by Brian DeChesare Comments (86)

How To Keep Fit & Healthy As An Investment Banker (When You’re Working 100 Hour Weeks)

Investment Banking Fitness

It’s midway through your first year as a banker.

You just got back from the holiday party, and after taking a day off to recover from your hangover, you’re ready to rock and roll.

You pull out your favorite pair of slacks from the closet, fumbling to put them on…

…and as you do so, they split in half – far too small for your waist, which has gained 4 inches (10 cm) in the past 6 months.

You’re fat.

And now you’re naked from the waist down, too, but that’s a smaller issue.

Here’s what went wrong, and how you can lose all that weight you just gained – with only 4 hours of free time (or less) per week.

Got Corpulence?

Back in school, you were an athlete – a powerlifter, a marathon runner, or even Michael Phelps.

Or maybe you weren’t, but at least you were in decent shape and had clothes that fit.

Now, you’re just a sleep-deprived, borderline-alcoholic, overweight banker – though you have gotten better at Excel.

You gained 25 pounds (~11 kg) in the past 6 months, but it’s not your fault – the universe has been conspiring against you to make it near-impossible to stay in shape as a banker.

The Demons of Fat Gain

You have a lot going against you and very little working for you as a banker:

  • You sit motionless for extended periods – and might even have bad posture when doing so.
  • You’re addicted to Seamless and eat horrible takeout food all the time.
  • Too many bottles, not enough models.
  • You never do any exercise because you’re too busy doing the investment banking analyst grind.
  • Your co-workers will ridicule you if you don’t drink every single day.

Taken alone, any of these would make you fatter – but altogether they create a deadly cocktail of fat gain and will result in multiple trips to the “plus size” store.

Oh, and remember: no amount of money or fame will save you from health problems. Bill Clinton, former leader of the free world, earned over $100 million USD since he left office and that didn’t save him from quadruple bypass surgery.

How to Vanquish the Demons and Lose Fat

You need to combine diet and exercise and modify habits like drinking and how long you sit in your chair.

That seems simple, and if you’re not an investment banker, it is – but as a banker, you have a lot of problems that the average dieter never faces.

Most fitness advice online assumes that you can work out whenever you want for as long as you want, and that you have infinite time to cook food for yourself.

Rather than repeating those unrealistic suggestions, we’re going to focus on specifically what you must do to stay in shape as a banker.

The most common problem is fat gain, so that will be the main goal – but the advice here goes beyond that and will address issues like lower back pain, high blood pressure, diabetes, and your overall energy level.

Assumptions and Sources & Uses

I’m assuming that you:

  • Have very little free time (< 4 hours per week) and no flexibility in your schedule.
  • Cannot cook because of this lack of free time.
  • Are often in social situations where you’re pressured to eat junk food and drink alcohol.
  • Care more about losing fat or not gaining fat in the first place than you do about gaining muscle or building endurance (there’s nothing wrong with those, but they’re much harder to pull off as a banker).
  • Have an inkling of common sense. If you think that donuts are better for you than vegetables, please press Alt + F4 right now.

We’re not going to get into a debate over different diet plans, like Atkins vs. South Beach vs. Paleo vs. Slow-Carb – the specific details matter far less than following the high-level ideas, which are similar in different plans.

I’m also not going to turn this into science class and get into a technical explanation of everything, because that’s off-topic and you can read all about the science elsewhere.

The focus here will be how to avoid getting fat as a banker – through diet, reduction of social pressure, exercise, Starbucks (the lifeblood of any banker), the right kind of bottles, and some secret ingredients.


As a banker, the usual habit is to skip breakfast altogether, get takeout for lunch, and then eat a huge dinner with 2 desserts from Seamless.

When you first start, this seems great: you’ve gone from being a starving student to eating steak and tiramisu every day.

The only problem is that you’re also getting fatter every day.

Modify this routine by:

  • Eating smaller meals at least 4 times per day – and more if possible. It helps your metabolism.
  • Avoiding Seamless and similar takeout and going for healthier options.
  • Always eating immediately after you wake up.

What do you eat, and how can you possibly have time for 4 meals per day?

First, each meal should have protein, fat, carbohydrates (optional – keep reading), and vegetables, with about half as much fat as the others (since it has twice the calories).

Examples that you can easily get at restaurants or from stores like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, with minimal prep time:

  • Sashimi with salad
  • Chicken salad with olive oil and vinegar
  • Tofu, beans, and vegetables (the vegetarian option)
  • Egg whites with avocado, cheese, whole wheat bread, and spinach
  • Low-fat cottage cheese with nuts and fruit
  • Sardines and whole wheat crackers

The last 2 are missing vegetables, so you can just add in a mixed salad there.

In keeping with the “no science class” rule above, I’m not going to spell out the mix of protein/fat/carbohydrates in each of these but feel free to look up the facts yourself if you’re curious.

Use your $20-30 dinner allowance to buy these, and try to get pre-made meals as much as possible – otherwise you’ll be pressed for time.

To take care of breakfast and your snack in between lunch and dinner, you can order extra the night before and save it for the next day, you can run to a store close to your building during a break, or you can use one of my ninja tricks below.

If you do it properly, eating 4x per day takes no more time than eating just 2x because you’re at your desk anyway, and you’re eating food you already have.

Wait, Aren’t Carbs Bad? / What Should I Avoid?

Ever since the Atkins diet became popular there has been a crusade against carbohydrates: “Don’t eat them,” critics say, “or you’ll turn into the Pillsbury Dough Boy.”

There is some truth to that, and cutting out foods with a lot of carbohydrates – especially simple ones like white rice – will help you. But as a banker, it’s probably not viable to completely cut out carbs because you need the energy for all those all-nighters.

So if you can do so, reduce carbs, especially when it’s late at night. But rather than obsessing over that, make sure you avoid anything with sugar – that’s the absolute worst thing you can eat if you want to stay slim.

You’ll be pressured into ordering dessert all the time, going to Starbucks constantly, and harvesting as much junk food as possible from your office’s kitchen, so avoiding sugar is easier said than done.

The easiest solution is to use artificial sweeteners, such as stevia, if you need your fix of sweets. These are not great to have in huge quantities either, but in small doses they are much better than real sugar.

Social Pressure

As a banker, your co-workers will pressure you into ordering more food than you can possibly eat just to use up your entire dinner allowance.

There are 2 ways to deal with this: avoidance and limited acceptance.


You could tell them you’re slammed and have no time to take a break and eat – but you don’t want to do that all the time or you’ll end up with no friends.

Maybe try this one 2-3x per week, but don’t rely on it every day or you’ll be excluded from group outings.

Limited Acceptance

For the times when you do have to go eat together, just follow the guidelines above: make sure your meal has a mix of protein, fat, carbs (optional), and vegetables.

So if you go out and they say you have to order a steak or they’ll laugh at you, go ahead and do it – just make sure it’s not massive (because you’re eating 3 other times throughout the day) and that it has vegetables on the side.

When it comes time for dessert and drinks, say you need to finish a few more things at work so you can’t drink much, and that you’re too full for dessert because you ate a few hours ago.


Just like the controversy over carbs and whether or not they’ll turn you into the Pillsbury Dough Boy, another debate rages between cardio (running, swimming, etc.) and strength-training exercises.

We’re going to ignore that completely for one simple reason: you do not have time for extended cardio workouts as an investment banker.

You might be called back to the office at any time, on any day of the week, for any reason, so you need to think in 15-minute increments rather than hour-long or multi-hour-long sessions.

So the only option is strength training, for 3 reasons:

  1. As mentioned above, you need to get intense exercise in a very short amount of time.
  2. Unlike the equivalent amount of cardio, even a short and intense weight lifting workout will help you burn more calories for over a day if you do it properly.
  3. Doing resistance training will help your body absorb more calories and carbs immediately afterward, so you can loosen your dietary restrictions a bit.

If you have extra time, sure, go for a run, a bike ride, or go swimming whenever you can.

But if you’re a banker with an unpredictable schedule and almost no free time, you need to do quick but high-intensity strength-training workouts each week for the highest ROI.

What to Do At the Gym

Ideally, you will go to the gym 3 times per week for very quick workouts: I suggest Friday night, early in the day Sunday, and then once more whenever you have time during the week.

You are more likely to have free time on Friday night because senior bankers leave earlier – and you’re less likely to be called into the office early on Sunday.

A simple plan would be chest and triceps on one day, back and biceps on the next day, and then lower body on your final workout day.

Before the powerlifters reading pick apart this plan, remember that I’m assuming no knowledge or previous experience and extremely limited time – so please resist the temptation to argue for something more complicated.

If you’re pressed for time, you can condense this to 2 workouts instead and do upper body all on one day and lower body all on the other day – but if you do that, you should leave at least a few rest days in between workouts.

Finding Time to Go to the Gym

This can be tricky, and it depends on how your group operates: you’re best off asking if it’s OK to leave for 30 minutes in the early evening, and then getting in the habit of always going at that time.

Don’t ask for permission when you first start working – you should use the first month or two to prove yourself as reliable, and then “make the ask” once the senior bankers know you’re good.

If your group is not open enough to discuss non-work issues, then you’ll have to follow my suggestion above and go on Friday and Sunday, and then whenever else you have time in between.

That might be 2 AM on a Tuesday – not an ideal time to work out, but far better than doing nothing at all.

Oh, and if you’re a female banker you still need to do everything above and focus on strength training: you’re not going to turn into the Incredible Hulk, since male and female bodies react much differently to working out.

In fact, arguably females need strength-training more than males due to the threat of osteoporosis.

Trips to Starbucks

This is yet another problem if you’re a banker who wants to stay in shape – you’ll be called to Starbucks and pressured into ordering that grande chocolate frappuccino all the time.

Fortunately, there’s an easy solution: avoid anything with sugar or milk in it. That means you have only 2 options at Starbucks: americano or espresso.

But you could turn this restriction into your advantage by ordering triple espressos all the time to make yourself look hardcore and then say that you need the caffeine for yet another all-nighter.

Critics will say that this results in too much caffeine, but that’s far better than having too much sugar: as a banker you must pick the lesser of two evils.

Outside of coffee, you should only drink water (ideally liters per day), tea, and yerba mate (the loose-leaf variety, anything else is too weak).

Sugar-free Red Bull and other drinks with artificial sweeteners are fine in small quantities, but try to shift over to tea for your caffeine fix as much as possible.

What about alcohol? I’m glad you asked…

Bottles and Bottles

Most hardcore fitness buffs will tell you that alcohol, like sugar and carbs, will instantly turn you into the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

That’s not far from the truth: alcohol (especially beer) has a lot of calories and even if it doesn’t, it prevents your body from burning off calories until the alcohol is processed.

As a banker, though, you can’t completely cut out alcohol because you’ll be pressured into drinking with your co-workers, with clients, and at events like holiday parties.

So follow these guidelines instead:

  1. Avoid beer and anything with a lot of sugar, like soju or sugary cocktails, at all costs.
  2. Stick to whiskey shots and other hard alcohol when you must drink – it’s not ideal, but it’s “less bad” for you than beer because the calorie count is lower.
  3. Red wine in limited quantities (1-2 glasses per day) is arguably OK as well, or at least “less bad” than beer.
  4. Try to drink no more than once a week if you can help it – just say you’re busy the rest of the time.

I can’t help much with the models, but that’s how to handle the bottles side of the equation.

The Cherry On Top

Those are the key principles, and if you follow everything above you’ll be better off than 99% of incoming bankers who haven’t even thought about how they’ll stay in shape as cubicle monkeys.

You’re supposed to avoid dessert, but just this once as a cherry on the top of the rest of this advice, here are a few tips and tricks to take it to the next level:

Think Thin Bars

As you can tell, I’m borderline obsessive-compulsive about fitness and nutrition – and I’ve searched far and wide for the best way to eat decently with no free time.

The best solution I’ve found is the Think Thin bar: each one is 240 calories and has a mix of protein, fat, and “limited” carbs (the sugar alcohols in the bar are not fully absorbed by your body), and you can easily pack them for consumption whenever you want.

The one flaw is that they have relatively high saturated fat, so you shouldn’t go overboard: use them as a backup plan when you need to eat but don’t have anything else.

You can easily sneak these in and avoid drawing suspicion to yourself while you’re at your desk since they’re so quick to eat.


NEPA stands for Non-Exercise Physical Activity, and it’s one of the most important – and easiest – things you can do as a banker to stay in shape.

If you’re staring at the monitor without moving all day, you’ll quickly develop lower back problems, carpal tunnel syndrome, and slow down your metabolism.

But if you take quick breaks to walk around for a few minutes every hour, you can avoid much of that, or at least reduce its impact.

Unless you walk for hours and hours a day you won’t lose much weight doing this, but taking these breaks is more about preventing back problems, eye strain, and carpal tunnel syndrome than burning fat.

So use all those trips to Starbucks with other analysts/associates as a way to get NEPA, socialize, and get your caffeine fix.

It’s easier to take breaks late at night when senior bankers are not around to watch everything you do, but even during the day you can take breaks during your downtime and do something as simple as walking to the bathroom or pretending that you have to go talk to someone else.

Does Any of This Actually Work?

Like most bankers, I got out of shape in my first year and then lost around 40 pounds (~18 kg) in the last 6 months of my second year by following the plan above.

Other friends in banking have followed this plan to similar success.

I’m not a doctor and this tutorial does not represent a scientifically controlled experiment – like everything else on the site, it is advice that has worked well for others.

This plan is admittedly more difficult to follow in countries outside the US and even in cities outside NY/SF/LA because there are not as many options for food, and many places don’t have 24-hour gyms.

So you may not be able to follow everything precisely, but as long as you avoid the most common mistakes you’ll still be in better shape than most bankers.

What Now?

First, find a 24-hour gym close to your office, and then locate several restaurants and grocery stores nearby that have the food you need.

When you first start working, go to the gym whenever you have a chance. After 1-2 months, ask the senior banker you work most closely with if it’s OK to go for 30 minutes 3x per week around dinner time.

Rather than ordering takeout on Seamless all the time, use your dinner allowance to get the proper food at places like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, and save some so that you can eat immediately when you wake up the next day – and if you run out, keep Think Thin bars on hand as your backup plan.

Do all that, and hopefully when you reach the midway point of your first year all those Brooks Brothers clothes you bought before training started will still fit you.

M&I - Brian

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys memorizing obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, traveling like a drug dealer, and defeating Sauron.

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Read below or Add a comment

  1. Will I be limited from progressing in Finance because of my decision to not drink? If so, which careers in finance are best to be avoided if I decide not to drink at all? Conversely, in which careers is drinking not that important?

    1. Avoid sales roles if you have food/drinking restrictions. For non-client-facing roles, these restrictions don’t matter (so, think about quant funds or anything technical that still pays well).

      However, the industry has changed somewhat over time, and people are more understanding of these restrictions now. I think there’s still a bit of bias against you if you don’t drink, but probably not enough to hold you back in a serious way if you’re good at winning deals as you advance in IB.

  2. Avatar
    Recent Graduate


    Great article; I hope to be able to implement a lot of these strategies before I start a career in IB. However, I’ve been a vegetarian my entire life, and I fear this diet restriction might isolate me from other bankers or potentially hurt my career down the line (client dinners, etc.). If this is the case, I could definitely start eating meat, but I just don’t know. Would you recommend doing this?

    Also, I have been using an application to count my calories and track macro nutrients throughout the day for a few years. Would you say this would be realistic to continue doing in IB? Thanks in advance.

    1. Avatar
      Recent Graduate

      As a follow up, how much has the industry changed with regards to its attitude towards fitness and the “peer pressure” to eat unhealthy amounts of food since you wrote this article? Has the recent trend towards healthy eating/fitness made its way over to the industry at least somewhat?

    2. I don’t think you should change your diet just to fit in with bankers. Healthy diets, vegetarianism, etc., have all become more mainstream since this article was written. Counting your nutrients and calories precisely is probably unrealistic with the normal IB lifestyle – it’s just too easy to get pulled into emergencies and forget about it.

  3. Hey – for anyone who is (or has been) in banking, what do you think of hiring a personal trainer (there is one in my area who allows for very short sessions – under 30min – and allows unlimited cancellations/rescheduling ).. Would this be something worth actually paying for?

    1. *Or, has anyone actually hired a trainer before?

      1. Avatar
        M&I - Nicole

        Yes many do. Find a great one.

        1. Good to know, thanks!!
          If anyone can recommend a trainer, please do :)

    2. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Yes a PT is most definitely worth it, a good one of course.

  4. I agree with most of what you’ve put up here, but as a fellow member of the OCD camp I’ve researched this a fair bit as well. Meal frequency does not actually stimulate metabolism in a significant way and this effect has been both exaggerated and disproven in recent years.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Tom, yes I agree. It varies according to different people, needs and body types too.

  5. “think in 15-minute increments rather than hour-long or multi-hour-long sessions”

    What about intense cardio that lasts for that amount of time?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      You meant intense cardio in 15-min? Yes this works and you may want to combine that with some resistance and a bit of strength work

  6. Great article.

    Currently starting my 2nd year analyst program for a CRE firm in SF. Looking to make a lateral move to IB.

    This will come in handy when my schedule goes from 70 to 100+ hrs a week.



    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      You’re welcome. Diet is key.

  7. What if you don’t drink/your religion does not allow it? Would that be a negative thing in the eyes of your colleagues and result in exclusion?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      No, not at all! Just act casual and normal, and don’t exclude yourself or act weird. If people ask you why you aren’t drinking, just say that its because of your religion.

  8. I’m a female IB intern and..surprisingly or not, I’ve managed to lose weight during my 3 months internship. I realized it only by the end of it, that by walking/running to work every day (while trying to sleep some more and not be late), managing to talk all my male colleagues into a healthy diet (salad for lunch almost every day, to a point that they’re nearly more obsessed than me), no junk snacks during working hours (although i am a light smoker, and this maybe helps managing the “hunger feeling”) and no-carb dinner (usually fish and veggies) + constant stress and brainwork, made me thinner! Must say though, that at least once a week I buy myself a sugary/sweet treat as an award for all the hard work!

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      I’m glad to hear! Great discipline on your end!

  9. Any cereals you recommend? I eat Raisen bran, but take out the raisen.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole

      Try to avoid high fructose corn syrup in your cereal. Look at the ingredients’ list

  10. I can’t believe I just found this article would of been so helpful when I started in July. Um you said avoid sugar at all cost. You mean sugar found in drinks such as soda and food. Because I eat fruits almost everyday( going by the pyramid guide) and they tend to have fructose (sugar), is that type of sugar okay? Also what about wheat or 9-grain bread? I’ve pretty much cut out white flour from my deit, so no white rice or white bread. And if I eat pancake or waffle I make sure its made out of wheat or 9 grains.

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole


  11. A good addition would be bodyweight exercise. Pop down to the ground (discreetly if you wish) every few hours and blast out 20 or so repetitions. Exercises such as burpees and squats work a treat too. If it’s good enough for the military, it’s good enough for a banker.

  12. I am not an investment banker but I can help you with this. Diet is the key to staying in shape. I am a vegan and it helps me not only stay fit but I also feel with more energy and healthier. The most important thing in a diet is not to look good, is to feel healthy in the present and avoid future problems in the future. Many people say they only have one life and thats why they don’t care. Yeah they say that but when they get old and they start getting health issues, they regret it. If you need any advice just mail me.

  13. What is the working space like for coverage group analysts? Are we talking cubicles?

    1. Avatar
      M&I - Nicole


  14. Avatar
    John Smith

    Are there any other places than investment banking that could use a finance degree?

    (Maybe I could work in a lower-paying job, that still gives me my 8 hours of sleep and time to exercise).


  15. Avatar
    Joh Smith

    1. Am I correct in that the culture just isn’t into staying healthy and fit enough to change?

    (i.e. while a doctor, occupational analyst, etc. might be able to point out that sleep deprivation, lack of proper exercise or good diet, etc. can negatively affect performance, it sounds like the corporate culture is too stubborn to make a difference)?

    2. Is there no market for uber-efficient exercise methods?

    (I’m guessing the market is pretty well tapped).

    3. For a fitness and health conscious guy like me (who still needs his sleep), could you suggest any other industries for die-hard capitalists (maybe entrepreneurial ventures)?



    1. 1. Yes the finance culture is “unique” and does not change much.

      2. There might be but not sure of the details.

      3. Something like trading or asset management would be better. Starting your own venture = 80-90 hour weeks once again, my life is actually significantly worse now than when I was in banking

  16. Avatar
    John Smith

    A couple questions that I think would help me know if investment banking is right for me:

    1. For some reason, I need at least 8 hours of sleep a night. I feel physically sick if I don’t get at least six hours. If I need to go low on sleep, I need to rebound within a day or so.

    (I’ve even thought of getting sleep studies, because I feel I need more sleep than average).

    Can other people in my shoes make it as an I-Banker?

    2. I do have some specialized knowledge about diet, exercise, and fitness. Is there an outlet to help people in finance (and also make some extra money)?

    (I.e. taking certain (legal) supplements to boost testosterone can make it easier to maintain muscle mass, etc.). I’m guessing people who need very short, intense workouts could benefit.


    1. In general if you need a consistent 8 hours of sleep per night you should not do banking. You can get that sometimes but not on a consistent basis.

      Diet knowledge maybe there’s potential there but most people in finance are too busy and let themselves get fat and sick without caring, so I think you’d face the problem of the customer not knowing they have a problem

  17. Very interesting article. But how did you manage to do the high intensity workouts with only 2 hours of sleep? On average how much do you sleep as an analyst?

    1. See the day in the life series under On the Job at the top you don’t always sleep 2 hours a night sometimes its more bearable

  18. Are you allowed to use your meal allowance at grocery stores, or is it an “occasionally acceptable, but frowned upon” type thing?

    And, as a summer analyst, is it acceptable to deviate from the group at all? I understand the importance of fitting in, but do not necessarily want to be eating greasy take out for dinner.

    1. Yes you can use it at grocery stores and as a summer analyst it’s fine you don’t have to order what everyone else is eating.

  19. Hi, Thank you very much for the impressive article. I’m currently an undergraduate student, I really want to be one of the cool bankers in London in the future. Weight has always been a problem for me since I was a child. I am 75kg now, and have lost almost 50kg in the past years…The worst thing would happen to me is putting the weight back on. I don’t you know if you would believe it or not, I would chose to die if anyone or anything would’ve threaten my weight. But I really want to work in the IB industry.
    I understand that it is not good to lie to other people, but may I ask if it would work if I tell them in the first place that I’m allergic to alcohol and I am a vegetarian and also diabetic? If this won’t work I would probably have to rethink my career path…but I really want to work in banking industry….


    1. I wouldn’t say those things upfront… just keep it low-key and say you can’t drink for medical reasons.

      1. Thank you for your reply:-)

      2. I think your best approach would be to tell them that you used to be really fat and that you lost all that that weight. They will respect your perseverance and self control. As long as your not embarrassed or awkward about that and wear it on your sleeve in a confident way then they will actually respect you for it. Your brain doesn’t have the capacity to handle the workload as well as constantly dodge food stuff.

        1. Avatar
          M&I - Nicole

          Thanks for your input!

  20. While not really related to the dreaded bulging waistline, I discovered (the hard way) one of the many ills of sitting at a computer all day long: tightened leg muscles.

    I ended up at my doctor and got an MRI done because both the doc and I were certain I had something torn in my knee… MRI came back clean and he referred me to a physical therapist who told me my calves were so incredibly tight that it was pulling on my kneecap which caused severe pain. So now, in addition to walking around at least once every hour or so, I try to do some simple stretches at my desk. You don’t have to get up and look like a tool… put your feet on your PC tower (if under desk) and you can hit the hams and calves up easily. Doing this a few times during the day/night makes a huge difference.

    1. Ouch. Yeah those are some good tips though, stretching is really important. I actually stand up while working now since I’m still on the computer all the time despite not being in banking, but stretching would be even better.

  21. Buy a protein powder/meal replacement with no sugar and only good fats, you can have that for breakfast, is better than nothing.

    Also you can have some portions at your cubicle, or that’s bad seen too?

    1. You have to be discreet about it but yes you can pull it off. Bars / shakes help.

  22. Avatar
    Not as Fat as I Thought I'd Be

    Be careful when ordering breakfast with your dinner order, that you don’t eat it too. Since I was cutting out dessert, I would finish dinner then eat the cereal or muffin (which I shouldn’t have gotten in the first place) too. If you have enough self control that’s great. For me personally I had to buy stuff on the spot or else I’d consume everything.

    1. That’s a good point, though I think you’re helped a bit by the ridiculous time constraints as a banker.

  23. Great post!
    I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while and wondering wether I’d be able to keep up my current standard of health. I take my health very seriously and I’m so pleased that you mentioned some actual healthy options in stead of sugar free and low fat all the way. Your idea of getting actual food from good stores, drinking tea in stead of coffee and staying away from sugar and artificial sweeteners is in my opinion correct and do-able. Thanks for the great post.

    1. Yup it’s difficult as a banker but do-able.

  24. As a self-professed animal in the gym, I can vouch for nearly everything Brian says in this article. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) and strength training are much more potent fat-burning methods than moderate-intensity jogs. HIIT may not burn as many calories during a workout, but it does trigger a process called thermogenesis which burns fat up to nearly a day after your session.

    Exercise some discipline, monkeys. Stress causes spikes in cortisol, which leads to more rapid accumulation of abdominal fat. That means you have to vigilant in maintaining a clean diet. Diet affects your mood, your skin quality and even the thickness of your hair. Some of my friends haven’t even finished their first years and they look like fat, balding geezers.

    @Nathan, you don’t know how intense the pressure is. Every quirk or mannerism is exploited because it injects some form of humor into our lives as overworked analysts.

    1. Yup exactly. Lots of 25-year olds at banks look like 45-year olds.

    2. Avatar
      Stranger Danger

      Good post, me too. I have a tub of Whey protein and a box a creatine in the kitchen stored in the pantry infact. I try to make it 1-2 times. Each time I go, I do heavy compounds – deadlifts, squats, bench, push ups, pull ups and out. Doesn’t take more than 35 min and hits your testosterone. I try to then squeeze 200 g of proteins into the system.

      With regards to health, hair and skincare, use multivitamins, flax seed oil and fish oil. Also, CO Q10 pills are good for you. POM is great, lots of antioxidants. And most importantly drink 4L of water a day.

      For skin care, I do the patrick bateman way. Deep salicylic acid cleanser->Light exfoliator (1-2 week)-> Anti-aging moisturiser.

      Follow these tips, cut junk, eat lots of meat and veggies.

      If you are working 100 hours and dont have time for gym -> 100 push-ups a day should do the trick.


  25. Check out Bas Rutten’s All Around Workout. I can’t think of a better workout for someone living a banker lifestyle.

    1. Thanks, will check that out (well, I guess it would be more useful if I were still a banker…)

  26. Tip: Make sure you eat before you go drinking with seniors or to client dinners etc i.e. have a bread roll with butter or cheese (these things WILL be available once you visit certain purveyors of alcohol and fine dining) you do not want to look like you cannot handle your liqor.

    Lastly, learn some pub games/party tricks. Yes you can do these infront of seniors when you are out and people are always like to find you more endearing if you are funny can make others laugh. I actually won a v.small wager with both the top 4 people in my firm over drinks and it went down well with the clients who were there as well.

    The problem is while I appreciate alot of peoples urgency to enter the industry it gets totally compromised by being a ‘cool’ person. Let your personality shine through guys. That is AS important as your spreadsheet crunching skills. At the end of the day the MDs/CEOs are still human beings they need some sort of entertainment when they have like 101 bullshit things that need sorting. Relieve people’s stress and your working life will get better.

    1. Yup good tips, just need to make sure you don’t take the party tricks too far (oh, the stories).

  27. @Absolute – there isn’t sucha thing as spot reduction you need to exercise your entire body and cut out the crap in your system. You don’t need to make radical changes to your diet just light touches and these an replace tasty but bad food with healthy and morish snacks or fruits.

    Alcohol cannot be compromised at all working in the city but you can decrease your intake and also ensure you somehwat watch your diet.

    I find temptation very easy so I just trick myself into eating well by ONLY buying healthy food. I have the odd ocassional junk meal like today I had a shwarma for lunch which was EPIC but high in carbs, lots of salt and probably meat cooked in alot of oil but if you don’t do that ALL the time then you’ll be fine. Trick is to not binge on one thing heavily or you’ll just get cravings anyway. and then you’ll indulge even worse than normal.

  28. What about for someone who is getting a bit of a gut/beer belly but not actually putting on weight? I drink a fair bit and have a high carb diet but to be honest I don’t want to give this up. Stomach crunches? You should branch out in to personal fitness training :D

    1. What he said below. You have to give something up – beer is literally the worst thing you can eat/drink if you want tight abs, only donuts are worse. You also can’t just isolate one part of your body like that… crunches might help a bit but you need to cut back on carbs / cut back on drinking to make significant progress.

  29. At my old job with brutal hours, I found that jumping rope was the most time efficient method to exercise. I’d typically do 5-10 min of intense jump roping (think Mike Tyson), 15 min high intensity strength training, and finish up with 10 min of jump roping again. Jumping rope is supposed to be 1.5x-2.5x more efficient at burning calories than running. And if anybody makes fun of you, just point out that a lot of boxers do it.

    1. Interesting, that bit about boxers doing it is definitely true… jumping rope was actually my least favorite part of kickboxing training. But hey if I liked cardio it would be a smart move.

  30. Is it really that hard to just go for a 25-30min run every morning before work?
    I’m at uni doing this right now, and I just can’t imagine it being that ahrd to pull off, it’s basically just 30 mins after all, or am I missing something?

    1. Two problems with that:

      1. It’s impossible to wake early and run after you’ve just slept 2 hours and your VP is yelling at you and telling you to get into the office ASAP. Doing anything early in banking is almost impossible due to the lack of sleep and the fact that everyone is yelling at you 24/7 telling you to fix problems for them. So nights and weekends are much easier.

      2. As mentioned above, while running can certainly help you with some fitness goals, 30 minutes of running has much less of an impact than 30 minutes of intense strength-training (see the studies linked to above). Now in an ideal world you would do both cardio and strength-training… but banking is far from an ideal environment, and you want the exercise that burns calories/fat for the longest time afterward, which is why I recommend starting out with strength-training.

  31. @Nathan, peer pressure is a powerful thing if all your peers are doing it its very hard to say no. Its similar to the drinking culture in finance, I do not see how anyone could progress if they refused to drink alcohol or have a beer with the seniors.

    Its also a time thing as well. If you’re staffed or given a shit load of work to do the last thing you’ll be thinking about is eating healthy you’ll just want energy to get you through the day and your eating habits are the last thing you’ll be thinking about when you’ve got stupid deadlines to meet otherwise you’re lunatic boss will break your balls.

    It can be done but please do not under-estimate how easy it is to really compromise your health in finance esp since most people are sedantry for several hours in a given day if not half a day.

    1. Yup exactly… all this advice “seems” easy but once you’re actually working 24/7 it becomes much harder to implement

  32. The logic in this article is completely flawed, but not surprising considering how pervasive it seems to be in banking. if you don’t want to eat a 12 oz. sirloin or pound six beers on a Thursday, then don’t. Bankers aren’t idiots – they (1) know the benefits of a healthy diet and (2) respect even the smallest morsel of self restraint and discipline (regardless of whether or not its related to food).

    Think of the last time you ate a meal with someone who opted for the “healthy” options (a salad, fish, what have you) and you chose the deep fried stick of butter. You feel like crap after eating and secretly wish you had what they had. Sure, in banking you’ll get scoffed at for not eating the stick of butter, but it won’t be long before everyone else will be wishing they were eating what you had. The key is not to be self-righteous about your decision to eat (and do) something healthy; they’ll resent you for that.

    There are times in banking when you have no choice but to follow the herd, but my God, use some judgment.

    1. Maybe you haven’t worked at a large bank and experienced peer pressure firsthand. It doesn’t work like that – people gossip 24/7 and even the smallest details about your life get circulated to everyone. They will take any opportunity to make fun of you that they can.

      And while bankers aren’t idiots per se, many of them do not, in fact, understand the importance of anything mentioned above. So, point taken but in the real world it does not work like this… ask any of your friends who are in the industry at large firms where everyone goes out and eats together.

      And even if this peer pressure doesn’t exist, everything else here still holds up because most people never plan ahead and end up eating infrequently / not exercising due to lack of time.

  33. Off topic:

    Could you write an article about JD/MBA and its benefits/detriments, stories of or interviews with people with a JD/MBA, or other pertinent points?


    P.S. This site is a fantastic resource for anyone in any of the stages of working on the Street.

    1. I may add that to one of the MBA-related articles or the one on lawyers, but on its on there is not enough interest to justify something specifically on that. The other issue is that the JD does not add that much unless you actually get big law experience, so there isn’t much benefit.

    2. I would also appreciate an article on jb/mba especially pursuing it directly after undergrad

  34. Thankfully my office has a kitchen which is STACKED with healthy food, fruit EVERYWHERE, NO chocolate biscuits.

    My weekly diet and how I do it

    1) Sunday – Food shop for: Croutons, side salads, cold cut meats, some hot sauce for taste, fruit by the bucket load (or if I’m lucky someone at work just buys them for us), tuna, bread/rolls, and mix of fruit for smoothies

    I just prepare all my food for the week on sunday i.e chop food up and box it up in food savers.

    2) Mon-Fri – I get home late around around 8-10pm every night and I just box things up as soon as I get home. That way I just nick the fridge when I wake up and shove it in my bag and off I go on the train.

    On my weekends I run and play football so thats at least hlf a days worth of exercise over the weekend in the form of a 40min run non-stop and 2-3 hours of football.

    In the event I do eat out I’ll only eat out at Vital Ingredients which is an awesome organic juice, salad and soup bar all ingredients are organic and it shows a complete breakdown of whats in the food so you KNOW whats going inside it plus they prepare it for you.

    London people take note.

    1. Good tips, thanks for sharing. I figured it might be easier to pull this off in London but wasn’t sure of the specific places there.

      1. Avatar

        But finishing at 8-10 pm for a banker is like half day

        1. Then you can just do it later at night… and keep in mind that not everyone reading this is in IB, some people want to do S&T or PWM or other fields where you get home earlier and have a bit of free time.

          1. I’m getting mixed info regarding this topic.

            But the general idea I’m getting is that it is easier to stay fitter in IB in London. Would I be right in thinking this?

          2. Avatar
            M&I - Nicole

            No, I think it depends on your team and deal flow. If the culture in your team allows you to workout/exercise, then it is easier for you to stay fit. And I don’t think the location matters that much. If your team doesn’t have the culture of “exercising” then yes it can be more difficult to stay fit especially since you probably don’t have much time outside of work and you’ll have to fit your spare time into working out. In terms of watching what you eat, you can do that in NY/London/HK so I don’t think geographic location matters as much

  35. Re gym vs the rest — personally I would suggest running trumps everything else. I started when I was really frustrated with my cycle of sleep-eat-work-sleep-… and sometimes not seeing much of open skies for way long time.

    Intensity-wise, it provides REALLY good value for the time, but the key for me is that you can do it pretty much anywhere you want. In fact I never really tried gym because it’s just such a time killer — you only spend about 25% of the time exercising, and the rest is getting there and back, etc. With running, you take 3 mins to dress over (which you would incur for the gym anyway) and you can start off immediately out of your building’s door, or if you’re really keen and time-pressed, you can just run up and down the stairway.

    Likely without that much of a time you’re going to be back at your desk happy you’re on that chair again. :)

    1. That is a good point, which is why it’s really helpful to find something close by. Some banks like GS in NY actually have gyms built into their buildings, which helps a lot.

  36. Btw Brian, your advice on this site is really valuable! Keep up the good work as always! Hopefully, I will become a banker and be able to support you by giving interviews, etc.

  37. Great article, when it comes to working out many people suffer from paralysis by analysis. This article captures some of the most important rules!

    For bankers short on time I would recommend looking into barbell complexes as a finisher to a workout. It’s certain to kick your ass, but a great way to get some conditioning in in the minimum amount of time.

    For drinks, I feel mixed drinks are the biggest issue. The coke, juice or whatever you prefer to mix your liquor with add astonishingly many calories. Why not try Vodka Club Soda for a change?


    1. Yup that’s a good suggestion. For drinks, you could always request Sugar-Free Red Bull or Diet Coke…

      1. Have you looked into High Intensity Training?

        If you go without any rest (which actually gives you more results), you can complete the entire workout in ~20 minutes. You could warm up by using the stairs and running/jogging to the gym. Make protein shakes at your desk after the workout. ON Whey doesn’t need a blender so you could just add water and shake while you work so you get your post workout protein fix too. Or you could use a protein bar.

        1. Yeah I thought about mentioning that but this one was already quite long and somewhat off-topic so I kept it out.

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