When any diet boasts the potential to lose seven pounds in a week while still eating chocolate and drinking red wine, we all want in on that. Not to mention all the hoopla over Adele’s drastic weight loss on the aforementioned diet: it all seems too good to be true. I thought I should get down to the bottom of it for you Pretty Birds and find out what this Sirtfood Diet really is about.
The diet actually came onto the scene in 2016 with the idea coming from nutritionists Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten. Their plan in their book The Sirtfood Diet may sound appealing to most trying to lose weight: “lose seven pounds in seven days while experiencing lasting energy and enjoying the foods you love including chocolate, red wine, strawberries and more.” The whole premise is to lose weight and boost energy with foods like kale, red wine, dark chocolate and matcha.
The basis of the diet entails certain foods that are supposed to mimic benefits of caloric restriction and fasting. These foods, a.k.a. “Sirtfoods”, activate sirtuins – proteins in the body, specifically ranging from SIRT1 to SIRT17 – that regulate calorie restriction by sensing low calories and triggering physiological changes that can protect the body from age-related decline. Some of these proteins have been found to also aid in muscle oxidative performance, formation of mitochondria and the modulation of lifespan. The underlying point of the diet is that actual calorie restriction is quite near impossible for most of us, and often leads to failing to keep it up. With these specified foods, Goggins and Matten claim, we can mimic restriction of calories and stimulate the body’s sirtuins.
With recipes also included in the book to help you stay on track, let’s talk about foods that you can eat to activate these sirtuin genes. Some “sirtfoods” that Goggins and Matten mention in their book are green tea, cacao powder, asparagus, green beans, bok choy, kale, arugula, blackberries, goji berries, raspberries, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, chilies, walnuts, quinoa, chia seeds, buckwheat, olive oil, coffee and red wine.
While this diet is packed with nutrients and studies have been done on the impact of activating sirtuins, and their effect on our health and longevity, some critics say the diet is not backed by solid science. The foods included in the diet contain polyphenol compounds – such as resveratrol and quercetin – which have been found in scientific studies to generate calorie restriction like signalling pathways that function through activating sirtuins. While there is scientific evidence of the relationship between polyphenol and mimicking calorie restriction, and as well as its effect on our metabolism, the evidence was based on higher concentrations of polyphenols than what is naturally found in these foods in order to actually activate sirtuin activity. Critics think that there may not be enough intake of these polyphenols from these foods alone.
So, how does the Sirtfood Diet work?
The Sirtfood Diet is broken down into two phases:
Phase 1 is a week long (seven days). For the first three days, you are allotted 1,000 calories per day by way of three sirtfood green juices – juice can be made of kale, arugula, flat leaf parsley, celery, green apple, fresh ginger, lemon and matcha – and one sirtfood rich meal (eg Miso Marinated Black Cod with Stir Fried Green Beans and Sesame). For the remaining days of the week, your allotment is 1,500 calories per day, by way of two sirtfood green juices and two sirtfood rich meals. This is the phase in which Goggins and Matten claim that you “lose seven pounds in seven days.”
Phase 2 lasts 14 days and is meant to be a maintenance period “to help you lose weight steadily.” During these two weeks, you can eat three sirtfood rich meals, drink one sirtfood green juice per day and eat one or two sirtfood bite snacks – which is made of walnuts, dark chocolate or cocoa nibs, Medjool dates, cocoa powder, ground turmeric, extra virgin olive oil, vanilla seeds or extract.
Once the three weeks are up, there is no set diet to follow, but they recommend adding as many sirtfood-rich foods as possible into each of your meals. The two phases can be repeated as desired for a boost in weight loss.
In all honesty, our daily diet should include most of these sirtfoods because they are rich in nutrients. My skepticism lies with the extreme calorie restriction. If we are not used to having so few calories as detailed in the first week, the second week can potentially lead us to over-indulge in the second week, which does not have calorie restrictions. The beauty of this diet is that it’s rather flexible after you finish the three weeks, but that can also be its downfall for most that need guidance.
This content and any linked material are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or prescribing. Consult with a licensed healthcare professional before altering or discontinuing any current medications, treatment or care, or starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, or if you have or suspect you might have a health condition that requires medical attention.
Image Credit: Unknown