Feasts of Legend
I know how the old Greeks Gods dined. I know how Zeus, Hera, and Ares felt when they walked into one of their daily feasts. An absurd amount of food of all varieties at their very finger tips for the taking. They had everything and longed for nothing. In fact, most of us know this feeling. Not because we have grandparents and parents who go above and beyond during the holidays, or because we are all so wealthy we only dine in five star restaurants, but because we went to college. After attending class in the morning, destroying tests in the afternoon, and studying through the night, eating in the dining hall is the spoils of war for all students.
From Mt. Olympus to your Campus
College is a time for personal development. Students enter as unexperienced young adults and leave as professionals who are bestowed the responsibility of running the world. We grow our intelligence through books, we grow our relationships through people we meet, and of course we grow our bodies through forks and knives. While many may look at a dining hall and see opportunity to fill their bellies with pizza and french fries, those with dreams of being better versions of themselves see an opportunity for self-improvement.
I am a big proponent of allowing your body to grow while relying on the dining halls as your main source of food. I use to get upset because I couldn’t prepare my own chicken with calorie-free cooking spray or buy the 93% lean ground beef instead of the 70% provided by the school. In hindsight, and remember hindsight is always 20/20, it really did not matter!
College Success in the Cafeteria
Never in your life will you be presented with so much nutrient dense food on a regular basis. It is true you will not always have full control of all the variables that go into cooking such as using oil, butter, or water to prepare your meat. If you plan accordingly during your winter and summer breaks, those variables will hold less importance over your overall physique. I myself found a routine that worked well while I worked on my undergrad and ultimately master’s degree. Along with relaxing my mind and avoiding anything that resembled a book, my time spent on breaks was a time for me to clean up my diet and do a traditional “cut.” I would have full control over my food prep and would be able to account for every macro and micro nutrient that I took in. By getting my body fat down during my time away from school I was able to enter every 15 week semester with the mindset of building quality size.
This can quickly become an exercise of discipline. Yes you want to grow throughout the semester, but that plan is quickly obliterated when you are barely at mid-terms and up 20 pounds of fat. Making the right choice at a meal will become as important as making the right choice on a test. Below are some options that most dining halls provide that every student looking to add quality size to their physiques can always rely upon.
How can anyone add size while filling their limited stomach space with vegetables? Many people have this mentality, and in all honesty I use to have it myself. Here is the cold hard truth through: vegetables are instrumental in your growth. The micro nutrient profile of a well-balanced salad is unmatched by the nachos and hotdogs provided on the other side of the dining hall. Additionally, almost anything can go into a salad that will give you the additional protein, fats, and carbohydrates your body desires. Here are some great protein sources to add to your salad: chicken, steak, or tuna. There are numerous sources of fats that go well in a salad. Some of my personal favorites are walnuts, almonds, egg yolks, real bacon, or an oil and vinaigrette dressing. Carbohydrates can be a bit tricky, but dried fruits can always be an effective way of improving a bowl of “rabbit food.”
Here is an example of a muscle building salad;
- 1.5 cups of lettuce,
- 1.5 cups of spinach,
- 3 oz. of mushrooms,
- 6 oz. of grilled chicken breast,
- 0.5 oz. of almonds,
- 1 oz. dried apple slices, and
- 2 tbsp. of an olive oil vinaigrette.
This salad would be approximately 545 calories, 53 grams of protein, 44 grams of carbs, and 17 grams of fat. There are a million ways to personalize a salad to help you achieve your goals. Play around with different combinations to find what you like best.
With the latest societal trends leaning towards fitness and health, every eating establishment seems to be offering fruit. Even McDonalds offers you apples instead of the traditional side of fries. Fruit should be a micro nutrient dense staple in everyone’s diet. Now there are definitely some fruit that are better than others nutrient wise, so choose accordingly. Bananas, apples, grapefruits, and oranges are often the most available fruits and will pay dividends to your physical gains. To make them even more calorie dense, add some peanut butter to your apples and bananas. It is so simple, yet so effective.
Need I say more? Every breakfast spread on the planet includes eggs. Often times you can chose the mass produced scrambled eggs, the hard boiled eggs, or if you are fortunate your dining hall will have an omelet bar where your eggs can be prepared exactly how you like. Eggs are so versatile and can be matched with almost anything to help break up the monotony of eating the same food meal after meal. Many people are still under the archaic belief that eggs, specifically the yolks, are bad for your health. This is untrue. What is true is the yolks hold the fat content as compared to the whites. One egg yolk is approximately 5 grams of fat. If you are eating a dozen hard boiled eggs at each meal, consider only ingesting the egg whites on the last six.
A Day in the Life
As a student, this would be a reasonable example of a day’s meals involving the three options described above.
Meal 1 – Four whole hardboiled eggs, four hardboiled eggs whites only, two pieces of whole wheat bread, and one banana.
Meal 2 – Six whole eggs scrambled, two tablespoons of peanut butter, and one apple.
Meal 3 – Two scoops of whey protein powder and one banana.
Meal 4 – The salad detailed above and one orange.
Meal 5 – Two scoops of whey protein powder and one apple.
Meal 6 – The salad detailed above and one orange.
These six meals would come to approximately 3,370 calories, 300 grams of protein, 300 grams of carbohydrates, and 110 grams of fats. This example would put you in a great mass building ratio consisting of 36% protein, 36% carbs, and 28% fats.
These are just three very simple options at almost everyone’s disposal in the dining hall. By evaluating your specific circumstances you will find options that help you meet your goals. We are living in a time where the average college student can be gluttonous at every meal. Make the Greek Gods proud, make the right choices, and grow!
Remember, look better naked.