Celebrities have long been known to do bizarre things in the name of wellness. Beyonce swears by a Master Cleanse diet, which comprises drinking only a lemon, cayenne pepper and maple syrup concoction for 10 days. Elvis Presley’s Sleeping Beauty Diet — sleeping for 10 hours or more to avoid eating and lose weight — seems like a surefire way to cultivate serious eating disorder problems.
One of the latest but not the strangest is Adele’s sirtfood diet — a diet focused on eating sirtuin rich foods like matcha, blueberries, kale — and even red wine.
The sirtfood diet is created by nutritionists Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten in 2016, who have written and published a book in the same name. Claimed to be backed by science, the sirtfood diet promises to help dieters lose 7 pounds in just 7 days, while maintaining muscle mass.
Any diet that whispers shiny promises of weight loss has always garnered brow-raising reactions from us. But having athletes like heavyweight boxer David Haye and Olympic Gold Medallist Ben Ainslie swear by it, the sirtfood diet seems to be on to something.
We dig deeper on our own to find out what the hype is all about.
The geeky science behind “sirtfoods”
The idea of the sirtfood diet is to eat a diet filled with “sirtfoods” — foods that are rich in sirtuins, proteins that are already present in different cells of our bodies.
Named SIRT1 to 7 according to its location in the body, sirtuins are scientifically known to affect cell survival, metabolism and genome stability. Recent studies have also shown the sirtuins play important roles in inflammation, mitochrondrial dysfunction and energy metabolism.
For instance, SIRT1 and SIRT6 have been linked with things like obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease. Research published in the journal Circulation Research also found that SIRT1, located in the nucleus in our body, decline with ageing and thus are attributed to have an anti-ageing effect on the body.
TLDR; not only are sirtfoods great for boosting immunity in our bodies, they can also help increase metabolism and energy on a cellular level — and may even slow down ageing.
Hell, after poring over all the research, we’re all for heaping sirtfoods onto our plates right now.
How the sirtfood diet works
Like many diets, there are man-made rules. And it’s not as simple as just piling on more sirtfoods.
A calorie-counting restrictive diet, the sirtfood diet is divided into two phases:
- Phase 1 is a green juice filled first week.
- Part 1 (Day 1 to 3): 3 sirtfood green juices and 1 sirtfood meal; calorie intake is limited to 1,000 kcal per day
- Part 2 (Day 4 to 7): 2 sirtfood green juices and 2 sirtfood meals; calorie intake is limited to 1,500 kcal per day
- Phase 2 is a maintenance diet plan for the next 14 days.
- Day 8 to 21: 1 sirtfood green juice and 3 balanced sirtfood rich meals, with no calorie restrictions
Sirtfood meal examples include miso-glazed tofu, a shrimp stir-fry with buckwheat noodles, soy yoghurt with walnuts, etc.
The signature sirtfood green juice
If you’re the type who hates raw veggies, this diet would be torture for you. The star of the diet — the sirtfood green juice — is something you’d have to stomach, up to three times for the first few days.
- 75 grams of kale
- 30 grams of arugula (rocket)
- 5 grams of parsley
- 2 celery sticks
- 1 green apple
- half a lemon
- 1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder.
Juice all ingredients — except for the matcha powder and lemon — and pour them into a glass. Squeeze the lemon by hand, then stir both the lemon juice and green tea powder into your juice. Serve with ice before drinking.
The list of twenty “sirtfoods”
So what foods are considered “sirtfoods”? According to Goggins and Matten, here’s the list of 20 sirtfoods you should focus on eating:
- red wine
- extra virgin olive oil
- dark chocolate (85% cocoa)
- matcha green tea
- arugula (rocket)
- bird’s eye chili
- medjool dates
- red chicory
The skinny gene
Goggins and Matten also claim that the diet is able to activate our “skinny genes”, i.e. boost metabolism and burn fat faster.
Sirtfoods are rich in polyphenols, naturally occurring compounds found in plants and fruits, such as apples, berries, citrus fruit, plums, broccoli, cocoa and coffee. When we eat polyphenols, our gut transforms them into active antioxidants. It also turns on our metabolism — more than 80% of polyphenols can be easily absorbed and excreted.
This is why sirtfoods are said to activate our skinny genes, allowing us to eat without building fat.
Foods high in sirtuins are also associated with various health benefits, like boosting our body’s defense against pathogens, cancers, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.
But it’s hardly surprising that the sirtfood diet enables us to lose weight, since we are restricting our calorie intake to just 1,000 to 1,500 during the first week of the diet.
Limiting our diet to this amount of calories could lead to low energy levels, mood swings and being unable to meet our daily nutrient needs. And probably also leave us feeling hangry. all. the. time.
While we cannot deny that sirtfoods are good for us, we’re a tad uncomfortable with the fact that the sirtfood diet is mainly aimed at weight loss. Weight is hardly the only indicator of our health, and there are more vital indicators that we should be concerned about.
If weight loss is your goal, try making a diet plan that you can actually live with, for good — rather than hopping on diet bandwagons like these. Explore different foods, incorporate more healthful foods like sirtfoods into our meals and — voila! — you’ve got yourself eating healthier and feeling better.
Jolene lives for avo toasts, yoga and is a little more OCD than she cares to admit. She never fails to start her day with morning coffee and is very partial to flat whites. She is obsessed with interiors and homeware, and is currently taking her RYT 200h yoga teacher training course as an aspiring ashtangi.