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’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. :)


  2. 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.


  3. 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!


  4. 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!


  5. 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.


  6. 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)


  7. 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!


  8. 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).


  9. 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!


  10. 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.. 😉


  11. 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!


  12. 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…


  13. 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!


  14. 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.


  15. 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.


  16. 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!


  17. 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.


  18. 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.


  19. 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. 😉


  20. 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


  21. 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.


  22. 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!)


  23. 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.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>