Ask a Dietitian: What is the Sirtfood Diet?
Another day, another trending diet, and this one is getting plenty of attention thanks to its high-profile fans like Adele. Yep, the Sirtfood diet is reportedly responsible for the singer’s recent body transformation and has since been much talked-about on the internet.
But what does the science say about the diet's health benefits? And what even is a Sirtfood? Below, we explain what the Sirtfood diet actually is, whether it has any real long term benefits, and if it really lives up to its hype.
Firstly, what is the Sirtfood diet?
The Sirtfood diet was developed by Aiden Goggins and Glen Matten, experts in nutritional medicine from the UK, who believe in the benefits of eating “Sirtfoods”. These are foods high in polyphenols, compounds found in plant-based foods. They believe polyphenols act on Sirtuins (SIRTs), a group of proteins found in the body, that regulate metabolism, inflammation and lifespan.
The Sirtfood diet follows different stages, beginning with three days of a very low calorie diet, consisting of green juices and one normal meal rich in Sirtfood. From day four to seven, they recommend slightly increasing your calorie intake with two juices and two meals. After this initial period, you can continue eating a diet high in Sirtfoods. The appeal is that these polyphenol-rich foods include treats like red wine and dark chocolate, as well as kale and blueberries.
- Red wine
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Dark chocolate (85% cocoa)
- Green tea
- Medjool dates
- Red chicory
- Lovage (a plant food)
So, does the Sirtfood diet work?
The diet’s creators conducted a very limited study on just 39 participants who experienced dramatic weight loss, however these results haven’t been peer reviewed or published in an academic journal.
Other research on Sirutins and polyphenols is limited to mice and yeast (which doesn’t reflect results in real people), but suggests they could play a significant role in future anti-ageing medicine. It’s important to note that polyphenols consumed through the diet are well below the levels used in studies to demonstrate benefits in current research.
Any weight loss experienced due to following the Sirtfood diet is likely because of the diet's extreme calorie restriction. Not only is this difficult to stick to for a long time (likely resulting in you putting the weight back on), but eliminating whole food groups can be detrimental to our health and lead to nutrient deficiencies. Restricting fibrous foods such as fruit, vegetables and grains will reduce our overall fibre intake, and may lead to gut issues such as constipation and changes in our gut microbiome.
Although polyphenols aren’t a magic bullet, they are incredibly important components of our diet! Solid research has found that a diet rich in plant polyphenols can reduce the risk of developing cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis and neurodegenerative diseases.
The bottom line is that, yes “Sirtfoods” are healthy foods, but there is very limited evidence behind the Sirtfood diet. The Sirtfood diet may lead to weight loss in the short term due to calorie restriction, but it is definitely not sustainable or recommended in the long term.
Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.
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Health & Performance Collective is the brainchild of Sydney Dietitians Jessica Spendlove and Chloe McLeod. They use their 20 years of combined knowledge and skills as dietitians to work with motivated people to live and perform at their best.