A month-long diet of snack cakes and fatty foods may sound like a fantasy, but for one Kansas State University professor it's serious business. In 30 days Mark Haub is attempting to prove some common beliefs about nutrition are untrue.
Haub, professor of human nutrition, teaches an obesity-related, energy balance course that sparked his diet idea.
"The overarching principle is to bring to light some of the issues with obesity, our understanding of health, health outcomes and societal issues on what is good," he said.
Haub wants to show that foods known to ruin diets may not have that effect, and he wants to point out that there is no strong definition of what healthy weight loss is. He will be recording his results on Facebook throughout the course of his experiment.
His special four-week diet started Aug. 25. It includes products like peanut butter-chocolate bars, chocolate cake rolls, breakfast pizza, donuts and sugared cereal. Within the first four days of the diet, Haub had lost seven pounds by eating foods high in saturated fats and sugar while maintaining his calorie goal of 1,800 kilocalories a day.
"It's portion controlled. I'm eating foods that are deemed by many to be unhealthy; we will see if they are," he said.
"I'm not doing 'Super Size Me,' where I'm eating until I'm stuffed or overeating until I regurgitate, as Morgan Spurlock did with his documentary," Haub said. "The purpose is to illustrate metabolic, mental and sociological issues surrounding weight. The principle is simple: eat fewer kilocalories than I expend."
Haub expects that his diet will affect his health and knows it could be a risk. But he points out that other diets have risks, as does gastric bypass surgery -- which is performed all the time.
Haub is monitoring his health by measuring his body mass index, body composition, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose.
He believes the U.S. has an obesity epidemic.
"We have become heavier as a nation and that's undeniable," he said. "The debatable part is what the health outcomes are that come with that increased weight gain."
Many think increased weight gain leads to diabetes, heart disease, mortality and more. But Haub said research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found overweight people have lower mortality rates and health care costs.
Haub said his diet also is easy on a budget.
"It's very inexpensive and I get all of my calories for about five bucks a day," he said. "I am not promoting this or recommending it; it's just an exercise in nutrition."