Fad Diets

Twinkie Diet and Other Fad Diets

Weight loss is a huge industry, every month there is another fad diet book hitting the bookstores and the talkshow circuit. How can one differentiate between a dangerous fad diet and a good nutritional plan? First of all, don’t be snowed by the authors credentials – use your own good judgment and critical thinking to decide for yourself if something makes sense or not. More than one dangerous, useless fad diet has been touted by a unscrupulous medical doctor interested in making lots of money on book sales. A sure fire sign of a fad diet is some “mysterious weight loss property” like the grapefruit diet suggests. The only thing mysterious is why so many people fall for this ridiculous diet. The current hot topic in dieting is the “Twinkie Diet” suggested by professor Mark Haub’s research project which caused me primal pillow-scream when I read about it. The media has taken his research and turned it into a sensationalistic headline which decives people into thinking that maybe junkfood isnt so bad afterall. The first thing I shouted at the top of my lungs upon reading the article (scaring our new dog to death) was:

Weight loss is not the same thing as fat loss!!

The most dangerous misconception about diets is about weight loss. Weight loss is not the same as fat loss. When you weigh less on the scale, it can be because you have lost fat (good), you are dehydrated (bad), or you have lost muscle (very bad). If you weight loss diet is a poorly designed one, like the Twinkie Diet, then you will lose muscle as well as fat!

The one definite truth in the twinkie diet is that when it comes to weighing less on the scale, all that matters is your calorie deficit, not the quality of the calories you eat. Perhaps that’s all poor Professor Haub was trying to prove, what was inexcusable though is that he measured BMI which is a useless height/weight calculation rather than bodyfat percentage which tells you the true body composition. Had he measured bodyfat percentage I suspect he would have found he lost significant muscle mass.

My mom always told me “You get what you pay for” and that’s true with diets as well as with life in general, only in this case you are not paying with money, you are paying with effort. If you want an easy diet, you get bad results. If you want great results you have to be willing to put in lots of work.


So ask yourself, what is the goal of your diet?
1) Lose muscle and fat
2) Lose only fat
3) Lose fat, and gain muscle

1) Lose muscle and fat

Yes you can lose 40lbs in 10 weeks eating exclusively twinkies, its easy and fun!. Sounds too good to be true, huh? Well, like my mom always says “If it sounds too good to be true, IT IS”. Because your body is malnourished and not getting any protein or vitamins, not only is your life in danger but your body cannibalizes your muscles in order to stay alive. A significant portion of the 40lbs lost will be muscle, who wants to lose muscle??? The only possible reason I could think of to be on a diet like this is to fit in a wedding dress where you don’t care what you lose (fat or muscle) as long as it makes you smaller. Good nutrition is far more important when dieting if you care about your muscle mass.

Fad Diet

2) Lose fat maintain muscle

Using this method, its a bit more work but your results are much better. You wont lose any muscle mass, all the weight lost will be fat. This method also takes longer, but we all know from mom that “good things take time” :) Sorry, I will stop quoting my mom here. If you want to lose the fat while maintaining the muscle, you can use old fashioned good nutrition and moderate exercise. Losing weight this way isn’t difficult and it really doesn’t require any big sacrifices, just make smart substitutions: have a baked potato instead of fries, have a grilled chicken sandwich no mayo instead of a cheeseburger with special sauce, have a bowl of fruit instead of a piece of cake. You will never be hungry and it doesn’t require any big changes to your lifestyle. For this you need to do daily cardio, just 20 minutes of walking 5 days a week is fine. Somesimple bodyweight workouts at home three times a week for 15 minutes will insure that you don’t lose muscle mass and you will probably gain a bit of muscle if you have never worked out before. Losing fat while maintaining muscle is something that everyone can do!

Good Basic Diet

3) Lose fat and gain muscle

The holy grail of fitness is to lose fat AND gain muscle and it IS possible! With education, dedication, strict nutrition, and hard work almost anyone can do this! Again, notice that this takes a lot longer than the twinkie diet, a full year instead of 10 weeks but with this plan you can gain 10lbs muscle and lose 40 pounds of fat – a true body transformation like Nhataccomplished. If you want to gain muscle while losing fat, you need hardcore weight training 5 days a week and 30-60min intense cardio every day. Most importantly though, you need strict nutrition, the quality of every single calorie counts. Strict means you have to be a nutritional nazi like me. Not a single calorie of sugar, simple carbs, bad oils, or alcohol. Every single calorie has to be loaded with vitamins, fiber, protein, complex carbs or all four. You need to cut your calories by 10%, no more, eat 6 well balanced meals a day, each with 1/6 of your daily protein and lots of vegetables. For an example of a nutritional meal that will let you lose fat and gain muscle, use my calorie calculator – it will plan a perfect meal for your weight loss. Now you understand why so many people claim this isn’t possible, because its such HARD WORK!

Scooby's Strict Diet

So yes, you can lose weight eating just twinkies but you will be losing muscle as well as fat. I know my fans are much better informed about nutrition that the general population, its not you I’m trying to reach – its your friends and family! If any overweight family member boasts at the table about how all that dieting stuff is poppycock and you can lose weight eating just twinkies, please excuse yourself from the table politely, do a primal pillow-scream in the bathroom, then come back to the table and explain the difference between weight loss and fat loss.