The internet is full of so-called superfoods and fad diets that are purported to have hugely beneficial properties. But popular wisdom states that a balanced diet is what’s important and that most things are fine in moderation.

YouTuber Beau Miles threw that out the window in his recently documented dietary challenge. As he attempted to become a “human bean.”

Miles was inspired to take on the challenge by a memorable scene in the 1935 novel Tortilla Flat by American author John Steinbeck. In the book, struggling single mother Teresina Cortez feeds her nine children on nothing but beans. When the local school hears of this, they dispatch a doctor to investigate. And he finds (much to his surprise) that Teresina’s children are in remarkably good health.

To find out whether there are any real-life health benefits to a bean-only diet as depicted by Steinbeck. Miles sets out to eat his bodyweight in nothing but tinned beans; that’s around 187 pounds (and 191 cans) over the course of 40 days.

“My key litmus test for this experiment will be running,” he explains. “How I feel when I run correlates to what I eat, which for my entire life has been eating everything. To see how this whole experiment pans out. In 40 days’ time I will run a 50k ultra marathon in the mountains, eating my final tins during the race.”

Within just one day of starting the challenge, Miles is already experiencing a lot of gas; a problem which will continue throughout the 40 days. And there are other side effects, too. “It’s been a steady decline in mood, energy, and general life in the first 4 days,”. He says, although he puts this down at first to reducing his caffeine consumption during this restrictive diet. He also becomes increasingly irritable as the month progresses.

As far as his physical performance goes. Miles soon finds that his body isn’t getting the fuel it needs to power through and make good times. But that he’s still able to complete his runs. He describes his progress while training for the ultramarathon as distinctly average. “It’s like you’re running with a hangover or no sleep,” he says.

By the day of the ultra marathon, Miles has lost 9 pounds, and completes the 50k run “slowly but surely.”. Ultimately, he says he found the experience to be a “profound” one, and learned a lot about his own relationship with food; namely, that eliminating variety and reducing his diet to just one item ended up having a serious emotional impact.

“Food makes me more creative, more energized, healthy,” he says. “Eating beans only makes me healthy in one particular way, but deadens everything else.”

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