What is the Sirtfood diet?
Created by nutritionists, Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten, Sirtfood is the latest in many miracle weight-loss diets recommended on social media. The diet basically requires the individual to consume food that are rich in the protein ‘Sirtuins’ – hence, the name. Sirtuins are known to protect cells from unduly stress and regulate inflammation and trigger the genes that mimic effects of exercising and fasting. This not only slows the aging process but also boosts metabolism, which allows the body to burn fat faster and shed seven pound of weight within a week while maintaining muscle as suggested by its creators. They also suggest that activating the sirtuin pathways allows the body to clear out cellular debris, which are the primary causes of ill-health and loss in vitality.
Why is it popular?
Apart from having endorsements from celebrities including Adele, Pippa Middleton, Jodie Kidd, Lorraine Pascale and Sir Ben Ainslie, many professional athletes are also known to swear by it.
However, perhaps the primary reason the diet has found such quick popularity and attention is because it allows rather encourages individuals to include dark chocolate and red-wine (yes, you read it right!) in the diet, both of which are considered to be rich in sirtuins. This comes as a relief for people on long diets of salads and veggie smoothies. Oh and did I also mention that it includes coffee too?
Besides helping with weight loss, suppressing appetite and building muscles, it has been found that sirt foods might have other important benefits including improvement in memory, control blood sugar levels, and cleaning up free radical molecules or toxins that may lead to cancer.
In fact, Professor Frank Hu, an expert in nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard University mentioned in his article for the journal Advances in Nutrition, “Substantial observational evidence exists for the beneficial effects of the intake of food and drinks rich in sirtuin activators in decreasing risks of chronic disease.” So, this seems like something one should definitely check out.
So what are these miracle ‘Sirt-Foods’?
Although sirtuins can actually be found all through the plant kingdom, only certain variety contain large concentrations of sirtuins. The primary Sirt Foods are:
Dark Chocolate (>85% cocoa)
Celery (including leaf)
How does the diet work?
The diet is broken down into two phases, which can be repeated as long as required for desired results. Note that the idea is not to follow a strict meal routine but to increase the intake of sirt-foods.
Phase 1a: Day 1 to Day 3 – Your diet is restricted to just 1,000 calories a day including three green juices and one meal full of sirt-foods.
Phase 1b: Day 4 to Day 7 – Your calorie intake remains the same but you are allowed two green juices and two meals a day.
Phase 2: Day 8 to Day 21 – Your calorie intake is allowed to increase to 1,500 calories per day and you are allotted three meals rich in ‘sirt-foods’ and one green juice daily. The idea is to lose weight steadily over the next 14 days which is a healthier option.
This 3 week sirt-food routine is expected to help you lose about seven pounds each week. In the long-run, there’s no set plan and it’s primarily about changing your lifestyle to include as much as sirt-food as possible and cut down on unhealthy eating.
Is the Sirt-food really worth trying?
The jury is still out on this. While many nutritionists including Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, nutrition director at the Good Housekeeping Institute are positive about it. She says, “What I do love about this diet is the emphasis on plant-based foods that are chock-full of phytonutrients, antioxidant-compounds that we should all be eating more of in order to reduce risk of chronic disease and boost immune function…Loading up on leafy green veggies, fish, dark red/purple fruits and veggies, olives, and olive oil — plus making an effort to eat more seafood — is key to overall health, weight loss, and longer-life.”
But many nutritionist remain skeptical about the promises the diet asserts. As nutrition consultant and creator of BetterThanDieting.com, Bonnie Taub-Dix suggests “That all sounds like fun, but this is not a list for breakfast, lunch, and dinner without enhancing it with different things. Sirtuins supposedly regulate metabolism. Just because there are enzymes to help reactions go further, it doesn’t mean you should live off of them on a daily basis.”
Another dietician Emer Delaney is more skeptical about the diet routine. “At first glance, this is not a diet I would advise for my clients. Aiming to have 1000kcal for three consecutive days is extremely difficult and I believe the majority of people would be unable to achieve it. Looking at the list of foods, you can see they are the sort of items that often appear on a ‘healthy food list’, however it would be better to encourage these as part of a healthy balanced diet. Having a glass of red wine or a small amount of chocolate occasionally won’t do us any harm – I wouldn’t recommend them on a daily basis. We should also be eating a mixture of different fruits and vegetables and not just those on the list. In terms of weight loss and boosting metabolism, people may have experienced a seven pound weight loss on the scales, but in my experience this will be fluid. Burning and losing fat takes time so it is extremely unlikely this weight loss is a loss of fat. I would be very cautious of any diet that recommends fast and sudden weight loss as this simply isn’t achievable and will more than likely be a loss of fluid. As soon as people return to their regular eating habits, they will regain the weight. Slow and steady weight loss is the key and for this we need to restrict calories and increase our activity levels. Eating balanced regular meals made up of low GI foods, lean protein, fruit and vegetables and keeping well hydrated is the safest way to lose weight.”
Additionally, no research has been conducted on the health benefits of sirtuins on humans, thereby, it is still not clear if this really works without any side effects.
However, the diet definitely offers an alternate way of dieting that simply requires eating healthily while adding some sirtfoods for added benefits. Or, you can take them in condensed form when you want to go low-calorie in your routine diets.