T Nation

High Steaks

I just re-read one of that article by Lonnie Lowery and I’m curious as to exactly what extent more calories shortens lifespan.

Are many of you really willing to trade 20 years of life away in order to have a bit more muscle? A shortened lifespan probably also comes with increased risks of cancer, etc.

I know Mel Siff advocated with weightlifting while being calorie restricted, which he maintained was possible (although progress was slower).

Seems to me like eating 5000+ cals a day must place an enormous toll on the body. I’m curious to what extent clean food might compensate for this. Ie: is 3000 shitty cals better than 5000 clean cals?



I guess you have to ask yourself if it’s worth going through life being tiny and living a few more years.
Yes, there is a price to paid for being an extreme athlete and it’s a price I’m willing to pay.

I think that an important thing to consider with this is that most people don’t plan on being huge for their entire lives. Take a look at Lee Haney, or even Arnold now-a-days. You can find a happy medium later in life and, when it comes down to it, you’re looking at being bulky/intentionally “overweight” for only 1/3 of your life. Just my two cents, but I don’t think that this stuff applies to people who eat well, exercise often, and avoid what they know is bad for them.

Recent evidence suggests it’s not the calories it’s the insulin levels. High insulin levels are responsible for accelerated aging and low insulin levels are the factor in the studies that show an extended lifespan with caloric restriction. You can accomplish the same thing without restricting calories…simply maintain a lean body composition, exercise, and avoid a super high carb diet.

Yeah, well that’s the thing. Say you lose a few years of life (but the quality is the same) then there’s no problem. So I’d really like to know, more specifically how negative excessive calories are.

Also, I"m fairly certain it’s possible to get big without over-eating all the time…it’ll just take longer and be more challenging.


maybe the high calorie diet can cause complications later on. but dont you think that the overall bodybuilding lifestyle will make you healthier than 99% of the world?

I’d rather live 65 healthy years than live 75 with the last 10 or 15 spent having other people help me take a piss. There’s too much emphasis on life-span vs. quality of life. I’d say the benefits of our lifestyle far outweigh the risks.

Here’s an interesting article for you.

Eat more, weigh less, live longer?

19:00 23 January 03

NewScientist.com news service

Clever genetic detective work may have pinpointed the reason why a near-starvation diet prolongs the life of many animals.

Ronald Kahn at Harvard Medical School in Boston, US, and his colleagues have been able to extend the lifespan of mice by 18 per cent by blocking the rodent’s accumulation of fat in specific cells. This suggests that leanness - and not necessarily diet - promotes longevity in “calorie restricted” animals.

“It’s very cool work,” says aging researcher Cynthia Kenyon of the University of California, San Francisco. “These mice eat all they want, lose weight and live longer. It’s like heaven.”

Calorie restriction dramatically extends the lifespan of organisms as different as yeast, worms and rodents. Whether this works in humans is still unknown, partly because few people are willing to submit to such a gruelling diet.

But many researchers hope they will be able to trigger the same effect with a drug once they understand how less food leads to a longer life. One theory is that eating less reduces the accumulation of harmful chemical by-products called free radicals that can damage cells. But Kahn’s team wondered whether the animals simply benefit by becoming lean.

Obesity protection

To find out, they used molecular biology tricks to disrupt the insulin receptor gene in lab mice - but only in their fat cells. “Since insulin is needed to help fat cells store fat, these animals had less fat and were protected against obesity,” explains Kahn.

This slight genetic change in a single tissue had dramatic effects. By three months of age, Kahn’s modified mice had up to 70 per cent less body fat than normal control mice, despite the fact that they ate 55 per cent more food per gram of body weight.

In addition, their lifespan increased. The average control mouse lived 753 days, while the lean and mean rodents averaged a lifespan of 887 days. After three years, all the control mice had died, but one-quarter of the modified rodents were still alive.

“That they get these effects by just manipulating the fat cells is provocative,” says Leonard Guarente of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who studies calorie restriction and aging in yeast.

But Guarente says Kahn has yet to prove that the same effect is responsible for increased lifespan in calorie-restricted animals. “It might be the same effect or there might be two routes to longevity,” he points out, “and that would be very interesting.”

Journal reference: Science (vol 299, p 572)

Philip Cohen

I’ve seen that article before, it’s very interesting. And yes, I agree that insulin might be the main factor at work here… which is why I’m so interested in how lemon juice, cinnamon, turmeric can be used to combat high insulin response during meals.

So perhaps it’s entirely possible to reap the benefits of calorie restriction by controlling insulin and still eating/lifting to your heart’s content.

BTW, people who live longer live longer BECAUSE they get less disease. It’s not a case of leaving a few crappy years longer. Those years will be a lot healthier…that’s the whole point.


I totally realize this is very Gen X sounding,but i would rather look good now,and for the next 20-30 years…then live longer knowing that i did not reach my potential…

The whole excess calories thing is confusing. After all, if you eat alot but also burn a lot of calories training, are the calories still ‘excessive’?

I think the eat-little-live-long thing only applies to nontraining couch spuds. If you burn the calories and build muscle with them, they’re not excessive.

It’s not the amount; it’s the type.

Fatty deposits from solid fats accumulate rapidly regardless of how much one weighs, and it’s highly dependent on the amount consumed. 300 calories of Famous Amos are significantly more harmful than a 300 calorie baked potato. The same thickened oils that lengthen shelf life have proven incredibly difficult to clear from the bloodstream.

Keep in mind that heart disease continues to rank #1 among causes of death for Americans. 750,000 people succumb to it annually.


Actually, they’re still excessive in the sense that all this calorie ‘burning’ is a metabolic process which generates free radicals.

I’m pretty sure doing more than 3-4 hours of cardio a week won’t do a person very good (unless they require it to keep themselves from getting obese).


I think I agree with Eric. . .I’m young, and I want to be huge for now, but I don’t need to be a hulk at 65. From what I understand, you can enjoy nearly all the benefits of calorie restriction if you adopt it later in life. . .considering I’m not even halfway to 50 yet, I have plenty of time to be huge, and maybe by the time I’m middle-aged there will be more research on the subject and I can give calorie restriction some more thoughtful consideration then.

Yeah, if calorie restriction (or whatever the key happens to be) could be adopted at middle age…that’d be just about perfect. That way, as long as you eat clean you’d have nothing to worry about. Damn I hope that happens to be true…