Note from the Editor: The following is author Melissa Maki’s account of her partner of 19 years Troy Roger’s unusual diet of only beer. All views expressed in this story are soley the author’s. Check with your physician before starting any diet. Troy Rogers, the author, and The Growler bear no legal responsibility for health issues that should arise from following the beer diet!
What if I told you it’s possible lose a bunch of weight quickly without giving up beer? A Duluth man has done just that—he lost 50 pounds in three months, all the while rejecting the predominant dieting paradigm, making craft beer his primary source of sustenance.
Troy Rogers is a composer and instrument builder with mad scientist tendencies. He has a seemingly endless supply of big ideas and schemes. For the last decade, he has feverishly devoted himself to the creation of musical robots. As you might imagine, this is no simple task. Late nights and long hours spent designing and building robots, as well as algorithms for them to respond to, took a toll on the creator’s physical health.
Rogers hit a turning point when he moved to Duluth from Charlottesville, VA, where he had been pursuing a Ph.D. He stepped on a scale and was shocked at the numbers staring up at him. He was faced with a hard reality—at 6’1’’ and 250 pounds he was borderline obese.
“I realized I needed a drastic change. I needed to find a healthier balance,” says Rogers. In this context, “balance” is a term to be taken lightly. It’s readily apparent that that Rogers has a penchant for the extreme. He wasn’t satisfied with the idea of a sensible diet and regular exercise. He wanted more immediate results.
A research article written up in the New York Times was the perfect inspiration for Rogers. The study involved a small group of overweight Swedish men who followed an extreme diet and exercise routine and lost an average of 11 pounds in four days. Specifically, they exercised for 8+ hours a day and drank low-calorie sports drinks, reducing their caloric intake to nearly nothing. Even more remarkable than the weight loss is the fact that most of the men kept the weight off in the long term. The study taught them how to eat less and move more.
Rogers welcomed the chance to be more active. Moving to Duluth in spring of 2014 proved a good opportunity for such an endeavor. Duluth was named the best outdoor town in the country this year by Outside Magazine. With its abundance of trails for hiking and biking, it’s an easy place keep active.
He also knew he’d have to change some habits and give up some vices, but as a craft beer lover he eschewed the thought of giving up the carb-laden beverage. “The sticking point is that I love good beer,” he says. “I thought to myself, ‘What if I do the opposite of what they tell you to do—I give up food and just drink beer?'”
So it began. For four days a week, Rogers has been fasting and only consuming 1–2 beers each day for caloric content. He also exercises a lot—ideally 3–5 hours per day of swimming, biking, hiking, or walking.
Rogers admits there have been periods of weakness, particularly with summer barbecues featuring a plethora of fatty, rich foods and an excuse to overindulge in beer. He quickly learned that a whole week of sacrifice and weight loss can be easily undone with one weekend of excess. He claims the best way to deal with hunger pangs, feelings of weakness or dizzy spells is not to succumb to the pressure to eat, but to push through them. “The best remedy is to run. To go harder and faster. And when I succeed in doing that, it always works for me.”
Health Implications of the Beer Fast
Certainly, this diet is not for everyone. Running faster and harder when you feel dizzy is probably not recommended by any doctor. But what about as a general plan for weight loss? Jessie Hunter, M.P.H., R.D.N., confirmed that such a plan logically makes sense. “Any diet in which you have a negative energy balance—meaning you are either eating less total calories or using more through exercise than your body is storing—results in weight loss,” says Hunter. “So, no matter what a person is eating, low-carb or whatever diet they choose, it is ultimately the calories eaten versus burned. Often diets work at first due to this change in calories, but people get bored with the diet and gain the weight back.”
Hunter points out that a big concern with most diets is deficiencies of vitamins and minerals. She says ethanol has been found to have detrimental effects on nutrient absorption. But as long as drinking is done in moderation this should not be a concern.
As we know from history, Trappist monks have safely subsisted on beer during the 40 days of Lent. Beer, and particularly craft beer, is a known source of B vitamins and fiber, and a recent study even suggests that hops may help reduce the risk of lifestyle-related diseases like obesity.
Beer Has Never Tasted Better
Rogers’ beer cravings have ranged dramatically. It started with Pilsner Urquell, a throwback to his “awakening” to great beer in the Czech Republic as a 20-year-old. His go-to style is usually an IPA, such as Bent Paddle’s Bent Hop. As the summer progressed, Rogers craved heartier beer styles, like doppelbock. At times, he wants pungent beers and has been intensely satisfied by a pint of Fitger’s Brewhouse Wildfire Lager, a chili beer with a powerful spice profile, yet incredible balance. “Sometimes you need to get slapped in the face by your beer,” he jokes.
Rogers plans to continue the beer diet until he loses 82 pounds, which is his arbitrarily chosen number of cosmic significance. It’s hard to imagine most people subjecting their bodies to such a strict regimen, but it’s notable that Rogers says he feels better than he has in years, both physically and mentally. And he says the beer tastes better too. “After a day of working and not eating and then exercising intensely, that first beer tastes so much better. It’s a much more satisfying experience than regularly eating a meal.