Is the Twinkie Diet a Success?

10 weeks ago, KSU nutrition professor Mark Haub began eating a reduced calorie diet of Little Debbie Pecan Spin Wheels for breakfast, Hostess Twinkies for lunch, birthday cake for supper and Doritos for dessert.

And as crazy as it may seem, after 10 weeks on his Twinkie Diet, Dr. Haub saw:

  • His bodyweight drop from 200.8 to 174.2 (-26.6 lbs)
  • His body-fat percentage drop from 33.4% to 24.% (-8.5%)
  • His total body-fat drop by 25.25 lbs
  • His lean body mass (muscle) drop by 1.35 lbs
  • His total cholesterol drop from 214 to 184
  • His bad cholesterol (ldl-c) drop from 153 to 123
  • His good cholesterol (hdl-c) increase from 37 to 46
  • His blood sugar / glucose level drop from 94 to 75, and
  • His blood pressure stay around the same – pre=108/71 – post=104/76

So, does this mean that the Twinkie Diet is a success?

Is Dr. Haub correct when he says, ““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?”

Is he right when he says “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”?

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On one level – YES.

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However, as I said back in September,  before people start swarming  their local 7-11 to get the last box of Diet Twinkies, we need to remember that 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.

And skinny doesn’t always mean healthy.

24 comments

  1. I’m not sure why the ambivelant results here are a surprise. Isn’t this precisely what weight watchers is based on? Eat what you want within a caloric limit? The pre-packaged foods that weight watchers hawks, like smart ones and lean cuisines are also full of sugar, artificial sweeteners, freakey pseudo meats, added vitamin supplements, and the like. Those diets don’t seem so different to me and have exactly the same results in both their positive and negative effects.

    I think that sometimes folks who are experts in fitness get religious about certain habits, and a word like Twinkie sparks a furious preachiness, when plenty of other folks are eating equally as gross foods that are not equally under fire (as in the aforementioned lean cuisine, which is perhaps sicker bc of its healthy food disguise). As someone who has truly journeyed through weight loss, getting 10 tweets from 10 bloggers/doctors in a day about this Twinkie diet does not make me hate little Debbie snacks. Three years ago, it would have made me want to eat a Twinkie, but today it simply makes me consider if this level of anger from the fitness world is a way of misplacing some other emotion, such as fear that our Twinkie eater may be on to something. Perhaps in treating the obesity epidemic, a novel and easy approach such as a variation of this diet (a Twinkie for breakfast?) can benefit people more than something super strict that few people will stick with? If this is true, lots of fitness coaches may be looking at a loss of income soon, hence the fury? I don’t know– I just speculate.

  2. I agree completely – health is so much more than just plain calories. I’m sure Twinkies have a bunch of chemicals that weren’t meant to be digested by the human body, and if anything that’ll put a load on your digestive system. Telling ppl that health = skinny is very dangerous.

  3. Look, ANY diet — IF ONE CAREFULLY FOLLOWS IT for the short-term– that either restricts overall kcalories/day (especially relative to a person who habitually was consuming excessive kcalories/day) or is fashioned to enable the body to achieve a state of ketosis, CAN help mobilize and catabolize fat stores and diurese/excrete copious body fluid content and works to result in dramatic total weight loss, proabsbly fat loss, and, thus, move all the bio-markers favorably. But, often these quick results too-good-to-be-true diets result in muscle loss, especially, if they are too low in high-quality complete protein, bowel and gastrointestinal irregularities, especially if they are too low in fiber, and vitamin/mineral deficiencies. In a relatively healthy person, it is unusual to see vit/min deficiencies, but trace element, electrolyte, muscle wasting, untoward hormonal imbalances, and gi irregularities can occur fairly soon in the ‘dieting’ phase and is counterproductive to improving total health at the expense of shifting a few bio-markers favorably. In addition, SUSTAINING these unbalanced, unpalatable regimes is very difficult, if next to impossible, for the long-term. In my experience, even a ‘Twinkie/Debbie Cakes/Doritos’ diet becomes sickeningly untenable for patients. I once had a team of volunteers follow a ‘Milky Way’ diet — 5 bars a day for 2 weeks with only water, black coffee, and tea allowed. They all lost weight, lowered their bp, ldl and vldl cholesterol, but were ravenous for ‘normal’ food.

  4. The Twinkie diet debate has certainly stirred things up. I’m reading about it all over the place.

    I think it is important to keep in mind that because this was a calorie controlled experiment – he would not have been getting that much to eat. So it would become yet another diet that is impossible to keep up in the long term.

    And that is before focusing on how very unhealthy this diet had to be.

  5. […] brownies, Doritos, snack cakes, and other, for the lack of a better word, crap, for 10 whole weeks. The results? Not only did he lose 27 pounds, but also his BMI transitioned from the “overweight” range to […]

  6. […] from Health Habits, a health and fitness blog, shares his thoughts on Mark Haub’s Twinkie Diet.  Find out Doug’s perspective on what nutritional components are missing from this […]

  7. actually, most skinny people are usually unhealthy, but i don’t think most people, specially girls, even bother about the health aspect, the mind set is targeted to looks and nothing beyond that.

    this is one of the biggest reason why such unhealthy diet gets promoted. It is time we put the healthy diet in the front, not the skinny one…

  8. Twinkie Diet was a fun eye opener but one could take any food, juice, or brand name and see weight loss in the short term. Also slightly sad that a diet with twinkies, a protein shake, and a handful of veggies can give someone ‘above average’ health in America.

  9. Health is so much more than just plain calories. Twinkies have a bunch of chemicals that weren’t meant to be digested by the human body, and if anything that’ll put a load on your digestive system.
    Thanks for nice post.

  10. […] professor by the name of Mark Haub went on what he called ‘The Twinkie Diet’. You can check out the story for yourself, but basically by controlling his caloric intake he lost a whole bunch of weight eating Twinkies, […]

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