Dark chocolate, red wine, and coffee. Oh my! If you’re looking for the latest "miracle" diet, look no further than the Sirtfood Diet. Promoted by Adele as the eating plan that helped her lose the baby weight, the diet certainly sounds enticing.
The Sirtfood Diet was developed by nutrition gurus Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten from the UK. It suggests that certain plant-based foods known as "sirtuin activators" affect sirt-meditated pathways that impact aging and the body’s ability to burn fat.
These and other foods supposedly activate proteins that affect the SIRT1 gene, which the researchers have named the “skinny gene.” In addition to dark chocolate, coffee, and red wine, kale, parsley, green tea, matcha, walnuts, extra virgin olive oil, red onions, soy, berries, and turmeric are also promoted in the Sirtfood diet.
The diet encompasses three phases:
- 1,000 calories daily for a few days, consisting of one sirtfood-heavy meal and green juices.
- Two sirtfood meals and two juices a day for a few days equal to 1500 calories per day.
- A final “maintenance” phase of sirt-food meals and juices.
It sounds delicious and easy to follow, but does science back up the claims?
While studies exist investigating the role of the SIRT1 gene on age-related weight gain, aging, longevity and the effect of inflammation on the heart from a high-fat diet, most research is limited to mice and test tubes. Before we can claim any diet works on humans, large control trials on people would be more convincing.
Nutrition experts aren’t drinking the sirt-food kool aide yet either.
Some suggest that while there is evidence supporting resveratrol (found in red wine) as an anti-aging compound, the amount you’d need to drink would outweigh the benefit.
While green tea, berries, kale and extra-virgin olive oil are nutritional powerhouses, they should not be the sole foods eaten as part of a healthy diet.
Other experts argue that the restrictive nature of the phases in the diet may set up individuals for overeating.
In addition, the initial phases of the calorie-restricted diet may promote weight loss that is mostly water. This loss is temporary, and may not be related to the sirtuins at all.
Don’t toss these foods from your diet though. Instead, in addition to the above foods, include a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds as well as a mix of lean proteins such as poultry, fish, beans, legumes and low-fat dairy products in your eating pattern. Choose appropriate servings of whole grains like oats, quinoa, bulgur, brown rice and whole grain pasta or bread and limit processed foods like soda, pastries, fried snacks, fast food and processed meats.
Bottom Line: When it comes to weight loss, moderation in calorie intake and regular exercise remain a tried and true recipe for success.
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.