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Skinny Without Willpower

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Just to prove this simple point, Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, put himself on a 2 month junk food diet consisting of twinkies, candy bars and other vending machine goodies and guess what? He lost 27 pounds! He set out to prove a simple point that loosing weight is simply a matter of consuming fewer calories than you burn. It proves that you don't have to go on a fancy diet of exotic berries or drink tomato juice for the next month, but just ensure that you reduce your caloric intake to a point where you burn more than you consume. This experiment brings forth an important point that health and weight-loss aren't necessarily synonymous and puts a big question mark on the conventional markers of heart disease risk, HDL and LDL cholesterol, because he lowered LDL and increased HDL eating this junk food diet. To read more about this experiment go to the article here:

While I wouldn't call this diet healthy or balanced it does prove that you don't need to avoid any particular food group in order to lose weight as long as you spread out your meals into small portions through out the day. So while I advocate healthy eating habits it wont destroy your weight-loss goals if you indulge in some comfort food once in a while. I am reaching out for some brownies after this....


  1. Thanks for this information. This is a pretty thought provoking study. But of course we have known for a long time that a person can lose weight without eating healthy foods. Look at the many alchoholics, drug addicts, anorexics, and people that replace meals with cigarettes. In reference to this specific study a valid concern could be that two months may be too short to gauge long term affects of such a diet. And of course with this apparently being a one person study it may not represent what the majority of us can expect. But I do agree however that meal plans don't need to be overly complicated. I also agree that occasionally having a controlled amount of some comfort food that is not neccessarily considered healthy can be good for the soul. As for cutting calories let's be mindfull that paying attention to fat intake can make this easier since it has over double the calories of carbs and protein. Of course a little fat stimulates the release of CCK which helps improve satiety. Having a little fat also helps to avoid hunger producing insulin spikes by slowing down the absorption of carbohydrates. Fiber rich foods can also help reduce cravings by adding bulk and a feeling of fullness. As a trainer I have found that people usually do best by starting with something that is as simple as possible. But there are some very important basics that one should learn to make their journey easier.

  2. Yogesh you are right that we still have much to learn to in all aspects of science including that of the human body. It is amazing however how far we have come in our knowledge of health, exercise, and nutrition. Even what we consider common sense today represents a much higher level of knowledge than it did when our parents were young. People that choose to take advantage of the easy access to modern day science are for the most part much healthier than in our parent’s time.

    I don’t think that this current study discredits generally known nutritional knowledge. Basically it provides a powerful reminder of what most of us fitness professional have known for years. That is for those significantly overweight individuals even losing weight by means not considered to be healthy can improve their overall health.

    Dropping thirty pounds will almost invariably improve joint health, low back pain, energy levels, and one’s overall metabolism. And of course one’s waist to hip ratio (WHR – health risk factor measurement) should improve.

    Reducing sugary foods and eating several small balanced portions of fruits, vegetables, whole grain starches, and low to moderate fat cuts of meats are guidelines that seem to be both safe and effective for most individuals. Balancing hydration, sleep, and emotions are also important factors. Note that even in this study this scientist ate healthy foods when in front of his kids.

    It is good however to question everything. Continued learning is key to our individual and collective growth. My mom told me after receiving her PHD that the more she learned the more she realized how much she didn’t know. So we must also be careful not to become paralyzed or frustrated, overwhelming ourselves with confusion and doubt based on the breadth of what we don’t know. We’ll just keep on studying, learning, and looking forward to a future full of new discoveries. And if life becomes too complicated, reboot and go back to the basics.

  3. I agree continued learning is the key to advancement, be it health technology or spirituality. I also completely agree with your recommendations of healthy eating and well being and I am sure even Dr. Haub would agree with it.

    While I don't discredit scientific knowledge I do like to question its recommendations for good health because even though science has come a long way in understanding how each organ of the body works and performs optimally it hasn't been able to come up with a holistic understanding of how the human body as a whole performs and stays healthy. All the various specialties of medical science (cardiology, nephrology, hematology etc.) are like the wise men examining the various parts of the elephant but none of them see the whole elephant. What I am trying to say is that in spite of the unprecedented depth of knowledge medical science has amassed over the years, the rates of heart disease, diabetes, various cancers, dementia etc are at record levels and rising at a record pace. Every year we see new breakthrough drugs in the market for prolonging human life, but have we, as a result of this, become healthier? Thanks to the medical advancement we have brought down infant mortality to record low levels and eradicated pretty much any epidemic known to man, so even though we are on average living longer than ever but are we living healthier? In my humble opinion, not. Health, in my opinion is not the mere absence of illness but much more than that.

    While this is only one aspect of science there is yet another deeper aspect and that is of biased science. Gone are the days when research was done for the sole purpose of learning and for getting a deeper understanding of things. These days research is done to advance the 'interests' of the pockets that sponsor the research. So all studies sponsored by the vegetable oil industry in the 70's 'found' that margarine was healthier for the heart than butter. Millions of people choose to take advantage of this breakthrough research and still do to this date and yet the rates of CHD keeps rising. Same is happening with studies sponsored by pharmaceutical companies that show statins lower cholesterol and reduce the risk for CHD but fail to show that they raise the risk of death from other causes (dementia, suicidal tendencies, depression, cancer etc). While statins do slightly reduce the risk of CHD, its because of their anti-inflammatory properties and not because they lower cholesterol. In fact many statins are being pulled off the shelves because they increase the risk of cancer and their cholesterol lowering properties cause more harm than good. So I am thankful that I didn't take my doctors scientific advice 5-6 yrs ago to go on statin drug therapy and choose to improve my lipid profile with diet and exercise. And even you will agree that centuries old conventional wisdom of sound eating principles and plenty of exercise will get you optimum health. Do we really need modern science and research to get to this conclusion?

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