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The art of losing weight when you work in finance

Fat banker

It is not ok to be fat when you work in finance or a professional services firm. As an academic study in 2016 confirmed: these are industries where you are judged on your appearance. If you’re thin and athletic and participate in long distance bike rides, you will be judged positively. If you’re fat and sedentary, you will not.

The problem clearly is that losing weight isn’t easy in an industry where it’s common to spend between 70 and 80 hours each week at your desk. And yet, this is the time of year when most people in banking are at least trying to do just that.

We spoke to a selection of people across markets and investment banking divisions about their methods for shedding post-holiday kilos. Their advice was as varied as the human physique. We can’t vouch for the success of any of the methods below, but if you try them you can at least rest assured that someone else somewhere else in finance is trying the same thing.

Competitive weight loss

Banking is a competitive industry and it’s therefore inevitable that weight loss in banking will have a competitive element, particularly on the trading floor. “My desk has a weight loss competition over six weeks in January,” says one trader in London. “The winner is the person who loses the most weight. The loser has to buy everyone lunch.”

Fastidious eating 

Banking is also party to people with strange eating habits. Not long ago, Goldman Sachs bankers had a thing for egg white omelets. Now there are bankers who only eat certain foods. “There’s a guy here who only eats yoghurt,” says one trader. “A yoghurt a day. That’s all.”


Juicing is also a thing, although it’s now a bit 2013 and a little bit bankers in L.A. “There’s a guy here who  survives on making his own fruit and vegetable juice everyday,” says the trader.  A researcher says her office is on a “three day juice cleanse.”

The bulletproof diet

The other hot diet of the moment is the so-called “bulletproof diet” which involves categorising foods into different groups and drinking so-called “bulletproof coffee” with ghee. “Everyone has been putting butter in their coffee and eating high fat diets,” says one researcher.

The boring British diet

One salesman at a U.S. bank in London says British bankers have the most tedious diets: “Brits only eat chicken with salad,” he complains. “Every day. The stingiest ones bring in chicken with salad from home.”

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Comments (3)

  1. This screams of Eating Disorders, and is NOT healthy, nor a healthy way to live. One yogurt a day?? If they were handling my money, I would find someone else, because ultimately that will end in disaster. Fitness and health take longer than 6 weeks, and yes, it is good to be health-conscious, but not mentally unhealthy, which is what this culture praises. Try some alternatives, like standing desks (now available), or exercise balls, that encourage circulation, but some of these other “contests” or other methods are vastly unhealthy. If you disagree, research Eating Disorders online, and you will be enlightened. Get help if you need it.

  2. This piece is complete BOLLOCKS

  3. Interesting piece and likely extremely accurate given some of the crazy things people try in order to lose weight. No surprise, they are fairly poor ideas as many are uneducated on how to lose weight in a healthy manner, especially those in the financial sector. I know, I was there, for two decades.

    The financial services sector is ripe for an overhaul on the importance of a healthy mind and body. How about a piece on how to actually eat better while working in the industry? How to manage the working lunch, mid afternoon caffeine urge and client dinners? Not to mention how we need to get back to resetting the expectation that the health of employees is important :)

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