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

Monday, January 16, 2012

Day 15 - Part 1

During the day I had more kidney pain, though it was mild.

When I began this diet, my uric acid levels were slightly elevated. My guess is they've always been elevated, which is why I had kidney stones in the past. While beer has been shown to increase uric acid in the body, can it alone be blamed for my kidney health? 

I dunno. But it was enough to make me think about what the purpose of this diet was, and why I'm doing it.

First and foremost, I want to lose weight. That's the main goal.

Second, I wanted to see what a beer-only diet does to a person for 30 days. But not to the degree that my health suffered in any large-scale way.

Third, I wondered if I could even do it. A month without food? Would I have the self-control?

This is hardly a scientific experiment, so I have no idea if my results are typical or atypical. There was no control, no large data pool, and I'm a subject with uric acid issues in the first place. I've lost 20 pounds in two weeks, but I also may be hurting myself.

Along with the increased uric acid, I can visibly tell I'm losing muscle. And who knows what other internal problems are happening because I'm missing nutrients?

So I decided it was time to make a decision. Quit the diet, or modify it.

What ways could I modify?

Well, the first thing I obviously needed to do was reduce my uric acid. I DO NOT want kidney stones. 

A search of the internet and a quick trip to the vitamin store provided a few products touted to lower uric acid and improve kidney function. 

But before I get into that, it's worth knowing something about me. I'm a skeptic. As such, I'm not a fan of alternative medicine. I like to base my actions on hard data, not on anecdotal evidence. Alternative medicine is filled with anecdotes, hearsay, and loosey-goosey studies. That doesn't mean there may not be some truth to what certain supplements can do, but as far as I'm concerned the whole nutraceutical needs a LOT more scientific scrutiny.

That said, I bought a few products that anecdotes and a few studies say help reduce or neutralize uric acid. First of all, good old sodium bicarbonate. Then some tart cherry juice concentrate, and celery seed extract. Finally, some dandelion root for supposed kidney health.

I took these last night, slept well, and haven't had any more kidney pain in ten hours.

Okay, that's hardly conclusive. But it got me thinking.

Technically, all of these things I'm taking are unproven. And technically, I've already broken the rules of my diet (it was supposed to be beer and water only.)

So if I'm taking some medically unproven supplements, it would be stupid not to take some medically proven ones.

Later today I'm going back to the vitamin store and actually getting some stuff that I know my body needs. A multivitamin. Omega 3 oil. Protein powder. Calcium and magnesium. 

I'm still drinking beer. I'm still avoiding food. But I've decided to try and make this diet smarter and (hopefully) healthier with some supplements.

This diet is no longer about the healthful properties of beer, which disappoints me. I would have loved to have shown that I could live on beer alone for a month, and come out better at the end of it.

Instead, I'll settle for losing weight drinking nothing but beer, and taking some supplements so I (hopefully) don't hurt myself. 

Still no food. Still beer as my main source of calories (other than 200 calories in whey protein, tart cherry concentrate, and fish oil.) 

We'll see if I continue to lose weight, and if the bad numbers in my blood work go back to being good...


  1. 90-120 gms of protein per day in whey protein drink Joe. The protein we use has 32 grams per serving and 3x a day will get a person in lower range. Vit b12, Joe, can only be gotten from meat etc. Please get the b12 sublingual dots. B12 is essential to the body.

    Celery seed and all the rest can be diuretics. Be careful. You dont want to lose more sodium out of your electrolyte balance which regulates, amongst other things, your hearbeat.

    Please dont self-dose yourself. I understand you have a chicopracter, not an MD supervising you, and whomever you choose should be advising you on supplements. Herbs are not without effect. Cannabis, Datura, Romano and others are herbs with strong effects. So can especially herbs that cause somulence or have a diuretic action.

    If you are drinking protein in therapeutic and reasonable amounts (90-120 grams a day), you are eating. Protein drinks are food. The body metabolizes them as nourishment and food. Please read about fitness contenders and body builders who exist largely on protein drinks and a very simple solid food program of oatmeal for breakfast, chicken or fish for lunch, green salad for another meal, and lots of protein loading... but no beer I'm afraid for most, as the sugars and carbs in it are anti-muscle and shortest energy other than straight sugar cane.

    Be well Joe.

  2. Purines entering body also elevate uric acid to dangerous levels. Here are some foods high in purines that effect uric acid levels making them go high and putting people at risk for various, kidney stones being one of the least, despite the pain associated with. More so arterial deterioration, heart issues, liver depletion, and other difficult and sometimes irreversible things.

    High in purines which convert to ill health


    It is surprising, especially to those who have never heard of uric acid or purines before, that some foods usually considered to be very healthy are high purine ones. These are herrings, (so that means kippers too),sardines and anchovies, all of which are high in desirable heart healthy and anti inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, but also high in purines. If you like these fish, you'll have to eat them very moderately.

    Also high purine are liver (from any animal) and pâtés; terrines; liver sausage. Other high purine foods include: consommé; broth; anchovy sauce; meat extracts, for example stock cubes, essence of chicken, (widely sold in the Far East), and Bovril; meat gravies from powders and granules; other offal (organ meat) from any animal, for example kidneys, sweetbreads, oxtail, spleens, and hearts; goose; game (pheasants, grouse, partridges, venison aka deer meat, rabbits, hares etc; and haggis, (except vegetarian haggis which would not be high purine).

    More high purine fish Fish roe, (includes caviar but caviar is probably medium purine); mussels; scallops; trout; tuna; pilchards, (very similar fish to sardines); sprats; taramasalata.

    Lobsters and their relative, crayfish (crawfish, crawdad, yabby), have been listed as both high and medium (lobsters) or high and low (crayfish) purine. A visitor to this website reported a gout attack after eating crayfish (crawfish).

    Others Bakers’ yeast (bakers’ yeast is high purine but bread is not); brewers yeast and products made from it such as Marmite, Vegemite and Cenovis; mincemeat (the filling in Christmas mince pies). All these must be avoided completely on a low purine gout diet.

    And yes, sorry to say - and you’ve guessed it - alcoholic beverages are also high purine - beer is the alcoholic drink reckoned to be highest in purines.

  3. Hey Joe, Credit where credit is due. You needed to modify this diet and you did. That's really smart of you. I understand where you want to finish what you started and this is a way of doing that.

    I think you could really learn something about eating, drinking and fasting by the end of this whole ordeal--but you might need to dig a bit deeper than you are currently doing.

    I think alcohol is probably a huge part of the reason you've gained as much weight as you have. I think this diet maybe will actually cause you to drink a lot less when you are done with it, which would probably be a good thing longterm.

    My experience with alcohol might be slightly atypical. Drank a lot in college and the first few years after. Then slowly I began to notice how sleepy it made me after even 1 or 2 beers and how increasingly I felt like shit the next day or even two or three after having even small amounts to drink.

    These days I can rarely be bothered to have so much as a beer, even in social situations. It just isn't worth how I feel physically afterwards. But then, I've always been a naturally low energy person and I have an under active thyroid which doesn't help.

    Watching vids of you, I suspect you have a lot of energy and that alcohol probably helps to kind of bring you to a calmer state. But I could be wrong.


  4. I did the Atkins all-protein diet for 2 weeks, many years ago. I lost 18 pounds in 10 days but then started hurting - aching perhaps is a better word. I re-read some postings on the matter and found that the diet was short on simple vitamins and minerals. When I began a Daily Vitamin they went away. So...your adoption of supplements makes perfect sense. Besides kidney stones, you don't want scurvy!

  5. Try the paleo diet for your next 30 day experiment. 1/3 meats, 1/3 cooked vegetables and 1/3 raw vegetables and fruits.

  6. this no fun anymore, supplementing with protein powder? quit much? I'm just kidding. But seriously, if you are supplementing your beer diet with protein drinks, then might as well quit the whole thing and follow a healthy diet. There was another guy who did same challenge, but he actually stuck it out for 45 days.

  7. I still can't believe you're actually doing this. I think this would be the scariest horror story you've ever written.

  8. I have whey protein for breakfast every morning. It's pretty much real food. You might as well add in some real fiber now --seriously.

  9. You r mad, and u know it, drink Whiskey instead, I think it might, all things considered, suit to a tad more................

  10. Good for you, Joe, having the humility to keep your priorities and health balanced with your goals and curiosity. I'm very relieved to see you supplementing now, and it sounds like you're hitting most of the essentials in your mix. I'm a low-carber who enjoys one moderate "cheat day" per week, and that seems to be enough to kill most of the cravings, but I also think there's more than one way to skin a cat, never mind shed a bunch of weight. Keep on, man. I hope you make it to your objective in a healthy, pain-free way. :-)

  11. You're the Kobe Bryant of beer-swilling authors! Play through that pain!

  12. Good luck today.

    After all, it is MLK day (Much Luck Konrath).

  13. Take care of yourself! On a lighter note, this link made me think of your diet.

  14. Joe, you have inspired me. Check out the 29 Day No Beer Diet.

    Join me if you like. I guarantee it's much healthier.

  15. Joe,
    I personally thing a few supplements are wise. Be the skeptic, but a wise one. Everything you listed sounds reasonable in keeping with the theme of the diet.


  16. HEY. Careful with the solids you consume when you're "fasting" like you are now. I was actually planning on fasting and I found out that taking things like high protein drinks and solid multivitamins could be extremely harmful because of how your body's digestive system is acting right now. Now that it has been shut down for more than 10 days it's safe to say that jumping right back into solid foods might not go over well.

    I'm basing this off of a talk I had with somebody who has conducted several fasts (juice and water) due to colon cancer and when I brought up my idea to take a multivitamin he heavily recommended against it and cited a story he heard about someone who died because they started taking some kind of protein shakes (to not lose muscle) and their blood became too acidic.

    I'm not saying any of this is proven as fact, but before you make any moves do some research, or better yet, consult your nutritionist/doctor about what your new plans.

    By the way I love this beer fast idea, and while you're doing this I'm trying to keep up with my own diet plans for 30 days.