The Twinkie Diet

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We’ll get back on track with our stress conversation early next week, but those who know me know that I wouldn’t bite my lip on Kansas professor Mark Haub’s Twinkie Diet forever. 

Well of course I have a response – one that’s been in the works for a while. 

For those of you who don’t know, Haub’s Twinkie Diet has gone wildly viral on the internet.  He lost 27 pounds in 2 months eating nothing but blatant junk food – from Nutty Bars to Doritos, on a calorie-restricted diet.  He lost weight, had improvements in his lipid profile, and more.  He basically set out on this experiment to prove, once and for all, that the most important thing when it comes to losing weight and improving your health is calories, calories, and calories. 

Well, Click Here to read my special Twinkie Diet Report, and if you think that Haub’s advice to ditch quality and count calories is potentially very harmful advice, please pass the link on to others via e-mail, blogs, Facebook, etc. so that they get the other side of the story before they embark on a similar adventure and royally screw themselves in yet another episode of epic diet fail.   

Fight viral nonsense with viral sense.  Friends don’t let friends think that it’s all about calories.     

Also check out this 180 Metabolism post featuring the work of Sandy Szwarc.  This alone is enough to completely obliterate Haub’s moronic beliefs. 

53 Comments

  1. Thanks for this post. People always want to take the easy way without concern for the long term consequences.

    Reply
  2. I'm reading the Twinkie Diet report. Good stuff as usual. I am noticing that the belief that it's all about calories is really hard to shift, ***even though I've read all your books and know better***.

    BTW, no need to send tickets to your relatives in Kansas. Sooner or later, a tornado will send them off to Oz anyway.

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  3. Tezza-

    Even if it were all about the calories, the key would be to eat a diet that fills you up on fewer calories – i.e., foods with the highest satiety index. Haub's diet is the antithesis of that, choosing foods that not only have no nutritional value, but yield the least appetite satisfaction.

    The result is the biggest drop in metabolism and biggest rise in appetite one could possibly stir up.

    I don't believe that creating incidental calorie restriction by eating to appetite of a whole foods, unrefined, fibrous, high-water content diet yields anywhere near the same effect.

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  4. Perfect. And hilarious. I'll do my best to get this into the hands of everyone who shoved all those "see, food quality doesn't matter after all!" stories in my face back when this first broke.

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  5. Ha ha. Thanks Darrin. I pity the fool who thinks food quality doesn't matter.

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  6. I'd like to see some after pics of Twinkie dieters. Even if they loose 20 pounds they probably still look like hell.

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  7. I'd like to read the study you cited:

    "For example, in one study, after obese subjects lost nearly 100 pounds they were burning fewer calories than someone that weighed 100 pounds less than they did at the end of their weight loss period…"

    I'd be grateful if you would give the reference.

    Reply
  8. Anonymous-

    This was taken from Robert Pool's book Fat: Fighting the Obesity Epidemic. I still consider this to be the best overall book written on the topic of obesity.

    p. 76
    “Leibel found that the non-obese group, which consisted of 12 men and 14 women who weighed an average of 138 pounds, needed an average of 2,280 calories per day to maintain weight. By contrast, the obese group, an identical number of men and women who weighed an average of 335 pounds, needed 3,651 calories a day. This wasn’t surprising – the obese subjects weighed nearly two and half times as much as the control group, so it seemed reasonable that they might need an extra 1,400 calories a day to maintain that weight. What was surprising, though, was the comparison after the weight loss. After the 26 obese patients had lost an average of 115 pounds apiece, they weighed an average of 220, and at this reduced weight their bodies demanded just 2,171 calories a day. In other words, these reduced-obese patients, who still weighed an average of 80 pounds apiece more than the lean subjects, had to eat 100 calories a day less to maintain their weight.”

    p. 77
    “…when Leibel compared the lean subjects and the obese subjects before they had lost weight, he found that it was: while maintaining their weights, the lean patients consumed an average of 1,341 calories per square meter per day, and the obese patients took in 1,432. But the reduced obese were another story altogether. Once they had lost weight, the obese patients needed only 1,021 calories per day per square meters to maintain – a drop of 28 percent from what their bodies had required before the weight loss.”

    p. 84
    “Together, Leibel believes, the changes in metabolism and hunger that accompany a departure from the set point make it difficult to keep the body at a weight that is not natural, and the farther one gets from the set point, the harder it is to stay there. Keeping a few pounds off is relatively simple; keeping fifty or a hundred off demands a discipline that few can muster.”

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  9. Isn't that the same diet America has been on? Give or take…..

    It appears that one can do anything temporarily and not have terrible results unless, of course, you're already screwed up.

    It is sad that there are peop that will take this to heart….

    Off topic, take a look at Tom Greenwalds channel on youtube for great workout ideas.

    Reply
  10. Sounds like a modified version of weight watchers! That one did a number on my body when I was done with it, that I am still dealing with :/

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  11. Nice report Matt!

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  12. That's just the problem Kate. The weight loss industry takes all the credit for lost weight via calorie restriction and then blames the ensuing hunger and metabolic issues on lack of adherence to "lifestyle changes." Or you have Bob Greene telling Oprah, "you just don't love yourself."

    Kill 'em all!! Lol.

    Reply
  13. jem: cool videos but I imagine you'd need to be in pretty good shape to do 90% of that stuff.

    Reply
  14. Kate, me too. So many people believe faithfully in Weightwatchers, because they have lost some weight on it. I don't know a single person who stayed at their goal weight more than a few months. If you look around online at lifetime member blogs they are mostly either abandoned or the people are loosing all their weight for the second or third time. It's tragic because each time it gets harder. And their program just gets worse all the time. First they replaced points with core, which in theory sounds great because you can eat as much as you want of the core foods. The problem is it relies heavily on low-fat dairy products as the main protein source. This was terrible for me since it turned out I was allergic to that. It really messed with my whole system. Now they are replacing Core with Points Plus which is just a lo-carb thing, which treats all carbs as if they are equal. A potato costs you the same in points as a piece of white bread or a glass of wine.

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  15. If only Oprah could get ahold of you Matt! The whole world would be fixed! =)

    Jenny: Since I've quit dieting I have been eating potatoes and rice like nobodies business and enjoying every minute of me. My husband died and went to heaven after looking at the stuff in Matt's kitchen book! He has finally lost weight because I stopped dragging him through my dieting crap!

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  16. Kate-

    Sorry I killed your husband. At least he went to heaven though. I hear it's nice.

    You'll have to craft up a 180 vs. WW testimonial for me someday. There will be many haters in my future.

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  17. You will Matt. WW is big business. They will come down on you. They will send their true believers here and I dread that. Anytime spent on WW message boards reveals just how crazy the diet makes you–they make us seem totally non cult-like in comparison.

    One of the saddest WW stories is one of their greatest lifelong champions:

    http://www.dwlz.com/

    Dottie. Professional Weightwatchers. She's now on third time losing 100 pounds with them. She has a nice little side business of selling horrible high-calorie highly processed points-friendly crap, and selling her own software which gets you around purchasing the online WW program. I think they would sue her except that since she is one of their poster-children, who has her own community of followers, most of which actually pay for WW, they leave her alone. It was story that inadvertently convinced me that WW sucks.

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  18. Matt
    When you are done with your food/diet research you can hire yourself out to kill spouses.
    Just a thought Dexter.
    xo
    your biggest fan

    Reply
  19. Wow. I thought this was just you being silly when I saw your first tweet about a Twinkie diet being a long-term failure.

    An idea for a TV show: Dieters Will Try the Darndest Things.

    Reply
  20. You can't do that Randy. *Glare*

    :D

    That's what I hear in my head every time I get the urge to do something silly dietarily. Everyone should watch this again: http://thetotaltoner.com/sprinciple.wmv

    Reply
  21. I really needed to read this today!! I finished RRARF about 1 1/2 wks. Ago, and kind of had a meltdown this morning looking at all my clothes that don't fit. ( they haven't fit since I had my last baby 14 months ago). Anyway, reading the twinkle diet made me glad I live in CA, and reminded me to be patient. My body knows what it's doing, right?
    Question: should I be concerned about my post-RRARF temps? I think it's gone down a little; should I be trying to get that higher?

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  22. Entirely agree: friends don't let friends think that it's all about calories. I get depressed at times with how monolithically entrenched that way of thinking is. I think my ND calls it 'flat earth science.'

    The 'Twinkie Diet' is a cheap, myopic publicity stunt, and the fact that it's aimed at steering people to believe (or to be complacent in their belief) in something that's so patently harmful brings adjectives like 'evil' to mind.

    I like your report a lot: my only discomfort is with the heavy-handed sarcastic humor: I think that for some people that I'd show it to, it would discredit the truth of what you're saying right off the bat, or simply put them off. But this may be just my own sensitivity because it's so different from my own style. And perhaps those same people need that kind of kick up the butt to shake them up a bit!

    Thanks for engaging with this.
    cheers,
    Ela

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  23. Ela,
    Same thoughts as you. I was definitely thinking about the long-term harm this guy is causing. This is exactly the kind of thing that gets tossed around the lunch table with no opportunity for rational observation.

    I also felt Matt was over-handed with the sarcasm but to be truthful, printing off an article from some guy on the internet is probably not the strongest way to make an impression. Simple statements like "He didn't prove anything" or "Calorie restriction doesn't lead to weight loss" with a confident self-assured tone. If people want to know more, they'll ask.

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  24. Aaron – agree with you entirely. Just frustrated that this guy's 'publication' gets so much pop attention (allowing people to stay dismissive/complacent/despairing) whereas publications attempting to share the truth won't get the time of day. But I guess that's why we have metaphors like 'one-eyed man in the land of the blind,' etc – not a new phenomenon by any means. And you're right – people who are ready will ask.
    cheers,
    Ela

    Reply
  25. Wow, that's incredible. It shows how improving the lipid profile is not a great way to measure overall health…..

    "Loose 27 pounds, Slow Down Your Metabolism, Increase Hunger, Gain it All Back"
    by Matt Stone

    That just about sums it all up.

    I was struggling last week cause I had the flu and my appetite was super low. I did force feed myself but the calorie count was waaaay lower than usual and what I need. I lost 5 pounds in a week, and my temps dropped with one degree… Thankfully it only took me like 2 days to gain it back including getting my temps back to the healthy range…..It was heavenly to be 5 pounds lighter but the price is too high to pay.

    Hope you got your Whoopie Cusion btw….lol….Very enjoyable reading as usual.

    Also from the Twinkie Diet Report:
    "The entire weight loss industry is a joke, and not a particularly funny one"

    Agree!

    "The only weight loss that counts is the kind that happens spontaneously and automatically
    as a result of eating healthier foods, reducing stress, getting better sleep, and other simple measures that even Grandma preached. No magic tricks, just persistence and dedication when it comes to nourishing yourself well and ending the tragic war of trying to eat less and exercise more…"

    Hell yes!!!!!

    "Naturally lean people don’t count calories, don’t deprive themselves of foods they want to eat, certainly don’t skip meals when they are hungry, and absolutely don’t guilt-trip themselves for every cookie they snarf down. Rather, their bodies do the calorie accounting automatically, without them even knowing it."

    That used to be me, before I went low carb (to try to cure candida) in a moment of temporary insanity that lasted for three years….

    Reply
  26. Found the report very hard to read due to the font that was used.

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  27. Once again, Excellent post!
    I especially loved the part where you sum up what happens hormonally when you: Lose weight by a forced calorie deficit – meaning that you intentionally eat less than you
    want to eat and/or exercise more than you want to exercise.
    This is a very easy step by step approach, when trying to explain another person why fiets duck!

    Reply
  28. Did you see The Prof. Mark Haub Nonsense? The improvements in Haub's serum lipids were pathetic considering the amount of weight he lost.

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  29. Just got round to reading this, excellent stuff. I am loving the only debunking of this Twinkie crap I have seen so far.

    I have been reading a bit of Devany's stuff recently and although I know the guy is a bit of a nut some of his stuff is interesting. Was wondering what you think of this http://www.arthurdevany.com/articles/20101113_1/print
    Basically pointing towards fat and carbohydrate combination being toxic.

    Reply
  30. That article you linked to was great.

    Seeing it in statistics explains why I've never met a single person who ever maintained their goal weight for more than a few weeks. I know people who've done remarkable transformations multiple times. I bleed for them, because I know how hard it was to loose 20 pounds on WW, let alone 100. In many ways I'm grateful for my lack of discipline that I never actually got to goal weight and instead got pregnant and started shoving BBQ in my face as fast as I could, guilt free. I can't imagine how much that must suck to devote your life to something and then have it fail and then blame yourself for loosing focus. Luckily I never really had that much self-loathing about my diet fails. I had some self-loathing but not too much.

    Another article on the Fatfu blog really got me thinking. It was about the way that weightloss is now a medical problem which means that people get to hide their loathing of overweight people as "concern." They also get to use health insurance to pay for what is essentially elective plastic surgery. I know someone who did the band surgery because her husband wanted an open marriage and she wanted to slim down to convince him otherwise by being able to get lots of men lined up to sleep with her. I didn't have the heart to tell her that men are such dogs, you don't really need to loose 80 pounds to get them queuing up for it. It's funny because had she gone to the doctor wanting a boob job there's no way the HMO would have sprung for it. This idea has really hit home as my mother has decided that since I've gained 20 pounds I must be deathly ill. I keep trying to convince her it's actually the opposite and she needs to disconnect weight from health because they don't always have to be related.

    Anyway sorry for the rant.

    I will end with this. Just spent the last 48 hours shoveling snow and cooking for my husband whose metabolism is on fire from all the snow shoveling. If the snowblower had never been invented Minnesota and Wisconsin would have the lowest obesity rates in the country, not the highest. Eat the food! Shovel the snow!

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  31. Chris-

    If that was the case, then, as mammals, we'd all be screwed from birth. In reality, the fat-carb combo. is what the body can use most efficiently to store fat if it feels it needs to for its own protection. With a proper metabolism, nothing is fattening, adversely affects insulin sensitivity, lipid profile, etc.

    Chanelle-

    Sorry I didn't answer sooner. I wouldn't worry about the temps too much. Often you can bring them back up with a single high-calorie day if they've started to dip a bit.

    Jenny-

    There's a surprising number of good-sounding books out there about body issues, health vs. weight, how losing weight doesn't improve health, how the weight loss industry is scamming to get more public funding to address a mythical problem, and so on. Let you know what the winners are in that category as I read 'em this coming year.

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  32. Yeah, they should change the name of "Men's Health" magazine to Manorexia and Boner Pills.

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  33. This comment of yours has been duly noted Jenny, and will be immortalized on this blog somehow.

    Maybe I'll put up a poll with some proposed hilarious new names.

    That mag would have some great articles I bet. I was thinking of submitting an article entitled, "8 Ab-toning exercises to guarantee the attraction of a shallow person who will appreciate absolutely nothing else about you, and lose respect and withhold sex from you if you gain 10 pounds."

    Should be classic.

    Reply
  34. Oh, I like that article title. Cosmopolitan magazine should be retitled, "Terrible sex advice for the cosmetic surgery post-operative."

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  35. Awesome post as usual Matt Stone (long time reader, first time poster BTW). If I may also indulge myself and jump on the Weight Watchers Sucks bandwagon, I’ve just got to mention that the company I work for has officially endorsed WW and now offers meetings and weigh-ins in the work place. Signs are up everywhere, especially in our office kitchen (usually showing tempting photographs of cakes or cookies), right there next to the stale doughnuts and bagels. It’s so twisted and weird. Passing by the conference room where the WW meetings take place every month I see nothing but a group of overweight, pale, forlorn and tired looking individuals being lectured on points and given brightly colored pamphlets to help guide them through the hell. The other day “Italian ices” were being passed around (mmm…neon blue toxic sugar bomb, anyone, to help you survive the afternoon?) and my coworker took a look at the calories, decided that if she skipped a good portion of her dinner she would still be within the day’s max, and then proceeded to eat this thing.

    Very, very angry making.

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  36. Yes, Alison the "lose weight without giving up the foods you love" mantra has a dark side: namely that you get to keep the foods you love at the sacrifice of foods that are good for you. And the "foods you love" will be quietly replaced with sugar-laden toxic bombs that are roughly the same size and shape as the foods you love.

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  37. Easy Alison Easy!! You were tailing off like Hulk there at the end. Fee Fi Foe Fum, Weight Watchers is really dumb!

    Thanks for your comment. Enjoy watching friends and co-workers displace healthy foods they might've had for dinner with blue-colored sugary ice.

    Maybe I should write a WW version of It's a Wonderful Life…

    "Every time the Weight Watchers cash register rings, a nice, innocent person develops an eating disorder."

    Should be heartwarming.

    Reply
  38. Alison, I do encourage you to speak up about using company or insurance funds for Weight Watchers. The company has a success rate lower the statistical odds that some people will loose weight due to illness or side-effect of medication. They seem to be making some people who would have lost weight through illness not loose weight. If a drug or surgical procedure had such a poor record it wouldn't be something you could charge to your HMO and certainly your company wouldn't be ponying up the dough to pay for it. If they want to do something to help the health of their employees on the weight loss front, they could outlaw cookie/cake parties and quit paying for donuts, bagels, etc. Hardly a week goes by at my work where there aren't some sort of sweets shoved in our faces at work.

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  39. Matt- ha! Totally. Sometimes I actually feel like I’d like to roar but then think better of it;-D And that does sound very heartwarming… maybe at the end a guardian angel can bust in with a pot roast and potatoes and save the day:-)

    Jenny, so true. So glad there are other office dwellers out there that feel the same way about this. Funny how much the WW and this twinkie diet have in common. So much junk. I would love to be able to bring the failure rate evidence to HR with the request that they re-evaluate this program and its role in the work place. Maybe I’ll go ahead and gather up some of it and present just as an aside to consider. They might be amenable to hearing it out. It certainly couldn’t hurt.

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  40. Yeah, I say that and then I spend a good portion of my work day once a week putting out cookies for a seminar. I wonder what would happen if I replaced the cookie trays with a fruit and cheese tray? Would there be a riot?

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  41. jenny ,

    where did you derive the statistic on WW from? thats craziness. I tried some of their food once out of curiosity and thought it was terrible.

    alison,
    i laughed at your story/post so bizarre and twisted lol the italian icee comment had me shakin my head. Poor calorie counting point system slaves ..

    about the twinkie diet/all about calorie deficit …. Is it just me or do most of these people that lose a considerable amount of weight this way look like they are on the verge of re-fatassification …the reason i say this is I'm reading tim ferriss' book and there is a guy in a pic that lost 100 pounds by counting calories and in his after pic it looks like his body "kept room " for future fat with saggy skin and an over all skinny fat-ish look.

    on a side note tim also has something in there about " overeating " and still losing weight like me so perhaps im not alone. I just started reading it, 90 pages in and nothing to write home about yet.

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  42. Speaking of which, Matt, we need a good Tim Ferriss review.

    Low-cal egg white and lentil diet 6 days (insulin is evil), followed by a binge day (kick start the hormones). Maybe a good solution for the severely overweight, but just to have some malnourished looking abs (and go crazy), no thanks.

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  43. Chief, there's no doubt that people who loose weight this way do not necessarily look better. I see pictures of myself at the end of my WW days and I think I look thin, but sort of weak, exhausted and deflated. Sort of like the Metrodome! Now, I just look at my before pics and notice that despite my raging skin issues and size 12 booty I was a lot happier and better looking.

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  44. jenny Metrodome, lol i loves me some twin cities thanks for the link by the way

    Anon
    I can vouch that tims slow carb diet works being based on beans which is one of my staples and i also do a cheat day. Im no insulin hater though.
    so far i have not seen any 180 ish things in the book … ill be finishing it up tonight.

    Im glad to see he has changed his opinion on aspartame in the book where as his online recommendations 2 years ago were go wild with it does not matter.

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  45. That's just how we roll in the 6-1-2.

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  46. When Im in the 612 I like to imagine I'm on a purple motorcycle and getting girls to jump in the lake naked…..
    and I also try to avoid the 37 $ cab fair from the greyhound to the first avenue club :)

    Reply
  47. Chief-

    Maybe you can do a Ferriss book review. I don't have a copy yet. Hopefully the local bookstore has it in by now. If so I'll read it tonight and do a review on Monday.

    Skinny Fat-

    Depends partly on age and gender. If you are a woman, you will lose more lean mass, less body fat, and have more negative dieting complications (more crazy, more reproductive side effects let's say, lower body temp, greater chance of autoimmune disease, IBS, etc.).

    You also lose a higher ratio of lean mass to body fat the older you get.

    The funny thing is that lean men are the least likely to restrict calories as they are typically more focused on feeding the muscle when making an attempt to become more appealing to the opposite sex.

    But my calculations on Haub losing 13.5 pounds lean mass and 13.5 pounds body fat were benefit of the doubt calculations and best-case scenario. Often an obese person will have even poorer results. A woman will have poorer results. And an older person will have poorer results.

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  48. matt,
    been running around too much to finish i usually just read a book i one shot… ill do the second half in thee boon docks tonight.

    he does say calories don't " count" at the point I'm at in the book. As I expected of him so far alot of hackish concepts like workarounds to dodge food absorption.

    my biggest beef is the book is pretty much written like a series of blog post and could have easily been online instead of typing the links (alot of em) and it has a sporadic feel.

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  49. Very good report.

    I m reading it. Hope i will help my wife get off her mind these thoughts.

    Thanks

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  50. The whole point of that experiment was to prove that in order to lose weight, you need a caloric deficient. That’s why Prof. Mark ate only junk food – to prove his point.

    I would have imagined 180D would have embraced this guy. After all, you do advocate eating ice-cream – which is “junk food” like twinkies. And also, I would have imagined you embracing him because in a previous article you state exactly what this man intented to prove: to lose weight, you need a caloric deficient. You do not need to cut out a whole food group (like carbs) or eate a grapefruit before breakfast – or whatever stupid thing they come up with next.

    [Sorry, you can tell I hate diets]

    I remember watching an interview where he advocates healthy eating.

    Reply

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