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3 Reasons to Reject the Twinkie Diet!

You probably heard about the nutrition professor who lost 27 pounds in 10 weeks eating junk food, including Twinkies, Little Debbie snacks, Doritos, sugary cereals and Oreos. While he doesn’t recommend his approach he says he did to prove that calories are the bottom line for weight loss. I strongly disagree. Yes, you will lose weight by cutting calories, regardless of what you eat, but this oversimplification of weight control sends a very dangerous message. Here are three reasons why I think you should disregard it:

 

1) It’s not healthy. In several interviews the professor reports that his "bad" cholesterol, or LDL, dropped by 20 percent and his "good" cholesterol, or HDL, increased by 20%. First that’s not surprising and second, it’s not an indicator of health. When someone is overweight (as he was) and loses weight, cholesterol and blood pressure levels always improve, simply because the body is less stressed. If you’ve ever carried a small child or a few bags of heavy groceries you know how much more difficult it is to move and breathe. In the SHORT term your body always responds positively to simply dropping the excess baggage. But over time, the lack of nutrients and slew of artificial additives will catch up to you. Here’s why: you’re constantly repairing and regenerating cells, and the raw materials you use to do that work come straight from your diet. That's why the phrase, "You are what you eat" is literal. A junky diet of bad fats, sugar, and artificial additives doesn’t give your body much to work with. I always tell my clients it’s like making a structure with cardboard and glue rather than bricks and mortar. A diet rich in natural vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, lean protein and healthy fats allows you to make cells that function optimally, from your digestive and immune systems to your bones, muscles, skin, and hair. The healthfulness of your diet is also the key to controlling inflammation, a known trigger of premature aging and disease, and protecting against everything from heart disease to cancer. I’ve worked as a dietitian in both oncology and cardiac rehab and I can tell you that plenty of thin people are hospitalized with both diseases every day.   

 

2) It’s not as easy as it sounds. If you read my post last week about ‘ultra-processed’ foods you saw that they set you up for overeating by throwing off your body’s natural appetite regulation. The professor who conducted this self-experiment is a professor of nutrition who carefully limited his calories to 1,800, an 800 calorie cut from his previous intake. For a non-nutrition professional who wasn’t being so precise it may be pretty tough to cap calories when eating super palatable foods like Oreos. In my 15+ years counseling “real” people many have told me that it’s nearly impossible not to polish off a whole pint of ice cream once it’s open or stop at just a few cookies. 

 

3) It’s horrible for the planet. I have master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health, so I can’t think about food without considering both its impact on human health and the health of the planet. Cheap junk food is produced in a way that wreaks havoc with the environment, from the way its ingredients are grown, to the artificial additives included, the packaging it’s wrapped in, and the impact of its transportation. Compared to a fresh apple from your local farmer’s market it’s like the difference between an SUV and a bicycle.    

 

Bottom line: even though you can lose weight by eating a limited number of calories worth of junk food I wouldn’t want to see any of my clients, friends or family members follow the professor’s lead.

 

So that’s my two cents – what’s your take on this topic? Please share your thoughts!

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