An Iowa man completed his Lent-long beer fast on Sunday, marking the occasion with a bacon smoothie. During the 46-day feat, J. Wilson consumed only beer and water, emulating a centuries-old tradition once practiced by the Paulaner monks of Munich, Germany. How long could a man survive on beer and water?
Not more than a few months, probably. That’s when the worst effects of scurvy and protein deficiency would kick in. (Liver disease is a serious risk of chronic alcohol use, but it takes longer to arrive.) If you kept to a strict beer diet – and swore off plain water altogether – you’d likely die of dehydration in a matter of days or weeks, depending on the strength and volume of beer consumed. There’s plenty of water in beer, of course, but the alcohol’s diuretic effect makes it a net negative in terms of hydration under most conditions.