Women's health * Men's health * Healthy living * Weight loss

Nutrition professor drops two stone on snack food diet

Junk food diet helps weight loss Calories count more than nutritional value

It sounds like a dieters fantasy - lose weight by eating junk food and sweets - but in the case of university professor Mark Haub, it really worked.

Dr Haub, who teaches human nutrition at Kansas State University, lost 27 pounds in two months on a diet of chocolate bars, chips, biscuits, pizza, doughnuts and sugary cereals. He occasionally ate some low-calorie vegetables.

At the start of his snack food diet Dr Haub said: “It’s portion controlled. I’m eating foods that are deemed by many to be unhealthy; we will see if they are."

He restricted his diet to 1800 calories per day, compared to the 2600 an average man consumes.

Dr Haub wanted to show that the calorie content of food mattered most, rather than its nutritional value, when trying to lose weight.

And who can argue with his results? Dr Haub's body mass index fell from 28.8, considered overweight, to 24.9, which is within the normal weight range.

As a professor of nutrition, Dr Haub was well aware of the health risks involved. Blood cholesterol and glucose levels were monitored throughout his diet, as well as blood pressure and body composition.

Despite his diet of sugary, salty and fatty processed food, his health indicators actually improved. His LDL-cholesterol, which is linked to a greater risk of heart disease, fell 20 per cent, while his 'good' HDL-cholesterol rose by 20 per cent. Dr Haub's body fat also fell from 33.4 to 24.9 per cent.

"All I know is that my bad cholesterol has decreased on my diet, and my good cholesterol has increased," he said.

If cholesterol is a valid marker of cardiovascular disease risk, then it would appear my risk for cardiovascular disease decreased," Dr Haub added.

The diet was not an indulgence, Dr Haub said, but an experiment aimed at making the point that what matters in weight loss is the number of calories, rather than the quality of the food you eat.

Dr Haub whose diet cost around $5 per day said: “I am not promoting this or recommending it; it’s just an exercise in nutrition.”

This article was published on Wed 10 November 2010

Image © Dr Mark Haub

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