Twinkies

“Lose Weight by Eating Junk Food!” It’s a headline made for America. Eat a diet of snack cakes, cheesy chips and sugary cereals and lose weight without lifting a finger or a head of broccoli.

Professor Haub of Kansas State University made waves in the nutrition media lately for dropping 27 pounds in ten weeks on what has been dubbed the “Twinkie Diet.”

In addition to Twinkies, Haub ate Little Debbie snack cakes, cereals, cookies, brownies, Doritos, Oreos and other kinds of high calorie, low-nutrition foods that are usually found at convenience stores. He also took a multivitamin, drank a protein shake and munched a few vegetables every day (like a can of green beans) for nutritional value.

Dropping his caloric intake from 2600 to 1800 per day, Haub lost weight and reduced his body mass index from 28.2 (overweight) to 24.9 (normal). His body fat decreased from 33.4% to 24.9%, and Haub was able to prove the point of his study: losing weight is all about how much you eat, not what you eat. Fad diets that restrict food by type like the Atkins protein diet are just that – fads.

Most interesting about this experiment however is the significant health improvements that Haub experienced in addition to the weight loss. His triglyceride level also dropped 39%, his “bad” LDL cholesterol dropped 20% and his “good” HDL cholesterol increased by 20%.

Some of this data, particularly the cholesterol data, may have been skewed by the fact that during the study, Haub “avoided” meat, which is one of the prime agents of unhealthy cholesterol levels. He may have been eating six burger patties a day before starting the junk food diet experiment.

Still, Haub ended the ten weeks of snack cake consumption as a healthier person, at least on paper. What this might mean is that in general, ANY weight loss increases health, no matter how you are doing it.

This idea boils in the teeth of the fat acceptance movement, which states that fat can also be fit, and that weight has precious little to do with it. While this is no doubt true for some people who are overweight and perfectly healthy, the vast majority of overweight and obese people are nowhere near fit. Although we should all strive to love and accept our bodies just the way they are, there is no denying the medical truth that carrying around excess fat is one of the worst things you can do to affect your current and future health (Check out some Obesity Health Risks). Dropping pounds by eating pound cake may be a healthier short-term option than staying fat on whole grains and carrot sticks.

Long-term consequences of this junk food diet were not part of the study, which only lasted for ten weeks, and it would be interesting to hear how the professor felt after days on end stacked with highly-refined sugars and carbs. Although Haub’s health numbers improved after ten weeks on the Twinkie Diet, a sustained meal plan such as this would no doubt wreak havoc on the body. The best diet for anyone is a sustainable caloric intake that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, a bit of good fat and plenty of water. Accomplish this, and you can even sneak in a Twinkie now and then.

Like this? Then the Sleep Diet might also woo you…

Sources: CNN, NY Daily News, Technorati

image: Christian Cable