Several months ago, nutrition professor Mark Haub of Kansas State University embarked on a project in which he would consume around 1800 calories worth of food each day in an effort to show that when it comes to weight loss, calorie counting is the main thing that matters.
The catch? This diet would consist mostly of junk food—Twinkies, Little Debbie snacks, Doritos, and sugary cereal.
In the 10 weeks Haub followed the diet, he lost 27 pounds. When I posted about this back when his story was first circling the web, I expected to see some negative effects on his health despite weight loss. Interestingly, his LDL (“bad”) cholesterol went down 20 percent and his HDL (“good”) cholesterol went up 20 percent. He also reduced his triglyceride level by 39 percent. His total body went from 33.4 to 24.9 percent.
Haub himself was surprised at these results, suggesting that perhaps portion size and calorie intake—and not simply eating healthy foods—is the key to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. Additionally, when you consider that he lost around 13 percent of his body weight and went from having a BMI of 28.8 to 24.9, it’s not surprising that getting to a healthier weight improved other aspects of his health.
It’s also worth noting that two-thirds of his total intake came from junk food and that he also took a multivitamin pill and drank a protein shake daily. For vegetables, he usually reached for a can of green beans or three to four celery stalks, the kinds of foods people living in food deserts, without access to fresh fruits and vegetables, might choose.
When asked whether he would recommend the diet to someone else, Haub said, “I’m not geared to say this is a good thing to do. I’m stuck in the middle. I guess that’s the frustrating part. I can’t give a concrete answer. There’s not enough information to do that.”