Exam period is the worst time of the year for most students. With so much to do and very limited time, it’s common to fall out of your normal eating routine and go for quick and unhealthy food choices. This goes for all those all-nighters trying to beat the deadline for the long research papers and preparing for the final exams. Normally, this period means less movement and more studying, and before you know it, weight gain slowly starts to creep in.

Causes of Weight Gain During Exams

The majority of students doing their final semester exams will complain about gaining weight during the exam period. Why does this happen? Here are the possible reasons and how to avoid them.

Less Sleep

Understandably, no one wants to fail in their final exams. And if this means staying up all night to go through all the books and papers, so be it. This is the time when sleep is not a priority and many students will resort to weird methods to stay awake through the night.

Stress and sleep actually go hand-in-hand. It’s difficult to fall asleep when there’s something troubling your mind. If you’re pulling overnights in order to cram your exams or to complete your essay or research paper, then you’re interfering with your body’s natural functioning. Drinking coffee or caffeinated and sugary drinks worsen the situation and are bad for your health and waistline. When your blood sugar drops, fatigue kicks in. This affects your concentration and you may not function properly the following day.

While it’s understandable that time is of the essence during this demanding period, it’s advisable to do some time management so that you can create time to get quality sleep at night. This may mean putting in extra hours during the day, but the outcome will pay off. For starters, you will wake up feeling fresh and rejuvenated. Additionally, your mind will be fully alert throughout the day and you can recall all the things you read the previous night.

Fast Foods and Snacks

The madness surrounding the exam period doesn’t give you enough time to prepare your own meals or make healthy choices. This is the time when you let cravings get the best of you. And fast foods become the first choice. The solution to counter this? avoid putting off eating while studying. First, you need to pay attention to your hunger pangs as this could give you gas and possibly make you binge when you finally settle down to eat. Keep healthy snacks such as pumpkin seeds, walnuts, apples, or peanuts close by. On top of that, replace those sweetened energy drinks with natural energy boosters like green tea, nuts, and avocado.

These foods will fuel your body without causing any harm. Similarly, add healthy foods like chicken and turkey breast, eggs, legumes, milk, yogurt, and fatty fish to your diet. However, remember to watch your portion so that you don’t end up overeating.


Anxiety and depression can trigger emotional eating. If you feel like you’ve not covered all the topics and you fear that you won’t perform well in your exams, you may develop feelings of anxiety. As a result, you might take to comfort foods to calm your nerves. This could easily lead to a tip on the scale and an increase to your waistline. Likewise, anxiety can lead to mindless eating, and since you’re not focusing on what you’re eating or your chewing, it could easily lead to overeating. To solve this, dedicate at least one full hour each day to personal time. Just use this time to relax and don’t think about school work or exams. Take deep breathes and repeat these words to yourself: I’m successful, I’m an achiever, I’m bright, I’m smart. Doing this will help you develop a positive attitude and fight off the anxiety.

Eating Quickly

Due to time constraints, students tend to rush through their meals eager to get back to their studies. Not only does eating fast lead to weight gain, but you also risk developing heart problems. Fast eaters don’t consider how many calories they are pumping into their bodies and you can easily exceed your limit without realizing it. The solution? Slow down. Eating slowly will make you feel more fulfilled and avoid overeating. Consequently, you’ll be able to study more peacefully.

Remember to Exercise

This might seem like the last thing on your mind right now. However, you can do simple aerobics at the comfort of your room to take a break from your studies. Exercise is good for your health and also helps to boost your mood. Try out squats, push-ups, and jumping jacks among other simple exercises to speed up your metabolism and burn off the extra fat at the same time. Also, take time to go for a walk, which is also a good form of exercise.

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