Bestselling author Joe Konrath goes on a beer fast for thirty days to lose weight.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Day 0

My name is Joe Konrath. I'm one of the happiest people on the planet. I've got a great family, and we're healthy and love each other and all get along. I'm my own boss, work out of my home, and I make good money. I live in a nice house in a nice neighborhood, and I can afford lots of fun toys. I enjoy everything about my life.

Well, almost everything.

This is me when I was 19 years old. 

180 pounds

I should probably explain why I'm dressed like that, but I'm not going to. In this picture, I'm five ten, have a 32 inch waist and weigh about 180 pounds. 

This is me today, at 41 years old. 

264 pounds

I'm still five ten, but now I have a 40 inch waist and I weigh 264 pounds. That's an 84 pound weight gain. Ouch. Eighty-fours pounds is how much a super model weighs, and I look like I've just eaten one.

Now, I've always been able to easily gain and lose weight, and I've done my share of diets in the past. Here are some before and after pics of me ten years ago doing a high protein, low carb diet. I went from 232 to 200 in just 30 days.

232 pounds
200 pounds
But I hated the low carb diet. One of my favorite things to consume isn't technically a food, even though it is loaded with carbohydrates.

Of course, I'm talking about beer.

I LOVE beer. And even though I want to lose weight and lead a healthier lifestyle, I don't want to give up drinking beer. In fact, I'm not entirely convinced that beer is the reason I've gained so much weight. I've always believed that beer, in moderation, is actually beneficial to your health.

So I got to thinking. Maybe I've been going about this weight loss thing the wrong way. If I want to really make a lifestyle change, and I refuse to give up drinking beer, maybe beer isn't what I should be giving up.
Maybe I should live on nothing but beer. No food at all.

So that's what I'm doing. For thirty days, I'm not going to eat any food. All I'm going to consume is beer and water.

No food. No supplements (other than an occasional aspirin). Just beer.

Now some of you may be thinking, "Are you out of your mind?"

Well, maybe. But I'm pretty sure this will work. 

Some of the best beer in the world is brewed by monks. They do this for a reason. Every Lent, the monks fast from Ash Wednesday to Easter. That's forty days of nothing but beer.

So if it's good enough for them, it is good enough for me.

I'm a writer, so I'm going to blog about this every day, and eventually turn it into a book. I'm also going to be recording this diet on video with the intent to turn it into a documentary.

I'm starting the diet tomorrow. Tonight will be my last solid food for 30 days. Tomorrow, I'm going to get the results of my blood work, then do an official weigh-in. I'll be seeing a DC who is a nutritionist and getting blood work done every ten days on this diet, checking things like BMI, thyroid panel, CBC, lipid panel, A1c, etc.

During the diet, I'm going to be working out with a personal trainer 2-3 times per week.

I have four main concerns for this diet.

1. Will I actually lose wieght?

2. Will my health decline, improve, or stay the same?

3. Will I still be able to get work done if I'm drinking beer all day?

4. Will I turn into a total dick?

You may notice in the sidebar there are some polls. Please let me know if you think I'll lose weight, and if I'll wind up healthier or if my health will deteriorate, by the time I'm finished on February 2, 2012.

Q: Why are you seeing a Doctor of Chiropractic and not an MD?

A: I called over ten MDs. No one wanted to have anything to do with this documentary, or this diet. Even my DC, who was intrigued by the idea, got into trouble with his partner and his wife for agreeing to help me. As a result, he won't appear on camera. Apparently no one wants to be associated with an all beer diet. From a liability standpoint, I can't blame them. 

Q: Aren't you worried this is dangerous?

A: I just had a physical a month ago. Besides being overweight, I'm in pretty good shape. That may sound odd, but it's true. I've never had any serious health problems or issues, never been hospitalized, never had surgery, and as far as I know I'm pretty healthy. We'll see how healthy when I get my blood test results tomorrow.

Q: What does your family think about this dumb-ass idea?

A: My wife and son are being very supportive, and they will appear in the documentary.

Q: What do you predict will happen to you on this diet?

A: I predict I'll lose weight. Hopefully a lot of it. I don't foresee any health issues or major problems.

I'll probably have hunger pangs, and it may be difficult to drink without getting too buzzed or drunk. That would be bad. My goal is to drink moderately, and hydrate with a lot of water in between beers.

Q: What kind of beers will you drink?

A: I'm a beer snob. This diet will include beers from some of my favorite brewers: Three Floyds, Sam Adams, Brewdog, Mikkeller, Southern Tier, Dogfish Head, The Bruery, Founders, Bell's, Goose Island, and many others. 

Q: How much will you drink each day?

A: I'm not sure. I'd like to stick with three meals, one or two beers per meal. Or I could sip beer throughout the day. I'm going to have to play it by ear...

Q: How often will you blog?

A: I'll blog at least once a day, more if I feel the need to. I'll also be posting video, hopefully daily, to show my progress.

Also, let me add a disclaimer here. 

  • You should never begin any diet, especially this one, without first consulting your physician, your astrologer, and all your pets. 
  • The consumption of alcoholic beverages has been linked to many health problems, such as death, and if you drink to excess you will likely start acting like an asshole. 
  • Pregnant women shouldn't get really loaded and then operate heavy machinery, because that increases the risk of birth defects, and you may wind up running over or mulching lots of innocent nuns. 
  • Over-indulgence in beer may lead to you hooking up with someone who looks like a wildebeest, but you won't know know it until the next morning. 
  • Beer can lead to explosive diarrhea, especially in combination with Mexican food, which might lead to divorce. 
  • Finally, if you try to be like me and do this, you're an idiot and whatever happens to you is your own damn fault. 


  1. Dude, don't do it. You're gonna die.

  2. For what it's worth. Besides being a novelist and a computer programmer, I'm an ancient history buff. And this is actually relevant. In the archaic ancient world (prior to 800BC) beer was a very -- and I mean very -- substantial part of the diet of civilized dwellers.

    In fact, in Ancient Egypt, it's estimated that beer represented about 60% of the caloric intake of regular folk. This was for a number of practical reasons in addition to the obvious taste and buzz advantage over stale pita bread (more or less the other option). Beer doesn't spoil as easily as either grain or bread. And weevils and rats don't tend to eat it -- as often. It's also highly caloric and efficient.

    Granted ancient beer was weaker, probably only 2-3% alcohol. Certainly unfiltered.

    But as to the health and nutritional consequences of eating only a single complex carbohydrate for a month? That, I can not make a pronouncement on. Good luck!

  3. Joe, I tend to exercise every day. Yes, that's time that I could spending on writing. It varies, walking, running, and elliptical training. Today I ran 8 miles and walked one-half mile.

    Like you, I have often thought that I should just stop eating or most certainly eat a lot less.

    I'm 5'2", 44 years old and at what I consider to be a healthy weight. The charts would probably say I'm a little on the heavy side. But hey...I can still wear clothes that I've had for over ten years.

  4. Joe,

    Be careful of the wildebeests. My friends still have not let me forget my college days.

    How the heck will you moderate the beer farts? You might be spending quite a bit of time out on a balcony. Yes the lighter trick works and you can set a friends hair on fire.


  5. I"m not a doctor, but I'm thinking the biggest risk to this diet isn't the alcohol but actually the malnutrition resulting from not getting any nutrients for a month. There's a syndrome called Khorsakoff's syndrome, which is a permanent brain damage caused by thiamine deficiency. It occurs very often in alcoholics -- not because of alcohol poisoning, but because they were getting so much of their calories from alcohol that they ended up malnourished. Read up on it here.'s_syndrome

    Granted, they were probably alcoholics for more than 30 days. But just be careful, and be informed.

  6. Dude, don't do it. You're gonna die.

    Well, no duh. We're all gonna die.

    But I don't think this diet is what will kill me. I'm hoping for death by robot strippers.

  7. but actually the malnutrition resulting from not getting any nutrients for a month.

    Why do you think there are no nutrients in beer?

  8. You know you will be a god to all beer lovin' men if this works out. Sending this to my beer lovin' DH who will be one of those who will worship if this works for you.....

  9. On Day 29, I'm going to show up at your front door with a wheelbarrow of Big Macs.

  10. I'd be worried about hypoglycemia, and whether the shock to the metabolism could trigger anything like diabetes.

  11. On Day 29, I'm going to show up at your front door with a wheelbarrow of Big Macs.

    Bring them now. I'm pretty damn hungry.

  12. I thought you were joking until I saw this! You're just going to gain it all back when you start eating again, and you'll probably lose muscle along with fat, which is not what you want.
    PLEASE be careful.

  13. The lack of significant protein is the big issue, esp if you're going to workout as well. You need the protein to build muscle mass. Agree with the previous poster-- you'll probably lose muscle, which isn't good.

    You'll probably feel lightheaded & weak towards the end of the experiment.

    Good luck!

  14. Joe, if it's good enough for the Monks, it's good enough for you.

    My son the beer drinker suggests the high wheat beers the monks brew in Germany. Liquid bread.

    Good luck!

  15. Ok, you seriously crack me up. But I think you're awesome. Be careful, and I seriously hope this works for you. I'm on the same boat- or office chair as it were- but I cannot foresee myself drinking beer. Hell, I can't even drink 1 beer, let alone 30 days worth.
    Any plans to study the effect of different types of beer? Are you planning to only drink 1 brand?
    I'll be very curious to see how you do with this.

  16. I'd think seriously about adding a once a day multivitamin, something like Centrum with all the trimmings. Should stave off most malnutrition issues you'd face, although the lack of protein mentioned above would still be an issue. Good luck!

  17. "Why do you think there are no nutrients in beer?"

    Shame on me for being sloppy with adjectives.

  18. I'm a big fan of your work, Joe, and I'm equally curious to see what this diet does to your writing as well as to your health. Kudos for finding an awesome way to mix academic curiosity, anti-establishment health practices, and incredible PR all at once. My only concern is sustainability. What if this actually works? Are you willing to consume nothing but beer for the foreseeable future?

    I'll be checking back in on your progress daily. Good luck, man!

  19. If it's any consolation I'm on Day 2 of a stomach flu diet...not being able to keep water down really tips the scales. I expect to have lost a lot the next time I step on a scale.

    Until then...someone mentioned Big Mac's.

    Hrmmmgrhhh...gotta go.

  20. Good luck! I lost 40 lbs last year...albeit with a combo of eating less / working out more. But your way sounds like a lot more fun!

  21. This is pretty cool. One advice from someone who lost 40 lbs recently is to think of a sustainable eating lifestyle you are going to follow after the 30 days are up. I have no doubt that you will lose the weight, but if you go back to eating the same way, you will balloon back up.

  22. Hmmm...

    "The consumption of alcoholic beverages has been linked to many health problems, such as death.."
    Sorry I don't agree with you here. Death is not a health problem, it is THE END of health problems.

    Just sayin'.

    And also - if you drink 10 beers a day (cumulatively about 1500 calories) in what way is that a diet?!