On Writers and the Beer Diet

Writers should never be left to their own devices.

This morning, I saw an article at Slate that asked the important question of our times — How Long Can You Survive on Beer Alone?

As it happens, one can live for about two months on a diet consisting only of beer and water, at which point scurvy will start to set in.

The proximate cause for this revelation? J. Wilson of Iowa gave up food for Lent, and subsisted for forty-six days on a diet consisting solely of beer. No, that’s not nonsensical; as it turns out, a German monastic order did the same in the Middle Ages.

Naturally, we writers at the office had to kick this around, especially when we learned that Wilson lost a fair bit of weight from his beer-only diet.

“We’re writers,” I said. “Drinking at all hours is socially acceptable for us. Society expects us to be drunks and alcoholics.”

So we had to discuss which kind of beer would be best — and at what point would it be cheaper to buy groceries and eat food than to consume multiple beers?

Since beer is not nutritionally rounded (though Guinness is better than most), would dietary supplements be necessary?

If Wilson drank four or five beers a day, what should be consumed at the traditional meal times? One for breakfast, two for lunch, and two for dinner? Or replace lunch with one at mid-morning and one at early-afternoon?

Of course, that led into the messy question of whether the beer diet would be feasible in the modern office environment.

Then, how long should one stay on the diet? Do one month on the diet and lose thirty to forty pounds, go back on food for a month, and repeat the diet as necessary until the ideal weight is reached?

This is what writers do when they put their heads together. They come up with crazy yet workable plans.

Guinness is the way I’d go, were I to do something like this. Guinness is good for you, after all. :)

4 thoughts on “On Writers and the Beer Diet

  1. You shouldn’t put things like this where people like me can find them. Because (and this could just be a strange mixture of exhaustion, boredom, and insomnia speaking) this might be the greatest idea I’ve ever heard in my entire life, ever.

  2. Snopes has some discussion about the “diet” (see here), though people are trying to reach their recommended caloric intake through Guinness, and that would require forty-plus pints each day. Basically, it’s theoretically possible — Guinness plus a glass of milk plus a glass of orange juice, and you’re good.

    If you think about it, Carey, the “beer diet” is just a bread-and-water fast/starvation diet, with the beer (which is made from grain) replacing the bread (which is also made from grain). Let’s suppose you drank four bottles of beer a day. At most, that’s a thousand calories. (If you’re drinking Guinness, it’s far less than that — just six hundred.)

    I’m not actually considering this, but it’s a neat idea.

  3. At only 153 calories, Guinness Extra would not be better than most. The Illuminator Doppelbock I drank weighed in at 288 calories per 12 ounce pour. Even better would have been a beer with some wheat in the grain bill, because wheat has more protein in it than barley does. (My own protein was all I consumed during that time.) But it was illegal at the time for anyone other than the royal family to brew with wheat, so in the interest of historical accuracy (17th century), I brewed a fairly accurate doppelbock (though not totally in line with a modern doppelbock). Weizenbock would have been better, but illegal for a regular guy like me. Glad you enjoyed the story. -J.

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