KNOXVILLE (WATE/CNN) – What if you could lose weight while eating tons of Little Debbie snacks, Twinkies, Oreos and sugary cereal? That’s what one man did in order to prove that losing weight is more about the number of calories consumed than the quality of those calories.
For ten weeks, nutrition professor Mark Haub at Kansas State University ate mostly junk food, limiting himself to 1,800 calories per day. The result? He lost 27 pounds. An average male his size usually consumes around 2,600 calories in a day.
At the end of the experiment he had not only shed some pounds, but also lowered hos cholesterol by 20 percent, and reduced triglycerides by 39 percent.
“That’s where the head scratching comes from,” Haub said. “Does that mean I’m healthier? Or does it mean that the way we define healthy from a biology standpoint, that we’re missing something?”
Even though the experiment was a success, Haub says he would not necessarily recommend this as a goof way to lose weight.
“I’m stuck in the middle about it,” he said. “I can’t give a concrete answer, there’s just not enough information to do that.”
During the experiment he also took a multivitamin and and drank protein shakes, but two thirds of his diet was “junk food.”
Spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, Dawn Jackson Blatner said she’s not surprised about Haub’s results.
“When you lose weight, regardless of how you’re doing it, even if it’s with packaged foods, generally you will see these marker improve when weight loss has improved.”
However, she still has concerns about the long term effects of eating this way. A lack of fruits and vegetables for extended amounts of time could have unhealthy results like an increased risk for cancer or other diseases, but there is no way to test for those risks.
After adding meat back into his diet at the conclusion of the experiment, Haub’s cholesterol went back up. He plans to add 300 calories back into his diet as well. His final conclusion is that experiments like these cannot determine that one diet or another is healthy or unhealthy in every case, but it depends on a host of factors in each individual case.