Investment Banking bad for your health?

Roadrunna's picture
Rank: Baboon | 144

I'm a bit of a health nut (workout 5x a week, track meals, etc..). Will working in IB affect that? Have the long hours cut into your exercise habits and/or eating habits? If so, how can one mitigate that?

  • A future banker (most likely)

Comments (71)

Most Helpful
Jul 10, 2019

Between not sleeping, eating off ubereats/seamless 5-7+ times a week, barely ever having time to exercise, sitting in a chair for 16+ hours a day and being stressed all the time, at least one of them will get you.

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Jul 10, 2019

Gotta love it tho.

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Jul 11, 2019

This..... you can still hit the gym... but that's usually a quarter-intensity workout running on 5-6 hours of sleep. It's manageable to stay in relatively good shape if you watch what you eat and are efficient at managing both up and your time.

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Jul 11, 2019

ehhh, you're not pounding rocks. Try working on a construction crew in all weather over twenty years.

Jul 10, 2019

I mean yes there are worse jobs for your health than investment banking, but there are also worse things for your health to eat than donuts but that doesn't make them donuts any better for your health.

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Funniest
Jul 10, 2019

Going into IB will be one of the worst health decisions you ever make.

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Jul 10, 2019

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

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Jul 10, 2019

My $0.02 from a consulting point of view: you can lessen the impact but it will require strict discipline, which you apparently already have.

What has helped:

  • Work out in the morning or during "lunch break"
  • Keep your workouts as efficient and condensed as possible
  • Systematically pick the healthiest/ best option depending on your diet or bulking/ cutting cycle - do not get tempted by comfort options
  • Limit your caffeine/ energy drink/ sugar intake and stay well hydrated

It will be challenging but you can manage to maintain a decent shape. Keep it up!

Jul 10, 2019

Thats huge. Especially that last part. I'm worried that the long hours would get me into the bind of drinking too much coffee/energy drinks.

Jul 11, 2019

Coffee and energy drinks (Zero Cal) wont affect your physique in the slightest. Just dont add any sugars or milk. The lack of sleep and stress will naturally make your body hold onto weight though.

You may nt be able to compete in bodybuilding, but you can manage an above average physique. Id recommend bringing protein powder to the office as well. 50g protein for 300 cal at most is a good trade off.

Salads as well just get dressings on the side.

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Jul 12, 2019

what's wrong with caffeine? (just asking) I'm downing at least 10 cups per day and it doesn't prevent me from staying in shape :) pulling 80-90h weeks

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Jul 12, 2019

most of it is bullshit: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/12/upshot/more-con...
TLDR: coffee is fine in moderation, your frappuchino is not because of the sugar.

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Jul 10, 2019

You don't find yourself needing to shit all of a sudden?

Jul 10, 2019

It's a lot easier these days then back in my day. It's now acceptable to have a standing desk, so I've seen people do squats and lunges periodically just to stay in shape

    • 1
Jul 10, 2019

That is definitely something to consider. Gotta make use of whatever time I'd have.

Jul 10, 2019

Standing desks are a great option just to avoid sitting 15+ hours per day

Jul 16, 2019

These have been a game-changer at my firm.

    • 1
Jul 10, 2019

Are you currently working or are you a student? if a student, get in the best shape of your life now while you have the time and schedule to.

Once you start working, sitting at a desk all day adjusting logos in PPT and copy pasting equations in Excel does harm your fitness level, but as long as you wake up early enough to get a work out in, you should be OK - just get used to running off of less sleep, especially your first year(s).

Since you are already tracking, adjust your macros/calories according to your activity level. You'll likely be much much less active than you are able to be now.

Jul 10, 2019

Currently a student. Thanks for the insight haha

Jul 10, 2019

Much like the Freshman 15, there is definitely a 1st year 15

Jul 10, 2019

There's some trade-off there, sadly. You'll be less able to absorb macros/ sustain mass with less sleep. YMMV so try out different rhythms and figure out what works best for you.

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Jul 10, 2019

Lack of sleep will cause a certain amount of real brain damage...enough lack of sleep will kill you.

So you tell me if it's bad for your health.

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Jul 11, 2019
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Jul 13, 2019

I took a look at this and found something of interest. Apparently sleep deprivation caused participants to have positive bias for neutral pictures and felt more rewarded by the same financial reward when deprived of sleep. Curious whether the sleep deprivation in ib actually contributes to people choosing golden handcuffs.

JUST DO IT. Don't let your memes be dreams.

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Jul 16, 2019

Ya people on this site really underestimate how comprehensively horrible prolonged sleep deprivation is for your health.

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Jul 16, 2019

but you can be rich bro!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! .......and die early af

    • 1
Jul 10, 2019

This is lol. YES - it will affect your health.

If that is a big concern for you, don't do banking or typical management consulting. S&T is a little easier from a lifestyle standpoint, but the stress will still get you.

    • 1
Jul 10, 2019

Take a 20 year old who reads 3 hours of physics a day for 30 years. By the time he's 50 he'll be the frikin genius at physics

Now change that analogy to doing very bad habits (I.e stress from IB, sitting, eating seamless). Over 1-2 years it is unlikely you'll see the effects, but continue doing this and you have a higher chance of developing some sort of heart issue...

Again everyone here is 20-30 years old, talk to some 50 year olds who did IB and many of them have health issues. No surprise

    • 4
Jul 10, 2019

yes

    • 1
Jul 10, 2019

Tough scene...

Jul 11, 2019

Really depends on the group and what hours you have. I'm a planner, but I'd always make gym plans the day of (or hour of), since you never know what's going to pop up.

I used to be at a large Middle Market bank working in a debt group and had relatively chill hours (9:30am - 11pm most days). With those hours, I was able to work out in the morning before work or around dinner time (6pm/7pm) and it was perfect.

Now I'm at a top BB working in M&A and I have 0 time to myself (10am - 4am most days and occasional all nighters). I always aim to work out before work at 8am but when you're running on 4 hours of sleep, an extra hour of sleep goes a lot further than an hour of working out. I try to just fit in shitty 30 minute 1-muscle workouts whenever I can, and sometimes its mid day at like 3pm. It really sucks and I'm still trying to find the ideal time to work out... but my body is definitely a shadow of its former self. It's also extremely easy to indulge in comfort food when you're constantly stressed out. Sometimes I even recommend it since your mind releases endorphins when you eat that shit, and it helps fuel you on the desk. But, it's all up to you what you decide to do. Nothing anyone says here can really prepare you until you're actually in the moment... it's like "Everyone has a plan til they get punched in the face"...

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Jul 11, 2019

I feel you. I work 8:30 - 02:00 most days, and no time for gym during workhours (at least not for the last 8 months). Find it so disheartening to lose all my gym progress, as I used to be a gym rat and in great shape.

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Jul 10, 2019

"relatively chill" fuck me man...

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Jul 11, 2019

This is all great perspective that I've been looking for for a while - thanks everyone.

Current student in the recruiting cycle. Obviously pace/lifestyle depends on group. However, are there some banks that have standing desks? More importantly, is it even socially acceptable? I'd love to be able to stand for parts of long weeks, but would be hesitant if it meant I would be "that" guy, especially as an analyst.

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Jul 15, 2019

Still curious about this. Any bank/group actually using standing desks? lol

    • 1
Jul 15, 2019

JPM new renovated floors supposedly have every desk as a standing desk. Apparently if you tell HR you have back problems you can get one of the ones that go on top of a normal desk too.

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Jul 11, 2019

If you're willing to put your workouts above social stuff, you can still mostly live that way. What often happens though is after putting in back-to-back 80+ hour weeks and finally stumbling upon your first break in a long time (that rare weeknight where you left at a reasonable hour because a deal closed or something), you're going to feel the temptation to catch up with friends or do something else more chill than hitting the gym.

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Jul 11, 2019
PteroGonzalez:

If you're willing to put your workouts above social stuff, you can still mostly live that way. What often happens though is after putting in back-to-back 80+ hour weeks and finally stumbling upon your first break in a long time (that rare weeknight where you left at a reasonable hour because a deal closed or something), you're going to feel the temptation to catch up with friends or do something else more chill than hitting the gym.

^This.

Don't underestimate the need (or to be more specific, your urge) for a social life to keep you sane. You'll understand why once you start working

    • 3
Jul 11, 2019

Former competitive rower here (10-12 sessions a week). Did two BB internships and ultimately decided against against banking/consulting for the lifestyle impact it had on me.

Physically, even though with great discipline, it was not feasible for me to be at the level I wanted to be (Ironmans seriously) whilst in those jobs.

On top of this, you get so little time out of the office, you are gonna want to spend it having a social life (and I felt an insane urge to blow off steam every week due to the stress)..

If it's an athlete's lifestyle that's important to you, you will be swimming heavily upstream in banking/consulting. I switched to tech and am currently in the best shape of my life (altho I make less than my fellow interns currently at MF PE or HFs). Happy with my decision.

Jul 11, 2019

Lazy and out of shape people use the hours as an excuse to get more out of shape. Eat well and workout in the AM and you'll be fine.

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Jul 11, 2019

I clicked this post hoping there would be a "funniest" comment...how disappointing

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Jul 12, 2019

the worst part about investment bankers is you have an uncontrollable urge to tell everyone you're in investment banking and equate every single part of life to banking. take a quick tour around WSO, you'll find threads asking what're the best sunglasses, pants, socks, dildos, credit cards, watches, water bottles, vests, therapists, hitmen, ladyboy delivery services, and apps for "bankers." it's all so tired and douchey and unnecessary.

bankers are not a different species. some are good, some are douchey (just like literally every other job). there are 24 hours in a day, no more. make your choices and live with it. you choose to be a banker and work 15 hour days sometimes, well then no, you probably can't have a 2 hour workout and meal prep all evening.

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Jul 11, 2019

hermes dildos ftw

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Jul 11, 2019

"There is no such thing as work-life balance in investment banking. As an investment banker your life is work. To be an investment banker requires significant sacrifice, whether those sacrifices are sleep or health, or friendships or family, or hobbies or holidays."

It will definitely have a negative impact on your overall health and wellness. You will be getting significantly less sleep, less physical activity, more stress, and more meals that have a poor nutrient profile.

IB has its pros and cons. What matters is how those pros and cons shake out for you. Only you can be the judge of whether or not the benefits (read comp) outweigh the costs (health, life, and sanity).

    • 1
Jul 11, 2019

Eating as clean as possible through seamless, and drinking water throughout the day, definitely help me get up in the morning with energy to workout (running on max 5 hours sleep)

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Jul 11, 2019

Cut into my health through a lack of sleep. I wasn't willing to sacrifice on the workouts, so I paid for it through sleep. Arguable which one has greater health benefits, though wouldn't doubt that the lack of sleep counteracted many of the benefits from working out frequently.

    • 1
Jul 11, 2019

.

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Jul 11, 2019

Keep a desk cycle in your cube so you can pedal while you work. Maybe your shredded calves can make up for the binge drinking and long hours the job entails.

https://www.amazon.com/DeskCycle-Under-Exercise-Pe...

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Jul 10, 2019

I'm so weak right now hahah

Jul 11, 2019

I had to look this up. What I found was this

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Jul 11, 2019

It's highly dependent on your group. I go to the gym w/ a friend who works in a pretty coveted (on WSO lol and I guess the real world) group and we're at the gym by 8ish most days.

We both get in around 7 and leave around 7, he works in M&A, I work on trading desk. He is in a great group IMO given their ability to generate revenue along w their (honest) work/life balance ideals. He's also mid-level for what it's worth. I remember his analyst days being different, not sure by how much.

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Jul 11, 2019

Things I find helpful for squeezing workouts in are similar to what others mentioned. The most useful thing I found though is making sure you go as HAM as possible during down periods/time when work is slow(er).

Jul 12, 2019

Any job in IB could affect that health routine you mention.
You just have to find balance and routine.
It also depends on who you work for.
Do your homework on the place in that regard before accepting to see if they're a company with a healthy office initiative.
I was extremely lucky, as the 1st firm I worked for had some intelligence in regards to work life balance/ health. There was an Equinox gym right outside the office door and management would be there on lunch, so after I saw that I felt comfortable going on my lunch break, although it would often mean staying at the office a bit later.
I would meal prep and when I didn't bring food, I'd know where all the healthy places were so I could quickly grab something.
So what you're looking for is possible in IB at the right place and if you prep.
Hoping with the health/ wellness initiative trickling through the country, it finds it's way as a norm in IB (may take a LONG time though).

    • 3
Jul 12, 2019

I would suggest a morning routine like the following:

1) know when you need to be at work, let's say it's 9:30am

2) from that, count back 2.5 hours (or how much ever time you need for getting up, hitting the gym, shower, eat, commute to work); in my example it would be 7:00am for you to get up

3) from that, count back 5 or 6 hours (depends on how much sleep you need to function properly for work, while probably still feeling crappy) to get to your go-to-bed time, i.e. 1 or 2am

4) from that, count back what ever time you need from work to bed, and that's the time by which you would need to leave the office, in order to accommodate a productive gym session next morning

I have applied the above pretty much quite consistently throughout my 3 years in IB and PE (with 80-90 hour work weeks most of the time), and was able to keep a considerable amount of my pre-IB gains. Before I joined IB, I was a quite serious lifter, with 300/400/500 LBS on my bench/squat/deadlift. Unfortunately I couldn't keep that level of performance (although I barely lost any strength on the bench), but compared to my other IB colleagues, I still look like Steve Rogers from Avengers (body-wise). The good thing about the above mechanism is that it makes the whole thing rule-based, rather than will power and motivation-based, which in turn makes it easier for you to stick to it.

But at the same time, it also means that there will be weeks where you can barely hit the gym more than 1-2 times a week because you are working until late every day. But it still is 10x better than doing nothing and getting fat.

It also depends on how heavy you lift already. It goes without saying that you need more sleep to recover from sets of 400 LBS squats, than if you are doing 30 minutes of treadmill. You need to listen to and be honest with your body, when you are trying to follow a high-performance training routine while working in IB. Don't listen to the BS out there that say "you just need to hustle and push more" - running constantly on 5 hours of sleep or less, while lifting heavy in the gym, is the quickest way to the emergency department.

If the logistics make it easier for you to hit the gym in the evening while at work, then do that. I personally always found extremely annoying to have to skip a planned gym session in the evening because some urgent work stuff came up (which happens quite often). So I stick to the more predictable morning routines.

Forget about meal prep. It's completely idiotic for IB. All you can probably do is to spend 10 minutes making some scambled eggs in the morning, if at all.

And after I joined PE, things got a bit better on average. I find myself going to the gym 3-4 times a week most of the time. There are periods in PE that are worse than IB, but on average it's better. So you might also consider that.

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Jul 12, 2019

I gained like 30-40 pounds while working in investment banking (from eating out for every meal, drinking everday after I left the office, and generally being miserable). It's really hard to eat healthy when you haven't slept well in days and the only thing you look forward to in life is a few beers and a burger at the end of the day. I had a gym membership but hardly ever went. I have since dropped all that weight after leaving investment banking.

During my exit interview I said "I just want a job where I get home early enough to cook and go to the gym everyday"

Investment banking was terrible for my physical and mental health :D

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Jul 16, 2019

relatable...

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Jul 12, 2019

I'm in management consulting, but here's a few things that may be applicable to those in investment banking too.

Working out
* Plan your workouts in the mornings before you hit the office, as it's the only few hours of the day you have almost full control on
* Plan to do 2/3 morning sessions + around 2 in the weekend, alternating cardio & lifting, and you'll be more than fine
* Optimize your sleep: try to have some quality sleep (invest in a really good mattress, make sure you're sleeping in the dark, set the room at a slightly chilled temperature, limit coffee intake in PM hours) while guaranteeing a minimum quantity (minimize your morning/evening routine time, don't spend 45mins on Instagram/FB while in bed, etc)
* Develop a very opportunistic mindset around working out: you're getting into a profession where things will constantly change and very little is under your control, so if you have the opportunity to hit the gym (e.g., you're having an easy night and no 8:30am meetings scheduled tomorrow morning), take advantage of it cause your next session may be blown up by some unpredicted stuff
* Prepare the gym bag and book the Uber/cab already the night before, it's a small trick that creates an obligation to work out the next morning (at least it works for me)

Nutrition

  • Drink lots of water; it comes at no cost and no need to explain the benefits
  • If possible, meal-prep during the weekend and bring your food for lunch
  • If eating out, stick to healthy options (it's really easy to eat healthy nowadays, as long as you keep an eye on things): salads with no/little toppings, fish, chicken, low-processed carbs like wholewheat pasta / bread, all kinds of veggies, potatoes, sweet potatoes etc are all good options
  • Stay away from snacks, substitute them with fruit (any kind of fruit will be infinitely better than processed snacks)
  • Avoid desserts, fried stuff and highly processed carbs like normal pasta, pizza, etc
  • Try to eat at normal times: avoid having lunch at 13:00 and dinner at 23/24:00 as I see many of my colleagues do, as it's very easy to binge-eat if you're starving
  • Download "MyFitnessPal" on your iPhone to quickly check nutritional facts on foods, if you're unsure about something
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Jul 10, 2019

Thanks man. This was super helpful.

Jul 13, 2019

Offcycle in an M&A team:

Ate veggies for lunch, maybe mixed some chicken fillet but that's it.
While we were executing a mandate, I found it very hard to go to the gym. But even then you could maintain some fitness with home pushups/squats/abs with a non-stop 15 to 20 min exercise. Whenever I had the chance, I would go for an intense spinning session to burn some extra calories.

Biggest mistake of mine: Even when I finished early, I didn't get the right sleep as I went on netflix to switch my mind off. This year I plan to take sleep more seriously.

(that's for average fitness, not for lifters etc)

    • 1
Jul 16, 2019

Similar to life outside of investment banking, it comes down to discipline.

As a full-time member of a deal team, you should be able to make it to your bank's gym 2-3 times a week and make responsible decisions when ordering dinner. You can always hit the gym a few more times during the weekend.

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Jul 15, 2019
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Jul 10, 2019
Jul 15, 2019
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Ty

Jul 16, 2019