Freshman 15 Myth

It’s amazing what sleeping in one day can do for your body. I felt rested and ready to go when the alarm went off this morning after sleeping in until 7 a.m. yesterday. 5 a.m. didn’t feel so daunting this morning!

Today’s workout began with 20 minutes of incline walking on the treadmill (4.0 pace with the incline varying between 7.0 and 9.0). I then meandered into the weight room to tackle this upper body workout:

 arm workout


Today’s breakfast was overnight oats… Yes, I made another batch after I ate the first one last night.

overnight oats 001

In the mix:

  • 2/3 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup strawberry banana Greek yogurt
  • 1 sliced banana (added this morning)

overnight oats 002

overnight oats 003

Looks gross, tastes great!

Freshman 15 Myth

This morning when I was at the gym, a new study was mentioned on the news stating that the Freshman 15 is “just a myth.” Study results stated that, in reality, women gain an average of 2.4 pounds during their freshman year while men gain an average of 3.4 pounds.

I remember hearing about the Freshman 15 in high school and even on the tours of various college campuses when tour guides would joke about it when discussing the meal plan options.

The study, conducted by research scientists at Ohio State University’s Center for Human Resource Research, examined weight data from 7,418 young people and found that female students gain on average seven to nine pounds and male students gain 12 to 13 pounds during college.

The study found that no more than 10 percent of college freshman gained 15 pounds or more.

I always figured the Freshman 15 was fairly accurate, but looked at it more as an overall college weight gain rather than weight gained solely during freshman year. To me, bodies are still changing when students enter college and students are still evolving into men and women, so some weight gain seems natural.

Of course tons of beer and excessive trips to the dining hall can make weight gain increase at a more rapid rate, but, according to the study, it seems like the Freshman 15 is more or less a myth.

Questions of the Morning

  • Are you surprised by the findings reported by this study?
  • Was the Freshman 15 ever a concern for you?


  1. says

    I went a little crazy my freshman year, and in the opposite way that most people do. Instead of eating and drinking a ton, I decided to diet and exercise a bunch and ended up losing about 10 lbs instead of gaining the freshman 15. I was determined to not gain that 15 lbs that everyone seemed to talk about. So yes, I guess it did take a toll on me in some way..but for the better. 🙂


      • Annie says

        Yes same for me, I went a little crazy but in the other way. reflecting back I think I missed out on some of the fun though but that’s probably because I didn’t have like minded friends who like to eat well & exercise. I came home from my year abroad in june where I put on 10pounds mainly from alcohol and eating out so I guess that’s the freshman 15 for you 😀
        Trying to get it off now!


  2. says

    I saw this last night too. I actually LOST weight my freshman year of college because it was a tough adjustment period for me, but I gained it back and came out of college almost 15 pounds heavier than when I went in. It was actually a good thing for me- I was very, very thin when I started- but yes, I definitely think the late night pizza and lots of beer put more of that on than healthy eating did!


  3. says

    I am a little surprised by the findings in the study. I would think that the weight gain would be closer to 15 pounds. I was a little concerned but my campus was widely spread out so I did a lot of walking. I also managed to eat quite healthy. I didn’t care for the dining hall at the first college I went to for 2 years so I pretty much made my own meals as best as I could from whatever healthy items I could find. The college I ended up graduating from for the last two years, I loved the dining hall. I don’t think I gained all that much weight but I noticed I gained weight when I left college. Go figure 😉


    • Victoria says

      Hope- definetly feel you on that post college gain! I don’t think enough is said about how much your lifestyle changes after college/how much those changes lead to weight gain. After college my schedule became less flexible and I was more tired from long hours in the office meaning less workouts during the week. Add that to more hours sitting behind a computer and a nonstop flow of goodies and free lunch and it’s amazing there’s no “cutesy” name for the post college 15!


      • Lorin says

        My school, Cal Poly, is doing a study seeing the difference in health and weight from freshman through sophomore or all 4 years, I can’t remember which. It is called FLASH study


  4. Katie @ Raisins&Apples says

    I actually lost the freshmen 15 my first year because my schedule/dining hall hours were weird. Sophomore year was totally different though, so things evened out 🙂


  5. says

    I got into my weight loss kick in junior year of high school so the freshman 15 was never an issue for me- I was the rare health nut around campus :)! I’m not feeling so great today so hopefully some rest will also do me a world of good !


  6. Dana says

    i don’t think i know anyone whose weight was stable in college… pretty much everyone i know lost a lot of weight or gained a lot of weight.. i’d say i have very few friends who only lost or gained ~2lbs. most of the guys gained a lot because of all the drinking. unfortunately, lots of my girlfriends lost a lot because of body issues, new pressures, etc. while i attended the gym religiously, i gained probably a good 20lbs and became anemic (eating lots of food but nothing good, i suppose) and didn’t lose all of it until law school.


    • Jillian says

      This is exactly what happened with me! That and physical activity classes with my degree and I am the most active I’ve ever been!


  7. says

    It’s obvious that most people gain some weight – but I never believed it was actually 15 for most people. College was the first time I started working out on a regular basis, to make up for the fact that I wasn’t playing highschool sports anymore.


  8. says

    It was definitely true for me, although I don’t know that it was specifically 15 lbs. We always had some type of food service place open, including a “snack bar” until midnight. When you’re living on your own for the first time, the prospect of heading out at midnight with a friend to get a snack sounds soooo cool…and I sure didn’t think of the consequences until later 🙂


  9. Jillian says

    I’m a little surprised about this study! Looking around my campus I’m always amazed at how much the people I started my freshman year with have changed. I am now in my third year and it seems like the “freshmen 15” have carried into subsequent years! I remember hearing about the dreaded 15 when I started university and it always kind of worried me, however growing up I the house I did, real dinners were the norm – protein, 2 vegetables, salad and a starch of some sort. This really set me up to expect real, wholesome meals when I started post secondary – thanks mom!

    Since starting uni I’ve lost about 13 pounds and really shaped up! Im doing what I love with weekly yoga and TRX classes as well as keeping up in the weight room. I am hoping to learn how to swim next semester so I can train for triathlon sprints in the near future! I’m pretty sure my degree choice really helped me choose the lifestyle I have – I’m taking my B.Sc in Kinesiology and it has really given me a new outlook on life. I love being active!!

    Also, LOVE overnight oats… Okay, I love any oats! Toss a little coconut, walnuts, dried fruit of choice and vanilla in the pot and I’m a happy girl!!


  10. mel says

    I actually didn’t gain any weight my freshman year but i did gain a few lbs throughout college….which I needed! I was a competitive cheerleader in HS and got too thin! In college I walked everywhere and I did drink but I ate a healthy b fast in my dorm and chose pretty healthy options in the dining hall. After college I have gained about 5 pounds partially because I sit on my ass all day between law school and homework, partially because I have gained some muscle from running and doing sprint tris, and partially from getting married…but I think I look more womanly and great now. It’s all about give and take and of course my body is different now at 25 (almost 26) than it was when I was 18! It should be! What was your experience in college and after?


  11. says

    I always thought about the freshman 15 as an overall college thing. I never really worried about it because I didn’t go away to college – I did the first 2 years while living at home – and then the 2nd 2 years later on while I was working full time.

    I gain and lose weight so much, I figure I have the Life 15. Hee.


  12. says

    I was concerned about the freshman 15, but actually lost a little weight my first semester, since I was so busy and trying to figure out a schedule.

    2nd semester though – that’s when I packed on the pounds. I had made friends with people who ate way too much domino’s (hello, cinnastix!) which translated into me eating way too much unhealthy foods at all hours of the night. I probably gained a solid 10 pounds, and didn’t take it off until I got my own apartment after sophomore year, decided I wanted to lose the weight, and was able to cook for myself. I think I ate veggie stir fry every day for several months. I was just so happy to be eating vegetables!


  13. says

    I actually lost weight during my freshmen year because I didn’t adjust terribly well, but I gained a lot more than 15 pounds in the following years. I’ve always thought that colleges should require gym classes every semester as part of each major. I’m sure it would improve productivity, grades, and overall health on campus… but it would never fly because people wouldn’t fight having to pay for a course that wasn’t strictly necessary for their major.


  14. says

    I actually LOST 20 pounds my freshman year. I wasn’t used to all the walking or the cafeteria food. I ate salads all the time. I wasn’t trying to lose weight; it just happened. Of course, I gained it back in later years…..


  15. says

    I can definitely see why everyone tends to gain a few pounds during college: the dining commons with their “all you can eat” buffets, the beer, the 2 am pizza deliveries, and not having Mom or Dad cook healthy meals for you every day. But I also feel that more college students than high school students tend to work out and go to the gym. At least there’s something to counter balance it then!


  16. says

    I’d been warned about the Freshman 15 too, but by the time I got to university, I’d already lost 70 lbs to get myself back to my healthy weight, so I was pretty confident that I’d know how to maintain it. Having said that though, I know a lot of people who certainly did gain weight – not sure it was as much as 15lbs but I’d say 10 would be about right.


  17. says

    I was still at home for my Jr years of college and didn’t change my weight much. In the years following, when I was out on my own more, that was really when my weight started skyrocketing. I think the change in “freedom”, so to speak, has a lot to do with it. Then again, so does a persons habits and expectations of them selves.

    Unfortunately, my weight has continued to climb for the last 6 years. Yesterday I weighed in at my highest weight ever. Talk about reality check. It was not a good moment.


  18. MIndy L says

    It was true for me! Binge drinking and eating the stereotypical “hungover food” for months definitely caught up with me. In high school, I went had an aerobics class + went to the gym after school Mon-Fri. Freshman year, I replaced the gym with the bar 🙁 Needless to say, I gave up that lifestyle, started eating right, reading blogs, and jumped back on to exercising!


  19. says

    I wrote my Master’s Thesis on the relationship between food quality and female college students’ body composition–so this research is ALL to familiar to me 😉 You are right, the studies are so varied, but for the most part, the number “15” is a total myth.

    However, in the research, it has been shown that depending on where a woman lives (I focused my research on women because of the Thesis), what her major is, and how active she was BEFORE she entered college, these factors would help to determine and/or explain a bit more about weight gained/or not gained.

    It is a fascinating topic, and as such, my Thesis (all the research I did personally as well –with over 150 subjects) was 60 pages long 🙂 So I’ll stop here. Haha.

    Your breakfast does not look appetizing–but I bet it sure tasted good! I am off to teach some BP-wahoo!


  20. Emily says

    I agree with you, I think women’s bodies are still changing between 17-22. I feel the bulk of the weight gain is probably due to that fact.
    On the other hand, I think the booze and late-night study sessions definitely contribute to a few pounds.


  21. says

    I think it’s easier to gain after you have that post-college sitting office job.

    While I didn’t work out a lot in college, I still did maybe 2x per week, walked miles across campus to my classes and dorm, and also had a job cashiering where I was on my feet/moving.

    So I never gained anything. I just stayed normal. Now 4 years later I find it’s easier to gain even when eating better than I did back then!


  22. Katie says

    I agree that bodies are still changing. I was only 17 when I entered college, so there’s no way I was done!

    However, I was already overweight when I entered college and didn’t really know what I was going to do to stop the Freshman 15. I ended up losing about 25 pounds as the result of a) living in far away dorms and walking uphill to class and b) being a shy little twerp who walked a mile to the salad shop rather than go to the dining hall alone LOL.

    I liked the weight loss and picked up a healthy lifestyle because of it!


  23. says

    I think dining halls set kids up for weight gain. Endless buffets three times a day? Who ISN’T going to overeat?!

    I was already overweight when I entered college, but I definitely packed in at least another 10 lbs my freshman year. However, once I started working out that spring (and started eating better that summer/moved off campus with my friends sophomore year and thus had more control over my meals), that weight (plus another 35 lbs!) came off pretty quickly.


  24. says

    I think your analysis is spot on…just a change in dining habits and socialization. I know in my dorm, it was always a “oh, she broke up with her BF? Let’s all get ben & jerry’s and commiserate”…plus the parties, haha


  25. says

    Like some of your commenters here, I actually was in the best shape of my life my freshman year. I was walking everywhere, I had a dance class a couple times a week, and I discovered free group exercise classes at the student gym.

    And then I discovered vodka.


  26. says

    I gained about 10 pounds in freshman year. I think it was a combination of a lot of things. I never “worked out” in the gym sense before college, so I didn’t gravitate toward there in college. Coming from my mom cooking very healthily, the dining hall was just a bit overwhelming and honestly I was too busy having the time of my life to be considered. I lost it all in no time when I moved back home. It kind of taught me a lesson, sometimes gaining a little weight when you’re really enjoying life isn’t that bad…you’ll get back on track easier than you think.


  27. says

    I always thought 15lbs was high but could see 7-8lbs throughout college or university. It is a big adjustment, and unhealthy convenient foods are usually what a lot of students turn to when they are not used to cooking for themselves. Myself, I think I gained 8lbs from high school grad to the end of university (5 year span) but then after took it plus more off!


  28. says

    I was so concerned with the Freshman 15 that I ran almost every single day and actually lost 10 lbs when I first went away to college. I gained that back pretty quick and over the course of my college career gained about 5 lbs total. But my weight definitely fluctuated depending on my lifestyle. I always lost weight when I came home in the summer and gained a little more back during the school year.


  29. says

    I went on the pill my senior year of high school, so I got a “pre-freshman 20” (my BMI was too low and I was built like an ostrich.. I needed to gain the weight). 😉

    However, that extra few pounds put on during freshman year were most definitely latenight trips to the caf, 2 a.m. taco bell and cookout trips (if you haven’t experienced this NC chain with the BEST hush puppies/milkshakes in the world, you really need to).

    …because food like that is 50 times better after some booze. amiright?


    • says

      i’ll never forget one day after a long night out, i woke up at a friends house and was practically spooning a personal pan pizza box from pizza hut. apparently we had a late night love affair the night before. the pizza didn’t live to tell the tale.


  30. jennyv says

    I gained the freshman 20 — and then did a tailspin and ended up losing twice what I’d gain, 40 lbs!, in a very unhealthy way.

    Thankfully I was able to be pulled out of a cloud of craziness after getting married a year after graduating. My husband is amazing and supportive and reminds me of all the good things I want in life — and if I’m not healthy, I won’t be able to live the life we dream of together.


  31. Sarah says

    I ended up losing weight in college, but that is because I lived in a suite-style dorm and shared a kitchen with four girls. One of my roommates and I cooked dinner every night together, which was probably better than I was eating my last two years of high school with working a couple nights a week. As well as being walking distance to the gym. I think I only ate at the cafeteria five times….if that.

    P.S. I am impressed by your pushups. Good job!! Pushups kick my ass.


  32. says

    I lost 13 pounds (I went from 118 to 105 and ended up being TOO thin) my freshman year because of the adjustment. It was my first time dealing with bad weather and if it was snowing around dinner time, I’d just skip and snack in my room because I didnt want to put on long johns just to walk to the dining hall! I also had a hard time being away from my dad and my friends from home so I was pretty stressed.

    Most people I know packed on the pounds though. No one went to the gym freshman year and everyone stayed up late eating pizza, taco bell, and Hokie sticks!


  33. says

    I definitely didn’t gain it all in my freshman year, but over the course of 5 years (4 years of undergrad and 1 year graduate program), I went from 115lbs to 140-145. Between inactivity, increased calorie intake, empty calories in alcoholic drinks… yeahhhh… but I’ve worked hard to get back down into the 120’s and am feeling fit and fabulous now, 10 years after high school!


  34. says

    I was just reading this study! I was a little disappointed that they just seemed to downplay the overall weight gain as if it didn’t stem from unhealthy college habits and didn’t stress healthy eating and exercise habits. Also it’s tough to mention this topic without talking about drinking and late night pizza runs. College is the first time in the lives of many young adults where they are feeding themselves. Hopefully people stop worrying about a 15 lb weight gain and instead focus on their health! Also-when I was a college freshman, I probably gained and lost 3 or 4 lbs about 6 times. It was an unhealthy cycle of drinking and eating too much and then restricting food intake. weight gain might have been small but it doesn’t reflect healthy habits. wheph-sorry for the long comment. have a great day!


  35. says

    Freshman 15 was a little bit TOO much of a concern of mine. Instead of gaining weight, my anxieties caused me to exercise too much and eat too little. I ended up losing weight and developing some unhealthy habits. Fortunately, I got through them. I think there’s just way too much talk about it to be honest. If you gain a few pounds going away to college, so be it. Like you said, bodies are still potentially changing and you’re learning how to live on your own.


    • says

      i agree, which is why i’m glad this study is showing that it’s more or less a myth. i think all the talk about the freshman 15 freaks a lot of people out and causes them to overcompensate w/ exercise or dieting when, in reality, if we just focused on making healthy food choices and exercised a reasonable amout we’d be completely fine.


  36. Erin says

    I’ve actually gained and lost the “freshman” 15 three times in my life:

    1. freshmen year- thank you dining hall, drinking 4X a week, and $2 drunk pizza slices…then lost it all the following summer

    2. junior year abroad for a semester in florence…totally worth it- not gonna skimp on pasta, pizza, and wine when in italy!…lost all the weight the next semester

    3. first year out of college- i went from being active nearly all day with the exception of a couple hours of classes to sitting on my ass at a computer 10+ hours a day. luckily managed to lose this in the past year by upping mileage on my runs and doing more races.

    i’m hoping there’s no fourth cycle for me!


  37. says

    I came out of college heavier, but in better shape than when I went in. I started working out more, and I know I gained weight when I joined the crew team because of all the lifting we did. I think most of my friends who stayed on campus gained, while the ones who got their own places lost, but the big drinkers tended to yoyo more. My little sister is a freshman now, and she’s kind of worried about the freshman 15 because she was so so active in high school and now she’s less so, but her school has lots of healthy options at least, so that’s good.


  38. says

    I love that you ate the overnight oats yesterday- I’d totally do that.

    I def gained weight over freshman/sophomore years, but it was definitely not 15.. more like 5-10, although I’m really petite so it was more noticeable. 15 in one year though does seem intense, although booz has a looooot of calories haha.


  39. Katherine says

    I’m currently a sophomore in college and can definitely say that I’ve probably gained about 5 pounds. Nothing major, but still a slight difference. Making the transition from high school to college, none of my close friends gained more than 5-6 pounds. I think part of the problem is continual gain throughout college years, not just freshman year!


  40. says

    I see it as the freshmen and sophomore 15. I definitely gained it. And actually, I kept it through senior year. I wish I could blame it on my growing and changing body, but I know better. It was the rum buckets and late night pizzas that I couldn’t work off, despite dancing up a storm all night, too 🙂


  41. Brianne says

    The freshman 15 was never an issue until my junior year. I played lacrosse for the 1st 2 years of college, then I switched schools and majors and ended up not as active so my weight gain was my junior and senior year. I was thankful I was able to live at home so I got nice home cooked meals by my parents I just needed to learn portion control!

    It is an interesting study though.


  42. Darian @ Living and Loving to Sweat says

    I actually gained 16lb my freshman year but it was this weight gain that got be started on my wellness journey. The next year I lost 30lb because I started working out and eating clean and fell in love with leading a healthy lifestyle. So, here’s to you freshman 15 😉


  43. Colleen says

    I did not gain weight in college. In fact, I have weighed the exact same (to the ounce) since I was 17 (10 yrs ago). I am an aerobic instructor and high svhool teacher, so those jobs keep me active. I will say that 50-60% of my former kids gain at least 15 lbs their freshman year. A tiny % lose weight, but must gain a noticeable amount.


  44. Mae says

    The freshman 15 happened to me. I blame it on all the unhealthy eating and lack of exercise. I think college is a rough transition for some people, and being out of the normal routine, plus stress and a different social atmosphere lead to overeating and being more sedentary. But now 10 years later I’ve managed to get back to my high school weight, and I feel so much better!


  45. says

    I am surprised. I yo-yoed on my weight a LOT in college. Now that I am out of college and working for the same university, I kick myself for not using the (free!) gym more. But I didn’t want to exercise then and always said I didn’t have time (which was a lie). I definitely gained weight (probably around 30 or more pounds) my freshman year.


  46. Hildy says

    I agree that not many people gain 15 pounds just during freshman year, however over the course of the four years I think that numbers pretty realistic. Actually, most of my friends gained weight their last two years, especially senior year when we were all 21+ and used any excuse to drink and celebrate/mourn our last year of college


  47. Brittany says

    I actually lost weight because I went to a school that didn’t have its own dorms, so since we had a floor of another school’s dorm and it was NYC there definitely wasn’t a huge dining hall/meal plan. I lived off cup o’ noodles! I also wanted to thank you because you’ve been my motivation to start at a CrossFit training gym and while it’s insanely hard and I feel like I’m not where I should be, I have set mini goals for myself along the way – like you! – and made the decision to stick with it no matter what!


  48. says

    i’m not surprised. i think there is more focus than ever on healthy living, especially in the college environment. colleges tend to have fantastic workout areas, healthy food options — not to mention most students walk to class.

    i did gain weight my freshman year, but that was because i was totally oblivious to my eating/exercise habits. once i became aware, the weight fell off with easy changes.


  49. says

    I didn’t go away for school freshman year, though I did move in with my dad after living with my mom, sister, and stepdad for several years, because it was a closer house to my college.

    I do think I ate more junky foods because I didn’t eat well rounded family meals cooked by my mom (who is totally health concious), but I also didn’t gain weight because I was not a drinker/partier at all and rarely went out to eat because I kind of had no social life in first year.

    I’ve actually lost weight since first year, but it was weight I’d had on since 11th grade or so!


  50. says

    I definitely gained the freshman 15, but just my first semester. Growing up we rarely ever went out to eat, and always just ate my mom’s food from scratch, so when given the opportunity to have french fries with every meal, I went for it! The drinking and midnight pizzas didnt help either. When all my clothes started to feel tight I realized i had gained just over 15 lbs! It didn’t take long for me to get back on track, work out, eat healthy like my Mama taught me, and taking a required nutrition class kind of put me over the edge and a health freak was born!


  51. says

    I heard about the new research on this….I don’t know what I necessarily believe it should be called, but I know that I definitely gained weight my freshman year in college. My mind wasn’t focused on healthy eating or exercise, it was instead set on being with new friends, trying to figure out how taking college classes really works, and really just surviving all the changes that were going on in life. Sometime during my sophomore year is when I started to reevaluate my lifestyle and started making healthier choices daily.
    I think the “freshman 15” is more so just a joke, and even though it’s true at times, the saying probably puts a negative pressure on too many young women (and I’m sure some men too).


  52. says

    I was actually the smallest my freshman year because of walking so much to and from class.

    I think the first year of the “real world” is where the weight gain sets in. Too much time behind a desk and not enough time walking, playing intramurals and going to the gym whenever you wanted.


  53. says

    I was definitely a victim of the Freshman 15. From all the binge drinking and subsequent fatty foods I gained about 20lbs by the spring of sophomore year. I’m now a senior and after exercising, curtailing my drinking and eating right I’m only 2lbs away from my pre-college weight!

    The Freshman 15 is no myth, I’ve seen so many girls (and guys) gain 15+ pounds but I will agree that it’s not a majority and there are probably more people who don’t gain any weight at all than who do.


  54. says

    I’m not sure how I feel about this study, but I definitely feel that I was so scared to gain the freshman 15. It was a completely daunting thought it my mind of gaining so much weight in such a short period of time.


  55. Lauren says

    Hi Julie,

    I have been reading your blog ever since you started and have never commented but I am looking for some advice.

    I work as a consultant for a major client service firm. I travel every Monday at 6 AM and typically fly home late on Thursdays. I work at a client site and live in a hotel room. I just started a new project in Illinois and the hotel gym is closed for renovations until the end of December. There is a club we can use as an alternative but it closes at 9 PM. I typically work from 6:30 AM – 9 or 10 PM every night and am with my project team the entire time. I normally return to my room and work for another few hours. We are seldom done working in the day light so running outside is limited to AMs (but they often are blown off due to lack of sleep) This means little movement during the day and either meals eaten at my desk or big team dinners.

    Aside from my hectic work life, my father passed away unexpectedly in May. As a result from all of the stress from both my work and personal life, I have gained about 10 pounds and just feel like I am slightly out of control.

    I am looking for advice and a good (but flexible) workout plan that I can do in my hotel room at 12 AM. Any suggestions you have would be great!!

    Thanks Julie


    • says

      hi laura,

      first of all, i am so sorry about the passing of your father. i am sure that this event alone – even w/o your work related stress – is more than overwhelming and emotional.

      as for your question, have you looked into circuit-style workouts? they are AWESOME because they include both cardio exercises (like burpees) and strength exercises (like lunges or push ups) and don’t require a gym or workout equimpent. you can find some on my workouts page.

      also, a lot of people love the bodyrock website for awesome at-home (or in hotel room 🙂 ) workouts. i haven’t tried any personally, but have heard great things. here’s their website:


  56. Kendall says

    I am actually a freshman away at school this year, and I have managed to lose 10 pounds since I started school! It’s easy when your dining hall food is pretty gross! I mainly just stick to salads, oatmeal, and deli turkey since we don’t even have chicken. Plus, being in california right on the beach, everyone is so consumed with their appearance that you can’t help being worried about gaining those 15lbs!


  57. Brittany says

    I remember that whole freshman 15 theory! I was definitely aware of it, but I didn’t worry about it too much. In retrospect, I realize I didn’t fluctuate on the scale at all during college. I think that’s because I was a vegetarian and all of the meal plan choices for vegs were realllllly gross! I only exercised 2-3x a week during that time so I wasn’t burining a whole ton of calories; it all balanced out. By my junior year, I’d gotten really into running and lifting, so while my body composition changed a lot (for the better!), my weight didn’t.


  58. Lizzy says

    I’m totally surprised, I definitely gained some weight my freshman year! I agree with your ‘bodies are still forming’ idea. But I wish I had had your blog when I was a Freshman, you would’ve helped me to be a healthy student!!


  59. says

    I wasn’t too concerned about the “freshman 15” going into college, even though I ended up gaining 15 pounds… luckily mine wasn’t from booze and putting on a spare tire, mine was from lifting in the weight room for basketball. All I can say is thank you college athletics for keeping me in shape haha


  60. Jamie says

    I definitely gained the freshman 15…or 20. I think that part of that was due to the fact that I was still growing and maturing, part was due to me starting to eat after struggling with a mild form of an eating disorder, and part was due to having so much junky food available without having to ever leave the building 🙂

    Thankfully, when I moved off campus, I was able to focus a lot more on preparing and eating healthy foods rather than rely on the readily available mozzarella sticks!


  61. says

    College was a turning point for me and getting healthier. I think I lost the Freshman 15. 🙂

    That said, I think some people are still going through puberty when they enter college. So some of that weight gain is probably attributed towards becoming a woman or man.


  62. Jasmine says

    Well, I actually AM a freshman right now in college! But, I’m so anti-freshman 15, and I definitely agree with you, it’s because everyone makes such a big deal about it that they’ve caused me to worry about something that hasn’t even happened yet! But so far, I haven’t gained any weight, maybe a couple pounds, but nothing that’s actually noticeable! As far as it goes for the other freshman I’m with, I think it goes for the people who used to do sports like crazy in high school, then nothing in college, so that’s why they’re gaining weight. But, I think 15 pounds is a little excessive and definitely a myth!!
    For me, I’m eating healthy, which includes my fix of froyo of course :D, and exercising and taking some fitness classes.


  63. says

    This study is somewhat surprising to me. I–and many of my friends–gained about 10 pounds during my freshman year. After my freshman year, though, I started Weight Watchers and ultimately LOST 55 pounds while I was still in college. I noticed that many other people in college went one of two ways–they either gained a large amount of weight or lost a large amount of weight. I am surprised to hear that such a small percentage of people actually gain the Freshman 15!


  64. says

    Since I hit college I’ve gotten more in shape now than I EVER was in high school haha, so I’m far from the freshman 15 though. My ex on the other hand who decided to join a frat…Yeah not so much for him hahah.


  65. says

    That is so interesting! I always felt like I dodged that bullet when I, in fact, got in better shape throughout college…that is, until, my senior spring when rules seemed to go out the window and you had to “live everyday to the max” (because apparently you can’t socialize/drink beer after college…?)


  66. Mallory @ It's Only Life says

    i actually gained 15 pounds– exactly! i was stick thin in high school and had the world’s fastest metabolism, and went into college just not caring at all what i ate because i could never gain weight (i tried by drinking shakes- never worked). little did i know all i had to do was go to college! LOL! late night pizza, beer, and all-you-can-eat food sure does catch up with you. it was a blessing in disguise because if i had not gained the weight i wouldn’t have become a runner. i lost about 10 lbs but im happy with the ‘net gain’ of 5- i needed it!


  67. says

    Of course it’s an exaggeration for most people, but I think most of us packed on a few lbs throughout college. I lost weight initially because my campus was huge, but very active/walkable. I put on a few lbs junior and senior year when I was old enough to go to the bars and order late night Jimmy John’s, but it fell right off as soon as I got into the “real world.” I also grew two inches during college.


  68. says

    I can sort of believe this. There is so much more focus on being healthy and exercising today than there was 20 years ago when the whole “Freshman 15” thing started. So I can kind of see why freshman aren’t gaining as much anymore during their first year of college.

    When I was a freshman at UCF (in 1995, I’m old) working out regularly wasn’t really in my vocabulary, so I ate and drank and gained my 15 … and then some. It wasn’t until I discovered running that I reversed the Freshman 15.


  69. Nancy (Beyoutiful Fitstyle) says

    I think the numbers from the study sound more like what I saw through college. Although some people did gain more than 15 by the looks of it. Guess it depends on how your eating changes from at home to greasy dining hall food as well as the mass amounts of beer consumption! ha. Personally, I lost weight my freshman year. But that’s because I was on the softball team and we worked out hardcore every single day.


  70. Rosa - Fitness, Food, Fulfilled says

    I actually lost weight my freshman year because I moved out of my parents house and had to support myself completely in my first apartment on minimum wage. Needless to say, I didn’t have a ton of money for food so didn’t eat as well. I also started working out more to deal with the stress. Not the best diet!


  71. says

    I was actually pretty lucky and ended up losing weight between my Freshman and Sophomore years. It was the “Junior 15” for me. 😛

    I always thought it was legit but never thought too much about it when I started school.


  72. says

    I saw this too when I was in the gym this morning! I’m not surprised, I always thought 15 was a high number, I would have guessed the average to be between 5 and 10. And I’m sure it’s less nowadays since younger people are becoming more health conscious, especially those in the socioeconomic class that attends college.


  73. says

    I am not surprised. But I wonder how many are already considered overweight when they get to college.
    I was not concerned about it when I went to college. I didn’t gain my 15 (ok it was more like 40) until after I got married. But I got most of it back off.

    The Kidless Kronicles


  74. says

    i was pretty overweight throughout college anyways…but i know i prob weighed the most freshman and senior year…freshman year bc of all the crappy food readily available and senior year from too much thankfully i began my weight loss 6 months after graduating school…if i had been like i am now, college wouldve been even better bc the dining hall had alot of healthy options readily available too!!

    most of my friends gained a couple lbs freshman year but dropped it off pretty quickly after realizing it prob isnt healthiest to be eating cheeseburgers and french fries and pizza everyday 😉


  75. says

    I didn’t really believe in the Freshman 15 but I definitely gained close to that in muscle! Since I was a collegitate athlete our trainers put us through some intense workouts with extremely heavy weights and I bulked up…yuck!


  76. says

    I’m a little surprised b/c it seemed like my friends and me all gained some weight throughout college. But I completely agree with you, I think some of those pounds can be attributed to normal body changes during those years. I have lost weight since graduating from college but my hips are definitely wider than they were at 18.

    I just got married – I wonder if this myth also applies to the post-marriage weight gain I’ve been hearing about! haha


  77. Julie says

    I gained mostly my sophomore year when I moved out of the dorms though I did gain during freshman year as well. I gained a total of 45 pounds those first 3 years and thankfully started losing it. I continued losing weight after college and ended up in my best shape ever. I was always big and college both made it worse and then made it better.


  78. Shady says

    I gained almost 50 lbs (no that isn’t a typo) in my first year of university but the weight gain wasn’t because of the typical freshman 15 rather it was because I was struggling with undiagnosed depression and anxiety. I’ve lost some of that excess weight and the exercise I’m committed to does double duty as improving both my physical and mental health. Unfortunately, I was recently told I had plantar faciatis, and I’ve had to lay off the running so I’m struggling now to maintain regular exercise that is low/no impact.


  79. says

    I actually don’t think this study is accurate at all–I think it can go either way for college students. I know a lot of people who gained weight their freshman year and I know a lot of people who also lost weight their freshman year. Ultimately, I think it depends on how different your lifestyle changes are. For example, if you barely exercised in high school and ate a somewhat balanced diet, you might lose weight in college because you added exercise to your lifestyle (in the form of walking to/from class), assuming that you ate relatively the same way in high school. In opposition, if you exercised frequently in high school and ate healthy meals, you could easily gain weight if you barely made it to the gym in college and succumbed to making poor choices at the dining hall, drank several nights a week, and had late-night meals.

    I’m not sure I’m conveying my opinion effectively–am I making sense? My point is that if you go from one side of the spectrum to the other, it is likely that you will gain (or lose) weight in college.


  80. Jaimie says

    I was terrified of the freshman 15 as well but did not actually start gaining weight until my sophomore year of college. I am a junior now and although I have gained some weight, this is definitely due to my body changing. I am way more aware of what I eat and how often I exercise now than I was in high school.


  81. says

    shoot–i was 2 pant sizes larger by fall break. I didn’t eat in a structured way, had more late night meals, more meals from restaurants, drank too much, and didn’t have structured exercise everyday like I’d had in highschool. Playing sports year round kept the metabolism pretty high. When i went home for the summer, i lost 15 lbs by eating mom’s food and workign out.


  82. Jamily says

    I heard about this yesterday while I was watching the news. I went to culinary school so they always joked about the Freshman 50 instead of 15! You’re always trying your recipes so it’s hard to not put on a few pounds. Luckily, I didn’t gain more then 5 or so pounds by the end of school.


  83. Jessica Corbin says

    I am a bit suprised by the results, but you are right, everyone is different because we are still growing at that time. I also think it has a lot to do with the poor schedule that college creates. I am lucky and go online to school, so I don’t worry about it. I sometimes skip the gym on Mondays because that is the last day in my week where most assignments are due. Its all about how you address it and keep yourself in check!


  84. says

    I’m really surprised by this! Most people I knew, myself included, gained at least 10 lbs. A few of us even gained about 15-20 lbs. I gained 17! I did stop swimming competitively, but I also had mono. I think I’m the only person that’s ever had mono and actually gained weight!! My brother just started his freshman year, and I can already see some substantial weight gain on his frame. I think it’s a combination of new routine/environment and overindulgence. Of course, these things are all so individual, that it’s hard to believe one study could be more “right” than the next.


  85. stevie says

    Freshmen 15 scared me when going into college, I was very aware and I started the year up a few pounds because I was still growing until my adult body, granted my whole freshmen year I was only 18. By the end of that year I might have lost too much weight because of how paranoid I was about gaining that weight and having trouble transitioning from girl to women’s body. I really wish more people would talk about the weight gain/body changes around that age more often. I think it would help girls feel more at ease with the changes and understand that it is natural. And not automatically assume it is “the freshmen 15 myth.”


  86. says

    I’m a very anxious person anyway but couple that with leaving home for the first time and being surrounded by thousands upon thousands of strangers AND being expected to keep up with school work my tummy was a wreck through most of college. I ended up dropping weight through it all. Now, the “you’ve entered the real world and are now expected to pay your own bills and support yourself on your measly customer service job while you REALLY figure out what you want to do with your life” 15 (or 50 in my case) is a much bigger concern! I’m still working on that one. 🙂


  87. Jamie says

    I gained about 15 pounds in college but not my freshman year, it was my senior year. I worked at the Olive Garden and drank WAAAYY too much. Booze and carbs were not my friend and living that lifestyle made exercise sporadic at best.


  88. Lauren C says

    Oh gosh, it’s shocking how horrid my diet was. It was like free reign on ice cream, chicken fingers, french fries, pizza….sure there was a salad bar-but it only had fatty dressings.
    I really struggled with the transition and only drank occasionally but it just piled on based on what was available to eat it seemed. I exercised but always felt lousy.

    I didn’t gain much probably because the activity I had counteracted it but I felt terrible. I’m sure it was the type of food I was eating. Glad those days are over!


  89. says

    I’m going to lay out there and say that even without drinking often, I gained FORTY pounds my first quarter (aka from mid-September to mid-December) at college. There were a few factors: 1) I was underweight to begin with 2) our cafeteria food was crap and 3)I didn’t exercise regularly. Plus, who doesn’t love late night quesedillas?

    Seriously, without drinking?! Insane. I realized I needed to get with it when I got home and I weighed only 5 pounds less than my dad who is 6 feet tall and a man.

    Awesome. I started doing martial arts and trying to make better eating choices and got down to a comfortable, happy weight.

    Happy to be on the healthy living train these days!


  90. Er says

    I gained about 15 lbs of solid muscle!!! I played field hockey in college and with three 3-hour practices a day, a weight lifting schedule, and grueling sprints, I gained some awesome muscles! Looking back at pictures I am amazed at my guns and definition in my legs lol.


  91. says

    i saw a LOT of weight fluctuation in college, I gained close to 15 lbs my freshman year. I worked out regularly but ate lots of “bad salads”, cheese steaks, quesadillas, etc, and was drinking almost every night. I lost all of it and a little more the summer before sophomore year, but junior and senior year it crept back onto me. (I accredit it to living in my sorority house – just because you have a chef doesn’t mean everything is healthy – hello bbq chicken quesadillas and pizzas).
    Moving into a real house where I could control the food around me made a huge difference and I am back to my healthy routines, and lighter than when I entered college!
    Many of my friends found themselves losing weight after college too. (I think alcohol is a major player here, and the fact that dominos, five guys, noodles & co. and chipotle are the most readily available foods)


  92. Kate says

    As a current university student I was worried going into first year, luckily I happen to go to a university that was in a city named Canada’s most obese city a number of year ago. I guess since then they’ve cleaned up their act and the dining hall serves mainly healthy options!


  93. says

    I definitely don’t think the Freshman 15 is a complete myth. I was not a good eater in high school–I would often not eat dinner, or would eat something pretty small to avoid feeding into my parent’s awful habit of going out to eat all the time. So when I got to college, I quickly gained 15 lbs (yes, the full Freshman 15) thanks to VT’s delicious dining halls + specialty drinks. It wasn’t until I started running last year that I finally shed 10 lbs (I’m 25 now). I’m still a couple pounds heavier than I was in high school, but I’m completely OK with it. Our metabolisms are not the same anymore, and for some–we aren’t as active as we were in high school (high school athletes not staying as active post high school).


  94. says

    I actually gained the freshman FORTY. My first fast food job coupled with a surgery that left me unable to do anything but eat and sleep didn’t help me. This was long before I even considered healthy eating or knew anything about fitness. Thankfully that forty has left and took another sixty off with it!


  95. says

    I always thought of the Freshmen 15 the same you do, as an overall weight gain in college. I associated it somewhat to junk food + beer but also eating food from the dormitory cafeterias that weren’t necessarily the healthiest and most flexible options. (Vegetarian meals at my school were the same set of leftovers for a whole week – totally unappetizing and led me to eat bagels for most meals). But college also introduced me to a better workout regime and got me in a habit that I’ve worked to continue since graduating. and I like to think I look better now than I did then.. 😉


  96. Julie says

    UCLA is known for its awesome (all you can eat) dorm food, plus we have Diddy Riese, which is a revelation to ice cream sandwiches, down the street. But the dorm restaurants all had healthy tips posted at the tables, like limiting yourself to one tray of food. Plus they have terrific workout facilities, so it was all about finding balance!


  97. adrianna says

    i am a little surprised by this, but looking back, i think 5-10lb gain is more accurate…just not in my case! it was like fresh 20. it took 2 years of being unhappy and not doing sh*t about it to get my butt in gear. i started junior year with a new outlook; i was tired of being fat. so i started slow, changed my diet little by little, added in more cardio, and finally lost it all (took 9+ months) …so worth it. i just thought ‘i’ll never gain weight’ when i started school…yea…


  98. Lauren says

    Hi, Julie! I’m curious– when you say you do bicep curls (for example) with 15 lbs. is that on a bar– or do you use 2, 15 lb. dumb bells?
    Thanks so much!


  99. Carolyn B. says

    Maybe it depends on where you go to college. I left Southern California for Dubuque, Iowa and gained (minimum) 20 pounds. Thank you Two for Tuesday! It took a long time to recover from that weight gain and confidence killer, but I did. And now, 18 years later I look the best, feel the best, and take care of myself the best since high school, despite being in grad school working on a PhD. Someone should do a study on weight gain during that time! Stress can be awwwwfuuuuul if you don’t have a healthy way to handle it.


  100. says

    My freshman year I did not gain weight… I was a vegetarian then and my college (Dickinson) had a GREAT salad bar so it was so easy to eat healthy. But, once junior year hit and I began dating my boyfriend… he wanted to eat out ALL the time, plus I was happy, in love, etc. and didn’t spend much time at the gym, so I did gain a few lbs (maybe 10? i honestly didn’t keep track of it). The real weight gain definitely came on once I began working and sitting in front of a computer all the time.


  101. Ilene says

    This is such a coincidence, because I’m currently a freshmen and one of my teachers (for my Global Obesity class!) is incredibly involved in research and intervention strategies for weight loss at the population level. I go to Duke University, and he told us about the myth in that it’s more of a Freshman 5 rather than 15, but that it also depends heavily on the environment you’re in at college. So at Duke, since most students work out regularly and care about what they eat, it might even lead to losing weight because of influence from your peers. So cool!


  102. says

    I only went to college for a semester so I can’t comment on that but I can say that as soon as I had my own car, money and independence I put on a lot of weight! I went out frequently and that meant fast food and restaurant meals. Over the course of 3 years I put on 35 pounds! I could definitely see someone putting on 10 pounds in a year if they started eating out all the time, like I did! And I didn’t even drink alcohol or regular soda so that could have certainly made it worse for some.


  103. says

    For me, the Freshman 15 was true. Mainly because we were able to get lots of unhealthy (and large portions of everything) food at all times of the day. AND, it was my first experience with drinking so the partying and late night snacking wasn’t the healthiest mixture. Luckily, I played lacrosse in college so remained pretty active. But after college I lost about 20+ lbs when I got my nutrition under control.


  104. Julie says

    My dad would always joke with me about weighing me in before I headed off to school freshmen and then again when I came home for Thanksgiving break. Don’t get me wrong, I love my dad, but sometimes he is not the most sensitive when it comes to obese people. I was always active in high school and enjoyed a pretty fast metabolism so I never had to worry about my weight. However, headed into college I was terrified of gaining weight in college like I had seen happen to so many girls I knew. I began working out a lot, restricting my eating and ended up losing 15 pounds instead of gaining it….those were 15 pounds I didn’t need to loose and people began asking me if I was losing weight all the time which made me very uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I still ate, I just counted calories and worked out more than I did in high school. Eventually, I learned that I was not at a healthy weight and in order to maintain that weight I would be miserable! Needless to say, I shaped up and am now at a happy weight that is manageable for a busy college senior who doesn’t always have time to work out or even eat right. Wow, that got long, but that’s my “freshmen 15 story!” My line of thinking is that, right now, as a college student I am not going to be at my healthiest…I would rather go out an enjoy a night out with my friends eating and drinking than staying in worrying about my weight–that’s not what college is for! Once I graduate I will have presumably more time to work out, more time/money to cook healthy meals and maybe I’ll even drink less. 😉


  105. says

    I actually lost 20 pounds my freshman year in college but that was because i started eating healthy and made a point to not over eat or over drink because i did not want people i went to high school with to see my facebook pictures and say ‘wow, molly got fat’

    i might be vain


  106. Brittney says

    I really think it has to do with the people you’re around! My freshman year I had a skinny roomie who didn’t eat a whole lot that I would eat all my meals with. I felt self conscious so I ate less, plus with all that walking I ended up losing about 10lb freshman year. Sophomore year I had a roommate that was all about fast, greasy, fattening food. I also lived in an apartment and did not have a meal plan. I gained 15lb in ONE semester. When she transferred, I ended up working about half of the 15lb off just by resuming old eating habits. So I think it has a lot to do with the environment as well.


  107. says

    It’s totally a myth. I gained 15lbs the first semester alone. It should be the first-semester-15. 😉

    Honestly, I struggled with my weight all through college. I went in at 165lbs, gained 15lbs first semester, lost 50lbs (in a rather unhealthy way) second semester, and gained and lost weight between sophomore year and graduation…ending up 35lbs heavier than I was going in.

    After graduation I gained another 10lbs before losing 80lbs because it horrified me that my boyfriend at the time, who was a foot taller than me, weighed 50lbs less than I did. I’ve yo-yo-ed ever since, but kept the majority of the college weight off.

    I think it all depends on the person and what habits you develop in the first few weeks of college (whether or not you live there, eating like crap because you can, staying up all night, starting to drink…those were the culprits for me!)


  108. Ashley says

    I gained ten pounds between the end of my senior year in high school and the end of my freshman year in college, and any weight I’ve gained since then hasn’t stayed- I’ve been the same since then (over six years).

    I also went to school that was pretty focused on physical appearance (at least around spring break!), so it was in college that I really learned how use the gym for more than just the treadmill. And I agree with whoever posted about weight gain totally depends on who you hang out with- my friends and I never ate when we studied (too focused and didn’t want to spill stuff on our notes), so finals week was usually synonymous with a 5-10 pound weight loss that was regained as soon as the stress disappeared.



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