Monday, November 8, 2010

Debbie Does ... Nutrition?

Uhh Ohh ... the media is at it again ... 

Twinkie diet helps nutrition professor lose 27 Pounds 
-- Madison Park, CNN Health
"For 10 weeks, Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, ate one of these sugary cakelets every three hours, instead of meals ... On his "convenience store diet," he shed 27 pounds in two months."
My take ...
Pretty interesting! Calories definitely do count.  However, a calorie is not a calorie.  Check out Sugar: The Bitter Truth by Dr. Robert Lustig for an in depth analysis of why a calorie is not a calorie.  Also, as the article mentions, there are many other possible implications to eating that way. I would have liked to see how his HgA1C--a measure of blood sugar over time changed through the course of the study.  And they didn't mention his triglycerides.  

Also, from a volumetrics standpoint, fruits and vegetables and lean meats still win. If you eat 1800 calories of twinkies ... that's like 6 twinkies. You're not going to feel full and it can be very hard for people to control their calories that way if they are not in a "lab setting". 

Looking at LONG TERM results: a 2001 study by Epstein et al. (Free Here) found that after one year of intervention, parents who were instructed to eat MORE fruits and vegetables showed a significant decrease in overweight when compared to parents who were instructed to eat LESS high- fat/high-sugar foods.  As a result of including more fruits and vegetables in their diet, they actually ended up eating less sugar and less fat than the group who was trying to reduce and avoid those foods.  And they probably did so without feeling deprived ... they just got full on the good stuff and didn't eat as much of the other stuff.
I'll take halibut, red swiss chard, and grilled eggplant over twinkies any day
1800 calories of Oranges is like 30 Oranges ... you'd explode.  How many gallons of broccoli would you have to eat to get to 1800 calories?  Go ahead and clean your plate, no problems.  Focusing on including more of the healthful, less dense foods allows people to still eat till the point of fullness/satiation. Then if they want to eat treats and snacks, they don't have as much room left and won't do as much harm.

A good intro approach to eating in a healthy manner is to start every meal by covering half your plate with non-starchy vegetables and/or fruits.   Next, choose a sensible protein source the size of the palm of your hand and place it on one-fourth of your plate.  If you include starches at the meal, limit them to the last one-fourth of the plate and choose minimally processed sources.  If the meat you chose was lean, sprinkle in some healthy fats such as olive oil or avocados.  If you chose a medium or higher fat meat such as ground beef or eggs, then there is probably enough fat with the meal already.  Combine that with a reasonable exercise program, and we'll start seeing some results.  From there, we can tinker.  

Ohh ... and just what is a nutrition professor doing 27 pounds over weight anyway?


  1. I would suspect this is a person who studies nutrition for motives other than health. Possibly his focus in nutrition studies is getting rich from a magic pill or new fad diet. He won't be the first or last.

  2. I'll take that delicious-looking plate over twinkies any day as well!

  3. 1800 calories is about 12 twinkies, but he also ate some yummy star crunch, and supplemented with a little veggies and a protein shake. His LDL dropped 20%, HDL increased by 20%, and his triglycerides decreased by about 39%. One cannot discount the most important implication of this study - a weight loss of 27 pounds (about 20% of body weight) in an overweight individual can result in a marked improvement in blood lipid profile, no matter what the method. At least short term. Is this diet maintainable? Probably not, just as any restrictive diet is usually isn't. Will he gain the weight back? Maybe, and odds are, it's likely. But let's be fair and objective about these results. I think it's fascinating.


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