The idea of maintaining a healthy lifestyle in college considering the deadlines, food plans and partying might seem impossible, but the university experience doesn’t have to be filled with keg parties and all-nighters. Compared to the rest of adult life, you’ll find most college campuses have everything you need to be healthy: a gym on campus, plenty of walking, made to order food and fresh vegetables that are cut for you every day!
Whether you’re trying to shed the freshman 15 or improve brain power for that next final, maintaining a keto lifestyle can be a healthy lifestyle choice and a structured way to reach your goals. But before you dive into keto, it’s important to make sure you set yourself up for success by starting with a plan.
Get the Basics Down
Begin by educating yourself on the basics of going keto so you’ll know what to eat and what to avoid. To stay in ketosis starchy foods are limited and low-carb vegetables, healthy fats, and protein-rich foods are enjoyed.
The first week of keto can be rough. Many people experience flu like symptoms while the body is adjusting to using fat for fuel. Avoid starting keto during finals week or other academically rigorous time periods during the school year.
The good news is, there are a number of ways to avoid or limit the symptoms of the keto flu altogether such as kick starting keto with a fast, staying hydrated and adding some low-intensity exercise into your weekly routine.
Get Organized for the Week
As you get started, take some time to think through your meals and snacks. You don’t have to plan out a full week of eating but it does help to look at your schedule to realistically determine when you’ll have time to eat between various commitments like work and school.
Consider eateries on and around campus. Most campus dining and restaurant menus are posted online making it fast and easy to do a little research and make some selections in advance. This will come in handy when time to eat is limited.
If you’re cooking at home, there is more opportunity for variety but also a bit more prep. Stock the fridge and pantry with keto-friendly foods and plan a few meals to help organize your shopping trip.
Whether you’re cooking in an apartment or in a dorm, a single-serve blender is a great investment for small spaces. Smoothies and low carb protein shakes can serve as quick meals on-the-go and the same blender can also be used to make other treats like frothy, high-fat coffee.
For those days when your schedule is particularly tight, pack some snacks to avoid getting hangry and feeling tired.
Set up Social Support
Grab a buddy or group of friends to join you in your keto adventures. Lifestyle change is easier when it can be undertaken with some accountability partners. This may also be particularly beneficial in the college setting where late night pizza and beer are the norm.
If peer support is hard to come by in person – seek out virtual buddies on social through keto lifestyle blogs, apps and online communities.
Going out can be challenging, but not impossible on keto. If you’re headed to a party or bar, there are a few options to keep you in ketosis and on track with your health goals.
- Stick with non-alcoholic beverages like club soda, water and unsweetened iced.
- Choose clear liquors like vodka, tequila and gin paired with low carb mixers like club soda. These beverages have 0 carbs.
- Enjoy a low-carb beverage like ultra-light beers and dry wine. These choices typically have less than 5g of net carbs but are not carb free.
If you want to feel your best, avoiding alcohol is probably the best bet, but if you’d like to enjoy an alcoholic beverage stick with no more than two drinks.
Get Started and Fine Tune
Sometimes you just have to get started to iron out the kinks! Pick a start date and implement the plan. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect – give yourself a few days to get the hang of navigating the college environment on keto and troubleshoot along the way.
Hungry in between classes? Pack more snacks.
Sweet tooth diverting your efforts? Find some keto-friendly sweet treats to add to the rotation.
Feeling sluggish and tired? Drink more water and consider adding in some electrolytes.
Most problems on keto can be solved with the help of a little detective work and some advanced prep and planning. Don’t let dorm living and campus dining stand in the way of your keto-lifestyle and ultimately your health goals - harness your motivation and get going!