Blog - Authors

Professor Haub's Twinkie Diet Weight Loss Experiment


Posted on November 11th, 2010 by Matt Schoeneberger

Professor Mark Haub ate junk food and lost weight. Big deal.

Well, I guess it is a big deal, since I was emailed this story multiple times this week – everybody’s been talking about it – even Rush Limbaugh.

If you haven’t heard, Haub lost 27 lbs over 2 months by limiting himself to 1800 calories/day. He ate most of his calories from junk food, but did include a protein supplement, multivitamin, and some vegetables.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Prof-Haubs-Diet-Experiments/152304481454281

http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/11/08/twinkie.diet.professor/

These are his blood test results copied from his Facebook page where he updated his progress:

Total cholesterol: Pre=214; wk10=184
LDL-C: pre=153; wk10=123
HDL-C: pre=37; wk10=46
TC/HDL ratio: pre=5.8; wk10=4.0
TG:HDL ratio: pre=3.3; wk10=1.6
Glucose: pre=94; wk10=75
Blood Pressure: pre=108/71; wk10=104/76

As you can see, all of the measurements improved, with the exception of blood pressure which was already in a healthy range and stayed the same. There’s just one problem with all of this. His measurements were incomplete.

What about LDL particle number and size? There is mixed evidence suggesting LDL particle size can increase our ability to measure heart disease risk. (Krauss) It’s safe to say the LDL-C number is not enough. LDL particles that are small and dense may indicate risk of heart disease as opposed to ones that are large and fluffy.  Also, total LDL particle number may be a greater indicator of risk.(Superko) In other words, if LDL-C went down but particle size shifted toward small and dense, Professor Haub might still be on the wrong path.

Diets high in trans fatty acids have been shown to increase levels of small, dense LDL particles. (Chardigny) Twinkies contain hydrogenated oils, as do many other snack cakes and cookies, which means trans fats are present in them. Dr. Haub, you might be killing yourself.

Total cholesterol has been suspect as a measurement of heart disease risk for years now. I’m not going to get into it here, there are many books written on the subject. I recommend Anthony Colpo’s The Great Cholesterol Con and Uffe Ravnskov’s Cholesterol Myths.

What about C-reactive protein? High-sensitivity c-reactive protein is a great measure of systemic inflammation and is a great predictor of heart attack risk. Even the AHA has caught onto this. (http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4648)

Let’s wrap it up

Dr. Haub said:

“I wish I could say the outcomes are unhealthy. I wish I could say it’s healthy. I’m not confident enough in doing that. That frustrates a lot of people. One side says it’s irresponsible. It is unhealthy, but the data doesn’t say that.”

I know what’s going to happen. You’re going to have people who know a little bit about weight loss or health pointing and yelling saying “I told you! Quality of food doesn’t matter! It’s quantity that counts!” For weight loss in the short-term, this may be true. (2 months is short-term, by the way) For long-term weight loss and/or health, this might not be so.

Either way it’s one guy. One guy who ate junk, took supplements, and measured the wrong set of data. It’s mostly a waste of time and it means practically nothing.

**************

References

Chardigny JM, et al. Do trans fatty acids from industrially produced sources and from natural sources have the same effect on cardiovascular disease risk factors in healthy subjects? Results of the trans Fatty Acids Collaboration (TRANSFACT) study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008;87:558-66.

Krauss RM. Lipoprotein subfractions and cardiovascular disease risk. Current Opinion in Lipidology. 2010;21(4):305-11

Superko HR, Gadesam RR. Is It LDL Particle Size or Number that Correlates with Risk for Cardiovascular Disease? Current Atherosclerosis Reports. 2008;10(5): 377-385.

Please share with friends...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>