How one dude went from tubby taco guy to shredded metal-head
Published: July 11, 2012
The Drunk Diet: How I
Lost 40 Pounds ... Wasted
by Lüc Carl
St. Martin's Press, $25.99, 244 pp.
A quick word of warning: Female readers may have limited interest in The Drunk Diet, given author Lüc Carl's penchant for a little locker room talk — as well as casual comparisons of women to food. And, frankly, whatever your gender, you may shy away from this tome if you don't want to hear some dude talk about good nutrition resulting in a satisfying shit. But are you an overweight, drunk metal dude? Well, here's a "diet book" for you.
It's no coincidence: A shaggy-haired devotee of Ozzy, Carl writes about how he was at first intimidated by diet books, with their covers featuring "airbrushed women with six-pack abs." He writes of the reaction they give your typical rotund male, explaining, "This girl would never go on a date with him anyway, so why the fuck would she care whether or not he's fat? He's not even going to pick that book up."
So Carl set out to write a book that wouldn't intimidate your typical overweight male slob, adopting a literary persona like the target reader's cuss-mouthed best friend, that guy whose every third word is "fuck," and sometimes calls you "dumbass" or "asshole" — but has a shitload of cool stories to tell. When it works, it demystifies fitness — and can be a refreshingly funny take on "dieting." Take, for instance, Carl's three things he learned about nutrition:
1) Anything labeled "diet" is terrible for you.
2) The FDA is full of shit.
3) The "experts" are no help at all.
Instead, Carl puts it in language most guys will understand. In the chapter, "Your Body is a Hot Rod," he writes, "Once I understood that the performance of my machine (my body) depended on the quality of the gas I put in (the food), I was able to start making smarter decisions about what to eat." See, guys? You too can become a muscle car!
In a similarly no-bullshit style, Carl breaks down the tools of nutrition and fitness — such as carbs and cardio, egg whites and electrolytes — into readable "WTF" sidebars (a sample title: "What the fuck are Omega-3s?") designed to hit important points for readers. In another sidebar, he counsels on what to drink and what to avoid, with a list titled "Drink This" (a vodka soda, for instance, is 100 calories and 0 carbs) and a list titled "Fuck That," including mai tais (800-plus calories) and Long Islands (1,200-plus calories). And not only does he extol the virtues of fruit, fresh vegetables and limited carb-loads, he knows that a lot of guys don't have mad kitchen skills and sensibly outlines simply prepared meals made with easily bought ingredients.
He's at his most entertaining when he's railing against things, whether it's salt in shelf-stable food ("salt allows a product to sit on the shelf longer"), aspartame ("I'm not saying aspartame is the only reason people get diabetes, but it's certainly not helping") or high fructose corn syrup ("it took thirty years for the American public to figure out that HFCS might be bad for them"). He's even funnier when he drifts off topic and starts heaping scorn on such targets as trust-funders ("rich kids from Connecticut have no concept of what it's like to be broke") and hipsters, who "tend to make lots of stupid decisions, like listening to crappy emo music."
But at bottom, beyond the recipes and the how-to aspect of going from tubby drunk to shredded fitness geek, Drunk Diet is, at its heart, a memoir. It's a sort of fitness love story: guy meets fitness and falls in love forever. As Carl starts hitting his "plateaus" — when he reaches a stable weight — he has to amp up his dedication and take that love affair to the next level. Depending on your love of vice, you may want to put the book down at a certain point. Not everybody who enjoys the practical advice in The Drunk Diet is necessarily going to end up doing a 300-mile charity bike ride, of course, and individual readers might bristle at the idea of giving up beer, whiskey, pizza and — eventually — cigarettes. By the end of the book, Carl is like all fanatics: addicted to his passion, and charismatic as hell about it — to the point of being slightly ridiculous. (The lovingly snapped photos of him demonstrating hawt workout poses atop a bar, wearing a black tank top and zebra-stripe leggings, will cause some eyes to roll, for instance.) But Carl insists that, despite his mania, he still loves to party. He says he loves wine now (twice the alcohol and half the calories of beer), but, by the end of the book, you'll bet no matter how hard he's partying, he's really thinking of his next good run.
And it sort of leaves you guessing. Behind that self-satisfied tone, in back of all those dude-to-dude pep talks, you may wonder if Carl really did change his life around. Maybe he was never the carefree badass he intended to be, and instead is a guy who just finally embraced who he really was all along: a striving, success-driven self-promoter eager for celebrity via a new angle.
Whatever the truth, such quibbles will hardly matter to the intended reader of this book. In fact, it likely just adds to the rock-star charm. After all, if you don't have a little cock-rock swagger, why go on stage in the first place?
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