When we say, "all time," we mean it. The news talks about obesity like it's a recent epidemic, but the truth is that fat people have existed throughout recorded history. Without modern inventions, people in earlier times had to work 10 times harder to get fat, but the extraordinary men and women of those eras persevered and managed, in many cases, to achieve spectacular obesity.
For as long as that has happened, those people have searched for ways to shed the pounds while avoiding "exercise and a sensible diet" at all costs. As you'll see, often it would have been better to just stay fat.
6The Alcohol Diet
In 1087, England's William the Conqueror got really fat. Hurt by comments such as King Phillip of France's description of him as "looking pregnant," and despondent over his inability to ride a horse without breaking it in half, he took to his bed and drank nothing but alcohol in an attempt to lose weight.
One can only speculate the reasoning behind it (we know of several guys who tried this diet in college, but for different reasons), but the idea probably went something like this: Food makes you fat. To lose weight, you can stop eating food. But then you'll be hungry. You won't care if you're hungry if you're passed out from too much booze. The booze can't possibly make you fat, because it's a drink, not food. Right?
Wrong. Here is a rough breakdown of calories per gram for the various basic substances we eat:
- Carbohydrates: 4 cal/g
- Proteins: 4 cal/g
- Alcohol: 7 cal/g
- Fat: 9 cal/g
As you can see, William could not have been much worse off sipping lard.
On one hand, William was able to get back on his horse again. We know this because he died of complications by falling off of it. You could say he was successful, because he was able to get back on the horse, or unsuccessful because he had trouble staying on it.
Either way, he was allegedly too large to fit into his coffin at burial time and his body was said to have bloated in the afternoon heat and exploded from all the prodding, leaving a reportedly unbearable stench in the church. Any time your body explodes, it's typically the sign of a failed diet.
Yet, in 1964, Robert Cameron put William's philosophy into print with The Drinking Man's Diet, which emphasized cutting carbohydrates, but whose main attention-getter was its recommendation of alcoholic drinks, which generally contain very few carbs. While he neglected to emphasize that alcohol has almost twice as many calories per gram, and that it may not be the healthiest of substances to incorporate into your regular diet, this was brought up rather vocally by doctors at the time. We have to question Cameron's actual motivation here, just as people questioned ours when we came up with the Porn Diet.
The fact that "beer belly" is a common term in modern lingo goes to show that we've pretty much got the idea.