Dear Beer Diet Guy:

An open letter to Joe Konrath:

This may sound like the pot calling the kettle black, but I thought I would tell you that I don’t think a beer diet is the best idea on the planet.

At left, me on Day 1 and, at right, Day 43. I lost a total of 25 pounds fasting on beer and water for 46 days. But I wouldn't recommend it.

As I learned last year when I fasted on beer and water for 46 days in an effort to test the story of the origins of the doppelbock style of beer during my project, Diary of a Part-Time Monk, one certainly can live on beer.

As I have gleaned from perusing your blog, our motivations are different. Mine was more along the lines of historical research and yours is to lose weight. However, we both saw the potential for an interesting book, I’ll freely admit.

I am no doctor. Despite my personal experience, you should therefore take my advice with a grain of salt. I found everything about the fast to be fascinating, and I learned a lot on multiple levels. Fasting is an amazing tool for cleansing and kickstarting one’s body, and I’d certainly consider doing it again, though I doubt I’ll again go down such a long path as 46 days. And outside my interest in the history of doppelbock, I wouldn’t do that fast on beer again. It can be done, and that’s all I need to know. If I choose to fast at length again, it will be with juice.

Why? Primarily, because there’s no reason to purposely deal with alcohol in this way. Yes, you’ll lose weight—I lost 25 pounds and purposely exercised very little, to make good use of the calories I was taking in. Get yourself a good juicer and just watch the variety in flavor (I would have loved variety) and nutritional intake you can give yourself on a liquid diet (and you’ll still lose weight)!

Me, I was consuming 4-5 doppelbocks per day, weighing in consistently at 6.67% ABV, 288 calories and approximately 50 grams of carbs per serving. Since this beer was unfiltered, all the yeast and nutritional goodies were intact for my consumption.

From what I’ve read, you’re drinking some wonderful beers, but they’re not all unfiltered, shorting you of nutrition (which is really important), and some of them are 9 and 10% ABV, if I remember correctly. No need for all that booze, methinks. As I do, you have a job that will allow for such an experiment, but really, I don’t see that alcohol in the least bit useful to your endeavor. This looks like even more of a stunt than my project did, and people called it mine a stunt, let me assure you.

If you want to stick with the beer plan, let me then toss out some advice. Drink lots of water! You are? Good. Drink more! When my body got finished consuming my fat, it went to my own muscle. At that point (around Day 20 for me) increased water became even more important, as my kidneys were workhorsing it to process the creatinines I was producing by eating my own meat. My kidneys needed tons of water to keep things adequately flushed.

That meant more peeing, a verb I know you’ve become familiar with these last few days.

As I said, I drank only doppelbock. Since you’re not holding yourself to this rule, let me suggest weizenbock, though the alcohol is more than necessary and supplementing your intake with a few good hefeweizens will do just fine. The good thing about this angle is weizen (wheat). Wheat has more protein than barley. The only substantive protein I took in on my project was from my own muscle. Not so good. But this was part of my choice, as it was illegal for monks to brew with wheat in the 17th century (that allowance was reserved for royalty).

So. wheat beers; drink some wheat beers. Unfiltered beers; get some unfiltered beers. This is my main beer advice.

Exercise is, of course, great for weight loss and general health. I didn’t do much of it during my fast. I had tons of energy, but I conserved it to use every nutrient I was taking in. If you’re doing some serious weight-loss motivated exercise, you run the risk of burning yourself down. That’s only speculation on my part, but your body needs fuel; I, for one, wouldn’t be bench pressing on a beer diet. I like my head right where it is. Be safe and nourish yourself.

If weight’s your issue, “The Beer Diet” ain’t your long-term solution. You’re gonna have to lay off the processed foods (hard to do in America) and get committed to exercise. You’ve proved in the past that you can lose weight. With all due respect, love and concern, you’re a yo-yo dieter and beer won’t fix it. Lifestyle change is mandatory.

Finally, a chiropractor? Seriously? My doctor wouldn’t agree to go on camera, but he didn’t refuse to monitor my health. You don’t have to film everything. Go to your doctor and be smart about this. You’re going to have some liver and kidney numbers skyrocket. Be safe.

I’m no prude, but I do care about people, even the ones I don’t know. I wish you luck, but would like to see you re-think some of your methods.

Peace & Pints!



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3 Responses to Dear Beer Diet Guy:

  1. brewer a says:

    lose wait?

  2. Joe Konrath says:

    Thanks so much for the advice. It’s appreciated.

    When I began researching this idea I ran across your name, and I found your take on this to be fascinating. Forty-six days? Amazing. You’ve got a bigger pair than I do!

    I’m hoping to do two things on this beer diet. First, I want to lose weight. That seems to be working so far. Second, I want to show that beer isn’t the evil a lot of people think it is. I’ve got a lot of weight to lose, and I’m betting that I’ll come out healthier at the end of this.

    I’m having detailed blood work done four times this diet, and my DC is monitoring me pretty well. If anything happens, or if things start looking bad, of course I’ll see an MD.

    The plan is, when this diet is over, to maintain a 3x a week workout regimen, and to watch what I eat and drink. If this works, I can see going it for brief periods–say three days–to knock off a few pounds if I start creeping up on the scales again.

    I haven’t read your blog or your book (yet–but I will) because I wanted to go into this blind, but I’d love to talk to you in depth if you’ve got some time. Please email me.

  3. J says:

    Thanks Andrew, I need to hire you as a proofreader.

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