Sunday, November 21, 2010

Twinkies For Weight Control.

Finally A Diet You Can Easily Stick To!

Professor Haub’s got it right.  For ten weeks the Kansas State nutrition professor reduced his calories, resulting in a 27-pound weight loss, and an 8 ½ point decrease in percent body fat (from his overweight 33.4%).  And he achieved this consuming 2/3 of his calories from junk food. Yes, a diet made up almost exclusively of forbidden foods. Doritos, Twinkies and Hostess cakes, Oreos and sweetened cereals to name a few. Oh, and about 18 calories per day of baby style carrots, in addition to some nutrient packed supplements.

To me, the guy is brilliant. His actions and the results fly in the face of what the general food obsessed dieter believes to be true, demonstrating that it all comes down to calories.

What happens to the Twinkie-restricted?

Beth came to see me this week with a history of binge eating, with periods of bulimia for over 24 years. Her pattern was to follow the Overeaters Anonymous (OA) grey sheet—a rigid, restrictive intake of carbohydrate types and amounts. Sweets have absolutely no place on this plan. Even fruit was limited to one piece daily. Go figure.
Then after a daytime of successful adherence to the plan she would binge at night on guess what? The forbidden foods. She’d feel so terrible she would start the next day determined to restrict, to make up for the damage. And this would only perpetuate the cycle. Yet when I pointed out this pattern, suggesting she change her rules and liberalize her daytime intake of the very foods she binged on, she looked stunned—and frightened. In spite of the fact that her current strategy failed her, she clung to it like a lifeboat, with a faith that maybe this time it might save her. And she’s been stuck here for 24 years.

Now back to the Twinkie diet and weight management. From a weight stand point your body couldn’t care less where your calories come from—carbohydrate, protein, or fat, the three building blocks of all foods. Nor does the form of the food matter. High or low glycemic index, high fiber or processed, it all comes down to calories.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting you only eat Twinkies, so to speak, because for health, we also need a variety of nutrients. Those three building blocks I mentioned, as well as vitamins, minerals, and fiber. And then there’s the benefit of antioxidants and polyphenols, chemical substances which occur in foods and help prevent disease.

So what’s the benefit of Twinkies, then? We certainly don’t need them, nutritionally speaking. But allowing them as part of a balanced diet doesn’t have to interfere with energy balance and may even help. Because you won’t feel deprived and dissatisfied choosing only those foods you perceive as “good” for you. Being flexible with your food choices helps shift your thoughts and eating behaviors.
Instead of feeling it’s “now or never” when you have a sweet or chips, giving yourself permission allows you to have just as much as you really need at the moment. Because you know it’s going to be there later. And over time, you’ll start to trust that eating these foods does not cause weight gain, as Prof. Haub so skillfully demonstrated.

Yes, legalizing foods, truly giving yourself permission to eat even those items with little nutritional value ultimately helps weight regulation.
Think about it. How do you feel if you have something you think you shouldn’t be eating? Feel like you’ve ruined it? Does the “what the heck effect” take over, leading to continued eating and overeating? Eat foods that satisfy and you’ll stop searching around, trying to fill the void with everything else.

Clients sometimes present feeling frustrated with their inability to manage their weight. They state they “know what to eat”, may select healthy foods, and are left puzzled that their weight continues to climb. Just as the Twinkie diet doesn’t cause weight gain, a diet full of healthy foods doesn’t ensure a healthy weight. It’s still about how much you take in. Again, it all comes down to balancing your needs (for stabilizing, losing, or gaining, depending on you), and your intake.

Look for an upcoming post on practical strategies to legalize the forbidden foods—without overdoing it.

Comments welcome! 


  1. I‘ve been trying to apply your words to my everyday eating in order to better understand them. I finally understand what you mean by ‘legalising food’ (including junk food), and also ‘giving yourself permission to eat’. But the biggest one of all is ‘in control of your hunger’. I originally thought this was a self-control issue – like I’m so good at restricting I am ‘in control’ of my hunger – but I had an epiphany the other day which has made me see it completely differently to my initial (slightly warped) interpretation. I have been trying very hard to make sure I eat (at least) 4 hourly, but the other day I had a slip-up. I skipped breakfast (because I was ‘too busy’), then I skipped my morning snack (same genius reason), then I went to my exercise class (fainted, big surprise). But the epiphany came when I got home and I ate like there was no tomorrow (and purged, of course). It was only then did I realise that I hadn’t even thought about doing that while I wasn’t hungry all the time. I have been in control of my hunger. But not in a self-denial, ED kind of way. Could it be that when I binge it is because I am just hungry and not because I am ‘fat, lazy, greedy, disgusting and weak’ ?? I know you’re probably thinking: well, dah!! But I honestly can’t believe that it’s taken me this long to see how obvious that is!!

  2. Sounds like a breakthrough! (Although I don't support the exercising without eating). If eating is not a priority, exercise shouldn't be. Now at least you're seeing the benefits--and the consequences of eating/not eating. Glad you're following the blog. Thanks for reading.

  3. Dr. Haub definitely proved his thesis that a daily caloric deficit is a path to weight loss. Statistically it's a horrible path to weight loss, that much is certain, as upwards of 98% of conventional diets fail within a year (Dr. Haub's diet is a conventional diet, irrlevant of his food choices - he was focused on expending more calories than he consumed).

    It should be noted that Dr. Haub has been successful for all of 10 weeks so far -- even he questions the sustainability of this diet.

    WHATEVER FOODS YOU USE, Caloric deficit dieting is a huge cause of weight GAIN. It's not sustainable and slows metabolism. Basically it puts you in a jail that to lose weight you will have to eat less and less and exercise more and more. That’s not healthy.

    Training your metabolism to handle more food is clearly a better way, and this can be accomplished by shifting the timing of your eating and exercise to better align with your natural metabolic cycle.

    The EET Fitness Plan has proven this over the last 3 years with members (including Type 2 diabetics and Children who were obese) eating plenty of junk food as well as all other kinds of foods (EET has no calorie counting and no food restrictions).

    I had hoped Dr. Haub's message would be to get people to question EVERYTHING about conventional dieting -- and I love your message of opening the door to ALL foods as EET has always done, But you are still suggesting a daily caloric deficit and that is simply the same well worn path that leads to a 98% failure rate. We are calling a 98% failure rate state of the art?

    I fear the public is taking from Dr. Haub's experiment that a conventional calorie counting dieting is the way to go, and if that's the case it will cause more harm than good.

    EET Fitness

  4. Clearly the focus of Dr. Haub's little experiment was to make a point, and it was a point well made--that what you eat has no bearing on weight regulation, but how much does. Science continues to support that. While it is true that long term studies show rather disappointing results,the best results come from a combination of behavioral intervention, caloric reduction, and physical activity. But taking this to extremes certainly also leads to failure.

  5. Lori You are awesome! I love you! :) Thank you for your helpful blogs... they inspire me to do better every day!

  6. So nice to have appreciative readers! I'm even being followed on Twitter by the now-famous researcher Dr. Haub!
    Thanks for reading, and for commenting!! Enjoy the Thanksgiving delights!

  7. In reference to your comment about how much you eat effecting your weight IF ALL OTHER FACTORS REMAIN CONSTANT (Exercise, activity, TIMING OF YOUR EATING), there's no doubt that's true.

    However, EET wants people to know they can train their metabolism and body to handle MORE FOOD, using a very healthy progression which in turn makes their metabolism much more efficient.

    The end result is allowing people to build a sustainable diet plan that has enough food in it to prevent deprivation and restriction.

    Caloric reduction is where EET takes issue -- no one should reduce calories in their diet without trying to maximuze their metabolism first -- cutting calories is also scientifically proven to slow metabolism, plus these sorts of diets are very hard to sustain.

    On the other hand, if a more efficient and improved metabolism will allow you to eat the same amount of calories (or more) then you have a completely sustainable diet plan.

    I would also like to add a quick apology--looking around your site, you have a far more sensible approach to helping people with weight loss and fitness than the endless "eat less and exercise more" through willpower and struggling sites. I'm sure your work helps many people and you should be congratulated for that.

    Happy Holidays

    EET Fitness

  8. Yes, quite right! three cheers for lori :-)

    happy holidays xxxCate

  9. I love your blog! I struggle from anorexia for 10yrs now, and although I am eating better I am still not recovered.I am scared of bread and sweets. I still don't eat enough calories but I feel like I do.
    But what I try to remember is exactly what the man proved with the Twinkies diet, that its excess calories that makes you gain weight, whether its from Twinkies or apples. I might also add that I am from Europe and I have never been so obsessed with my diet until I cam to the USA. Im not sure how this obsession with dieting and food and wrong nutrition facts let the American people to fear food.