Nutrition and the Twinkie Diet

Occasionally something comes along that is just so weird I have to comment on it.
And here it is. A nutrition professor from Kansas University Mark Haub, put himself on an 1800 calorie junk food diet that included cereal, milk, one can of green beans, 4 sticks of celery, a protein shake a multivitamin and twinkies, sugary cakes and corn chips. And guess what – his cholesterol went down, his triglycerides went down his weight went down and his ‘good’ cholesterol went up and he is pretty happy with the results.

Haub did this as an experiment for his nutrition class and the results are confounding
He says that he can’t say it’s a good diet, because he’s geared not to do that. In other words, his years of being a nutrition professor have taught him it must be otherwise. Well that’s good! Glad to hear it. OK. So what happened? He cut calories by about 60% and kept his usual exercise patterns and lost weight – nothing surprising: calorie deficit equals weight loss. What about his cholesterol and Triglycerides. The more calories you consume then the more cholesterol you make, same with body fat – the more you weigh the more cholesterol you will make.

But the real point here is that he did this for 10 weeks.
not for years. The most disturbing thing about this experiment is that it sends a confusing and/or a justifying message to people who actually DO eat this way. Its like “ well what about the nutrition professor who ate twinkies for 10 weeks and he got healthier”.  Any one who lives on a diet like this for 10 weeks will be fine if they were in an otherwise state of good health, but anyone who lives on this for years is going to see negative consequences in the end.

There’s nothing wrong with the protein shake, the vegetable or the multivitamin
but depriving yourself of phytochemicals and antioxidants will cause the body to be susceptible to inflammation which leads to heart disease and increased cancer risk. On the other hand, what the diet does highlight is that calorie restriction works and you will see an improvement in biochemical markers that are commonly measured like LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides, in addition, excess fat also leads to inflammation which is never good.

Calorie restriction, for those of us who are strong willed enough to do it
actually has a lot of health benefits. More so than eating too much of a good thing. Haub said that he was less healthy when he ate lots of fruit, wholegrains and meat, than when he was eating his junk food diet and since he began eating meat again his cholesterol levels have gone up. My thoughts are that what showed up in this experiment is that in the short term, eating fewer calories promotes health, but what we don’t know is what would happen if this was a long term diet. I think it’s probably a pretty good bet you would become more susceptible to illness.

Let’s put it this way.
If you are already ill or have an inflammatory condition then this is not the diet to be on. This experiment  provides a reminder that a lean body mass is extremely important to overall health, but let’s not forget that Twinkies, Doritos, and Little Debbies do nothing good for your health but do add lots of salt, sugar, high glycemic foods and preservatives.

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