A Cincinnati man has taken an all-or-nothing approach to Lent, deciding to consume nothing but beer for the 46 days leading up to Easter. He has already lost 25 pounds from the fast and claims to feel “amazing.”
Del Hall’s decision is pretty convenient considering the fact that he happens to be director of sales at Ohio’s Fifty West Brewing. Hall said in a YouTube video that slimming down was one motivation for his drastic decision; he had a starting weight of 292.5 pounds, which was the most he’s weighed in six years. “It was pretty rough too see [on the scale],” he said.
But Hall actually took his beer-fasting cue from an ancient tradition practiced by monks in the 17th century. Paulaner monks moving from Southern Italy to Bavaria in the 1600s lived by strict rules, and one of them was to banish all solid food during Lent, according to the Catholic News Agency. Beer was a common staple during that time period, so the monks looked into it as a meal replacement. They wound up developing an “unusually strong” type of beer to serve their fasting needs. Salvator, as they called it, was high in carbohydrates and nutrients. It’s now known as doppelbock.
Hall, an Army veteran, said the monks’ practice fascinated him, and he wanted to see if he could “push himself to the limits” by replicating what these men once did. He also believes that, in general, going without food is crucial from time to time. “Fasting is a big part of being human,” he said, “and we don’t really do that anymore.”
When it comes to fasting, this is certainly not Hall’s first rodeo, either. He’s experimented with intermittent fasting, which involves eating for a window of time during the day and fasting for the rest of the hours, according to Prevention, and the ketogenic diet, which involves lowering carbohydrate intake and increasing fat consumption.
Hall admitted he has yet another incentive for sticking to his beer fast: he’d like to try to challenge his poor eating habits and what he calls his addiction to food — especially carbs and sugar. He admits it’s been hard to quit fast food, and that he had a craving for Taco Bell just days into the diet. “My pendulum doesn’t swing toward moderation,” he said.
But he’s sticking it out and hoping that when the fast is done, he’ll start seeking out healthier food options. “It’s not about the weight loss,” he said. “It’s about the journey and learning about yourself.”
Just one week into Lent, Hall reported he had lost 15.2 pounds. As of day 20 — Monday — he was down 25.6 pounds. After less than a week, he said his body had already adjusted to the absence of solid foods and he didn’t feel hungry at all. “I hope that’s going to be a good sign and I maintain this level of clarity,” he said. When he does get hungry, which happens at around noon or 1 p.m., he starts drinking beer.
Luckily for Hall, the vast selection of beers at Fifty West Brewing keeps things interesting. On his first day, he had a beer called Spare Parts, a chocolate maple and tasted almond stout that has 8.1 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). Additionally, he allows himself black coffee, unsweetened tea and sparkling water. “I’m a typical human, I want variety,” he said. “I don’t eat the same thing every day. I don’t want to drink the same thing either.”
Yahoo Lifestyle spoke with registered dietitian Helen Bond about whether a beer fast is a good idea. “No surprise, but a beer fast for Lent is not healthy or sustainable,” said Bond, “and will leave you lacking in key vitamins and minerals needed for overall health and wellbeing, and energy needed to keep your mood buoyant and concentration sharp. And drinking so much alcohol on a daily basis will do your liver no favors.”
Bond added, “Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it makes our kidneys make you pee much more than you take in. The water and coffee will replace some of these losses, but you are also risking dehydration and the associated effects — including skin health. Drinking too much could also irritate your digestive system, among other things.”
Before Hall took his vow to eliminate solid food, a man in Washington, D.C., tried beer fasting for Lent in 2011, according to Men’s Health. Like Hall, he was inspired by ancient monks — and similarly, he reported significant weight loss as well as mental clarity.
Hall said that in addition to his mental sharpness, some of his senses are heightening too — especially his “crazy” sense of smell. “Our air in Cincinnati is permeated with the smell of Cincinnati chili. It’s delicious,” he said on YouTube. “There are so many different parlors … I wonder if our sense of smell isn’t in tune to it because it’s everywhere.”
He also said that he needs less sleep and feels a lot more refreshed when he wakes up. As for his tolerance to alcohol, Hall said it’s been pretty high since high school, “but I can definitely feel it now.”
In the end, Hall is hoping the effects of his beer fast will have long-term benefits and teach him discipline. “I hope when this is done,” he said, “when I’m hungry and there’s bad food available, I opt to not eat anything at all.”
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