I’m all for new ideas and even if it will possibly dethrone the Mediterranean diet someday, then so be it! As long as it will benefit the people, I’ll have no problem with that. But the SirtFood diet is not an entirely new idea. No, in fact, it is a derivative of the Mediterranean diet.
The SirtFood diet is a dietary plan that restricts calories and food intake. According to the creators of this diet pattern it can promote weight loss and help prevent disease and aging, because of the specific foods they’ve included in it such as strawberries, kale, and dark chocolate. Adele has championed the SirtFood diet due to her amazing weight loss and body transformation, now many celebrities are trying it.
However, all these claims has little-to-no scientific proof (at least not yet) that the SirtFood diet has miraculous health benefits, or if it’s even safe at all.
Here’s everything you need to know about the SirtFood diet.
What is the SirtFood Diet?
The SirtFood diet is a Mediterranean diet offshoot that uses foods rich in compounds called sirtuin activators. Health experts believe that sirtuin activators are effective against weight loss. Kale, onions, red wine, strawberries, dark chocolate, walnuts, extra virgin olive oil and parsley are among the foods that contain sirtuin activators. There are around 20 different foods included in the main list of the SirtFood diet and as you can see, it’s quite easy to follow it. What’s great about these foods is that they have high nutrient content, are minimally processed and can be anti-inflammatory.
As I’ve mentioned earlier the SirtFood diet borrowed most of its food from the Mediterranean diet, so it would make sense that most of the sirtuin activators are found in mostly all fruits and vegetables. However, the diet narrows down the list to include fruits and vegetables with the most amounts of sirtuins in them. So, what does this mean? It means that the creators of the SirtFood diet intended it for weight loss, despite touting it as a healthy diet, yet it excluded a lot of healthy foods. Compared to the Mediterranean diet, the SirtFood diet has a short term goal and the former will have a long term success than the latter.
What Are Sirtuins and Why Should I Consider Eating Them?
In the book The SirtFood Diet, authors Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten described eating foods that are rich sources of proteins called sirtuins will activate your “skinny” genes and remove excess fats from your body.
“Sirtuins help regulate a variety of functions in the body on a cellular level. They play an important role in metabolism and possibly decrease inflammation and aging,” says Shelby Burns, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Boston.
According to the authors, you need to consume very specific fruits and vegetables when you follow this diet. To reinforce their claims they cite a study that was published in the BMJ in January 2016 on how the consumption of flavonoid (a type of plant chemicals with antioxidant properties) can cause positive effects on the human body, and that some flavonoids can induce weight loss. The authors of The SirtFood Diet think that not all antioxidants are the same, and that the diet that they’ve created is based on natural foods with nutrients that catalyze the so-called “skinny” genes.
However, there’s still a lot of research that needs to be done to ascertain its positive health benefits regarding anti-aging and weight loss.
“There are a variety of potential benefits, but we really don’t know a lot about this yet. Research has primarily been done on animals,” says Burns, and these findings don’t always translate to the same effects in humans.
The authors also point to another study that was published in the Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology in November 2016, which suggests that compounds like resveratrol (commonly found in wine and grapes) might have properties that could potentially reduce inflammation and slow the aging process, and noted that future studies are being prepared to determine how effective this compound will be in treating diseases. One thing that made me take a step back is finding out that one of the authors of this study was a consultant for the pharmaceutical industry, and he’s made it clear that he intends to work with pharmaceutical companies to develop a synthetic version of these compounds that can be sold as a pill. A magic weight loss pill at last! But I will leave enough room for doubts because people who are more interested in making money usually have no interest in your well-being.
Does it Work?
Some people have become hardcore fans of the SirtFood diet that they’d be willing to stake their life on it; however, more studies need to be done to verify this.
As of the moment there are no scientific studies that investigate how the diet affects weight loss, signs of aging, or disease prevention (whether ongoing or published). Even in the cases of the studies done for the Mediterranean diet you can only find a few information about sirtuins.
Nevertheless, a lot of these websites dedicated to the SirtFood diet makes incredible claims like:
- You can lose up to 7 pounds in 7 days
- You retain your muscle mass (only your fats are purged)
- Reduce risks related to chronic cancers
- Boost your cognitive abilities
- Will keep you looking and feeling young
- Can balance your blood sugar and prevent type 2 diabetes
Some of these websites provide user testimonials after adhering strictly to the SirtFood dietary guidelines book that they purchased; however, they do not cite any scientific sources as evidence on the effectiveness of the program.
Unfortunately, most diet plan fads typically have short-term effects and weight loss results are ineffective. The downside to fad diets is that often the weight that a person lost during adherence to the diet plan will be regain after they stop adhering to it.
What to Eat on the SirtFood Diet
The diet highlights these 20 foods:
- extra virgin olive oil
- red wine
- dark chocolate containing 85% cocoa
- matcha green tea
- bird’s eye chili
- red chicory
- Medjool dates
What Not to Eat
The SirtFood diet excels when it comes to being restrictive in certain foods to keep the calorie count low. If you want to cut down on your weight, then you must follow the SirtFood diet restrictions, which includes meal plans and shake mixes to help you cut down on calorie intake.
Recommended Reading: How to Introduce Your Family and Friends to the Mediterranean Diet
SirtFood Diet Phases
There are two phases to the SirtFood diet plan.
During the phase 1 of the SirtFood diet, you are required – from the diet plan – to eat specific foods that severely restricts calorie intake. You will be instructed to eat 1 SirtFood-rich meal and drink 3 green shake mixes that has a total of 1,000 calories per day during the first 3 days of adherence. For the next 4 – 7 days, you will then increase your daily caloric intake to 1,500 calories by eating 2 SirtFood-rich meals and 2 shakes a day.
In phase 2 you will eat 3 SirtFood-rich meals and 1 glass of green shake per day for an extended period of 2 weeks. This phase is similar to phase 1, except that it requires you to beef up your calorie intake by 15% and the reason for this is that you are also expected to hit the gym and burn some calories 2 – 3 times a week.
After the Phases
It’s nifty how the creators made the SirtFood diet to last only up to 3 weeks, as it can have the desired effect that you’re looking for. After this you can then decide to immediately restart the diet plan or take a week or two before engaging in it again. Otherwise, you can just consume foods that are rich in sirtuins without sacrificing the calories you want to eat.
Safety and Risks
At the moment there are no scientific studies looking into the SirtFood diet. However, there is evidence that points to potential effectiveness and risks associated with it.
The National Institute on Aging noted that the SirtFood diet does indeed have health benefits with its calorie-restrictive diet, like lower risk for diabetes or heart disease. But there is also a tradeoff in following it that point to “unhealthy” long-term effects according to studies published in peer-reviewed journals.
They also caution that current research on calorie restriction is inconclusive because most consist of animal studies, with not enough investigating effects on humans. Furthermore, scientists have not yet done a comprehensive study on the long-term effects involved with calorie restriction and that they also do not yet fully understand the body processes in relation to this.
It may be in your best interest to first go talk to your doctor and get expert advice before trying out the SirtFood diet. Should you decide to adhere to this diet, then talk to a dietician also, as they can provide an eating plan that ensures you get the proper nutrients based on your individual needs.
Due to the fact that the SirtFood diet involves severe calorie restriction, any person who follows it is likely going to feel hungry most of the time. This will most likely force the person to go back eating a lot of calories after adhering to this diet plan. It is the reason why the Mediterranean diet does not exclude food groups, especially if the tradeoff between nutrients and calorie count is better in relation to the nutrients in the food.