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Shereen Jegtvig, MS

Twinkie Diet

By November 8, 2010

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Mark Haub, a nutrition professor at Kansas State University wanted to find out what would happen if he cut calories, but loaded up on the junk food, especially Twinkies.

And what happened? He lost weight. A lot of weight - 27 pounds in two months. He cut his calorie intake to 1800 per day (800 less than he probably was eating daily before the diet), took vitamins, ate mostly junk food with a daily protein shake and only a serving or two of vegetables. The calorie cut accounts for the weight loss, but what's interesting is that his LDL (bad cholesterol) dropped and HDL (the good kind) increased.

Of course HDL and LDL can be influenced in a rather short time and that doesn't mean this is a healthy way to maintain weight loss. I wonder what he'll eat now that his diet is over?

Comments
November 8, 2010 at 10:58 pm
(1) Joel Date says:

I had similar loses without changing the types of foods I ate but only the number of calories. I drink a lot of pop and eat a lot of fast food. Still, I lose by eating less and avoiding less filling foods. I wrote an iPhone app, Quick Calories, to track my food easily.

November 9, 2010 at 4:44 am
(2) renrac820 says:

This kinda blows healthy eating out the window.
I’ve been tracking calories, but have a hard
time not eating sweets. So, I’ve been including
them into my total caloric intake, & I have lost
weight consistantly. (With guilt). Maybe I should
let the guilt go…. :-)

November 9, 2010 at 11:46 am
(3) Common Sense Weight Loss says:

Alas! Weight loss is primarily about calorie intake, but good nutrition should not be ignored. Curiously his cholesterol levels improved and triglycerides went down, but those aren’t the only things that determine good nutrition. Long term overall good health can only be promoted by a well balanced eating regimen with an emphasis on vegetable consumption for all the vitamins, antioxidants and phyto-nutrients they provide to support good health on a cellular level.

November 9, 2010 at 5:12 pm
(4) Greg says:

There are major flaws and serious questions about the Twinkie Diet that the media isn’t addressing. You can find a more objective view of the diet on Holosfitness.com:

November 10, 2010 at 2:56 am
(5) TylerGrip says:

This further cements the need for people to simply cut calories. It’s basic math: burn more than you take in and you’re good-to-go on the fat-loss…I’d caution the longterm effects of so few vegetables. Most plant-based foods are heavy in phytonutrients that are the main tool humans have against cancer, heart disease, etc. Cool read. Thanks!

November 10, 2010 at 11:20 am
(6) David says:

Professor Haub has responded to a few common criticisms in person here:

http://hbfser.wordpress.com/2010/11/08/the-prof-mark-haub-nonsense

I’ve also done some analysis on my blog of the study and what we can conclude from it.

November 10, 2010 at 2:59 pm
(7) Leonardo says:

Hi,

I was diagnosed diabetic in June of this year (2010). The normal blood sugar level is 5.8, mine was 60. I was walking around & didn’t know how sick I was. I was drinking & peeing like a horse. My mouth felt like cotton. The thing that brought me to casualty was the stone in my kidney moved & blocked my uterer. Now I couldn’t pee. The doctors were rushing around me trying to get my blood sugars down. I was then brought to Theatre to have a stent put into my bladder. I could not be given a general anaesthetic because of my blood sugars, so they gave me a local one. I spent 3 hours in Recovery & then was brought to High Dependency Unit. After a few days my blood sugar level was brought from 60 to 13.5.

While most diabetics get diabetic neuropathy 20 years later, I got mine on my first week. It is the hardest part of diabetes I have to deal with. I have no problem injecting 2 times a day. I take an antidepressent & 2 pain killers at night for the neuropathy.

I have cut out all refined foods, all sugar, bread, potatoes. I have a raw salad with my stake & a bottle of wine for my main meal. I have mackeral & a raw salad for my breakfast. I have lambs liver or some cheese for my tea.

I try & drink 6 pints of water a day. I take 1 spoon of crushed cinnamon; 1 spoon of blackstrap mollasses every day.

I exercise on my treadmill for 30 minutes a few times a week, other times I will go for a long walk. My blood sugar ranges from 4.9 to 6.8, so I think I am on top of things. I argue with my doctor to reduce my insulin, so I am down to 30 units twice a day. One time I fasted for 3 days & took no insulin & my sugar levels were perfect! My doctor did a jig when he heard what I had done.

Even though my blood sugars are stable & I am on a good healthy diet, my NEUROPATHY IN MY FEET tells me that I am not cured yet.

Greetings from the Emerald Isle

November 10, 2010 at 4:44 pm
(8) Carole says:

Of course nutritionists are going to say bad things about this diet. Its makes their profession look bad. I mean a guy ate junk food, lost weight and came away healthier. Who needs a nutritionist?

November 10, 2010 at 7:28 pm
(9) francine says:

OH PLEASE. Everyone is always looking for some way to justify eating crap. Calories in x activity = weight loss or gain. What’s the big deal?

November 10, 2010 at 9:02 pm
(10) Shereen Jegtvig says:

Thanks for all the comments, everyone. I’m not ready to give up my career as a nutritionist based on one man’s weight loss while eating Twinkies. Some things to think about:

1.What would a long-term Twinkie diet do for one’s health?

2. Could losing weight be the most important factor in blood lipids? What about thin people who have high LDL/low HDL?

3. How many people eat mostly junk food while cutting their calories – what is their health like?

And:

4. How difficult is it to maintain a low calorie diet without much volume – junk foods are energy dense so it’s easy to eat large portions before feeling full.

November 11, 2010 at 9:58 am
(11) Erica says:

Has anybody heard how this diet full of sodium has affected this man’s blood pressure????? I would really like to know!

November 11, 2010 at 4:08 pm
(12) Vanessa says:

By dropping weight Haub significantly reduced his risk of diabetes. It is healthier to eat a bad diet and have normal weight than eat a “healthy” diet and be overweight. Haub made some interesting remarks about “processed” foods sometimes being healthier than “healthy” foods.

November 11, 2010 at 9:22 pm
(13) wb says:

I had knee surgery at age 14 and the anesthesia, etc. did something to my appetite and sense of taste. I had a hard time eating a lot of foods, especially meat. But the one thing that was appetizing after surgery was Twinkies. I probably lost 15 pounds after surgery, and I was already a very skinny teen, so I am sure I dropped to 95 pounds before I finally got my appetite back.

November 12, 2010 at 3:05 pm
(14) The Ponderer says:

I hate to break it to some people, but maintaining a healthy weight is just a branch of being actually healthy. So just because you lose weight because of something, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to make you fitter person (tapeworm diet, anyone?). Here’s a few reasons I found that this might not work out so well for the average Joe:

1. Cutting calories is generally the best way to go, but it says that this man also performed physical activities everyday.

2. Metabolism. Yes, the dreaded word. Just because one weight-loss technique worked for someone else, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you. Because everybody’s body metabolizes things differently. It has been proven that by eating junk food every once in a while, it kind of turbo-charges your metabolism since it has to work to deal with all of the crap. So eating junk food every once in a while is never a bad thing.

3. Food density. We all know the point of junk food is to taste delicious. And what better way to suck dry the money of the consumer by making it so you eat it but never feel full so you go back for more because it’s so amazingly delicious and your STILL hungry. Most junk food wasn’t made to fill you up so it kind of makes the whole low-calorie junk-food diet somewhat moot, don’t you think? This man kept a regimen where he was only allowed to eat certain amounts at certain times, so he was okay.

4. Read the article. He still ate his veggies. A harrowing thought, I know.

5. So he lost weight and his good cholesterol went up. Congratulations. But there are still probably about one-hundred other areas of health that have been sorely damaged. Of course he did do some supplementation with vitamins and protein shakes, but still, our body wasn’t meant to process that much chemical in a single delicious bar.

November 13, 2010 at 12:43 am
(15) Nick says:

I hate to break it to you, but the diet works. I have been doing it, and have lost weight. I weigh over 300 pounds and have been eating small junk food “meals” of about 300 calories each and have been losing weight. I don’t plan to do this forever, but I can’t afford to buy healthier, unprocessed foods. I eat McDonald’s cheeseburgers, small bags of Doritos, Little Debbie Zebra Cakes, and pre-packaged burritos and breakfast sandwiches (all around 300 calories each). I eat 6 of these meals a day, about three hours apart from each other (to stabilize blood sugar). It is working.

As to why his lipid levels dropped, it is simple physiology. A reduction in body mass leads to a reduction in the total areas that lipids can circulate and permeate. Low cholesterol diet is the way to go for those who can afford it.

If everyone had the money to shop at Whole Foods and the time to go to the gym for an hour a day (but those of us who work full time, go to school full time, and have full time family duties) then we would all be slim.

November 13, 2010 at 8:33 am
(16) Ellen Smith says:

I have a hard time not eating sweets and pastries..
I just could not say no to cakes, icre creams and chocolates..
However, I think eating junk foods for calories is not good..
Im not an expert but I think you may have dropped the calories but not in a healthy way….

November 13, 2010 at 10:51 am
(17) Jim says:

The answers to Shereen’s questions are, he ate about 2600 calories daily, and his HDL did not increase significantly. He also states that this was not intended to be a permanent lifestyle change but a classroom experiment to test the theory that caloric intake versus caloric output was the sole determinant in losing weight. He acknowledged that this was not meant to be a sustainable diet that would provide good nutritional value.

It troubles me that I found the answers in .17 seconds, and Shereen wrote her article above seemingly without doing any research on the specifics of her topic. It is psuedo-intellectual posturing, not worthy of someone with her credentials. Or perhaps I am assuming she has any.

November 13, 2010 at 11:08 am
(18) Shereen Jegtvig says:

Actually, Jim, as I stated in my post, he consumed 1800 calories per day and his HDL went up by 20%. What would you consider to be significant increase for HDL?

November 22, 2010 at 4:11 am
(19) Anthony says:

Problems with this:

1) Taking vitamins because he isn’t getting ANY other form of nutrition.

2) Decreasing calories is great to loose weight if you aren’t burning more than 2000 in a day… thumbs up… trouble is… the kind of calories you ARE consuming are nothing but SH!T!

3) The increased amount of cholesterol

4) The body’s metabolism is weakened and slowed down… and what happens when you start to eat a NORMAL HEALTHY diet? you get fat again! ?!?! WHY? Because your metabolism has been slowed to a screeching halt!

5) I’ll bet his bowel movements were not very nice… what’s a sign of a good diet? A healthy bowel movement!

6) Again supplements are supposed to SUPPLEMENT your diet! NOT REPLACE IT! If you disagreed with this point… read up what the word “Supplement” means and read this post again. (PLEASE NOTE I HAVE SAID THIS TWICE BECAUSE IT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT STATEMENT I HAVE MADE)

7) Nowhere AT ALL is there a mention this “Doctor” got off his fat ass and did some exercise. WHY?!?!?! Because generally, people who get suckered in to the fad diets to lose weight the “EASY” way got fat from being lazy in the first place.

8) Anyone trying to promote a fad diet is only out to make money from your laziness.

Cheers!

December 3, 2010 at 3:13 am
(20) JayLib says:

So this proves that for some folks, if they restrict their calorie intake, drink a protein shake, eat vegetables twice a day, and take supplemental vitamins — their bodies may forgive them if they add some Twinkies to the mix.

This story doesn’t live up to all the headlines it got.

If some folks lose weight with 6 junk meals a day (because, it is true, eating frequently does stabilize blood sugar), imagine how much more you’d lose and how much better you’d feel and function eating six meals of food . Real food, with the fiber and the good fats and complex carbs for long-lasting energy and micronutrients without which your body and its metabolism can never run at their absolute peak.

The reason why it’s dangerous to bill this as the “Twinkie Weight-Loss Diet” is that most people won’t look at the fine print and will just go and pig out on Twinkies thinking they’re going to lose weight. Ain’t so.

December 3, 2010 at 3:38 am
(21) JayLib says:

@ Leonardo from the Emerald Isle —

Your diet sounds delicious and it makes sense that your diabetes would improve. Cinnamon is an excellent blood sugar stabilizer. Columbus didn’t go sailing for India just beacuse spices make food taste good — it’s because they are nature’s medicines. And unlike Pharma’s patent medicines, they carry no adverse effects.

Fasting is great for health. Perhaps even better, a fresh juice fast. The one time I have tried this, I prefaced it with three days where I ate 80% raw vegan (except for a baked potato, rice, or boiled egg, everything was raw). Then three days on juice. I made a blend of carrot, spinach, celery and apple, with a bit of garlic thrown in, 12 oz. made and drunk Fresh 3x/day. (I could do this because I am unemployed!)

And also, 60 oz. of water a day. I think I also took three packets of Emergen-C (1000 mg.) per day and also a high-count (like 20 billion) probiotic each day.

By the end of the third day I felt like a had a brand new body. Chronic pain and stiffness gone everywhere (The pain was bodywide — I had not even realized how extensive it had become until it disappeared). Chronic throat, nose & sinus congestion cleared. My back loosened up and I even stood straighter. Foot pain left me and I could walk much more easily. My muscles regained their springiness and chronic soreness went away. My circulation improved and I began to regain a level of sensitivity in my skin that I hadn’t even realized I had lost.

I could feel a significant boost in chi as well — waves of energy rippling over me.

But, as I resumed a regular diet, all the symptoms gradually returned. This let me know, however, that all these symptoms, mainly inflammatory, were closely connected to diet — both pro-inflammatory foods, and perhaps a lack of anti-inflammatory nutrients — and I continue to explore the connection as I seek a permanent cure.

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