Teen Bodybuilder Tristyn Lee Doesn't Mince Words About How Fitness 'Ruined' His Life

Although bodybuilding appears to be a modern phenomenon, Britannica writes that the sport originated in ancient Greece. According to Study.com, bodybuilding centers on building muscle using resistance exercises and a high-protein diet. Unlike other athletics, bodybuilding is less about strength and more about how bulked up an individual appears to be. With that said, Insider reports that bodybuilding can physically and mentally take a toll on those who participate in this physical activity. This is due to the extremely strict regiments that bodybuilders must partake in. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce their body fat in order to keep up the shape of their massive muscles.

Per Men's Health, bodybuilder Tristyn Lee is familiar with the negative side effects that come with this lifestyle. At only 20 years old, The U.S. Sun writes that Lee is a social media sensation. He first went viral in 2017 for being a 15-year-old bodybuilder. Now, Lee has over 2 million followers on Instagram. His YouTube channel and TikTok account also have millions of followers each. On social media, Lee shares his workouts and the ever-changing progress of his body with the world. However, in a January 2022 YouTube video titled "My Experience Maintaining 4% Body Fat for 2 Years," Lee revealed, "I was killing myself by being so active," even saying that bodybuilding "ruined" his life.

Tristyn Lee's intense regimen and diet

According to Healthline, bodybuilders eat large amounts of meat, poultry, fish, and more. In a video posted on his TikTok account, Tristyn Lee shared that he eats massive amounts of protein daily in order to maintain his impressive physique. In one meal, Lee consumes a ribeye steak, some beef heart, bone marrow, and Alaskan salmon. In an Instagram post from August 2022, Lee shared a photo displaying the several steaks he was planning to eat for the day. Moreover, Lee also posts his vigorous workouts frequently on TikTok. Several clips show Lee doing bench presses and dumbbell lifting, amongst other things.

In a TikTok posted in October 2022, Lee stated that he was at 10% body fat. But in a now-viral YouTube video, Lee divulged the previous extent he went to for maintaining 4% body fat. Lee admits that although he looked good, his lifestyle became overwhelming. He stated (via Men's Health) that he became "a little more obsessed with the numbers. Back then, I was having 3000-plus calories, and I was playing soccer as well as doing bodybuilding." He added, "My focus shifted ... to only bodybuilding, to how I was looking [and] how lean I was. I started obsessing over every little detail about my food and my diet just to get to the sub-5% body fat level." In his words, he became "delusional."

Bodybuilding affected his social life and sleep

Healthline explains that maintaining a low body fat leads many bodybuilders to have sleep and mood problems. Men's Health writes that this was the case for Tristyn Lee — his low body fat and workouts negatively affected his appetite. He explained, "It started to become this vicious cycle of burn more, eat less and every single crutch I was using to feel less hungry began to increase." In his video (as seen on YouTube), Lee disclosed that he was consumed by the number of calories he was eating to the point that he did not want to go out to eat with friends "because I didn't know the calories in the food." 

Moreover, he noted (via Men's Health) that if he didn't meet his 20,000-step goal for the day, "I'd be beating myself up." Lee went on to say that he was only sleeping a few hours a night. He stated, "I didn't want to spend time with people and I didn't want to work on anything with people. I was so hyper-focused on doing these things to maintain a sub-five per cent body fat, which was not optimal."

Despite these implications, Lee's Instagram demonstrates that he's continued his fitness journey. However, The U.S. Sun writes that he's made changes to his lifestyle — rather than maintaining low body fat, Lee is now all about bulking.

If you need help with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).