Professor Mark Haub of the Kansas State University human nutrition department has recently found himself in the news by completing a junk food diet experiment. He decided to test out the idea that if calories in are less than calories out, weight loss will occur no matter what foods those calories come from. For two months, Professor Haub followed a diet of less than 1800 calories per day, with the calories coming from foods like Twinkies, Doritos and Little Debbie Snacks. While he admits to also eating healthier snacks such as carrots and celery, he purposely avoided whole grains, fruits and meats to keep his calorie count down.
Haub lost 27 lbs over the 2 months, lowered his LDL cholesterol, increased his HDL cholesterol and decreased his total triglycerides.
This may seem especially frustrating to those who are trying to lose weight “the right way”, but it ultimately isn’t shocking. The key to this story is the fact that Professor Haub was overweight prior to beginning his experiment, and the 1800-calorie plan he followed represents half of the calories he took in before the diet. Professor Haub decreased the total amount of calories he was taking in, which will of course result in weight loss. While the health benefits associated with losing weight are innumerable, in Professor Haub’s case, we aren’t seeing the long-term impact of consuming high-calorie, high-fat snack foods. Not to mention the negative side effects from not taking in enough beneficial fruits and vegetables. The other interesting piece of this story is that Haub himself is not recommending his diet for others, admitting that there are likely unseen long-term effects of eating in this manner.
So, should you be lowering your total caloric intake? Most likely, yes. Should you be filling those calories with snack foods like twinkies? No! Stick to nutritious snacks like fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy. Happy (and healthy) snacking! 🙂