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The Sirtfood Diet – Tried and tested

There has been growing publicity over the Sirt Food Diet with the backing of many celebrities and athletes and its recommendations for the consumption of red wine and dark chocolate. We thought it was important to investigate it further and see if our nutritionist Angelica was brave enough to give it a go!

The theory behind sirtfoods

The diet claims you will lose 7lb in seven days by eating a group of foods that contain proteins referred to as ‘sirtuin activators’. Sirtuins are a group of proteins, seven of which (SIRT1 to SIRT7) have been identified in humans. It seems as though they may have a number of roles in the body including potential anti-ageing and metabolic effects.

As further investigation is carried out on Sirtuins there is a growing interest in the function they may play in switching on weight-loss pathways. Previously, we thought triggering these pathways was only possible by fasting or by undergoing exercise. Therefore, if you could activate any of these 7 sirtuins it would help you to lose fat and maintain muscle mass with less effort.

How the diet works

The diet is set up in two stages. For the first 3 days you consume only 1,000 calories in the form of a three ‘sirt juices’ and have one meal. On the following days four days you are allowed a diet of 1,500 a day consist two of the juices and 2 on the chosen meals daily. After this you progress to an easier stage, with only one juice and three of their balanced meals.

The recipes provided all consist of foods with the chemical compounds that the authors suggest switch on the metabolic pathways, increasing the amount of fat burned whilst lowering appetite. As well as, dark chocolate and red wine the sirtfoods list includes chilli, buckwheat, parsley, kale, strawberries, cocoa and coffee.

Our experiment

When our nutritionist Angelica tried the diet for a day, she lost approx 1lb and maintained muscle mass. However, 24 hours is a very short time to measure weight loss or even fat loss over and she is already at her desired weight. The main reason for carrying out the diet was from a practical perspective.

When asked how easy is was to follow, Angelica quoted “I found it time consuming and expensive. It is a lot of prep work for anyone leading a normal to busy lifestyle. I didn’t find the juice very appetizing but I enjoyed the prawn stir-fry with buckwheat noodle recipe. On the plus side, I didn’t feel hungry which I thought I would do consuming only 1,000 kcals”.

Angelica spent at between £15-£20 on food shopping to get all ingredients for the juices and meal for 1 day for just herself. That is without the cost of buying a juicer if don’t already own one (required to make the green juice).

How effective is this diet?

You may well lose weight with this diet purely because you would be consuming less calories, particularly in the first few days. It could be that you burn fat faster with this diet than just a calorie restricted diet.

It would be most effective for highly motivated individuals with a fair amount of time and not on a tight food budget. The study referred to in the Sirtfood book is of a small group of 40 individuals. These individuals were most likely very motivated, as it seems they were selected from an up market gym in London.

Further studies into sirt foods are required, with a greater number of individuals representing the general population. It would be interesting to measure the exercise being carried out during that time, which plays a substantial role in maintaining muscle mass and changes to BMR.

Who doesn’t enjoy a glass of red wine and some dark chocolate! The diet doesn’t suggest consuming large amounts (remember recommendations suggest no more than 14 units for alcohol a week, a small 125ml glass of wine is 1.6 units). As with any healthy eating plan variation and moderation are always important factors to consider.

All the foods catergorised as sirt foods are healthy when consumed in moderation and should to be included in a balanced diet regardless. Thus, the sirt foods are present in many of our food groups meal plans and recipes we give to our clients. A more accessible version of the diet could result in greater success rates, with a more realistic weight loss aim. Most sustainable healthy weight management plans will work at you losing approx 1lb a week and require you to keep active.

Anyone who has tried the diet please let us know how you got on. We love to hear your feedback, thoughts or questions

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