure you’re sipping on your drink slowly throughout the day.
Tips on how to know if you’re dehydrated
There are a couple ways to test yourself and see if you’re dehydrated. Keep in mind that there is no 100% way to know if you’re hydrated so these are just rule of thumbs. The first way is the simple pee test. What color is your pee? The more clear and transparent the more hydrated you are. Another tip is to pinch the back of your hand to test the elasticity of your skin. If your skin goes back to normal really quick then you are hydrated. This can vary from person to person.
10. Simple College Meal Recipes
Having a few quick ready recipes handy is very helpful to making sure you don’t get off track of eating healthy. Wasting extra time can be stressful when you are in a rush. This can lead to you rushing and just getting fast food. Meal prepping is huge when it comes to this. If you can make your meals ahead of time can be the most useful technique in staying on track. Sundays and Mondays are the best for this to get you ready for the week ahead. When you go grocery shopping make sure you use this easy grocery shopping guide for simple college meals. College cooking shouldn’t be hard but this is if you can cook where ever you are staying. Some college students have the luxury of staying at home or in an apartment with a kitchen. Some students stay in a dorm where they will be lucky enough to have a microwave.
Easy Breakfast Omelette
- 3 eggs
- Tomato Slices
- ½ Avocado
- American Cheese
Recipe: Using coconut oil or butter, add about a tablespoon to the pan and heat it up to medium. Coconut oil has many benefits that is great for your body and skin. Cut up the tomato slices and leave it in the pan for about 2 minutes then chop up the sausage to throw it in. Let it sit for another a minute. Throw a slice of American cheese and wait for it to start melting. Crack the eggs and scramble it into the pan.
- 1 Tuna can of your choice
- 2 low carb tortillas
- Tomato Slices
Recipe: Spread the tuna all around the tortilla and top it with lettuce. Add some cucumbers and tomatoes and you’re ready to go.
Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken
- ¼ cup of Dijon Mustard
- ¼ cup of Honey
- 1 tablespoon steak sauce
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast
Recipe: Start by preheating the grill or oven to medium heat. In a bowl, mix the ingredients of the Dijon mustard, honey and steak sauce. Dip the chicken in it and press it down with a fork for about a minute. Put the chickens in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. In the last 10 minutes, lightly baste the chicken while it is still in the oven. Make sure you don’t burn it and check after for any uncooked pink spots inside the chicken.