I’m asked to “weigh in” on various diet plans on a daily basis. I’ve commented on lots of diets—from Keto to Paleo, Mediterranean to Dash, Atkins to South Beach. Now, I’m getting questions about a different diet—the Sirtfood Diet, made popular by the tremendous weight loss success of superstar singer Adele.
Admittedly, prior to now, I didn’t know much about the Sirtfood Diet. So I decided to investigate. Here’s what I learned.
How the diet works: A 2016 book called “The Sirtfood Diet” by pharmacist Aidan Goggins and nutritionist Glen Matten popularized this topic. The plan is based on eating polyphenols, which are natural compounds found in plant foods. Polyphenols are thought to protect the body from inflammation. According to Goggins and Matten, certain polyphenols can mimic the effects of fasting and exercise by activating the body’s sirtuin genes. Based on consuming a list of polyphenol-rich foods, the plan is said to reduce fat and weight while preserving muscle.
The Sirtfood Diet involves two phases. The first phase lasts one week, and the second phase lasts two weeks. Each week consists of eating 1,000 calories on days 1 – 3, and 1,500 calories on days 4 – 7. During Week One, you consume one meal of sirtfoods and three green juices per day. During weeks Two and Three, you consume three sirtfood meals and one green juice.
What are sirtfoods? Sirtfoods include blueberries, strawberries, dark chocolate and red wine as well as turmeric, parsley, onions, garlic and walnuts.
What does the diet promise? Proponents tout a seven-pound weight loss in the first week, along with antiaging effects, improved memory and blood sugar control, and reduced risk of chronic disease.
Does it work? From my investigation, the proven benefits of sirtuin activation in humans is pretty scarce. There are laboratory studies involving yeast, lab animals and human stem cells. Until there are human clinical trials, it is impossible to say with certainty how this data translates to humans.
Here’s what I see as the good and bad of the Sirtfood Diet:
The good: Many foods touted as sirtfoods are proven to be super-healthy. Eating a diet high in whole natural foods, while eliminating processed foods, is a good idea for everyone.
The bad: Strict calorie restriction is not safe for everyone. Additionally, the reliance on green juices could be harmful to some people; for example, those taking blood thinners like Coumadin or patients with diabetes.
My final thoughts: There are no easy answers or magic bullets. I think overly restrictive diets can often achieve weight loss, but rarely translate into maintaining a healthy weight.
If you are interested in achieving your best health through weight loss, you can do it. My recommendation is to start with an understanding of your current health and your nutritional requirements. Next, choose your health goals. With an understanding of where you are and where you want to be, you can develop a plan to get there.
If you’d like help in reaching your weight loss goals I’d love to assist. Please schedule an appointment with me to get started.
About the author: Megan Zakarewicz, DO, is a family medicine physician with certification in obesity medicine. She leads the Grand View Health Medical Weight Loss program. She is accepting new patients via telemedicine appointments. For more information, call the Grand View Health hotline at 215-453-4100 to schedule an appointment.