The SIRTFOOD Diet
SIRTFOOD? With red wine and chocolate to your dream weight? What?! This is exactly the question that more and more of us are asking, as the “SIRTFOOD Diet” is now promoting the “ideal way to lose weight” after all the holiday feasts and the lockdown pounds. Losing weight without starving! According to her own statements, the singer Adele has lost 45 kg with the help of the SIRTFOOD Diet. That’s quite a lot!
But what is really behind this form of diet? Is it just another myth? What does science say? I’ll tell you in this blog post – see the sources below!
What does “SIRTFOOD Diet” mean?
“SIRTFOOD” means that this form of diet is based on foods that are rich in so-called “sirtuins”.
Aiden Goggins and Glen Metten are US-American nutritionists and inventors of the SIRTFOOD Diet. They claim that sirtuin-rich foods (so-called “sirtfoods”) can have a positive effect on our body functions, thus positively influencing our metabolism and slowing down aging. In addition to sirtfoods, participants in the SIRTFOOD Diet should watch out for a calorie deficit, i.e. eat fewer calories than they burn.
In short: With the SIRTFOOD Diet, you should boost your metabolism with foods containing sirtuin and, combined with a calorie deficit, lose weight in a targeted manner. That’s the thesis.
What are sirtuins?
Sirtuins are enzymes from the group of histone deacetylases that have important regulatory functions in metabolism and have a strong influence on our body functions. These include the cell cycle, cell renewal, DNA repair mechanisms, inflammatory processes, and thus general aging. Sirtuins are enzymes and thus proteins that act as a kind of biocatalyst to control and accelerate biochemical reactions. Their name also comes from their function in the body: silent mating type information regulation (SIR). To put it simply, enzymes of the histone deacetylases take care of reading our genes, are part of larger protein complexes, and thus an important part of epigenetics – more on that soon.
Above all, secondary plant substances such as the antioxidant resveratrol (e.g. in red wine and berries) activate the formation of sirtuins in your body. In addition to resveratrol, curcumin (in turmeric), cocoa flavonoids (in cocoa) and quercetin (e.g. in apples, onions) also support sirtuin activity.
How does the SIRTFOOD Diet work?
This form of diet is divided into 3 phases, which are characterized by a combination of sirtuin-rich foods and a calorie deficit.
The 1st phase should detoxify your body and prepare your metabolism for the following phases, as well as for weight loss. It starts with a 3-day juice cleanse in which you should consume 1000 kcal daily with juices and an additional main meal.
The 2nd phase lasts until you have reached your desired weight. You can consume 1500 kcal per day, which you can eat with two juices and two main meals per day. The main focus is still on sirtuin-containing foods, which may be loosened up here with a few “other” foods.
The 3rd phase should make it easier for you to integrate this form of diet into your everyday life as a long-term change in diet. It is characterized by 1800 kcal per day, still with a strong focus on foods containing sirtuin.
What are SIRTFOODS?
So, sirtfoods are foods rich in sirtuins. They mainly include turmeric, rocket, parsley, kale, chicory, chili, buckwheat, walnuts, all kinds of berries (especially blueberries), citrus fruits, dark chocolate (at least 85% cocoa content), apples, red onions, coffee, green tea, etc. You should avoid especially sugar and highly processed foods.
As we have learned, it is mainly phytochemicals such as antioxidants that activate the sirtuins. If you want to read more about antioxidants, go on *here*.
Who is the SIRTFOOD Diet suitable for?
First of all, it should be said that any diet that is associated with a calorie deficit will generally be successful, at least in the short term. The 1st phase in the SIRTFOOD Diet, in particular, is characterized by a strong calorie deficit, but also the 2nd phase with approx. 1500 kcal per day. Above all, you should pay attention to a balanced distribution of macronutrients in order not to suffer a yo-yo effect.
In addition, studies show that a sirtuin-rich diet ONLY in combination with a calorie deficit can achieve weight loss success. Of course, it is not enough just to eat foods rich in sirtuins to achieve your desired weight.
In general, long-term and really sustainable, healthy fat loss can only be achieved with a change in diet. However, this should always be done in consultation with a nutritionist or a doctor. Everyone has different requirements, different eating habits, living conditions, sleeping times, or even medication that can have a strong influence on weight loss success. Diets that are started blindly are usually doomed to failure, discarded in frustration, and punished with a yo-yo effect.
What is scientific research able to tell about the SIRTFOOD Diet?
Current studies confirm that sirtuins as enzymes – like any other enzyme in our body – have an important regulatory function. Sirtuins regulate important metabolic processes and repair mechanisms that can protect us from DNA damage and thus prevent cancer. Sirtuins also protect us from neurodegenerative diseases, i.e. diseases of our nervous system. This includes Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Particularly in view of Alzheimer’s disease, sirtuins have a high protective function.
It should be noted, however, that most of these studies are based on experiments on yeast and mice and are not fully applicable to humans.
Another problem is that your body mainly loses water in the first phase and therefore you feel the first “success in losing weight” – at least for a short time. In the long term, however, your body will go into an energy-saving mode due to the strong calorie deficit in order to use less energy. As soon as you eat “normally” again, the yo-yo effect will say: Hi again!
What positive things can we get out of the SIRTFOOD Diet?
In general, foods rich in sirtuin-activating substances are usually also healthy, wholesome, and plant-based foods. In addition, when you diet, you usually pay more attention to what and how much you eat. In this way, you subconsciously eat a little more consciously, avoiding mostly highly processed foods such as sugar and white bread.
If you are already eating a wholesome, plant-based, and a balanced diet with a focus on unprocessed foods, you are automatically doing a lot of things right anyway. In doing so, you are following a diet that pursues and ensures a high level of nutrient requirements.
My conclusion is …
Just like a “cabbage soup diet”, the SIRTFOOD Diet won’t bring you to your desired weight overnight. Nevertheless, there are important and correct starting points of the SIRTFOOD Diet that you can integrate into your everyday life without wanting to lose weight: a wholesome, plant-based diet. In addition, it does not hurt in any way to do without table sugar and generally to take a closer look at your diet and to eat more “consciously”.
Only a long-term change in diet that can be easily integrated into everyday life will also bring long-term success. For example, you can integrate days on which you fast intermittently into your everyday life from time to time. Sufficient sleep, daily exercise, if possible, and proper stress management will also support you on your way to your desired weight more sustainably! Here again the blog post on the topic: “How do you keep your weight long-term?” There I have summarized for you which habits have been proven to help most people to maintain their weight after weight loss.
If you have any further questions: Always at your service! Stay healthy!
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Sources for this blog post
Read more from a scientific view
Anekonda, T.S. and Reddy, P.H. (2006), Neuronal protection by sirtuins in Alzheimer’s disease. Journal of Neurochemistry, 96: 305-313.
Carafa, V., Rotili, D., Forgione, M. et al. Sirtuin functions and modulation: from chemistry to the clinic. Clin Epigenet 8, 61 (2016).
Hsu, C. P., Odewale, I., Alcendor, R. R., & Sadoshima, J. (2008). Sirt1 protects the heart from aging and stress. Biological chemistry, 389(3), 221–231. https://doi.org/10.1515/BC.2008.032
Jiang, Y. et al. 2017: Sirtuin Inhibition: Strategies, Inhibitors, and Therapeutic Potential, in: Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, Vol. 38, 2017, No. 5, pp. 459-472.
Mostoslavsky, R., Esteller, M., & Vaquero, A. (2010). At the crossroad of lifespan, calorie restriction, chromatin and disease: meeting on sirtuins. Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.), 9(10), 1907–1912.
Wood, J. G., Rogina, B., Lavu, S., Howitz, K., Helfand, S. L., Tatar, M., & Sinclair, D. (2004). Sirtuin activators mimic caloric restriction and delay ageing in metazoans. Nature, 430(7000), 686–689.