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Bryan Johnson’s Blueprint Assessed

Reviewing a millionaire’s health plan

Bryan Johnson and food

The Man

Bryan Johnson made his money young, selling his electronic money transfer company to PayPal for $800m in 2013. After selling his company, Johnson found himself rich but with ruined health – overweight and losing hair from overstress. In 2021, he launched an anti-aging effort he calls Project Blueprint.

The Plan

Project Blueprint is haphazard and stream of thought. It has an “At a Glance” summary (4,000 words down the page), which starts with “Basics…” (ellipses his) that gives some stats on him – age, weight, daily caloric intake, BMI, etc., followed by three bullets on “What Blueprint is…”: “• scientifically rigorous” (link gives 404 page not found error), “• data/evidence vs. opinion/fads,” and “• a systematic way of being.”

Scientifically rigorous page not found
Well, OK then!

Strangely, the next section is “What is healthy chocolate?” with five levels of chocolate from LEVEL 1: Snickers to “LEVEL 5: Un-dutched dark chocolate, tested for heavy metals and from specific regions of the world with the highest polyphenol density.”

Inexplicably, the chocolate section is then followed by four separate points of the “Decision algorithm” for how to judge healthy chocolate, with a footnote that a more detailed description is available in the appendix (I looked – it’s not.).

And that completes the Blueprint at a glance section. All clear?

Skipping the “At a glance” and philosophy sections, Johnson’s approach to longevity becomes more apparent. He believes the key to longevity is to keep each of his organs as young as possible. To measure this, he finds a benchmark that changes with age for each organ, like bone density for bones or VO2max for cardio-respiratory health. He aggressively searches for interventions to improve his results and posts his results on the Blueprint, usually with an Age Equivalent, calculated from benchmark percentiles and often followed by “OPTIMAL.” He’s winning the game!

Many of Johnson’s interventions go beyond what’s available to the masses. He says the Blueprint costs him two million dollars yearly, and the wackier interventions (blood plasma transfusions from his 17-year-old son) are inaccessible to most.

The Unaging Assessment

While I can’t recommend blood plasma transfusions, epidemiological studies showing the effect on Premature Death Reduction (PDR) are available for many aspects of the Blueprint. Let’s see how it stacks up against Unaging interventions.

Diet

Super Veggie
Super Veggie Brekkie!

The first step of the Blueprint is his diet. Johnson follows a strict vegan diet, starting with a regular bowl of lentils, broccoli, cauliflower, and mushrooms for breakfast. His lunch is also the same daily – “nutty pudding,” made from macadamia nut milk mixed with various other nuts and seeds and half a cup of fruit. Dinner varies daily but is always based on vegetables, with some seasonings and perhaps some fruit. Over a month, the Blueprint contains over 70 lbs. of veggies, berries, and nuts.
But how does that compare to the Unaging optimal? Let’s check:

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Vegetables

At over six servings (600g+) daily, Bryan will get no further longevity benefit from eating more vegetables. He could have stopped at one serving for the same benefit, but he likes veggies. I hope it’s all organic, though. Pesticide harm seems to counteract the health benefits when eating more servings.1 At least he can count on the 11% PDR for getting well over a single daily serving. 👍

Fruits

Weirdly for a vegan, Johnson is stingy on fruits, with only half a serving (~50g) daily. I don’t know why – fruits are tasty! I guess the berries don’t have enough bulk. He could add 1.5 servings of apples, oranges, or bananas and get more of the 9% PDR available from fruits instead of the 3% his half serving is getting him. 🫤

Nuts

Johnson uses seeds and nuts as flavorings for many of his dishes and gets a solid two servings daily in a tasty mix of macadamia nuts, walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and flax seeds. One serving of nuts (30g) is enough to get the full 17% PDR, so he’s doing the right thing. 👍

Beans

Legumes make up most of Johnson’s daily calories as he loads his breakfast bowl with three servings of lentils. That 300 g of legumes provides him with 40% more calories than his six servings of vegetables, and beans are one of the healthiest foods for longevity, delivering 10% PDR for a 100g serving. Unlike fruits and vegetables, it’s not proven that the benefit of beans continues past one serving because few eat more than one serving daily, but it seems like a safe bet. That’s a ⭐ rating!

Whole grains

It’s excellent Johnson is getting bean benefits because his apparent whole grain intake is zero. Whole grains are one of the best foods for longevity, and epidemiological studies show the benefits scale up to four servings daily. Johnson misses out on a 25% PDR by not eating whole grains. 👎

The Rest

Veganism is defined by what you don’t eat, which is one of its strong points. Johnson dodges many of the pitfalls of the Standard American Diet by avoiding eggs (14% increase in premature death), dairy (16% increase in premature death), and red or processed meat (35% increase in premature death) 👍👍. He does miss out on the benefits of fish (-13% PDR), though. 😣

Using precise mathematical emoji averaging calculations yields an overall PDR of 30% for Johnson’s diet, capturing half of the possible optimal PDR from diet of 60%. That’s a solid 👍.

Exercise

Aaaabs...
Aaaabs…

Despite probably delivering the most benefit for longevity, physical activity is buried deep in Johnson’s Blueprint, appearing far down in the Protocol section, below Hair/Skin/Ear and Oral/Sleep/Other. Johnson spends an hour every day in the gym. Let’s break it down.

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Strength Training

Most of his daily hour of exercise is spent on Strength Training, mainly working on smaller muscles like calves, triceps, or stomach obliques. Large muscle group exercises (bench press, deadlift, or traditional squats) are noticeably absent and give the highest benefit for time spent. Even so, doing too much Strength Training has strongly negative impacts on cardiovascular disease (CVD), with over five times per week being associated with triple the risk of CVD, leading to twice the risk of overall premature death.2 This overtraining harms him more than if he didn’t lift weights at all, landing at a 9% increase in premature death. 👎

Aerobic Exercise

Johnson notes that his hourly workouts are very active and aerobic, with a heart rate above 60% of his maximum over two-thirds of the time. While the longevity benefits of Aerobic Exercise are gained in the first 10-20 minutes of continuous aerobic activity weekly, there’s no harm in doing more. Johnson is getting these benefits every week. This gives him a 27% PDR. 👍

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Johnson does three 10-minute sessions of HIIT weekly, rotating between an elliptical machine, a Peloton stationary bike, and a rowing machine. It’s a great combo, and ten-minute sessions are enough. The weekly HIIT exercises decrease his chance of premature death by 50%. 👍

Walking

Unfortunately, Johnson makes the same omission as Dr. Attia and ignores the benefits of walking. Walking is the most powerful physical activity available for total contribution to longevity, providing additional health benefits even after accounting for other activities like aerobic exercise. Johnson mentions hiking on the weekends, but since he mentions that he is racing against his son up a mountain, that’s aerobic and not a casual stroll enjoying the sights. This oversight costs Johnson the chance to 66% PDR. 😣

Overall

Using our precise mathematical emoji calculations for Johnson’s exercise program, he reaches 51% PDR, compared to a possible optimal reduction from physical activities of 88%. That’s well over half, putting Johnson on the right path. 👍

Strange Chemicals

Even before covering his exercise routine, Johnson gives an extensive list of over 50 supplements in over 100 pills taken daily. He covers supplements that you might have heard of, including glucosamine, which I’ve previously mentioned as shown to increase longevity, turmeric and ginger (probably good), metformin (not helpful if you do not have diabetes), down to many much less studied supplements. (Guess which are supplements Johnson takes daily and which are Pokemon? Taurine, Cyndaquil, Viviscal, Profferin, Frigibax 3)

Aside from perhaps the glucosamine (13% PDR), I suspect the 50 supplements have minimal effect on Johnson’s overall health. If considering following the Blueprint, I strongly caution against his adoption plan, which blithely suggests taking the supplements on week 4. Such an extensive list of supplements and pharmaceuticals, several of which are prescription drugs, should be introduced slowly and with appropriate medical consultation. I give Johnson’s supplement list an unaging no-comment rating. 😑

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Healthy Habits

Once past diet, exercise, and supplements, it requires interpretation whether Johnson is following the healthiest habits. Johnson’s oral care is excellent; he gets full marks for brushing every evening (11% PDR) and flossing daily (22% PDR). He’s getting regular dental checkups and uses a water pik and tongue scraper, completing his optimal health oral care.

He seems accustomed to spicy food, including a whole jalapeno in one of his evening recipes, so regular consumption of hot peppers is also a ✅ for 13% PDR.

The sole mention of caffeine in the Blueprint is the trace amounts in his daily cocoa and as part of his custom hair tonic, neither of which will capture the longevity benefits of tea or coffee, losing a possible 27% PDR.

Finishing off with the “S” habits, Johnson doesn’t mention them, so I assume the answer is no for using saunas, smoking, and drinking sugary beverages.

Ranking the habits together and mixing in glucosamine supplement give Johnson an overall 32% PDR out of 75% PDR possible. That’s not quite half, but it’s a reasonable effort for a 👍 rating.

The Full Spectacle

Putting it all together, between diet, physical activity, and habits, Johnson’s PDR improves his life expectancy by 13 years compared with the average American. It’s not reaching immortality, but it’s a good start.

Why Bryan Johnson is Awesome

Although many of Johnson’s health interventions are unproven from the Unaging point of view, that’s the point. Johnson and his medical team are on a mission to design new treatments to return the body to youth, organ by organ. Many may not produce results, but Johnson’s willingness to put time, energy, and money into trying everything that could give him a younger edge is admirable. His claim to be the Most Measured Man in History rings true. I respect someone who has so much blood drawn for testing that they need an ultrasound test for vein damage from too many blood draws. I don’t believe we can live to 120 years old with the current medical technology, but when the intervention to do so is invented, Johnson will be one of the first to try it.

Johnson's Squidward dance
Johnson’s dance skills are in the top 1.5% of 18-year-olds OPTIMAL

Plus, his Squidward dance skills are solid. Click the image to see the moves.

Footnotes

  1. Intake of fruits and vegetables according to pesticide residue status in relation to all-cause and disease-specific mortality: Results from three prospective cohort studies
  2. Associations of Resistance Exercise with Cardiovascular Disease Morbidity and Mortality
  3. CyndaquilCyndaquil and Frigibax are the Pokemon Frigibax

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