Does the Twinkie Diet REALLY Work?

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Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, decided to eat twinkies, powdered donuts, nutty bars, Doritos, Oreos and other processed junk foods every three hours instead of meals — for two months. Why did he do it? To test out his theory that pure calorie counting is what matters most in weight loss, not the nutritional value of food. So, he cut his caloric intake, but loaded up on junk food.

The Experiment

Haub began his experiment on August 25. He restricted his daily caloric intake to 1800 calories and kept his activity level the same. But, he mainly ate pure junk food in the form of four or five processed snacks a day. He also consumed whole milk, canned or frozen vegetables, a multi-vitamin, and a protein shake.

The Results

Well, he’s no nutty professor — Haub lost 27 pounds in two months! Not only that — he actually began to feel healthier overall. He had more energy and lost enough weight to lower his “bad” cholesterol by 20 percent. His body mass index (BMI) went from 28.8, considered overweight, to 24.9, which is in the normal range. Additionally, his “good” cholesterol went up by 20 percent and his blood glucose levels dropped 17 percent.

Should I Start Buying Twinkies Now?

Despite Haub’s temporary success, the “convenience store diet” is far from ideal. Health experts warn that Haub’s results can be deceiving. Being overweight leads to several health complications, like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. So, losing a significant amount of weight will make anyone feel healthier. But, over time, dietitians warn that a diet consisting of processed, sugary foods will be more harmful than helpful. Additionally, there’s no way to measure certain long-term effects, like how Haub’s junk food diet, lacking in fresh fruits and vegetables, could affect cancer risk. In the end, eating mainly junk food is not a healthy way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. A healthy diet is about more than just losing weight as quickly as possible. It needs to include nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber — all things lacking from Haub’s twinkie diet, but things that have been strongly linked to lower cancer risk, and increase longevity and overall health.

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