Could the Twinkie Diet Really Lead to Weight Loss?

Personal Health

When I first read about the so-called "Twinkie Diet" all I could think about was one of my favorite fad diets of all time, the Ice Cream Diet (yes, it's real!). When I was in college how I wished I could lose weight on a diet of frozen heavy cream in a variety of flavors. But a week later, down a few pounds of water weight and with a stomach ache that rivaled getting kneed in the gut by my older brother, I realized the diet was a fluke. The Twinkie Diet has many of the same characteristics although much more interesting in nature.

Here's the rundown: Mark Haub, a nutrition professor at Kansas State University went on what he called "the convenience store diet," which consisted of alternating Twinkies, Hostess and Little Debbie snacks with Doritos and Oreos. The premise of the diet was to test whether controlling calories alone allowed you to lose weight and what that weight loss did to the other health indicators like cholesterol. According to CNN, Haub's body mass index went from 28.8, considered overweight, to 24.9, which is normal. He now weighs 174 pounds. Haub's "bad" cholesterol, or LDL, dropped 20 percent and his "good" cholesterol, or HDL, increased by 20 percent. He reduced the level of triglycerides, which are a form of fat, by 39 percent.

So, should we all drop everything and go for this Twinkie Diet of sorts? Not so fast. This is similar to another college memory. This time I was a senior and my dad came down to move me out of my apartment. He was on the Atkins Diet at the time and had lost over 15 pounds on this meat-based diet with few fruits and vegetables. He was so proud because not only had he lost weight but his cholesterol, like Haub's, had gone down. We were thrilled, until he collapsed moving me out of my apartment and had to be rushed to the hospital. He was fine, he had just fainted but the paramedics warned that a lack of proper nutrients, namely fruit, had caused him to faint in the hot Georgia sun.

Calorie Controlled Diets and Your Health

While for a short period of time calorie control alone can have a positive impact on weight loss and some vitals like cholesterol, over time nutrient deficiencies cause illnesses like heart disease, osteoporosis, depression, and cancer. How are you to get crucial life-giving nutrients like protein, iron, calcium, and all your vitamins from snack cakes? Haub himself does not recommend the diet, but said it was just an experiment.

This is similar to the Taco Bell Diet that we explored last year. People that are successful on diets like these are likely just one in a million that's why people like Jared Fogle (the Subway guy), Christine Dougherty (the Taco Bell Diet), and now Mark Haub get famous and make the national news, because so few people could ever be successful. For most people, after a week of eating the same exact meal everyday you get bored and failure is inevitable.

Why You Just Can't Resist

These foods are also laden with high fructose corn syrup which makes it nearly impossible, to keep to your caloric constraints. High fructose corn syrup interferes with the body's metabolism because it slows down the secretion of leptin in the body. Leptin is a crucial hormone that signals you're full and to stop eating. So basically, foods like these are like an addictive drug.

The Twinkie Diet also takes a toll on the planet. Highly processed junk food like this takes tons of energy to manufacture and transport. What's more, it's individually packaged, generating endless waste for food that doesn't even taste very good. I think I'd prefer the ice cream diet anyway.

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