Well, it's finally happened. My biggest dream has come true.
No, the New Kids on the Block have NOT finally asked me to be their opening act.
No, I have NOT invented an adult-sized Sit & Spin.
And no, Mike Rowe has NOT proposed to me, despite my repeated efforts to seduce him through my television screen.
No - I'm talking about something bigger. Something more unbelievable. Something - well, I'm just gonna say it - miraculous. You see, friends, the research I've been waiting for all my life has finally been released. All my struggles are over. And my life may never be the same. "What is this life-changing research, Catherine??? We're dying to know!!" you exclaim. Okay, okay. I'll tell you. Wait, no - I'll let you read the article that my friend Ellen forwarded to me today. You read it and judge for yourselves if it's not the most exciting thing you've ever heard.
I daresay that you, like me, shall LITERALLY jump for joy:
(CNN) -- Twinkies. Nutty bars. Powdered donuts.
For 10 weeks, Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, ate one of these sugary cakelets every three hours, instead of meals. [So, wait - OTHER people do that, too?? I think he might be my soulmate.] To add variety in his steady stream of Hostess and Little Debbie snacks, Haub munched on Doritos chips, sugary cereals and Oreos, too. [Mmmmmmm . . . yes, please . . .]
His premise: That in weight loss, pure calorie counting is what matters most -- not the nutritional value of the food. [I like where this is going . . .]
The premise held up: On his "convenience store diet," he shed 27 pounds in two months. [Wait - what? . . . What? . . . WHAT??? This is . . . I never thought I'd . . . so it really . . . breathe, Catherine . . . breathe . . .]
For a class project, Haub limited himself to less than 1,800 calories a day. A man of Haub's pre-dieting size usually consumes about 2,600 calories daily. So he followed a basic principle of weight loss: He consumed significantly fewer calories than he burned. [Wait - let me get a pen a paper so I can take some notes.]
His body mass index went from 28.8, considered overweight, to 24.9, which is normal. He now weighs 174 pounds. [I'm crying. I'm ACTUALLY crying.]
But you might expect other indicators of health would have suffered. Not so. [gulp]
Haub's "bad" cholesterol, or LDL, dropped 20 percent and his "good" cholesterol, or HDL, increased by 20 percent. He reduced the level of triglycerides, which are a form of fat, by 39 percent. [Blah blah blah . . . get to the important stuff - did he LOVE the Swiss Cake Rolls or WHAT??]
"That's where the head scratching comes," Haub said. "What does that mean? Does that mean I'm healthier? Or does it mean how we define health from a biology standpoint, that we're missing something?"[Ummmmm . . . it means I'm having Swiss Cake Rolls for dinner and no one can judge me!!]
Despite his temporary success, Haub does not recommend replicating his snack-centric diet. [Oh, oooooooooookay. Wink wink, riiiiiiiiight?]
"I'm not geared to say this is a good thing to do," [I am. I am DEFINITELY geared to do that.] he said. "I'm stuck in the middle. I guess that's the frustrating part. I can't give a concrete answer. There's not enough information to do that."
Two-thirds of his total intake came from junk food. [Seriously, I want to kiss this guy.] He also took a multivitamin pill and drank a protein shake daily. And he ate vegetables, typically a can of green beans or three to four celery stalks. [Ah now that's just a sign of weakness, man. If you can't commit 100% to Little Deb, just go home.]
Families who live in food deserts have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables, so they often rely on the kind of food Haub was eating. [Note to self: find a "food desert" and research real estate prices there.]
"These foods are consumed by lots of people," he said. "It may be an issue of portion size and moderation rather than total removal. I just think it's unrealistic to expect people to totally drop these foods for vegetables and fruits. It may be healthy, but not realistic." [Preach it, brotha!!]
Haub's body fat dropped from 33.4 to 24.9 percent. This posed the question: What matters more for weight loss, the quantity or quality of calories? [Why are we talking about this? Who cares? IT'S A DIET OF LITTLE DEBBIES!!!!]
His success is probably a result of caloric reduction, said Dawn Jackson Blatner, a dietitian based in Atlanta, Georgia. [Oh great - who invited the dietitian to the party?]
"It's a great reminder for weight loss that calories count," she said. "Is that the bottom line to being healthy? That's another story."
Blatner, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, said she's not surprised to hear Haub's health markers improved even when he loaded up on processed snack cakes.
Being overweight is the central problem that leads to complications like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, she said. [Buzz kill . . .]
"When you lose weight, regardless of how you're doing it -- even if it's with packaged foods, generally you will see these markers improve when weight loss has improved," she said.
Before jumping on the Ding Dong bandwagon, Blatner warned of health concerns. [Ooooooof course she did. Dang dietitians. They are so annoy- wait . . . did they say Ding Dongs? Mmmmmm . . . ding dongs . . .]
"There are things we can't measure," said Blatner, questioning how the lack of fruits and vegetables could affect long-term health. "How much does that affect the risk for cancer? We can't measure how diet changes affect our health." [(fingers in ears) LALALALALALA I CAN'T HEEEEEEEAR YOOOOOOOU!!! LALALALALALA]
On August 25, Haub, 41, started his cake diet focusing on portion control.
"I'm eating to the point of need and pushing the plate or wrapper away," he said. [What? Pushing the plate away? What is this strange concept about which you speak??]
He intended the trial to last a month as a teaching tool for his class. As he lost weight, Haub continued the diet until he reached a normal body mass index.
Before his Twinkie diet, he tried to eat a healthy diet that included whole grains, dietary fiber, berries and bananas, vegetables and occasional treats like pizza. [Never again, my friend. Never again.]
"There seems to be a disconnect between eating healthy and being healthy," Haub said. "It may not be the same. I was eating healthier, but I wasn't healthy. I was eating too much."
He maintained the same level of moderate physical activity as before going on the diet. (Haub does not have any ties to the snack cake companies.)
To avoid setting a bad example for his kids, Haub ate vegetables in front of his family. Away from the dinner table, he usually unwrapped his meals. [For the first time in my life, I'm thankful I don't have kids.]
Haub monitored his body composition, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose, and updated his progress on his Facebook page, Professor Haub's diet experiment.
To curb calories, he avoided meat, whole grains and fruits. Once he started adding meat into the diet four weeks ago, his cholesterol level increased.
Haub plans to add about 300 calories to his daily intake now that he's done with the diet. But he's not ditching snack cakes altogether. Despite his weight loss, Haub feels ambivalence.
"I wish I could say the outcomes are unhealthy. I wish I could say it's healthy. I'm not confident enough in doing that. That frustrates a lot of people. One side says it's irresponsible. It is unhealthy, but the data doesn't say that." [Trust the data, my friend. Trust the data.]
Aaaaaaand cue the Hallelujah Chorus . . .