T Nation

Life Span + Calorie Intake?


Hello fellow T-Nationers, just a quick question since I'm curious.

I started bodybuilding almost exactly a year ago, and thanks to this site I've gained over 35lbs without noticeably increasing the amount of body fat I have! Almost entirely thanks to this website and the knowledge all of you pass along freely. (and the great products)

I feel like a new person, but I've got a couple of concerns. Lately a lot of my friends have been telling me that people who eat larger amounts of calories per day live shorter lives than those that live on a calorie restricted diet.

While I certainly believe this to be the case for the "average person" who may become overweight due to increased calorie consumption without the workout regime, is it true for the "average" bodybuilder?

I mean I target 3500 calories a day, I eat lots of lean meats, tons of veggies, and I very rarely deviate from it. So is any of this true? Am I destined to live a shorter life because of my bodybuilding lifestyle?

FYI, I'm not posting this in regards to steroid use or becoming a really "hardcore" bodybuilder, but I mean 200lbs lean, am I at risk?


NO, you are destined to live a life of happiness and contentment for knowing that you had the testicular fortitude to set a goal for yourself and become something you wanted to be and to look the way you wanted.

You friends on the other hand are in extreme danger of always coming up with a reason or excuse to hold them back and justify their failure in all their endeavors.
My suggestion find people who live their lives the way they want and how they want and who only see reasons for failure as obstacles that they must break through and then become their friends.

to actually answer your questions there are people who advocate low calorie diets and draw connections to a longer life. I also believe this has been discussed on this site before. The only thing i've heard of it is that i watched a Nova special about on PBS. They were examing people over a 100 and trying to find a correlation between them as the cause of such longevitiy. Low calories came up but it turned out that it was some gene that just signaled the body like it was on a calorie restricted diet although it wasn't. Perosnally i don't believe that 200lbs of mostly LBM is going to shorten your life in any measureable way.


This has been addressed multiple times, so make sure to go back and search for more info.

Which is more worrying: losing a couple weeks at the end of your life, but having been a bad ass for decades and feeling and looking the way you want; or turning yourself into an anorexic-looking eunuch terrified of losing some time on earth?

People who eat very restricted calorie diets for life-extension tend to be quite small (through bone and lean mass loss), have impaired sexual function, and look half-dead. At least that's what it seems like from the pics that I've seen.

I read one article about a guy who did this and he was so happy that he'd live longer, but admitted that he was only in his 50's (started in his late 30's or early 40's) and had lost between 4-6 inches of height off his frame and had no libido whatsoever.

Of course, there are benefits to that lifestyle, but they don't outweigh the negatives, at least not IMO.


"Burn Bright, Burn Fast"


You might may die a day earlier than your friend.

Seriuosly the only true birth to death study of lower calories and life span was done on rats. A few scientist have tried to survey older population, and find a link. The only links seem to be forced extremely weak links. Honestly if someone asked you questions on what you ate 100 years ago would you be able to say "well during 1908 - 1912 I only ate 1800 calories a day?"

People reciting this statement as something to live by tend to have listened to a Morning show quick new research segment while running out the door to work.

Truth is I can't say if its true or not, and I doubt anybody will for a long time.

I can tell you their hypothesis from the rats was that the lower calories lowered metabolism and heart rate which probably lead to aging slower.

If you want to feel sluggish and not be able to perform certain athletic tasks as well as well as look like a sluggish person your welcome to eat very few calories for the rest of your life.


Carbohydrates source, likely related to insulin, show a greater impact on longevity than does calorie restriction. There is sufficient data to suggest the reason caloric restriction extends lifespan is that is simultaneously restricts carbohydrate intake.

Less calories = less carbs = longer life.


Research seems to indicate that calorie restriction may activate certain genes which could extend life possibly up to thirty percent in humans.

No one knows for sure and for some people they may be unlucky even if doing this because calorie restriction may not activate the desired genes in all people.

You can not reverse this theory and say eating more causes you to live shorter, because we are talking gene activation not just metabolism and calories. This is the typical scenario of someone with a little bit of knowledge of a more complex topic making a false assumption.

If one has a clean diet they should not shorten their lifespan just because of increased calories if they are active physically. But yes, true calorie restriction may extend life. The saying is that you do not really live longer it just feels that way. You feel like shit.

Resveratrol in high does may have a similar affects to calorie restriction but that is another topic.


I live in a community that boasts itself as having the longest lifespan. However when you look at them they are frail, weak, usually need someone to take care of the simplest thinks like picking up a pot, washing their feet or making sure that they don't trip and fall. They are all like that...both the men and the women.

Is that they way you want to reach old age?