For 23 days, KSU nutrition professor Mark Haub has been eating Little Debbie Pecan Spin Wheels for breakfast, Hostess Twinkies for lunch, birthday cake for supper and Doritos for dessert.

As of yesterday, he’s lost 13 lbs.

And according to the prof, not only has he lost weight during this experiment, his health has improved by eating a reduced calorie (under 1800 kcal) diet of twinkies, swiss cake rolls, blueberry muffins, cinnamon rolls, peanut butter oreos, hot dogs & a glass of milk to wash it down.

After 3 weeks on this anti-diet diet, the Prof is sleeping better, is snoring less, has lowered his LDL cholesterol, has raised his HDL cholesterol and has maintained his RDA level of nutrients by taking vitamins and eating low cal veggies like celery.

So, is this diet healthy?

That’s the question Professor Haub wants people to ask themselves. He wants us (and his students) to question the idea that eating fruits, vegetables, low-fat protein and whole grains is the only way to lose weight.

According to Haub, “It’s unrealistic in some areas of society to expect that you can find fresh broccoli, tomatoes at a price that is affordable. If somebody can get their nutrients from a supplement and then they get their fuel from whatever is available, does it matter that they’re not getting fruits and vegetables and whole grains?

Haub believes that “it doesn’t matter where the macronutrients are derived from as long as essential nutrients are consumed at the recommended levels, and the fuel is consumed at a level at or below energy expenditure.”

And this is where I have to call B.S. on Prof. Haub’s Twinkie Diet.

His belief that a handful of vitamins can replace the nutrients found in a diet of actual food is a total crock of twinkie goo.

  • I agree with the Prof that caloric consumption is the strongest indicator of weight loss/gain.
  • I agree with the Prof that supplementing his Twinkie Diet with vitamin & mineral supplements will help to address the obvious nutritional deficiencies.

However, before people start swarming  their local 7-11 to get the last box of Diet Twinkies, the Nutrition Professor should remind us (and the media) this is a short term experiment that is limited in scope & depth.

It will not measure:

  • The damage caused by the over-consumption of trans fats, artificial colors, petroleum derived flavorings, chemical emulsifiers, chemical preservatives, etc…
  • The effect that the high levels of HFCS & other sugars is having upon Prof. Haub’s  poor ole pancreas
  • Any increase in systemic inflammation and ph levels
  • The increased cravings for sugar…. brought upon by those twinkies and peanut butter oreos
  • The lack of enzymes, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, non-vitamin cofactors, sterols, polyphenols, flavonoids, phytosterols, carotenoids, prebiotics, probiotics, triterpenes, mineral salts, amino acids, etc…

In short, Professor Haub has shown us that when you eat less food, you lose body-fat.

Of course, a 15 year old anorexic teenager could have told us that.


28 comments

  1. Doug,

    I love this post! I have had similar findings. I like your points as well. I lived off of protein shakes and salad at one point for a year when I was trying to get ultra-lean. I never felt better.

    These days I like to eat vegetables and whole foods, mainly for the long term health aspects. I don’t see anything wrong with eating these so called “junk foods” for short periods of time as long as the calories are kept in check.

    Good news for poor college students living off of Ramen. It isn’t going to kill them if they eat like this for a few years…but they should switch back to healthier options when they have cash.

    -Rusty

  2. What a vile study that is. After a year on this diet I guarantee the good doctor’s blood lipids and liver enzymes will not be at healthy levels anymore… not to mention pretty much every other measure of proper health. I’m actually about to publish a detox diet that can be followed for about a month to lose 15 or so pounds, that will be a whole lot healthier and maintainable that the fricken Twinkie diet. I hope no one reads this study and thinks it has any real merit.

  3. You make some valid points in your post, but I would appreciate the chance to make a few comments:

    1) I have developed and been on a more comprehensive “Junk Food Diet” for the last 2 and 1/2 years. I call it The EET (eating and exercise timing) Fitness Plan I eat treats of all sort every day (a far greater variety than Dr. Haub’s plan including all fast food burgers, pizza and whatever else you can name), as part of a balanced diet and have lost 35 pounds and kept it off for 28 months now. I can produce Doctors results that verify all of my blood and health readings have improved dramatically.

    While Dr.Haub’s readings have improved by a reduction of foods like red meat, the key to the EET Fitness Plan is based on TIMING – specifically the principle that it’s far more important to your metabolism and health WHEN you eat than what you eat. I have added many trial participants to my EET plan over the last 18 months have many participants who have had similar results.

    So, I was not surprised at the improvement in Dr. Haubs blood readings and my experience is that they can be maintained with some very minor modifications — I have 28 months and counting of evidence among a wide variety of people (include type 2 diabetics and children who were obese before using EET) to support this position.

    2)Your statement

    “In short, Professor Haub has shown us that when you eat less food, you lose body-fat.”

    Is absolutely false. The more likely effect of Dr. Haub’s diet is to lose MUSCLE as he’s not getting the right balance of protein and definitely not getting the appropriate nutrients at the correct times of day. This can create very rapid weight loss as muscle is more dense than fat.

    This concept that eating less will help you lose fat is one reason you find so many obese people who cut calories and yet never seem to lose any significant weight–they have reduced their metabolism to a crawl by reducing their muscle mass plus they create a starvation reaction from their metabolism which makes the body want to hold on to fat to “protect” itself from starvation.

    Also, it’s important to eat as much food as possible to train your metabolism to run at a higher rate. The EET Fitness plan has proven this concept beyond any doubt as I currently eat upwards of 500-1000 calories more PER DAY than I did when I weighed 35 pounds more than I do today. AND I EXERCISE 1/2 OF THE TIME I USED TO AS WELL.

    I am not saying that binge eaters should not eat less food — certainly there are limits to how much food a person should eat each day, but cutting calories to drop below energy expenditure on a daily basis is a recipe for disaster.

    Training your metabolism to handle more food is clearly a better way, and this can be accomplished by shifting the timing of your eating and exercise to better align with your natural metabolic cycle.

    Caloric deficit dieting is a huge cause of weight gain as it is very difficult to maintain and causes metabolism to slow. Basically it puts you in a jail that to lose weight you will have to eat less and less and exercise more and more. That’s not healthy.

    In the case of Dr. Haub’s diet, the likely significant muscle loss due to improper diet balance will likely make the long term prospects for his twinkie diet to be a need to reduce calories and increase exercise to even maintain the weight loss he accomplishes–just like every other conventional diet plan.

    There is a far far better way to lose weight, and it’s using EATING AND EXERCISE TIMING TO WORK WITH AND RETRAIN YOUR METABOLISM —

    Since I discovered these concepts over 2 years ago I have always said the same thing:

    There are no junk foods, only foods eaten at the wrong times.

    Thanks for the opportunity to comment

    Jon Pearlstone
    Founder
    The EET Fitness Plan

  4. Hey, thanks for sharing this story, its been really interesting. But also frustrating. I’m not fat, but not thin either and I take a great deal of care not to eat things like Twinkies so that I don’t put on uneccesary weight. I find it really hard to believe that this is true but your statistics and numbers seem to prove that it is…

  5. A good rule of thumb is usually to strike a balance that should be observed somewhere between questioning conventional wisdom and common sense.

    Common sense alone would dictate that his diet is a very, very bad idea. I wonder how his blood sugar levels reacted to this diet…

    I’m not surprised if he lost weight by limiting his caloric intake, though I agree with Jon that it’s possible that part of his weight loss is actually muscle (depending on his protein intake / other factors – I haven’t yet read the specifics at his site).

    Of course, there’s also a number of nutrients outside of vitamins and minerals that are important factors in our diet, so I agree with your thoughts there Doug.

    On the plus side, this could be a great weight-loss diet for Dentists to promote! 😉

  6. Hey Jon

    First off…thanks for the comment – I appreciate the amount of time it must have taken you to script that masterpiece.

    About your comments:

    1. Food timing is one of my 3 pillars of successful weight loss – What You Eat, When You Eat It and How Much You Eat

    I look forward to reading more about your EET Fitness Plan.

    2. I still stick by my statement “In short, Professor Haub has shown us that when you eat less food, you lose body-fat.”

    I agree with you that he has probably lost muscle during this experiment – water as well. But, I am also pretty sure that he HAS lost body-fat. Unfortunately, we’ll never know as the Prof isn’t measuring things accurately.

    It’s funny that a nutrition prof thinks that weight lost on a bathroom scale has to be 100% bodyfat (not really funny…more like sad)

    In the next few weeks, I will take a closer look at EET and see if I can find a few guinea pigs to give it a test run with me.

  7. @Rusty

    Your diet sounds a lot like mine – healthy “real” food with the occasional “treat”

    In regards to the study, what I took from it was that sometimes people get too caught up in the dogma of their own beliefs (low-carb dieters, vegans, paleos, liberals, conservatives, muslims, christians) to see that the world isn’t always as black & white as they think.

    A low-carb dieter isn’t going to die if he eats a Snickers bar….and a vegan will survive if a morsel of animal protein passes their lips…and a paleo dieter like me can survive the occasional burger & a beer.

  8. I agree with Doug, he has only proven restricting calories will drop some weight, but I would like to see this carried out for a longer period of time with more information like bodyfat and muscle mass measurements.

    Restricting calories and working out can drop some pounds, but I am not convinced you can drop all the pounds this way. At least I could not. I once went on a strict 1500 calorie diet for 16-18 months, I dropped from ~250lbs to 190lbs, and then the weight stopped moving. I pressed on for 3 more months, 189 one day, 192lbs the next, no real changes. On this diet if I slipped up and misread a calorie count on a box or just slipped and ate something I should not and I exceeded 1500 calories for the day, I would eat less the next day. I was very hardcore about eating 1500 calories, BUT, I was playing the “how bad can I eat and stay under my count” game. Sometimes ok foods, a lot of times bad foods, and TONS of processed/pre-packaged foods.

    I am 5’8″ so 190lbs is well outside my ideal weight, I think at ~170lbs I would be at healthy weight and have some definition, but my ultimate goal may be more like 160-165lbs I just have to see what 170lbs will look like (never been there since high school). During this diet I was working out like crazy, 80min cycling burning well over 1k calories every other day, weight lifting every other day (with 40min easy cycling sessions). During this I lost a lot of muscle as well as fat, at 190lbs I was still around 23% bodyfat. Definetly not the “ripped” or even healthy fat percentage range.

    I am coming full circle and starting to get back to low calorie/low carb but eating vegetables and whole foods when I can. I think this is the only way to get there, there are so many things in junk foods that do not properly break down in the body right. Things that throw off the pH, things that may bypass normal mechanisms (HFCS not shutting off hunger as quickly) and so forth. You may be able to lose weight on junk food, but lets revist this in a couple of years and see where you end up before we tout this, or ANY new diets as acceptable.

  9. I knew a girl who ate all junk food but stayed within a certain caloric limit. She had a great figure and looked very healthy. After knowing her about 3 years, her gums began to bleed badly and some of her teeth became loose. She started eating healthy, her dental problems were resolved, but she got fat.

  10. Healthhabits (Doug, right?)

    Thanks a lot for replying to my comments. You and your readers appear to be knowledgeable and open minded — this is unique among many weight loss and fitness sites. Trust me, as a person who has found a different way, I meet a lot of skeptics who really don’t want to learn the facts about EET and it’s very high success rate, but would rather just blindly defend diet and exercise plans that fail a vast majority of the people some 95-98% of the time.

    I was hesitant to list my website or blog on the prior email because I was not sure you would want me to do that – I did include them at the bottom of this post as it appeared you would be okay with that. If that is inappropriate just let me know and I will not do it again.

    I invite all readers to evaluate The EET Fitness Plan and would be happy to answer all questions.

    I would also be willing to arrange a trial for you and others that you find that are interested and you feel would be good candidates. Especially if you and the other folks would be willing to write about your experiences with EET.

    @Matt Jones, I hope you will look into EET as EET has helped many people just like you – Some of their success stories on on the EET site and I can get you in touch with them if you like.

    EET is based on sound metabolic science and has no games or gimmicks. EET has proven you can eat what you love every day and lose weight and become more fit.

    I am so glad I found your site and I look forward to future discussions with you and your readers.

    Jon
    EET Fitness
    WEBSITE http://www.eetfit.com
    BLOG http://metabolicmemory.wordpress.com/

  11. Jon,

    While I definitely have pretty strong beliefs about what I think are the BEST ways to eat, train, rest, etc….I try really hard not to let those beliefs and my ego get in the way of listening to other theories/approaches.

    I can’t stand how some “experts” are more concerned with promoting their own agenda than helping their clients get the best results.

  12. Having lived with an adulterous affair with Ho-ho’s most of my life, I am so happy I can come out in the open with it. I never did like Twinkies.

    Leave it to a scientist to come with up a one sided experiment that produced results he wanted – wow, go figure.

    Your conclusions were right on.

    Not a guru nor an expert, but I’m guessing a well balanced diet is good enough. And good enough to give cover to an occasionally chips ahoy without feeling guilty.

    By the way, your thoughts that changes to obesity and the like start with the individual is pretty foundational. Experts and government can dictate, preach, make laws, whatever…but until we each choose to start living healthy, it’s not really, ever going to change the core problem.

  13. Just because you can lose weight in the short term, doesnt mean a diet is a good lifestyle choice. If he is making a point, its a good one. Not everyone has the money/means/knowledge to get fresh veggies – point made. Now show them how to eat properly with what they have.

  14. Honestly, any food that provides that little calories will make you lose body fat. That’s just simple math.

    The only thing the diet does NOT account for are all the remainders in between that. Fast/Processed food rarely, if at all, go with fitness and health. It will most likely stay this way.

  15. Why question long-term effects? These kinds of diets are not generally meant to be a long-term solution. They are meant to help you obtain your target area / goal. Once you reach that you can re-introduce foods into your diet and see what works for you. Also, they key to any diet, or maintaining the benefits of having been on one, is exercise.

  16. I like where you point out the many shortcomings of just such a diet. Improved cholesterol and triglyceride levels just scratch the surface of good health. This diet is a long term prescription for becoming a diabetic, not mention the cancer risks.

  17. Every Other Day Diet program takes care of the emotional aspects of fat and fat loss instead of only focusing on the exact foods consumed in a diet. But, It works on three various levels for users to lose levels of fats!

  18. Our dear professor also is discounting the 10,000 or so chemicals called “phytonutrients” that scientists have yet to identify in foods like broccoli, cranberries, blueberries, spinach, and other such colorful fruits and veggies, that are also a huge part of the health benefits of said foods. In addition to your excellent points regarding inflammation in the body, sugar cravings, critical enzymes missing, etc, I think your last statement is the most poignant one… the professor basically proved that eating a low calorie diet will result in weight loss.

  19. Most diets end up slowing your metabolism by longer term calorie restriction making it easier to put the weight back on when the diet is done. The Every Other Day Diet plan can easily become a permanent weight loss, weight maintenance!

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