Diets come and go and not all lead to significant weight loss. Even if you lose weight, there’s no guarantee that weight loss is sustainable. Over 80% of people who lose 10% or more of their body weight gain it all back within a year or two. Doesn’t make dieting sound very sustainable, does it?
One eating plan taking the celebrity world by storm is the Sirt or Sirtfood, diet. The singer Adele has been waving her arms about this diet and extolling its virtues after losing almost 100 pounds on this eating plan. Those who have tried it claim that it is the most effective diet ever, but should you believe the hype? What is this novel approach to dieting and what can you eat on a Sirt diet?
The Origins of the Sirtfood Diet
The Sirtfood diet was the mastermind of two nutritionists in England, Glen Matten and Aidan Goggins who wrote a book on the topic. The diet centers on the activity of sirtuins, proteins in the human body that help with fat burning, cellular health, and even play a role in aging. They work by turning other proteins on and off by adding or removing a chemical group called an acetyl group.
The premise of the diet is eating foods that activate sirtuins and increase their activity. These are proteins that play a key role in metabolism, inflammation, insulin sensitivity, and cellular aging. When you activate sirtuins, you turn on fat-burning and that can theoretically lead to weight loss. By eating a diet rich in sirtuins, you ramp up your body’s fat-burning capabilities. What person who wants to get leaner wouldn’t want that?
What Can You Eat on a Sirt Diet?
Sirtuin-activating foods contain compounds called polyphenols, phytonutrients abundant in nature’s healthiest foods, such as fruits, vegetables, red wine, and tea. Some of the best sources of sirtuin activators, according to the developers of the diet, are red wine, kale, dark chocolate, strawberries, turmeric, red onions, and cinnamon.
These are all popular foods because they taste delicious too, especially strawberries and dark chocolate. So, this approach to eating has a certain appeal. Who wouldn’t enjoy dining on dark chocolate-covered strawberries and washing them down with a glass of wine? Other foods you can enjoy on a Sirtfood diet include oily fish, olive oil, dark leafy greens, black grapes, and coffee.
Another component of the Sirt diet is green juice. Followers of the Sirtfood diet imbibe three green juices per day during the first week, made with leafy greens, green apple, ginger, lemon, celery, parsley, and matcha. During the first 7 days, they eat only one Sirtfood-rich meal along with the juices. Although red wine is allowed on the Sirtfood diet, you don’t drink it during the first week.
After the first week, you add three meals rich in Sirtfoods and a green juice daily. The main meals might include a protein like salmon, along with some foods that activate sirtuins, like a bowl of kale. One drawback is you’ll need a juicer to make your green juice at home. The bottled green juices you buy at most grocery stores are too high in sugar and don’t contain enough sirtuin-activating compounds.
Is the Sirtfood Diet Healthy?
Many of the recommended foods on the Sirtfood diet are healthy, as they’re rich in polyphenols, compounds with anti-inflammatory activity. Plus, countries, like Japan and Italy, where people consume lots of polyphenol-rich foods tend to be healthier and have long lifespans.
However, the focus of the diet is mainly on weight loss. Since many of the foods are low in calories, you would expect to see some weight loss but it’s not clear whether the weight loss is sustainable. People who adopt a low-calorie diet often get bounce-back weight gain once they lighten up on dieting and return to their customary dietary habits.
Also, the selection of Sirtfoods people eat on this diet is rather limited, with a total of only about 20 sirtuin-activating foods. These options are healthy, but only eating these foods may still lead to nutrient deficiencies since you’re eating a narrow range of foods.
Does Science Support the Sirtfood Diet?
Are there studies to support the effective of the Sirtfood diet? The developers of the diet, Goggins and Matten conducted a study of their own involving 39 people who ate the diet. The participants lost about a pound per day during the first 7 days on the diet, but the study doesn’t appear in any scientific publication, so it’s hard to draw conclusions about how much weight you can lose on the Sirtfood diet and how likely you are to gain it back.
The Bottom Line
While many of the foods on the Sirtfood plan are healthy, especially compared to most packaged foods, the diet is limiting and may not be sustainable for the average person. A better option is to adopt a sustainable eating plan rather than dieting.
Because of its low-calorie content, you may lose weight on the Sirt diet, but why not focus, instead, on eliminating junk food and sugar from your diet and eating more mindfully? Such an approach would be more sustainable than narrowing your food selections so drastically. It’s likely a safe dietary approach short-term, but the longer term could lead to nutritional deficiencies. Yet sirtuin-activating foods in this diet are healthy, so include some of these foods in your diet, even if you don’t adopt the full eating plan.
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