The sirtuin diet or “Sirtfood” diet is one of the latest trends to break into the nutritional landscape.
It rose to fame for its use by multiple celebrities in Europe and the US, and it includes foods such as wine and chocolate.
What is the Sirtfood diet?
The theoretical basis of the diet is based on sirtuins, very interesting proteins that have been related to processes such as:
- Brain function;
- Control of the cell cycle inflammation; or
- Life expectancy (1).
Its creators (Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten) are trying to promote food consumption that theoretically would stimulate endogenous production of sirtuins, which would generate the health benefits of the intervention.
Sirtfoods Diet Foods
In any case, the foods which “stimulate sirtuins” are the following:
- Red wine
- Dark chocolate
- Matcha tea
- Medjool Dates
- Green apples
And some others. It also includes an essential element: calorie restriction.
How do I follow the Sirtfood Diet?
Well, you jump into it and follow this protocol:
The three first days
Consume juices of curly kale, rocket, parsley, celery, green apple or lemon juice along with three cups of matcha tea daily and 1 meal rich in the “sirt” foods previously mentioned.
Third to the seventh day
Up to two meals a day (wow!) are allowed and include (less evil) lean meats, olive oil, fruits, vegetables, buckwheat and whole-wheat bread.
In principle, it does not pre-define the quantity of calories and the only guideline which needs to be followed is to give priority to the “sirt” foods, for a duration of another two weeks.
Now, let’s look at the pros and cons.
Negatives of the Sirtfood Diet
Higher caloric deficit
The diet is selling a brutal calorie deficit at a gold price with (very good) marketing strategies.
80% of the benefit of this diet lies in the calorie deficit created in the first week, which is quite aggressive.
In addition, most foods listed in the “sirt” list are also hypocaloric (with some exceptions such as nuts or dark chocolate), so it would not be too much (in the short term) to maintain such an energy deficit.
Protein shines through its absence
Although they give an indication of being able to eat lean meats, they do not really give any guidelines regarding quantities or isonitrogenous distribution of meals.
The price of the foods listed is generally high.
The book that the authors sell is also costly (for this reason it’s a diet for celebrities).
You can drink alcohol
Use of celebrities to sell it
They sell the image of celebrity success with the diet (like Adele) and they make the public believe they can obtain the same success as these people easily.
When the reality is that such an improvement in health is not only the result of eating green juices and “sirtfood” foods, but of a demanding training plan and living conditions that allow such changes to take place (and where money has a lot to do with it).
Little scientific backing
There is no scientific evidence to support what is promised with this diet.
Sirtuins exist within your cells, but we do not really know whether these foods (regardless of calorie restriction) stimulate them.
What’s good about the Sirtfood Diet?
But the diet also has some positive points to point out. Let’s do that:
Actually, being honest, the vast majority of foods claimed to be “sirt” are perfectly healthy and recommendable in any diet.
They are foods rich in bioactive compounds such as polyphenols, with high energy density and which add other elements to the diet such as soluble fibre.
Relatively short hypocaloric phase
This will minimize muscle loss and metabolic adaptations secondary to aggressive caloric deficit.
A time-limited period of caloric deficit is beneficial for the majority of the population.
Gastronomically, I find it one of the few diets that include a great variety of foods.
In short, the sirtfood diet is part of an interesting premise: increasing the amount of sirtuins, molecules that are being talked about a lot lately.
But sadly, it does not yet have evidence to support it.
However, the foods included seem to me to be some of the most healthy foods and many have shown tangible health benefits, so including them in the diet is a good idea.
Oh, and finally, if you want to improve your health don’t forget that diet is just one part, and sometimes it’s not the most important.
We’ll see you in the next post, friends. Keep going strong!
- Libert S, Guarente L. Metabolic and Neuropsychiatric Effects of Calorie Restriction and Sirtuins. Annu Rev Physiol. 2013.
- Giblin W, Skinner ME, Lombard DB. Sirtuins: Guardians of mammalian healthspan. Trends in Genetics. 2014.
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