Helpful or hooey? Breaking down Blueprint—a tech mogul’s extreme 'age-reversal' health protocol

By Alpana Mohta, MD, DNB, FEADV, FIADVL, IFAAD | Fact-checked by Barbara Bekiesz
Published February 15, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • "Project Blueprint" includes a strict protocol that a self-proclaimed “futurist” claims has slowed down his aging. 

  • The protocol includes extreme practices related to his diet, daily consumption of 100+ pills, regular blood transfusions, and monitoring overnight erections. 

  • While some aspects of this regimen have scientific support, others raise doubts regarding their significance (and something about dishonesty).

Today’s tech giants are investing heavily in anti-aging research. Among them, Bryan Johnson, a self-proclaimed “futurist,” stands out, especially on social media, for claiming he can slow down his aging. His ambitious plan for age reversing, known as the “Blueprint,” is an extremely disciplined protocol that includes a rigid diet, an intense exercise regimen, and an exhaustive list of supplements and health tests. 

One of its highlights is consuming 2,250 calories daily within a span of 6 hours and committing to 1 hour of exercise every day. Johnson also incorporates a strict bedtime routine, blood transfusions, daily or periodic health assessments, and overnight erection counts.[] 

As physicians, our gut reaction may be to scoff at such a strict, ultimately useless protocol, but could some of Johnson’s claims ring true?

Let’s dive a little deeper and see if there’s anything worth incorporating into patient care.

Hundreds of supplements

Johnson takes an array of 100+ pills throughout his day, including rapamycin, calcium alpha-ketoglutarate (Ca-AKG), hyaluronic acid, astaxanthin, taurine, multivitamins, NAD precursors, spermidine, and zinc, among others.

Rapamycin is known for inhibiting the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway, a key player in aging. Animal studies have shown that rapamycin can slow aging, improve age-related diseases, and alleviate aging in multiple organ systems.[] 

However, its effectiveness may wane in the advanced stages of severe diseases. 

Prolonged use in humans at immunosuppressive doses can lead to adverse metabolic effects like hyperglycemia, diabetes, and dyslipidemia, and even at lower doses it can increase disease markers.

In animals, rapamycin exacerbated conditions like osteoarthritis and cataracts.[]

A study conducted by the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology on C57BL/6 mice found that Ca-AKG suppresses chronic inflammation by reducing pro-inflammatory cytokines and inducing IL-10. 

These mechanisms help in promoting a longer, healthier life, and in reducing frailty​.[]

Sleep protocol 

Johnson’s protocol for consistent sleep includes blackout curtains, soundproofing, and a temperature-controlled bed. A review from Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases highlights that quality sleep is crucial for every aspect of health, including cardiovascular, mental, cognitive, immunity, reproductive, and hormone regulation.[]

But Johnson goes the extra mile by wearing blue-light–blocking glasses for 2 hours before bed. While the effectiveness of these glasses for promoting sleep is debatable, as noted by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, they certainly won't cause any harm.[]

Testosterone patch

According to a 2022 meta-analysis, a strict low-calorie diet—like the one followed by Johnson—can destabilize testosterone levels in men.[] To counteract this, Johnson uses testosterone patches to balance out the effects of his calorie-restricted diet on his testosterone levels.

Electromagnetic pulse therapy

He also uses a high-intensity electromagnetic device that claims to replicate the effect of around 2,000 sit-ups. In women, such therapy can be advantageous for addressing pelvic floor weakness and urinary incontinence by aiding in muscle strengthening.[] However, it should not be considered a substitute for traditional exercise routines.

Skin health

Johnson's skincare routine includes laser and red light therapy (RLT). These treatments are effective against chronic inflammation and have been shown to stimulate ATP production, aid in growth factor synthesis, reduce oxidative stress, and improve cell signaling. 

Recent studies, including the one from Skin Research & Technology, highlight RLT's effectiveness in reducing aging signs like wrinkles and redness, leading to lasting skin rejuvenation​.[]

A buffet of periodic investigations

The Blueprint Project includes monthly blood tests, ultrasounds, MRIs, and colonoscopies.

While regular health monitoring can be beneficial for high-risk patients and in the early detection of diseases, the extensive use of imaging modalities might not be necessary, especially for someone in good health like Johnson. 

For example, the American Cancer Association suggests colonoscopy screenings only every 10 years for those without cancer risk. Even for at-risk patients, screening done every 3-5 years is recommended by other groups.[]

Does science support the Blueprint?

As detailed on his website, Johnson's results show some impressive biomarkers, such as a significantly lower rate of aging, reduced inflammation levels, and a high cardiovascular capacity compared to his age group.

These outcomes, however, represent an N=1 experiment—they are specific to him and may not be generalizable.

Aging primarily occurs at the cellular level, often due to DNA damage accrued over time from various factors. It's crucial to differentiate between slowing aging and reversing it. The former delays age-related decline, while the latter implies a fundamental reversal of aging's biological markers—a feat beyond current scientific capabilities.

Who might benefit?

Due to its intensity, Blueprint may not be feasible for all individuals, especially those with pre-existing health conditions. It is more suited for individuals with the resources, time, and existing level of health to engage in such a rigorous program safely.

This level of commitment to health management is akin to a full-time job. It would therefore need to be made more practical to be advisable for most individuals.

What this means for you

As a physician, you will benefit your patients more by prioritizing healthy aging than by focusing solely on age reversal. Recommend a diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties such as the Mediterranean diet. 

Advise 150 minutes of weekly moderate exercise, including strength training, to preserve muscle and bone. Encourage a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 kg/m2, and discourage smoking.

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