Acing your Macros on a College Campus
Classes, clubs, exams, dining halls, social events, sports, library dates, study sessions, you name it! College is full of new experiences and exciting changes. We know that (literally) adding one more thing to your plate can feel overwhelming at first, but you can ace counting macros on a college campus and we’re here to help with an A+ list of tips and strategies.
Know your schedule
When will you have time to eat?
Sit down with your weekly schedule and decide which times of the day will lend themselves to grabbing breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. What time is your first class? When are you hitting the gym? When is your study group meeting?
Where will you be?
Once you know when you’ll have time to eat each meal, identify where you will be at these times. Will you be bringing breakfast to your 8 am class from your room? Where is the closest dining hall? What time does the omelet bar close?
We recommend finding at least one go-to meal near each of your classes. This way when you’re running late or find yourself in a pinch, you can grab and go without too much extra thought!
Know your options
Dining hall basics:
- Map out a plan: Breakdown your food options in terms of your macros: lean proteins, minimally processed carbs, and healthy fats.
- Keep it simple: Stick to as many whole foods as possible because they'll be much easier to track and measure accurately. Skip the premixed/pre-dressed options.
- Know your go-to’s: Most dining halls have a rotating menu along with some consistent food sources. The sandwich station, grill, and salad bar will generally serve the same foods each day so pick some reliable favorites. Some dining halls even have an omelet bar (make sure you know when it is open!)
- Do a lap: Survey all of your options before serving yourself. You can grab pieces of meals from all over the dining hall to create your ideal plate.
- Protein first: Dining halls will have lots of protein options but they are not created equal. Start with the leanest protein sources as possible like grilled chicken, yogurt, egg whites, deli meats, and fish. Skip the burgers and hot dogs!
- Load up on high-volume foods: Use the salad bar or omelet bar as an opportunity to load up on the veggies and other high-volume foods. These are foods that are typically harder to keep in your room.
- BYOD: If you have a mini-fridge in your room, buy a few macro-friendly salad dressings and mini-containers so you can bring your own (delicious) dressing to the dining hall.
- Fats last: Because there are tag-along fat macros in most other food sources seek out fat sources last if you already know the makeup of your meal will leave you with a teeny bit of fat. This may or may not be the case depending on what you decide to throw on your plate!
- Grab two plates: If you’re planning on using your food scale, you can easily measure your meal by loading one plate with your meal and placing an empty plate on your food scale. Rebuild your meal on your new plate, record each item in your tracker, and take out your scale before moving to the next food.
- Save it for next time: After you’ve found some staple macro-friendly meals save them in your tracker and then tweak measurements slightly when you measure them each time.
In your dorm room
No fridge? No problem: non-perishables are typically easier to keep in your room and it is totally possible to pick macro-friendly, minimally processed foods that you don’t need to keep in a refrigerator. Whole fruits like bananas, oranges, apples, and pears can be kept out for a few days. Other minimally processed cereals and rice cakes are also great for capping off your carbs. Protein powders, jerky, tuna packets, and minimally processed protein bars will help you hit your protein and single-serving bags of nuts or nut-butters will round out your fats.
Give yourself options: If possible, having a mini-fridge and/or microwave in your room will open up the door to many more food sources. Greek yogurt, deli meat, cottage cheese, vegetables, and meals from grab-and-go markets on campus can all be kept in your refrigerator. Microwaves will allow you to cook macro-friendly foods like frozen meals, frozen veggies, oatmeal, soups, right in your room or common room.
If you’re living off-campus
Living off-campus often means that you have an entire kitchen at your disposal so prepping meals for your day is a bit more straightforward. Keep in mind that you might find yourself in a pinch on campus so knowing the dining hall basics and picking out a few campus go-to’s will keep you fueled and on-track all day long!
Prioritizing your nutrition will keep you feeling energized, confident, and ready to handle whatever the “best four years of your life” throws at you!
Join Team WAG
Love what you learned but still want more guidance and support? Hire a 1:1 coach who will get to know you, your lifestyle and your unique needs and create results that you can sustain long-term. If you're not quite ready to go all-in on hiring a coach, check out our Macro Calculation Cheat Sheet & 18 Tracking Tips and Tricks for macro counting!