Obesity Panacea KO’s the Chocolate Milk Diet


As most of you know, school lunch reformers have targeted chocolate milk for removal from cafeterias on the grounds that sugar-sweetened drinks contribute to childhood obesity. So I was somewhat taken aback by Men’s Health’s promotion of “The Chocolate Milk Diet” – it’s rather ironic, no? But gimmicky, contrarian diets are a dime-a-dozen, doncha know, so I more-or-less forgot about it until today… when I saw this post by Travis Saunders on Obesity Panacea.

A few weeks ago our friend Colby Vorland of Nutritional Blogma emailed me an article titled “The Chocolate Milk Diet“, which he had come across via Twitter.  The article (which was written and published last year by the editor-in-chief of Men’s Health and Women’s Health David Zinczenko) got both of our BS detectors going, and we thought it would be a good idea to tag-team a post deconstructing the arguments in the original article (Given that Colby is far more knowledgeable about nutrition than I am, the lion’s share of this post – and all of the good parts – is his).

I think you can guess what’s coming… but here’s a taste:

Want to know the secret to staying thin? You need more muscle. That’s because muscle burns more calories than fat, so for every new muscle fiber you create, your resting metabolism receives another surge of fat-torching energy.”

Another person touting the muscle-metabolism theory.  In reality, on average the amount of calories per day burned for every extra pound of muscle  is only about 6 (13) or a little less than 5 (14).  So if you were to convert 10 lbs of fat into 10 lbs of muscle – certainly nothing to sniff at – you would only be burning an additional 50-60 calories per day.  For a 200lb man, that’s the equivalent of 8 minutes of walking at a normal pace.  Yes, calories can add up over time, but that’s still not a tremendous amount of calories for a pretty large increase in muscle mass.  And let’s not forget that even gaining fat tissue will increase metabolic rate by about 2 calories per pound per day.  Of course appetite compensates and you consume more to sustain it, but the same goes for muscle mass!  You need a calorie deficit to lose weight, period.

This post is a perfect, step-by-step deconstruction of BS claims, so read the whole thing. It’s a tad dry in spots (as discussions of research invariably are), but the detail really demonstrates just how far off base Zinczenko is.

FWIW, I  don’t doubt that one could lose weight drinking three glasses of chocolate milk per day – as long as the dieter remains in a calorie deficit. After all, this is true for Slim Fast too, which is just glorified flavored milk. But this isn’t because chocolate milk has any magical properties… as Colby and Travis make abundantly clear!

Author: elissa

Elissa is a former research associate with the University of California at Davis, and the author/co-author of over a dozen articles published in scientific journals. Currently a freelance writer and researcher, Elissa brings her multidisciplinary education and training to her writing on nutrition and supplements.

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1 Comment

  1. And we wonder why there is an obesity problem with the constant stream of questionable info presented in certain magazines? I hope he sold enough magazines for that month.

    After reading that portion about fat turning into muscle, I knew something was not right. Two different entities of body composition. But it sounds pretty good w/o thinking a lot. Sad thing is most people would be able to drink “chocolate” milk if they were to have a chocolate flavored whey shake once a day after their workout. Oh wait a minute, they are not working out. Silly me.

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