What do you eat on the Sirtfood diet? Adele’s secret to weight loss.

What do you eat on the Sirtfood diet? Adele’s secret to weight loss.

The Sirtfood diet has been all over the headlines. Its popularity is fueled by the fact that it includes red wine and chocolate! It was written by celebrity nutritionists Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten and suggests sirtfoods activate “skinny genes” in our body. Singer Adele says the diet helped her lose 100 pounds! There are other celebrities that have tried the diet as well. But what is it? How does it work? What do you eat?

What are sirts?

Sirt is short for sirtuins. These are a group of seven proteins found in the body that affect cell health and may be involved in metabolism, inflammation, and aging. Adding activators helps to promote the sirts into action, mimicking calorie restriction, and promoting weight loss. Activators are the so-called “sirtfoods”.

What are sirtfoods?

Sirtfoods are plant-based foods with properties that are said to activate the sirtuin proteins. These bio-active properties are polyphenols that we also find on the Mediterranean diet. For example, resveratrol from red wine, isoflavonoids from soybeans, oleuropein from olive oil, and epigallocatechin gallate from green tea.

Red wine contains polyphenols that are found in sirtfoods

Here is a list of the polyphenol rich foods, called sirtfoods:

  • kale
  • red wine
  • strawberries
  • onions
  • soy
  • parsley
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • dark chocolate (85% cocoa)
  • matcha green tea
  • buckwheat
  • turmeric
  • walnuts
  • arugula (rocket)
  • bird’s eye chili
  • lovage

How does the Sirtfood diet work?

The sirtfood diet is intended to last for 3 weeks. There seem to be a few variations, but all start with limiting calories to 1,000 for the first 3 days. Each day includes three “green juices” and 1 sirtfood-rich meal. The sirtfood green juice is a mixture of greens such as kale, parsley, celery, green apple, and green tea processed into a juice. Sirtfood-rich meals may include chicken, shrimp, salmon, and other lean meats. Eggs are permitted. Dairy is limited. This is followed by 4 days, at 1500 calories with two sirtfood-rich meals. Green juices are decreased to twice a day.

For the next 14 days, meals can be increased to 3 per day and juices decreased to once. There is no calorie recommendation. Expected weight loss is 7 pounds in 7 days and a steady 2-3 pounds per week after that. There is not an emphasis on exercise on the sirtfood diet, however, Adele admits she did work with a trainer and regularly did Pilates. There are a number of sirtfood diet books and cookbooks. Meal plans can be found on the sirtfood website.

Is there science behind the sirtfood diet?

Research shows calorie restriction increases sirtuin activity. The sirtfood diet is based on the premise that combining calorie restriction with the polyphenol activators in sirtfoods, further increases sirtuin activity resulting in significant weight loss.

As previously mentioned, the sirtfood diet in some ways mimics the Mediterranean diet with its emphasis on plant foods, olive oil, and nuts, which contain healthy polyphenols.  On the sirtfood diet, however, the authors propose only certain polyphenols, such as those on the sirtfood list above, serve as sirtuin activators. Research is attempting to identify the most prominent of these activators.

In one study, a group of polyphenols called anthocyanidins were the most active. These are responsible for the red and purple pigments in foods such as cranberries and raspberries. Other polyphenols, such as catechins inhibited sirtuin activity. Another study finds the polyphenol resveratrol, found in red wine, a sirtuin activator.

While calorie restriction may increase sirtuin activity, and certain polyphenols may activate sirtuins, there is no real evidence that the combination is any more beneficial than calorie restriction alone.

Some things to consider…

A multitude of studies has linked the Mediterranean diet to reduced heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other conditions. While the sirtfood diet includes many of the same foods, adhering to 1000 or even 1500 calories per day is not only difficult to achieve but impractical for most active people.

Furthermore, replacing some meals with juice is extreme and can lead to fatigue, irritability, and stress.  Any diet of fewer than 1200 calories per day is not nutritionally adequate and not sustainable. 

Additionally, losing 7 pounds in 7 days is not likely to be true weight loss but a loss of water weight. Rapid weight loss can potentially lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.  The subsequent further weight loss of 2-3 pounds per week, is reasonable but would be expected with any calorie-reduced diet.

The fact that this is a 3-week “diet” makes it more of a quick fix and not a lifestyle change. Weight re-gain is more likely when lifelong eating habits are not corrected.

The bottom line…

If you are looking for quick weight loss that includes eating healthy foods, the sirtfood diet may fit the bill. But in order to achieve and maintain weight loss for the long haul, you may need to go a step further. 

A true weight loss diet is not a diet at all. It is a way of eating that promotes healthy foods, moderate portions, and regular exercise. A way of eating that avoids extremes that are bound to fail in the long run.  It includes identifying triggers, such as stress, that lead to overeating and finding non-food alternatives.

The sirtfood diet is not one I would recommend to anyone looking for a lifelong, sustainable way to lose weight.

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