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

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Day 3 - Part 1

I slept well, having to wake up twice to pee. It's hard to believe I haven't had any food in 60 hours, because I feel fine.

Stool report: Looked like a Jackson Pollock, but monochrome brown.

It's 7:40am, and I'm drinking a 6.6% Innis & Gunn. I'm running into a problem with my beer cellar, in that most of the beer I have is between 6% and 15% alcohol. That concerns me, because my goal for this diet isn't to get plowed. I may need to go shopping soon for some weaker beer.

I'm also concerned about getting through today. It's my first time on the diet where I don't have anything scheduled, so I'll probably be home all day. That could be fine, because I need to get some work done (I only managed a few hundred words yesterday), but it could be bad, because without any activities to distract me I could:

A) Drink too much.
B) Start thinking about food.

Oddly enough, the AA saying "One day at a time" applies to me in this situation. I can't imagine not eating for 27 days. But I think I can get through today without food.

Since I brought up AA, this is a good time to talk about alcoholism. According to Wikipedia, alcoholism is the compulsive and uncontrolled consumption of alcoholic beverages, usually to the detriment of the drinker's health, personal relationships, and social standing.

I love beer. I also love good rum, scotch, whiskey, and tequila. I normally drink a few times a week, and a few times a month I probably drink too much.

But never has my alcohol consumption fit the definition of compulsive or uncontrolled. As evidenced by my last blood work, my health is fine aside from the fat. My personal relationships are terrific. I can't really comment on my social standing, because lots of folks despise me, but that has to do with my public image, not because of any drinking I'm doing. In fact, I bet a lot of NY publishers wished I drank a helluva lot more.

I do recognize that some people are addicted to alcohol, and it ruins their health and their life. This has not been the case with me. My life is damn close to ideal. Even when I was poor and struggling, unhappy with my career path, I can't say I drank any more or less than I do today. I've never needed alcohol, or used it to help cope, or as a crutch. I also don't require it in social situations.

I think the US has a love/hate relationship with alcohol. One one hand, there is a general understanding that drinking is a form of recreation and entertainment, and that it isn't ever going away. On the other, drinking has been demonized. The fact that a person can vote, serve their country in the armed forces, but can't have a beer is ridiculous. Most states have regulated times when alcohol can be sold. Some only allow beer to be sold by the case. Some have specials stores that sell hard liquor. Some don't allow alcohol sales on Sunday. Some counties are completely dry.

I find these laws, and all laws the supposedly protect me from myself, to be pretty stupid. People should be able to do what they want to, as long as they aren't hurting others. If I want to buy a beer at 4am, why can't I? I don't need the government to be my parents. In fact, I don't even need my parents anymore, because I'm an adult.

I'm aware that alcohol can destroy lives. I fully support tough laws on drunk drivers (full disclosure, I've never had a DUI). But this all comes down to choice. Even if you believe addiction is a disease (some doctors don't), it isn't as if your body is spontaneously generating alcohol like cancer cells. To get drunk you need to put the alcohol into your body manually. And let's be honest; if you really want a drink, you can find one, even in a totally dry county.

But I don't want this diet to turn into a debate about alcoholism, addiction, or dependency.

Beer is fun. And with this diet, I'm hoping to show that beer isn't as bad for you as you might think. It might even turn out to be good for you.

We'll see...


  1. Have you thought about how different beers might offer different nutritional content? I heard you can survive on Guinness because it's chock full of goodness

  2. Wait, wait, said your cholesterol was 132 ??!!!!
    Best of luck on this diet. Wish you all the best---but a with a cholesterol of 132, I must say...

    I hate you.

    You're like my dad---who grew up in the mountains of Western NC eating nothing but pure lard, fried chicken, and various hog parts... his cholesterol is 160.

    I am only slightly overweight, I've got a pretty decent bod, but one can easily tell I'm not a "soup and salad" kind of girl.

    I work out. I eat low fat. I do natural/ organic. I do Zumba (and I am wicked great at a Lady Gaga routine.) I kayak. I run with the bulls (well, okay, I don't do that.)

    Last check my cholesterol was around 300. Yep. I'm expecting to drop dead at any moment now.

    Maybe I need more beer.
    Take care Joe. I honestly do adore you. Best of luck.
    But at number 132, a part of me hates you. Don't take it personally :)

  3. I hope you at least take a vitamin pill or something.

  4. @Dawn, listen to what the media and your doc tells you and then do your own research. Cholesterol #s are not the best indicator of health, especially the total cholesterol. Half the people that have a heart attack have cholesterol numbers within normal range. There is much more to it than just a number. Also, if you do want to decrease your cholesterol and weight, start eating higher fat/lower carb. diet. The fat is bad for you mantra has been debunked a long time ago (I'm talking about fat from natural sources of course). Google, paleo diet and ditch those "healthy" granola bars.

  5. Avery's Joe's is a nice hoppy lower ABV beer...4.7% I believe.

    Some other low ABV beers that may be tougher to get:
    Crabtree Berliner Weisse
    New Glarus Belgian Red
    New Glarus Raspberry Tart

  6. Not a fan of Guinness? That's a true meal :)

  7. Oh man. Eat something! I'm worried.

  8. You got nauseous from a tough workout ... I got nauseous reading your stool report. Other than that, great to follow along!

  9. Hold on just a moment, if you drink 10 -15 beers a day you get about 1500+ calories... where's the diet?!

  10. Isn't today day 4? Am I missing some posts somewhere?

  11. As to the question of alcoholism, you threw up an overly general quote and argued that it doesn't apply to you. The fact that you gave the topic so much attention in this post may suggest the question of your possible alcoholism is already on your mind (or close friends'), whether you acknowledge it or not. I don't know the answer, only you do, but you seem to protest a bit too much.

    Here's a far better test, a questionnaire you can complete in about 5 minutes. I suggest you take it.

    In any case, I wish you well.

  12. Ugh...
    I dislike the posts that because alcoholism is brought up you must be one. Back in school "if you count drinks, you must be an alcoholic" was something that annoyed me. No, the people who had an issue with bringing up the issue were:
    1. Alcoholics and thus didn't want to discuss or
    2. Individuals uncomfortable around alcohol (no matter how responsibly consumed).

    (FYI, I count drinks just as I estimate the weight of fries I eat... I just do it.)

    However, that questionnaire is pretty good. I disagree with how the question 'do you drink alone' is written. I know more than a few people who enjoy 1 glass of wine with a meal. Lacking quantity changes how that survey should be interpreted. For example, I'll eat chocolate on my own... drink coffee, etc. I would say a BAC > 0.04 on one's own is bad.

    Joe is right in that the US has a love/hate relationship with alcohol. But it is a type of food. One of the ways early humans advanced was better food storage and beer was an part of that (harvest in the fall and have something in the winter that wasn't rotten). It is a food that can be enjoyed as that: something to enjoy and even sustain.

    For the record, I do worry about the alcohol content from a dehydration standpoint.

    Do watch the cholesterol. If the beer you drink is deficient in protein, that will spike it.


  13. I hope you get through this okay, Joe. It sounds a bit scary to me. But I did read somewhere, sometime, that if you eat only one food--any one food--exclusively for an extended period of time you'll lose weight. Guess, I never thought of beer as food.

    Do take care! And if this fails, you can always try the cabbage soup diet. LOL

  14. take care Joe. Good care of yourself.

    Wise care.


  15. Hey Joe,
    I'm an alcoholic and have been in recovery for over 15 years. When I was drinking I knew I was in trouble with it. I knew in my heart that I was drinking for the wrong reasons. People around me drank for fun, or taste, or whatever ... I drank to get drunk and couldn't comprehend drinking for any other reason. No one else can say whether you're an alcoholic, but I really believe you will know if you are one, deep down. Just bringing the subject up doesn't have to mean you're questioning yourself, although I do like the questionnaire. At any rate, good luck on this venture! The diet method you've chosen seems as controversial as you are. No surprise there, huh? Best wishes ...

  16. people keep bringing up guinness. guinness is actually a fairly light beer from a calorie and ABV standpoint, especially compared to the beers joe is drinking.