Lose Weight by Eating Twinkies – The Junk Food Diet?

One controversial diet that’s been getting a lot of buzz in the news lately is the Junk Food Diet.  It’s also often referred to simply as the Twinkie Diet.

Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, ate sugary snacks including Hostess Twinkies, powdered donuts, Little Derbie Snacks, Oreos, Doritos chips, and sugary cereals in his quest to lose weight over an 8 week time period.

Mark Haub and The Junk Food Diet

For some, this diet may just sound too good to be true while others may consider eating a diet consisting mostly of junk food to be too much of a good thing.   Either way, Mark Haub did manage to lose weight on this diet.  Now, before you head over to the closes gas station by your home to stock up on weight loss Twinkies, there is an important trick that helped Mark succeed.

What’s the catch to being able to eat  sugar and fat-laden diet and still lose weight?  Mark limited his daily caloric intake to just 1800 calories.  Given that there are 150 calories in a single Hostess Twinkie, you may get to indulge in food that has almost no redeemable nutritional value, but you won’t get to indulge too much.

Obviously, one potential problem that many people may have if they tried to copy this diet regime would be controlling their intake of this type of food.  The next question you would have to ask yourself is why would anyone try this diet?

Though I haven’t asked Mark himself, even though he has previously commented at our blog, I would have to imagine that the point of this exercise wasn’t to encourage people to eat more junk food.  Yes, put down that Twinkie and step away from those Doritos if you want to lose weight.

What it really boils down to is that the success of this diet for Mark really just recapitulates the importance of the old adage about calories in and calories out for achieving weight loss.

Did the ‘Convenience Store Diet” Work for Mark Haub?

CNN reported recently that Mark managed to lose 27 lbs in 8 weeks.   Now, that’s 6.75 lbs of weight loss per week which is a reasonably impressive weight loss rate.  Prior to the start of this diet, Mark reportedly had a body mass index (BMI) of 28.8 which is considered to be overweight.  After two months of this diet, his BMI was down to 24.9–just a hair under the threshold for being overweight (a BMI of < 25).

Other Health Consequences of Mark’s Diet?

  • His LDL or ‘bad cholesterol’ dropped by 20% while his HDL or ‘good cholesterol” increased by the same percentage
  • His triglycerides decreased by 39%
  • Body fat dropped from 33.4% to 24.9%

What Did He Actually Eat?

Again, CNN reports that Mark actually drank a protein shake each day along with taking a multivitamin.  He also ate a can of green beans along with three or four celery stocks.  Two thirds of his calories were from junk food.

Though the results of Mark’s diet remind us all to watch our daily caloric intake, following any other aspect of his diet outside of eating vegetables, drinking a daily protein shake, or taking a daily multivitamin doesn’t make any sense at all for people to follow.

[box type=”note”]Critics would also point out that Mark’s diet is hardly scientific given the short duration, sample size of one person, and lack of any form of blinding or randomization among other limitations.[/box]


  1. http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/11/08/twinkie.diet.professor/index.html?hpt=T2

8 thoughts on “Lose Weight by Eating Twinkies – The Junk Food Diet?

  • November 11, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    There is just no way that a diet of mostly twinkies and other junk foods is good for you over time. I understand the concept of watching your calories and not consuming more calories than you expend, which is a good way to lose weight. The problem is the types of foods he was eating. I am amazed that a diet like that could even get positive results one time. The general concept of watching your calories is right but he is not consuming enough foods with substantial nutrients for good future health effects. The long terms effect of consuming that much sugar and fat cannot be good. Risks of obesity and diabetes have to be increased immensely. I also hope that this does not give other Americans especially youth that this diet is a good idea. That could lead to that many more kids in America with obesity and other health problems because of the high sugar intake. Our youth need to be learning how to eat healthy food full of nutrients, the importance of exercise and staying active daily and how to keep track of their calories (consumed vs. expended).

    • November 13, 2010 at 10:22 am

      Lynae, great point. I imagine that somehow people hearing about this diet will get the wrong message. Hmm, eating twinkies isn’t that bad… Junk food isn’t the problem… etc.

  • November 11, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    WAY TO GO !Expose the Media fast food nonsense

    The drug makers and diabetes drug makers take in 10 billion$$$$ every year with no cure!!

    See here http://spirithappy.wordpress.com

    Food Chemicals are the cause of the diabetes and obesity crisis

    The FDA and Drug makers know this and are laughing to the Billionaire$$$ bank!

    The food chemicals break the gut(insulin) and this is the cause of the diabetes and obesity crisis

    A filmmaker has been reversing diabetes and Obesity in now 10 countries and the drug makers do not promote the story

    just google SPIRIT HAPPY DIET

  • November 11, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    I’m just staggered that so many of the measurements of health such as LDL and HDL improved! Can’t quite get my head round that.

    But overall – longterm – I can not believe that such a diet would be healthy.

  • November 11, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    The saddest thing to me about this diet is that anyone would WANT to eat that crap.

    If i am going to eat dessert, I sure as heck am not going to eat twinkies or little debbie snack cakes.

    a big slab of my mom’s chocolate cake – Yes
    twinkies – NO

    • November 13, 2010 at 10:19 am

      Haha Doug, great point!

      Both the twinkies and debbie snack cakes would be at the bottom of my list of favorite dessert items. Just the thought of eating them makes me cringe.


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