Balancing Act - Top Tips For Students!

September was always a month which represented mixed emotions for me because it spelled the end of the summer holidays and a return to school. In one respect I didn’t want to have any home work, but in another way I was glad to see my mates again. Now I’m out of the ‘official’ education system, nothing has changed because a lot of my friends return to high education this month as does my girlfriend! So it remains a sad time for me! From what I hear University can be quite a blast but it doesn’t sound like my cup of tea.

However, I understand many of our young gym enthusiasts who follow FitMag are going back to university; therefore I thought we should have a heart to heart. You can liken this to a conversation with your parents, explaining to you how to be responsible, yet we spare you the embarrassment of enduring such a conversation with the two people you would least like to have it with!

With so many of you living the ‘Uni life’ there are several factors which are going to effect your physique, potentially for the worst, if you allow them to! Although I live close to a place called St. David’s, who is the ‘Welsh Saint’ I am certainly not a saint and I know you guys probably aren’t either. With this in mind I will approach this with a degree of realism opposed to idealism, but for it to work you must also be willing to compromise a little!


You knew it wouldn’t take me long to hit this topic square in the face! As you know I feel that ‘calorie counting’ is one big misleading concept. Therefore whilst alcohol does contain ENDLESS levels of empty calories (useless, nutrition free content) there is a bigger issue which I feel frequent visits to the bar can cause! As you ingest alcohol in large amounts you instantly suppress the ability of your body to metabolise nutrients effectively, because your body is trying to flush out this ‘poison’ you have fed it! Next time you get ‘blotto’ on a Saturday night keep a very careful on your appetite and performance in the gym on Monday and Tuesday. I bet your way under par, and no prizes for guessing why! Your body is still recovering.

If I had it my way you would see the sense in limiting your alcohol consumption dramatically however I suspect this would entice you to throw a few unkind gestures my way. Therefore I recommend that you limit your drinking ‘binge’ which seems the latest fashion, to once every 5-6 weeks. What I mean by this is a night where you can’t remember if you kissed Joe or Jane, if that mark on your neck is a temporary piece of memorabilia from a raunchy 5 minutes or a wound from an altercation with a vampire in drag. To get in this kind of state you need to be glugging like George Best, and this is where the problems really start. If you eat well all week and kick the arse out of every gym session there is no harm indulging yourself with a couple of the barman’s finest ales once a week. I mean a couple though, not 5 or 6. However I fear this may be slightly too sophisticated and ‘boring’ for some, in which case don’t bother reading the rest of this article because it isn’t relevant to you!

If you plan on being the ‘party plonker’ on a weekly basis, even once a week, then forget it. You know when you see someone after a year of ‘Uni life’ and they were lean last time, but now they require a bra, well that is the alcohol working. Unlike anything else, your body is simply unable to metabolise vast amounts of alcohol and ingesting this on a frequent basis will mess you up! You won’t be lean for long, even if you are training and eating well in the week!!! Take heed.


I’m told there is nothing quite like a kebab with chilli sauce sprayed all over it, yet I am still to be convinced. If I only I could find one which didn’t make my stomach turn before the ‘meat’ could make it to my mouth I could give my opinion on it. One thing is for sure; this food is pure crap and should be treated as a VERY occasional treat if it floats your boat. The same can be said for virtually all fast foods and takeaways. Limit this to once a week as a ‘treat’ instead of a night out on the beer! Doing both is like shutting down your body’s ability to burn calories and then LOADING it with the worst kind all in one go. You think this will mess up your result, damn right it will!

The biggest factor with your diet will be cost! Or at least this is what a lot of students tell me. Then how is it you afford to piss £30, £40, £50 a week up the wall on booze? It would take £35 worth of food and careful shopping to fill the cupboards with muscle building, fat busting nutrients. Below is a list of foods for each nutrient category which I suggest you use to form yourself a diet which will keep your muscle mass show on the road!

Protein – protein is without a doubt the most expensive of the food groups. Therefore you need to know how to get good deals. In my opinion, if you take in enough quality carbohydrates through the day then 1g of protein per pound of body weight is ample on a student’s budget.

Eggs – eggs are cheap and last for a while and they also go with a lot of different foods. Eggs are the number 1 cost effective protein source for sure!

Frozen chicken – this is a cheap way of getting chicken and it lasts for ages ensuring you don’t waste food! I buy LOADS of this stuff.

Frozen fish – frozen white fish like Pollock is cheap and a great way to add variation to your diet.

Lean Minced Beef – there are always great deals on minced beef in the supermarkets making it a cost effective, yet healthy option.

Burgers – yes burgers, but I am talking lean ones from the supermarket. To pack on mass, these offer a very cost effective way to get in muscle building nutrients.

Tinned fish - if you opt for the tins with skin and bones it is quite cheap. Spending an extra 5 minutes to remove the bones and skin save you a lot of money and give you a great meal!

Protein powders – this is a very cost effective way to bump up your protein intake everyday! You will need a whey isolate and a multi-blend timed release protein. The links below will take you to what we feel offers the best value and performance.


Complex Carbohydrates – complex carbohydrates

are pretty cheap, especially if you go for ‘value’ options. Considering the taste is very similar to more expensive options, you can get a week’s worth of complex carbs for under £10 easy!

Brown pasta – look for BIG bags of this because they last forever, pasta lasts forever and it tastes good with almost anything.

Brown rice – the same as above, although soak this in cold water first to speed up the cooking process.

Potato – potatoes are also very cheap and taste damn good! These are ideal as a post-workout meal.

Sweet potato – more or less the same as above, although they are a little bit more.

Oats – like eggs, the cheapest and easiest way to get your carbohydrates!

Brown bread – brown pitas, rolls, bread are all great options!

Wholegrain rice cakes – salt & vinegar, caramel and chocolate wholegrain rice cakes are all great ways to get your carbs in throughout the day!

Fats – fats are also fairly cheap and you will find they can add great flavour to your meals. Be sure to opt for fats which are low in saturated fat!

Peanut butter – this tastes great and isn’t too expensive if you look hard enough.

Cheddar cheese – cheap as . . . . well, cheese and it also adds a great flavour to a lot of dishes.

Egg yolks – the yolks in your eggs will give you a great fix of healthy fats for the day.

1 cal spray – get your extra virgin olive oil 1 cal spray to cook all your meals with.

Fruit – fruit is a cheap way to add flavour to your diet with some health and energy benefits as well! However you need to understand that fruit can’t be eaten anytime of the day as a ‘healthy’ snack because of the sugars. Follow the guidelines in the ‘sample diet’ below.

Bananas – bananas are a great source of complex and sugar carbohydrates as well as minerals, giving you sustained energy release. Try snacking on some banana & peanut butter toast sandwiches! Bananas are also dead cheap!

Frozen berries – whichever ones take your fancy; these are great with oats in the morning to add some zest and to also give that all important insulin spike!

Vegetables – it is vital you get your fibrous carbohydrates in to suppress the appetite of sugary foods, enhance your overall rate of digestion, and improve nutrient assimilation and overall health. The mineral content is also very important for a number of reasons including muscle contraction, neuro-muscle connection and cardiac health.

Broccoli – this green is very cheap and very easy to cook. It also tastes great with most meals making it a complete winner in my eyes.

Green beans – again, these are excellent for overall health and add a new dimension to meals.

Green peas – these are a delicious, sweet tasting food to have with your post-workout meal. The sugar content will add flavour and it will also help spike your insulin levels after the workout.

OK, let’s take all of these foods and make a ‘sample’ diet for a day in the life of a student.

Breakfast – 2 scoops of chocolate or vanilla PhD Whey HT+, 50g oats, ½ banana, 1 tablespoon of frozen berries, water and microwave it.

Mid morning – 2 slices brown bread, 2 whole eggs, 2 egg whites scrambled with salad.

Lunch – 60g brown pasta, 1 chicken breast, broccoli, slice of cheddar cheese.

Mid afternoon – 3 wholegrain caramel rice cakes, tablespoon of peanut butter, 1 scoop of Gaspari Myofusion.

Supper – 125g lean minced beef, 1 whole egg, 1 baked potato, peas, green beans and salad.

Before bed – 2 scoops of Gaspari Myofusion and 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.

Depending on your goals you can alter the calorie intake from your carbohydrates. Note that each meal is relatively easy to eat during the day wherever you are; all you need is a packed lunch box and a shaker with a couple of protein servings. Obviously you can change around the meals from the list of foods; this is simply a ‘sample’ plan for you to follow.

Social Life

Another aspect which will potentially influence your progress in university is the group of friends you roll with. This doesn’t necessarily mean drinking, but are you the type of person who will allow your friends to dictate when you are going out for the day or why you are eating ‘weird’ food? If so, you need to be very mindful of the company you keep because before you know it you will be missing meals right, left and centre. Not very ‘athlete’ like is it? Surround yourself with others who want to be stacked, ripped and who enjoy eating healthy. Get them to read FitMag so they too are literally reading from the same page!

There guys, is your guide to coexisting as an athlete and as a student! Remember, you need to remain in control of your environment and the people in it. If you really want to progress and make the gains you dreamt of, follow our guidelines! Between the ages of 18-21 you are hormonally primed to grow like a stallion with an extra set of testicles! Nice thought aye!?

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