When it comes to eating in college, it’s extremely hard to avoid the temptation of grabbing a burger at the Zorn Dining Commons or chicken tenders and fries at Lloyds. Although it may save time, it’s not the healthiest thing for you. What people should do in order to get more control on what they eat, is start counting calories.

Being off campus for my second year in a row, I don’t have a meal plan and resort to cooking my own food so I have better control not only of what I want to eat but when I want to eat as well. What I rely on is calorie counting on an application called, “MyFitness Pal” on my iPhone, where I set my calorie goal for the day (ex. 2,300) and I enter each food I eat into the app and, estimating the amount of food to the best I can, the app will subtract how much I eat from my goal.

It’s a great way to track what you eat throughout the day, even at the D.C. or Hoot ‘n’ Scoot and know when you’re eating too much or when you can indulge in another snack. It is extremely convenient to have so many food options on campus, and another plus is that the food tastes pretty good for food produced in mass quantities. I do miss going to the D.C. with my friends and being a part of that atmosphere but as my schedule gets busier as a senior, I am much happier timing my meals and buying food where there isn’t as much temptation to eat unhealthy foods.

I don’t follow “basic nutrition values” where most people eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with a few snacks thrown in throughout the day. Some days I’ll eat breakfast and some days I will not and sometimes I won’t get to eat lunch until 4 p.m. With my strategy, I can’t just eat everything I want; it needs to be specific to my goal in the gym. Whether I’m trying to lose weight, gain muscle, or maintain my calorie goal on MyFitness Pal will be different.

When I eat breakfast I’ll usually have some eggs with toast and cheese, lunch on average may be left over dinner, a sandwich or something simple like a protein shake. I like to have my biggest meal at night before bed, something heavy in protein like chicken along with a vegetable and carbohydrates like some rice or noodles. I find myself full going to bed and when I wake up I have plenty of energy to get through the day.

Another very important aspect of tracking meals with the app is figuring out your macro-nutrients or the percentages of fat, carbohydrates and protein that you eat for the day. With the help of one of the nation’s top personal trainers, Martin Berkhan and his formula on his website (leangains.com) anyone can get his or her own macro-nutrients and make sure they stay on track with their goals.

The great thing about tracking foods on MyFitness Pal is that you can use it at any restaurant, any place on campus, or with mom’s cooking. Tracking your food can give you room for that piece of cake at the D.C. or a sizzler at the Night Owl Cafe without worrying about eating too much for that day. People worry about eating clean to lose weight or gain muscle, when a lot of it is calories in versus calories out. Setting short term goals and tracking foods is an extremely easy way to stay healthy on campus.


Stephen Aruilio can be contacted at  saruilio@keene-equinox.com

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