Whether students are looking to bulk up or slim down, different diet trends, such as IIFYM and the Paleo diets, are bountiful on campus for those looking to bulk up, trim down or simply get healthier.
The Paleo diet has become increasingly popular for those looking to eat healthy, and has even earned its own cookbook, Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle.
According to The Paleo Diet website, the diet is "based upon everyday, modern foods that mimic the food groups of our pre-agricultural, hunter-gatherer ancestors."
According to the website, there are seven major characteristics of the hunter-gatherer diet that those who are on the Paleo diet follow: higher protein intake, lower carbohydrate intake and lower glycemic index, higher fiber intake, moderate-to-higher fat intake dominated by monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats with balanced Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats, higher potassium and lower sodium intake, net dietary alkaline load that balances dietary acid, [and] higher intake of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and plant phytochemicals.
While it may seem complicated, some students are still undertaking the challenge, and Nadine LaPonza, a senior anthropology major, is one such student.
"I'm just trying to cut things out slowly," LaPonza said of her progress with the diet. "Right now I'm cutting out gluten, but I'm allowing myself to have pizza once a week."
LaPonza originally heard about the diet a few years ago from her father, and uses the book Practical Paleo to continue to enjoy her favorite foods while also sticking to her diet.
"The cool thing that I really like about it is that you can have baked goods, but you have to be careful of the flour you use," LaPonza said.
But campus health officials still warn against cutting out specific food groups, such as the dairy and gluten that Paleo diets avoid.
"Any diet that emphasizes one food group over another is not a diet that I recommend," said Astrid Volpert, a dietician with the UCF Health Center. "It's taking a lot of nutrients which, if you go for a more healthful grain, you still get those nutrients. You're still getting a lot of fiber and those nutrients that [by avoiding] the group completely you're not going to get."
But instead of just cutting out entire food groups, other students are moving more toward moderation and calorie counting.
Colton Hasenfratz, a sophomore sports and exercise science major, is currently on the IIFYM diet — which stands for If It Fits Your Macros — and has been since his freshman year.
He started it as a way to get into bodybuilding.
"When I came here I started getting really into fitness, so I got really into bodybuilding," Hasenfratz said. "A bunch of builders my age are getting into IIFYM because it's a nice, flexible way of doing [so] that works."
And the diet, at least for Hasenfratz, has worked wonders.
"When I first came to UCF, I weighed about 165 and I was trying to put on weight to put on muscle and I got to about 180," Hasenfratz said. "Then I went from 180 to 170 for summer in a matter of weeks."
The basis of the diet isn't limiting food choices to uber-healthy, organic options.
Rather, it's simply about making sure the calories you use up by the end of the day are greater than the calories you intake.
The IIFYM website likens it to filling up a car full of gas, comparing the food you eat to the gas for your car.
"If you buy too much gasoline day after day, eventually you will end up with a bunch of extra stored-up gas," the IIFYM website states. "Either stop pumping so much gas and eating so much food, (which forces your body to use up the stored fuel as energy) or start driving farther or faster every day, and use up more fuel/energy/gas/fat/calories that way."
But it might not seem as hard as that sounds Hasenfratz said.
That flexibility, Hasenfratz said, is why the diet is so easy and so appealing.
"It lets you have a flexible diet. As long as you put the work into figuring out what you came at, you can lose weight," Hasenfratz said. "I'd recommend it to anyone who isn't down for any strict diets. As long as you're eating in moderation or [not] going overboard, you'll be fine."