Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Proving that Rush Limbaugh Really Is a Big Giant Gas-Bag

Last week I blogged about Rush Limbaugh's stupidity in touting the "Twinkie Diet." In case you've forgotten, some professor managed to lose weight by limiting his calorie intake for two months but ate processed foods such as Twinkies. Rush blabbered to his guileless audience that eating healthy foods has no impact on weight loss or health, and that people should go on eating ultra-processed crap.

This is not the dumbest claim I ever heard Rush make (although its up there), but it does go to show just how deep in the pocket of corporate interests he is. Rush and his ilk have been pushing back against the non-processed food movement and the whole idea of eating a more plant-based diet (could someone please explain to me why eating healthy is liberal and un-American while eating processed crap and red meat makes you a patriot?)

The "Twinke diet" has gotten a lot of press beyond just Rush Gas-Bag, however, and people with actual knowledge of health and weight loss have begun commenting. Here is one explanation as to why the "Twinkie Diet" is, excuse my French, complete and utter bullshit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-katz-md/chewing-on-the-twinkie-di_b_782678.html

Here's what this good doctor has to say:

"A deficit of roughly 3,500 kcal is required to lose one pound of body fat. A restriction of 800 kcal per day for 70 days represents a calorie deficit of 56,000 kcal. That would be enough to account for a loss of 16 pounds of body fat. It takes smaller calorie deficits to lose other body tissues -- such as muscle -- and none at all to lose body water, which tends to happen with dieting. Calorie restriction produced the professor's weight loss, and was not particularly helped -- and certainly not hindered -- by the fact that these were mostly "bad" calories.

As for the changes seen in the lipid panel, these are likely by-products of weight loss per se. An excess of body fat is associated with increased inflammatory responses, and often, increased levels of insulin. Both inflammation and hormonal imbalances in turn affect cholesterol and other blood lipids. When body fat is lost, these effects are reversed -- and improvements in blood lipids are likely.

The mistake is to think this means better health. For one thing, health is a composite of far more than BMI and LDL. For another, its relevant time horizon is far more distant than two months.

Severe illness of all kinds is associated with sudden drops in total cholesterol. Drug addiction, chemotherapy, cholera and advanced HIV are all associated with weight loss. Cancer rather predictably leads to declines in both weight and lipids as it advances. These associations are more than sufficient to show that health cannot be summed up by weight and lipids. An overwhelming body of research shows what dietary patterns do produce lasting good health -- all emphasize wholesome, mostly plant foods direct from nature. None emphasizes Ho Hos.

The two-month timeline here is important for another reason. Over the long term, controlling calories means either going hungry, or finding a way to feel full and satisfied on fewer calories. Here's where the quality of calories certainly does matter. Foods of high nutritional quality include, among their many virtues, the capacity to produce fullness on fewer calories. Eating until full and yet being lean is having your cake and eating it too -- but snack cakes will never get you there!

Chewing on implications of the Twinkie diet for health in the context of either science or sense reveals that calorie control for weight loss always was a good idea, and still is; chewing on Twinkies never was, and still isn't."

Bottom line, if you actually want to be healthy and lose weight for good you have to change your eating patterns and exercise more. You have to give up eating ultra-processed foods, have the majority of your diet be plant based, and refined white breads and rices, etc., have to become nothing more than an occasional treat.

Proving that, not only is Rush Limbaugh a fool, but that anyone who listens to him and takes him seriously really is an idiot. And anyone who believes this rotund, radio whore is qualified to give weight loss advice is simply delusional. Keep it up Rush, both you and your listeners will all be adding to the country's spiraling health care costs.


  1. Love your post! Love your attitude! But this is why I avoid listening to or reading about Rush Limbaugh and his cohorts (like Glenn F. Beck). It's bad for my health. Raises my blood pressure. Makes me feel depressed. Then I have to go eat some chocolate. Then I gain weight and get more depressed. So I just quietly spread my seeds of vegetarian sedition and eat my veggies. But thanks for a great read!

  2. I listen to Rusk and kin out of fascination, both for the idiot drivel they blabber, and the utter stupidity of the comments from the listeners.

  3. I think you have to consider the aim of the study:

    " Kansas State University professor has said he aims to prove that eating junk food does not necessarily lead to weight gain – by spending a month on a calorie-controlled diet of high-fat snacks.

    "The food and beverage industry has consistently contested the idea that specific foods or drinks cause obesity, with confectioners and sugary drink manufacturers in particular repeatedly saying that their products do not cause weight gain if consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. In addition, several diet trends have promoted the idea that weight loss is easier if a whole nutritional category is eliminated, such as carbohydrates in the case of the Atkins diet.

    "Mark Haub is a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, and teaches a course in energy balance and obesity. He said he wanted to show that by restricting his caloric intake to 1,800 calories a day, it was possible to lose weight, even while only consuming foods such as peanut butter-chocolate bars, chocolate cake rolls, breakfast pizza, donuts and sugared cereal.

    "'The purpose is to illustrate metabolic, mental and sociological issues surrounding weight. The principle is simple: eat fewer kilocalories than I expend,' Haub said."


    I don't think he was suggesting at all that one consume this kind of diet to lose weight, but 1) specific foods or drinks don't cause obesity, 2) it's about eating fewer calories than you burn, and 3) junk food isn't solely responsible for weight gain.

    I also don't think he recommends this for health -- though cholesterol and blood sugar will drop with any weight loss.

    It was an experiment -- no more and no less.

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