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Years before either Dr. Atkins or Dr. Ornish published their first diet books (1972 and 1983 respectively), there was The Drinking Man’s Diet: How to Lose Weight with a Minimum of Willpower. Less than 60 pages long, this slim volume proposes to make readers slim while still allowing indulgences like a cocktail at lunch or — as the back cover brags — “two 6:00 PM tension-breaking martinis”. How does it work? Or more to the point, does it work?

The Drinking Man’s Diet has had a few revisions since 1964, but the bulk of the book is largely the same. In fact, page 8 has a handy summary for those with truly short attention spans: “Eat fewer than 60 grams of carbohydrates per day.”

Before anybody dismisses this as “just another low carb diet,” the authors do point out the importance of eating roughly 50 grams of carbs daily to avoid ketosis. A level of 60 grams of carbs per day is twice what the initial stage of Atkins allows and in line with modern “paleo” dieting. It is definitely possible to lose weight on this diet.

After a brief explanation of the science behind the diet, a description of typical meals, and a contrast with what were then standard weight loss diet meals, roughly half the book is devoted to carb counts of foods dieters are likely to encounter in the real world, or at least were in the mid-1960s. It’s worth noting that common in the mid-1960s means generally smaller servings than modern cuisines (ie. the 4″ bagel).

Since this little volume will easily fit in a jacket pocket or a purse, it can easily be taken on the go. The book does offer one final word of caution: “Don’t be a hog. If you gorge yourself with food, even if it is low in carbohydrates, you will get fat. If you drink too much, you will get drunk. Moderation in pursuit of happiness is no vice.”

The Drinking Man’s Diet Cookbook, the companion piece, has been recently updated and includes wine recommendations, but still has many recipes that feel like time travel to the 60s, though thankfully no candidates for the Gallery of Regrettable Food. You will find plenty of meat, plenty of veggies, only a few pages on bread, and none of the artificial food chemistry adventures that many “diet” cookbooks will try to foist off on the unsuspecting dieter. There is a great deal of variety from simple home breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, to food you can proudly serve at a party. While the book includes a chapter on desserts, there is no mixology reference; you will have to figure out how to mix your own martinis. Finally, the last two chapters will help with applying the diet to your daily life. Be aware when following cookbook recipes that I have found at least one minor error, so be sure to read recipes completely before buying ingredients and getting started.

Taken together, the two are worth a read for anyone trying to reduce the carbohydrate count in their diets.

His Take: Medically, I never recommend drinking for those that don’t already. The Drinking Man’s Diet is not an excuse to discover a new vice. For those who do drink and are reticent to give up their favorite libations in the pursuit of weight loss, The Drinking Man’s Diet can offer some guidance from the days of the 3 martini lunch.

One Response to “Book Review: The Drinking Man’s Diet and The Drinking Man’s Diet Cookbook”

  1. […] strategy for weight control and general health. We’ve even found weird little plans like the Drinking Man’s Diet that take advantage of the solid thinking of low carbohydrate dining. The Primal Blueprint takes […]