The Sirtfood Diet is one of the lesser known diets however its popularity has surged over recent years, thanks to a host of celebrities attributing their weight loss success to it. It is promoted as the diet that can enable users to drop 7 pounds in seven days whilst eating chocolate and drinking red wine!
The Sirtfood diet was created by British health consultants Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten and is now a best-selling book on Amazon.
What are Sirtfoods?
Aidan and Glen’s plan consists of consuming the correct types of food in order to activate special proteins in the body known as sirtuins. Foods that activate sirtuins are known as sirtuin-activators (surprise, surprise!) and, less scientifically, Sirtfoods.
To reiterate, Sirtfoods don’t contain sirtuin but rather they contain the compounds required to activate them.
Throughout their book Aidan and Glen refer to the sirtuin as the skinny gene.
How does the Sirtfood Diet work?
Sirtuins are believed to influence the body’s aging process, inflammation and metabolism and when sirtuins, or the skinny gene, are activated the metabolism is increased putting it into optimum fat-burning mode. In addition, activation of the skinny gene is thought to offer other health benefits such as reduced inflammation and more efficient repair of damaged cells.
Is it also thought that sirtuins have an impact on the link between the body’s aging process and metabolism. A report suggests increased sirtuin activity in the body could explain how calorie restriction can lead to an increase in lifespan.
List of Sirtfoods
By this point you’re probably asking “so which foods will activate my skinny gene?” It’s thought that most of the foods that make up a MediterrAsian diet (yes, that’s a diet made up of a combination of Mediterranean and Asian foods) are sirtuin activators.
A MediterrAsian diet is quite similar to other low-carb diets, in that primary form of carbohydrate intake should be from fruit and vegetables and consumption of high-fat foods, such as fish and cheese, is encouraged. As with the majority of diets, only natural foods should be included. Processed foods should be avoided.
In this respect, the foods you would consume on a Sirtfood diet are similar to that of a ketogenic diet.
Now, for the specifics. Here is a list of the top 20 most popular Sirtfoods:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Red wine
- Green tea
- Dark chocolate
- Bird’s eye chili
- Red chicory
The Sirtfood Diet plan
The Sirtfood Diet plan consists of two primary phases totaling three weeks. Users are encouraged to repeat the phases as and when desired to boost weight loss. Users are also encouraged to continue to include Sirtfoods in their diet after they complete the plan.
Phase one lasts for one week and is essentially a detox phase to cleanse your body, hit the reset button and start your diet from scratch. Specifically, the first three days require you to drink the Green Juice (shown above) three times per day. Don’t worry, it tastes better than it looks, and it’s packed with vitamins and minerals and everything else you need for your detox.
In addition to your three-a-day Green Juice drinks you are allowed one solid meal. This meal must be high in Sirtfoods.
For the rest of week one, you replace one of your Green Juice drinks with a solid meal, meaning you have two solid meals and two Green juice drinks. Again, the meals must be rich in Sirtfoods, so consult the foods and recipes section above. Alternatively,there are many recipes available in the book itself.
This initial week sees daily calorie intake dropped to between 1,000 and 1,500 and is where most users lose up to 7 pounds.
Stage two is the maintenance phase and lasts for two weeks. There is no calorie counting; instead, you focus on eating three meals packed with Sirtfoods and consume one Green Juice drink per day.
There are a lot of pros to the Sirtfood Diet, such as:
- The very real possibility of losing up to 7 lbs in the first seven days;
- The ability to eat chocolate and drink wine;
- It’s not as restrictive on food choices as some others diets.
To further expand on the last point above, the Sirtfood Diet is more about encouraging you to eat more of the right foods, rather than eat less of the wrong foods and as such it is considered a long-term lifestyle change, rather than a short-term fad diet. Those who make lifestyle changes typically maintain their weight loss in the long run whereas those who follow fad diets often re-gain weight once their diet is finished and they return to ‘normal’ eating.
All that said, like most diets there are some negative aspects which are discussed in the next section.
Although we have described the Sirtfood diet as a long-term lifestyle change, the first week is somewhat extreme. The requirement to eat only one solid meal per day for the first three days can be tough, particularly for big eaters.
Also, if you struggle to stomach the Green Juice drink then it can be a real chore to get several of these down you every day.
Muscle loss can occur due to the very low protein intake, particularly during phase one.
There has been very limited research into the science behind sirtfoods and, specifically, their connection to fat loss and research that has been conducted is somewhat controversial.
There’s no denying that following this diet will result in weight loss, especially in the beginning, however whether or not this weight loss comes directly as a result of the consumption of sirtfoods, or indeed whether sirtfoods impact it at all, is debatable. It is thought that the weight loss will most likely be a result of an extreme reduction of calorie intake, which results in the body using up glycogen.
Glycogen is stored in the body as water, therefore when glycogen is being used the body is shedding ‘water weight’. This will clearly make the numbers on the scales go down, but if you measure your body fat percentage you may not see any change at all. And body fat is primarily what we’re all concerned with shedding, not water.
This is the explanation for pretty much all sudden and rapid weight loss on any low-calorie or fasting diet.
Board certified physician nutrition specialist Dr Melina Jampolis, author of The Busy Person’s Guide to Pemanant Weight Loss and Spice Up, Slim Down has stated “[Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten] want to sell books, so they’re saying that there’s something magical about these sirtuin genes, that it activates your skinny genes”. She went on to say they cannot be ‘activated’ by eating certain foods but did state that incorporating the majority of the foods in this program will, inevitably, lead to better health.
Who could benefit from the Sirtfood Diet?
As this program can shed up to 7 pounds in seven days (albeit we have established it is most likely water weight that is being shed) it could be beneficial for anyone looking for a short-term fix because even shedding water weight can give the illusion of being leaner, particularly for those who are already lean. Shedding excess water weight is a technique bodybuilders utilize when preparing for a competition; by ridding the body of the excess water skin appears ‘thinner’ which presents a leaner look. Though it’s doubtful anyone looking to lose a significant amount of body fat will see this particular benefit.
Those who perhaps aren’t looking for a short-term diet but are instead looking to change their lifestyle long-term would likely benefit from this diet.
A number of celebrities are known for following the Sirtfood Diet. In May 2020, English singer-songwriter Adele posted a picture of herself on Instagram (below, right) showcasing her dramatic weight loss which she attributed the Sirtfood diet.
Who should avoid the Sirtfood Diet?
Pregnant women should avoid this diet and all other diets that severely restrict calorie intake because the risk of nutrient deficiency is too dangerous.
Bodybuilders and those with high protein requirements may lose muscle mass, even if trying to lose body fat, as the protein intake will not likely be sufficient and therefore this diet should be avoided.
Finally, those with little willpower may struggle to get through phase one of this diet and should perhaps look at less extreme alternatives.