There’s Whole 30, Paleo, and a number of “master cleanse” diets—and now we can add the Sirtfood Diet to the growing list of buzzy eating plans. Sirtfood started making headlines last year, after reports surfaced that the singer Adele was a fan. But what can this sci-fi-sounding diet really do for you?
What Is A Sirtfood?
Created by two U.K.-based nutrition gurus, Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten, the diet revolves around eating foods that will trigger your “skinny gene.” While scientists certainly don’t refer to it that way, there actually is a gene called SIRT1. SIRT1 has been linked to improved insulin regulation in the body—versus insulin resistance, which often goes hand-in-hand with obesity and diabetes, according to the journal Cell Metabolism.
Sirtfoods are rich in something called sirtuins. “Sirtuins are a class of proteins in the body that work on our biological pathways and have a positive effect on our health and weight by mimicking a calorie-restrictive diet,” says Brooke Alpert, author of The Sugar Detox, R.D. and founder of B-Nutritious, a nutrition counseling and consulting company in NYC.
Sirtfoods also contain polyphenols, which, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, are linked to the prevention of degenerative and cardiovascular diseases. These foods include kale, blueberries, capers, chili, celery, strawberries, soy, apples, arugula, turmeric, olives, red wine, and coffee.
(Wine lovers, take note: Alpert suggests taking a resveratrol supplement to get the benefit of the antioxidant found in red wine, rather than drinking more red wine. Everything in moderation—even sirtfoods!)
How Does The Diet Work?
The diet asks people to work their way through various levels of calorie restriction (the calorie restriction is what activates sirtuin genes, actually) before having free reign to dig into any and all sirtfoods.
The first week, known as Phase 1, dieters eat 1,000 calories a day, which includes three sirtfood-packed green juices and one sirtfood-rich meal (like buckwheat and prawn stir-fry).
The second week, or Phase 2, dieters eat up to 1,500 calories a day. During this time, they’ll nosh on more whole foods—two sirtfood-rich meals and two green juices.
During the third week, dieters will move to onto the maintenance phase, which entails eating three sirtfood-rich meals per day along with a green juice.
The Bottom Line
“The concept of eating these polyphenol-rich foods certainly isn’t new, but I do like how these authors highlight the importance of eating them regularly in your diet,” Alpert says.
And while it can’t hurt to add more sirtfoods into your existing diet, Chelsey Amer, R.D., a nutritionist in private practice in Manhattan, NY, and creator of CitNutritionally.com, doesn’t recommend zeroing in on just sirtfoods. “We’re much better off eating mostly plants with lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats, and indulging on occasion for a more sustainable type of eating.”
Ultimately, there’s room for more scientific investigation into the efficacy of the diet and sirtuin’s role in human health.