The Beer Diet: Good or Bad Idea?

Updated: May 23, 2016

Could you be a monk? What if it meant drinking only beer for all of lent? Some people give up

Could you be a monk? What if it meant drinking only beer for all of lent? Some people give up sweets, others alcohol, and still others certain foods for the 46 days from Ash Wednesday until Easter. Well, one man’s love of beer and history has turned his lent into something totally unique—at least unique in modern times. In his blog, Diary of a Part-Time Monk, J. Wilson explains that 15th century German Paulaner monks popularized the Dopplebock style of beer. In addition, during lent, the monks sustained themselves on a liquid fast of mostly their home brew. (Water was undrinkable at the time and most water was brewed into beer, rendering it palatable.)

On Ash Wednesday, the all-beer diet joined the ranks of other notorious single-food diets—including McDonald’s, Twinkies, eggs, and more—as Wilson started his beer fast. Wilson weighed in at 160.5 pounds on day one. Within 4 days he had lost 11 pounds. Before you give this regime a try—and no doctor or reasonable human being would recommend you do—you might want to know that Wilson also experienced headaches, flagging energy, and a swollen tongue. After two weeks he developed hyperkalemia, or elevated potassium, a potentially dangerous condition for the heart, and increased creatine levels, which indicated that his body was burning protein. However, he is still on his diet and you can follow his blog for the last half of the experiment. He currently weighs 145 pounds and is going strong.

The Verdict: Not a Good Idea

In the end, Wilson’s diet of 4 288-calorie beers per day is nothing more than a very low-calorie diet for a man. A diet of fewer than 1200 calories per day would cause most men his size to lose weight. Additionally, Wilson didn’t intend to use the diet for weight loss, but to try the monks’ fast and increase his awareness and spirituality. So skip the beer and try for a healthy diet plan, plus some exercise. For more spirituality in your life, try yoga, meditation, or some of that old time religion.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest