Filed Under: Big Fat Lies Snacks

Who Says “Junk” Food is Junk?

We hear a lot from self-anointed food police like those at the Center for “Science in the Public Interest” that there are “good” foods and “bad” foods, with most tasty treats always falling in the latter category. Even parents tend to embrace phrases like “junk food.” But an interesting experiment threatens to toss this conventional wisdom out the window. Kansas State University nutrition professor Mark Haub is finishing up his month-long junk food diet this week—and so far has lost weight:

Haub kicked off a 30-day junk-food odyssey, dubbed the Twinkie Diet, on August 25, to question perceptions about how we view processed goods in relation to our overall health. And so far he's lost weight eating primarily Twinkies, hot dogs and cake.

Haub's diet is fairly incredible. It consists of sugar cereals, Swiss cake rolls, blueberry muffins, cinnamon rolls, peanut-butter Oreos and hot dogs. He allows himself one serving of low-calorie vegetables and milk at dinner, in order to increase his daily protein and vitamin intake.

One unintended benefit is that his daily food budget is only $5.

Three weeks in, Haub was down 10 pounds. What about other measures of health? His LDL (bad) cholesterol has dropped while his HDL (good) cholesterol has risen. And he’s meeting his nutrient goals through the serving of veggies (with help from vitamins). Not bad for his budget.

If it seems counterintuitive that anyone could lose weight by eating mostly “junk” foods, consider this: Haub is restricting his diet to 1,800 calories per day. Weight gain or loss is simply a matter of a calorie imbalance—too many calories “in” from food or too few calories “out” from physical activity. And as an encore, Haub says he plans to spend October gaining weight while eating solely fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, and other health foods.

We’re not saying this “Twinkie diet” is for everyone, all the time. But it should certainly turn the silly good food/bad food framework (and those who love it) on its head. Morgan Spurlock, eat your heart out.

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