Thursday, November 10, 2011

A great discovery -- count on it!

As I was sorting through the list of possible topics to write about -- Veterans Day, 11/11/11, elections, Joe Paterno, and other newsworthy and noteworthy items -- I found the news item I've been hoping for my whole life. Are you ready? A university professor of nutrition at Kansas State University has lost 27 pounds in two months by eating... junk food! Yes, my snack-loving friends, you read that right. This professor of nutrition (mentioning that again for emphasis) lost 27 pounds in two months with a diet that included every three hours eating a Twinkie or a Little Debbie snack cake or a small bag of Doritos. Are you with me on this? A little junk food doesn't hurt.

Professor Mark Haub won't be pushing his 'convenience store diet' in a book or appearing on daytime television talk shows anytime soon. But his premise actually is simple. If you want to lose weight, consume less calories than you burn. It doesn't have to be fresh asparagus or specially-harvested, flavor-optional seaweed. The nutritional information that restaurants are being pressured to provide really are irrelevant if your goal is weight loss. It's all about the calories.

If there are two subjects that I have a lot of knowledge about, they are diets and junk food. I've had weight issues since elementary school, my weight going up and down depending upon my lifestyle and habits. And I've had jobs where much of my time is spent on the road, so I've learned the finer points of dining on Zingers and Rolos. But I have always contended that chocolate was not a poison causing instant mounds of fat to appear at the first taste. It's the total amount.

I checked on the aforementioned Hostess Twinkie. In one filled sponge cake treat, there are 27 grams of carbohydrates, 4.5 grams of fat (2.5 grams of those are saturated fat), 20 mg of cholesterol, 220 mg of sodium, and 1 gram of protein. But if Prof. Haub's idea is accurate, all that is irrelevant to weight loss. What you need to know is that in one Twinkie there are 150 calories. You should be able to figure out that there are 300 calories in two Twinkies. That is key because those stinkin' things are usually sold in packs of two. Let me remind you that a medium-sized apple is about 95 calories, a banana has about 105, and a can of Dole pineapple chunks packed in juice contains about 315 calories.

But if you protest, thinking something is wrong here and that junk food will make us less healthy, the good professor points out that after his 'diet' his good cholesterol had gone up 20 percent, his bad cholesterol had gone down 20 percent and his triglycerides were reduced 39 percent. In other words, he was actually healthier after the two-month junk food binge! Well, it was not all junk food. About one-third of his diet was normal food, including some green vegetables and a protein shake each day. Still Professor Haub isn't recommending other people try this experiment. In fact, he is not really sure what to make of the results. It's not often a 41-year-old man with a trash can full of empty Little Debbie cake wrappers can drop his body fat index from 33 to 25 percent. But he appears to be sticking by his guns that dieting is simply a matter of eating fewer calories than you use. Who'da thunk it?

If you can see large amounts of turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie in your future, but you don't want to get pudgy heading into Christmas candy season, remember the key is cutting down the number of calories you take in. Stop before you hit the 15th helping of that so-called 'good-for-me food.' And don't fear the Twinkie.

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