I recently was sent an article by a dear friend of mine that tells the story of a professor who replaced three of his meals per day with Twinkies!
Mark Haub, a professor of Human Nutrition at Kansas State University set out to prove that it’s the number of calories you consume on a daily basis and NOT necessarily the nutrients found within them, that’s most important when trying to regulate body weight. The result was interesting – Mark ended up losing 27lbs during his experiment… so should we all go on a Twinkie diet?
On paper, Mark’s results sound pretty darn good as he significantly lowered his bad cholesterol (LDL), increased his good cholesterol (HDL) and reduced the amount of bad fat in his blood (known as triglycerides). Plus he also lost about 10% body fat in the 10-week process. To be fair the good doctor did switch up his choice of junk food with each meal (so it wasn’t all Twinkies!) and allowed himself a protein shake and a can or two of vegetables each day. But even so – pretty snazzy I’d say.
So what should we take away from this? It’s what I’ve always said and what our good professor says as well. It’s all about moderation and portion control. If you burn more calories than you take in you will lose weight – it’s that simple!
That said I don’t recommend anyone go out and start eating a diet of 2/3 junk food, calorie controlled or not. The fact is that while Mark’s extreme experiment worked in that it proved a point, for the same number of calories of junk food, he could have eaten a much more nutritious, healthier, less calorie dense diet that consisted of healthy proteins, fats, carbohydrates and fiber. Perhaps if he had, maybe his results may have ended up being even better.
I also would have liked more information in the piece, like the professor’s starting weight, how many calories he was eating prior (not what an average man his size does), and whether or not any exercise was included. The biggest problem I see with Mark’s diet is that it is grossly under in calories. Plus the professor was sorely lacking in protein, fiber, and a whole host of other nutrients so this was essentially a crash diet for 10 weeks. But with every crash diet comes a rebound effect when more calories are reintroduced. Mark’s idea to include an extra 300 calories per day going forward may backfire on him and I’d really like to see where he is in another 10 weeks, and whether he has maintained or gained any additional weight.
All in all, the point was made definitively and clearly – it’s calories in versus calories out that mostly regulate and help to maintain body weight. Although you must keep in mind that a normal body weight does not always correlate to being in good health. As I always say healthy foods, when eaten excessively can cause weight gain as well.
I don’t think Mark’s study would have seemed as relevant or shocking had he been eating nothing but steamed chicken and vegetables. So hat’s off to the doc for finding a unique way to prove a point. Now where’s that Twinkie I had around here…