You may remember that I recently wrote a post about staying healthy in Investment Banking. One of the unfortunate truths about banking about banking is that junior bankers get really really fat.
If you’re interested in why junior bankers get fat and how to avoid stacking on the pounds (or losing it after you have already gained them) then read on below…
Why do junior bankers stack on the weight?
Putting on weight as a junior banker is almost unavoidable. It is almost entirely due to lifestyle factors associated with banking however it is important to note that many of these are within your control. Most junior bankers don’t know or don’t think about these factors and have to deal with the weight and the health consequences of this later. I put on 14kg (~31lb) in my first year alone and I have seen how easy it is to put on the weight…and how hard it can be to lose it later.
So what causes junior bankers to put on so much weight?
1. Junior Investment Bankers don’t get enough sleep
When you don’t get enough your body tends to stack on the weight for a multitude of reasons. As you all know bankers work incredibly long hours and junior banker often feel like they cannot control how much sleep they get regardless of how much they want to.
How do junior bankers deal with the hours? Well there are a variety of ways but one of the ways that people often use is to drink soft drinks or other sugaring drinks to give them energy hits through the night. In fact I recommended this as a strategy of last resort if you are really struggling. The problem is that this compounds the lack of sleep issue by giving you constant hits of sugar and other unhealthy foods when you really should be doing your best to be healthy.
When you don’t get enough sleep your appetite changes and you crave more energy just to get through the day. I would rate this as the number one reasons bankers put on weight.
2. Junior Bankers ‘abuse’ their dinner budget
One of the perks of banking is that the firm pays for your dinner every night. There is a budget however it is generally high enough to let you eat very good food almost every night. The problem with eating out almost every night is that restaurants don’t cook food to be healthy – they cook food to be tasty which often involves lots of cream, butter and other unhealthy but incredibly tasty ingredients. Even if you try to be good and order salads you will often find that the dressings are so much unhealthier than you would make yourself.
Compounding this issue is the problem of ‘comfort food’. If you’re having a bad day (which can happen reasonably often in banking) and you’re tired and unhappy most people will feel like ordering comfort food. Food that makes them feel better but is ultimately very unhealthy.
In addition most junior bankers abuse the dinner budget. Although the budget is meant to be a maximum that can be spent and bankers are free to spend less than this, I have yet to meet a first year banker that didn’t try and spend every dollar of their budget every single night. They generally order more food than they need and then feel obligated to eat it.
3. Gym is very low on the priority list
When you aren’t getting enough sleep, going to the gym is a very low priority. Why would you go to the gym for an hour if that means you get to bed at 1am instead of midnight, or if you could go out and meet some friends and family in this time?
The problem is that you are getting so little exercise that your body’s metabolism is slowing right down. Most bankers go from reasonable active college students to inactive office workers who don’t want to exercise even when they get the chance.
4. Face time is real…and that means spending time at your desk
I’ve written about face time before and ways to combat it but the fact is that many junior bankers believe they need to be seen at their desk at all times. This tends to
- Put going to the gym even lower on the priority list
- Cause people to work longer than they have to so they get sleep
5. Alcohol consumption goes up
It is often said that bankers work hard and play hard and this is true. Because you are working so hard, when you get a night off you want to make the most of it. This generally turns into a big night of partying (which leads to less sleep when you should really be trying to get more) and a significant increase in the alcohol consumed.
How to avoid getting fat in banking
Have I scared you enough about what will become of you as you start banking? Well there is good news. Although it is hard to be healthy it is still possible. So here are my top tips to avoid getting fat in banking:
1. Get sleep when you can
As you know Investment bankers are perennially lacking sleep. Half of this is related to the industry but a lot of this is what the bankers do themselves. If you can avoid the latter then you can help get yourself more sleep and mitigate the biggest reason bankers gain weight. Here are some ways you can get more sleep
- Stop doing face time – I have done a whole post on this
- When you get a chance, don’t party – go home and sleep
2. Concentrate on the food you are eating
This is the biggest part that is ignored by junior bankers. They totally forget how important their diet is to their health. Do the following to stay healthy:
- Make your own dinners. You can use your dinner budget to buy healthy salad ingredients and throwing these together in the office is not hard at all. You control what goes into your food and you can make sure in advance that you are eating the right things
- Cut down on the amount of alcohol you drink. Go out if you want to but just watch what you drink
- Stop drinking soft drinks to stay awake. Find something else that keeps you awake. I know several people that switched to cups of tea which they claim is just as effective and much healthier
3. Try and do some form of exercise
This is hard to do and often the motivation to do this is extremely low but if you can bring yourself to exercise and get your body going you will notice the difference! Pay for a membership at a gym close to the office and try to go at least once a week. Do it at lunch or at any spare moment that you get. It really will make a difference
It is hard to keep fit and healthy in banking however putting on weight and letting yourself go can be avoided so do your best and hopefully you will not be repairing too much damage after the fact
If you want more tips on Surviving Investment Banking sign up for the Banker’s Pitch Newsletter!