I ate like Elon Musk for a week. Here’s what happened

This article was updated on September 1, 2021

Did you know Elon Musk challenged himself to live on one dollar a day for food when he was 17? It’s true, Elon was interviewed a few years ago and detailed his odd diet, and how he was able to successfully do it for a while.

He challenged himself to see if he could control this aspect of his life while focusing more on his projects. 

Elon wishes he did not need to eat

Elon stated, “If there was a way that I could not eat, so I could work more, I would not eat. I wish there was a way to get nutrients without sitting down for a meal.” 

As the main staples, Elon’s diet consisted of hot dogs, oranges, pasta, and green peppers. Because I have a great deal of respect for Elon and his ability to create, I wanted to see if I could complete his challenge of living on one dollar a day. 

To be as accurate as possible, I researched the inflation rate from when Elon was 17 years old until now.

It turns out, one dollar in 1989 would be the equivalent of about $2.20 today. I decided to round up to two dollars a day for this challenge to see if I could do it.

My regular diet compared to Elon’s diet

My usual routine consists of three meals a day. I usually have a breakfast bar and coffee in the morning.

Lunch is made with either chicken or steak for protein, complimented with grains, and a mixed salad. Dinner also involves animal protein and a couple of vegetable sides. 

Needless to say, my normal diet is much more than $2 per day, so I knew it would be a challenge to restrict my spending by that much. At two dollars per day, I would need to feed myself for seven days for $14.00 or less.

My breakfast for a week

I am perfectly content eating the same thing every day, so I planned my week ahead of time.

I bought 18 eggs for $2.00 and ate two each morning ($0.29 per morning for seven days).

I also purchased a five-pound bag of brown rice for $3.38. I split this into seven servings ($0.48 per serving) and ate one serving for breakfast. 

The total cost of breakfast for the week = $5.38

My lunch for a week

For lunch, I made Rotini pasta. I purchased two boxes of Walmart brand Garden Rotini in the 16-ounce box for $1.00 each.

I split the 32 ounces into seven servings for lunch ($0.28 per day). I also purchased generic 24-ounce pasta sauce for $1.50 and split it over my lunch pasta ($0.21 per day).

For a side, I purchased a three-pound bag of mandarin oranges for $3.00 and split them evenly into 14 sides. I used them for lunch and dinner ($0.21 per day).

The total cost of lunch for the week = $4.90

My dinner for a week 

I went with the eight pack of Bar S jumbo hot dogs for $1.16. I also purchased an eight pack of whole wheat hot dog buns for $0.87. 

I did cheat here because I did not have enough money for ketchup, so I used some I already had in the refrigerator.

I ate the mandarin oranges as a dinner side, which equaled $0.21 each night.

The total cost of dinner for the week = $3.50

My total cost of food for the week?

After adding it all up, I spent a total of $13.87 on food for the week. I was able to do it for less than my goal of $14.00 but only by $0.13.

How Elon Musk’s diet made me feel

Before I started the Elon Musk challenge, I drank one cup of coffee each day. When I started the diet, I could not afford coffee, so I was forced to drink only water for the week.

This led to serious caffeine withdrawal headaches for the first three days. I was not expecting to have to deal with headaches, which were more difficult than I envisioned.

Lack of energy

Before going on Elon’s diet, I ate three large meals a day and was rarely hungry. However, after a week on Elon Musk’s diet, I found I was drained and hungry most of the time.

I assume it was mostly due to the large decrease in my caloric intake. My body was accustomed to eating 2,500+ calories a day, and the Elon Musk diet decreased my calories to around 1,000 – 1,500.

Weight loss

One benefit of this diet was the fact I lost two pounds. Unfortunately, it was not a healthy way to lose weight since it felt like I was starving myself. 

While I was able to complete his diet challenge, I found that my health suffered due to eating low quality food and not enough calories. 

Elon Musk’s diet today

Elon has come a long way since his diet challenge in 1989. His normal routine today consists of coffee in the morning and a small lunch he can eat in five minutes or less.

His dinner choices usually involve one of his favorite dishes, which include French cuisine or American barbeque.

Elon no longer watches what he eats and only exercises one to two times a week. For a man who is so busy, it seems like food still gets in the way of his progress.