Sheri’s Rants # 46: Twinkie Diet ‘works’ for Professor

Posted on November 10, 2010 by

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(CNN) — Twinkies. Nutty bars. Powdered donuts.

For 10 weeks, Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, ate one of these sugary cakelets every three hours, instead of meals. To add variety in his steady stream of Hostess and Little Debbie snacks, Haub munched on Doritos chips, sugary cereals and Oreos, too.

His premise: That in weight loss, pure calorie counting is what matters most — not the nutritional value of the food.

The premise held up: On his “convenience store diet,” he shed 27 pounds in two months.

For a class project, Haub limited himself to less than 1,800 calories a day. A man of Haub’s pre-dieting size usually consumes about 2,600 calories daily. So he followed a basic principle of weight loss: He consumed significantly fewer calories than he burned.

His body mass index went from 28.8, considered overweight, to 24.9, which is normal. He now weighs 174 pounds.

read the rest of the article here: Professor’s Twinkie Diet

main points:

  • Nutrition professor’s “convenience store diet” helped him shed 27 pounds
  • Haub limited himself to 1,800 calories and two-thirds come from junk food
  • Haub said it’s too early to draw any conclusions about diet

Sheri’s Comments:

Mr. Haub’s body ended up at 24.9% body fat, which is still a lot of fat on a man.  Optimal ranges for health for a man is 8 – 15% bodyfat.   Based on his starting and ending weights, Mr. Haub ended up with 130.5 lbs lean mass, and still 43 lbs of fat on his body.  He lost 4 lbs of muscle in that 10 weeks. Going off the scale alone, yes, he was successful in dropping weight.  And he lost valuable metabolic tissue (muscle).  This is a normal ‘dieting’ profile in that respect.  Much of what he was eating was nutrient – void, which means his actual usable caloric nutrition available to his body was much lower than the 1800  he was ingesting.  That renders the diet a VLCD, or Very Low Calorie Diet.
He states that his health markers improved, but we don’t know what his diet was like beforehand.  He states that as he added meat to his diet, his cholesterol went up.  He doesn’t say what kind of meat, but more significantly, I wonder if this was when his body had gone catabolic (meaning his body was eating that 4 lbs of muscle in an attempt to get fuel) – which would raise his cholesterol quickly.
We all know that a very low calorie diet on whatever kind of food will work once or twice –  in fact many hospitals sponsor VLCD diets that recommend processed shakes and bars not much better than what Mr. Haub was ingesting.  But then comes the metabolic longer term payback (as a result of muscle loss and other factors): more weight gain, prolonged health issues, and dieting stops working for weight loss.  Mr Haub does say he doesn’t understand why it ‘worked’ (I don’t think losing that much muscle is ‘working’, but he’s going off of different markers) and does not recommend it.  He also states that it’s too early to draw conclusions – and it is! But that is buried in the text, and not explained in a way that a reader without a health/fitness background will understand.  Shame on him for putting it out there before he gathered more data!

Thank you to Gayle B of Ojai, CA for sharing this article.
Posted in: Sheri's Rants