Little Debbie Snacks, Oreos, Doritos and Diet Mountain Dew sure don't sound like diet food. But a nutrition professor at Kansas State University ate only convenience store snacks for two months and lost 27 pounds.
The key? Moderation.
Mark Haub kept his food intake below 1,800 calories a day -- no extra exercise required.
"I avoided whole grains, I avoided fruits. I did eat some raw carrots and celery at dinner ... [and] I tried to pick foods that most people would consider unhealthy," Haub tells NPR's Scott Simon.
He ate about four convenience store/vending machine items a day, along with milk, a protein shake and one or two servings of vegetables.
At the end of the two months, his cholesterol levels dropped from 214 to 184.
Haub says the effort was an experiment.
"I kind of took the stance that ... let's say we reduce obesity, reduce body weight, move somebody -- me -- from overweight to healthy weight, but we do that with foods that aren't recommended," he says. "Is that healthy?"
Given a choice between Twinkies and a Ding Dong on a desert island, he says, he'd pick half of each.
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SCOTT SIMON, host:
Little Debbie Snacks, Oreos, Doritos, Diet Mountain Dew - sure doesn't sound like diet food. But a nutrition professor at Kansas State University ate only convenience store snacks for two months and he lost 27 pounds. The key: moderation.
Mark Haub kept his food intake below 1,800 calories a day - no extra exercise required. Professor Haub joins us from his office at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas.
Thanks very much for being with us.
Professor MARK HAUB (Kansas State University): Truly my pleasure.
SIMON: Give us some idea of what you ate in a typical - so-called typical day.
Prof. HAUB: Sure, yeah. So for - in essence I would have about four convenience store, vending machine items a day, with milk and a protein shake, and a moderate amount - moderate meaning one or two servings of vegetables a day. I didn't change physical activity, although that was a part of my lifestyle, but it was less than 60 to 90 minutes per week.
SIMON: So I mean let me get this straight. You didn't eat any of the things that are supposed to be really good for us, like fresh vegetables and whole grains.
Prof. HAUB: I avoided whole grains. I avoided fruits. I did eat some - you know, raw carrots and celery at dinner. I did eat some, but I tried to pick the foods that most people would consider as unhealthy.
SIMON: And you lost weight.
Prof. HAUB: Right.
SIMON: But how's your - for example, how's your cholesterol?
Prof. HAUB: Cholesterol started out at 214 and decreased to, I believe, 184. So it dropped about 20 percent.
SIMON: Was this a diet or an experiment?
Prof. HAUB: It was an experiment. Seems to be a disconnect. You have certain people like Dr. Glenn Gaesser, Paul Campos and a few others who - you know, Paul Campos wrote the book "The Obesity Myth," and Glenn Gaesser wrote the book "Big Fat Lies," who make statements about, you know, we're really making a mountain out of a molehill with this whole obesity thing.
Whereas you have, on the flipside, you have a bunch of public health and health providers trying to push weight loss and to decrease obesity. And so, you know, I kind of took the stance of okay, well, let's say we reduce obesity, reduce body weight. Move somebody - me - from overweight to a healthy weight, but we do that with foods that aren't recommended. Is that healthy? That's kind of the exercise that I try to go over in class.
And, you know, if healthy, what are some of the risks and complications? I only looked at cholesterol. Are there other parameters that might be important to look at that may not show up?
SIMON: So Professor, may I ask. If you were on a deserted island - Twinkies or Ding-Dongs?
Prof. HAUB: Oh my. Wow. Could I have half of each?
(Soundbite of laughter)
SIMON: I'll have to consult our judges.
(Soundbite of laughter)
SIMON: You academics are always looking to change the...
Prof. HAUB: Hey, we always want our cake and we want to eat it too. Right?
SIMON: Well, Professor, thanks so much.
Prof. HAUB: My pleasure. Thanks for having me on.
SIMON: Mark Haub, professor of human nutrition at Kansas State.
This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.