Weight Loss via Junk Food
Numerous diet plans designed to aid in managing a healthy weight have been investigated in modern research. Equivocal results from studies have driven investigators to identify the proposed physiological superiority of any of an assortment of recent diets. Some examples include high or low-fat diets, high or low-carbohydrate diets, high-protein diets, diets that emphasize specific food selections or supplementation(isolation diets), or diets that simply accentuate caloric restriction. Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas States University recently took an interesting weight loss approach to test his theory on the subject. That being, when an individual has a primary goal of weight loss, counting total calories is the determining factor of success; not necessarily the nutritional content of the calories consumed.
Similar to the “Supersize Me” investigation, Haub personally engaged in a 10-week ‘convenience store’ diet where he typically ate a variety of Hostess and Little Debbie snacks every three hours instead of standard meals. He supplemented the foundation of the diet with one serving of vegetables per day (at dinner time in front of his young children to avoid setting a bad example), one protein shake per day, and a variety of other junk-food snacks and low-calorie or calorie-free stimulants such as Doritos, sugary cereals, Oreo cookies, double espressos, and Diet Mountain Dew. He also added one Centrum Advanced Formula multivitamin per day to ensure he did not create any deficiency disorders. Surprisingly, this potentially fattening yet enticing repertoire of junk-foods actually produced significant results. Over the dietary period Haub experienced a reduction in body weight by 27 pounds, a decrease in body fat by 8.5%, a body mass index (BMI) value reduction from 28.8 to 24.9; he also lowered his LDL-C by 20%, increased his HDL by 20%, and experienced a notable decrease in serum triglycerides by 39%. If taking a quick look at the tangible effects of the diet plan one may believe that this could be some type of nutritional breakthrough. To the contrary – Dr. Haub followed the basic principle of weight loss: his calories consumed were significantly less than the calories he burned. The aforementioned diet provided Dr. Haub with approximately 1,800 calories per day, but a man of his pre-dieting size is recommended to consume about 2,600 calories per day. Potentially being in a negative caloric balance of 800 calories per day – below even the recommended diet-reduced intake – should leave no confusion as to why the diet plan produced significant results.
The most (seemingly) controversial effect of the diet plan revolved around the fact that the apparently unhealthy food selections did not have a negative impact (at least acute) on other indicators of health - but rather provided quite the opposite. As noted earlier; Haub’s body composition, cholesterol levels and ratio, and triglyceride levels all improved. These effects may leave one scratching their head and wondering if the way nutritional scientists define health from a biology standpoint may be currently missing a critical factor; but in reality the effects were to be expected. This is due to the simple fact that whenever an individual loses significant fat, as was the case with Dr. Haub, cardiovascular and metabolic biomarkers will ultimately improve (caused by a loss of visceral and totals adipose tissue). Again, the diet’s focus on portion control was a key determining factor for attaining positive benefits.
Dawn Blatner, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association emphasized this concept with her statement on the weight loss project, “When you lose weight, regardless of how you’re doing it – even if it’s with packaged foods, generally you will see these markers improve when weight loss has (occurred).” She also mentions that there are long-term effects of the diet that cannot be easily measured such as the reduction or increase in risk for cancer or significant metabolic issues.
It is important to note that Haub maintained the same level of moderate physical activity before and during the diet, and that he has no ties with the manufacturers of the snacks he consumed on a regular basis. He also monitored his body composition, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose regularly. Despite his temporary success, Haub does not feel confident enough to recommend replicating his junk-food snack diet (approximately 66% junk food). He explains, “I wish I could say the outcomes are unhealthy. I’m not confident enough in doing that. That frustrates a lot of people. One side says it’s irresponsible. It (seems) unhealthy, but the data doesn’t say that.” In light of all the data, weight loss to healthy weight demonstrates irrefutably the importance of calorie control, but it seems that it would be prudent to consider the potential long-term health concerns before jumping on the Twinkie-devouring bandwagon. You could accomplish the same thing with fruits and vegetables.