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Can You Lose Weight and Get Healthy Eating Junk Food?

Posted Jun 15 2013 6:49am

Just when I think I’ve wrapped my brain around the whole diet/weight loss thing and convinced myself that the key is healthy eating, I discover something that throw’s me a curve.

This may be old news but have you heard about the junk food diet dubbed, “The Twinkie Diet?” I hadn’t till recently. And it still has me smirking and scratching my head.

The Twinkie Diet

The Twinkie Diet

Back in 2010, Dr. Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, put himself on diet, eating 1800 or fewer calories a day of mostly junk for 10 weeks.

Instead of eating meals, every few hours Dr. Haub ate a Hostess or Little Debbie snack cake and also snacked on chips, cookies and sugary cereals, with a protein shake, a few veggies and a multivitamin thrown in for good measure.

Guess what happened? Yep, he lost weight!

Here’s a summary of what happened:

  • He lost 27 pounds which put his body mass index in the normal range (24.9)
  • His total body fat went down to 24.9 from 33.4
  • His total cholesterol went down to 184 mg/dL from 214
  • His LDL (bad) cholesterol went down to 123 from 153
  • His HDL (good) cholesterol went up to 46 from 37

So, according to his lab values, he got healthier while eating junk!

He is in no way advocating this diet and has no plans to repeat it. But he says, “There seems to be a disconnect between eating healthy and being healthy,” Haub said. “It may not be the same. I was eating healthier, but I wasn’t healthy. I was eating too much.” Before his Twinkie diet, he tried to eat a healthy diet that included whole grains, dietary fiber, berries and bananas, vegetables and occasional treats like pizza, but was overweight with elevated lab values.

(He maintained the same level of moderate physical activity as before going on the diet.)

It’s important to remember that too much food, even if it’s healthy, will make you fat. This little 10-week experiment is an important reminder of the importance of calories in the weight loss equation.

Of course, the long-term effects of this type of weight-loss diet remain unclear, as the Professor Haub candidly admits.

“These foods are consumed by lots of people,” he said. “It may be an issue of portion size and moderation rather than total removal. I just think it’s unrealistic to expect people to totally drop these foods for vegetables and fruits. It may be healthy, but not realistic.”

And Dr. Haub is not the only one to successfully lose weight in a non-traditional way. Remember  Jared and his Subway Diet ? And check out this 66-year-old librarian who who lost more than 75 pounds with the  The Starbucks Diet .

Personally, I’m a big fan of  Dr. Weill , an advocate of the Mediterranean Diet, which totally resonates with me. He believes that the underlying cause of many of today’s common chronic diseases is inflammation , which is exacerbated by a diet high in highly processed snack foods and fast foods.

C-reactive protein (CRP) is a protein found in the blood, which increases in response to inflammation. I’ve had my level checked by my naturopath and its fine. I would be curious to know if Dr. Haub’s CRP levels were affected by his junk food diet.

I believe that at the end of the day, there is no one right way to lose weight and/or get healthy. It’s all about moderation, moderation, moderation and finding the happy, healthy balance that’s right for you.

So, what do you think?

Here’s an interview with Dr. Haub if you want to learn more.


Mayo Clinic

Photo Credit: CBS News

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