Everything You Need to Know About The Sirtfood Diet
What does the diet involve?
The following claims are from the Sirtfood Diet website. In summary, it says that their diet…
- Activates the ‘skinny gene’ pathways that are induced by exercise and fasting
- Includes foods rich in polyphenols such as kale, dark chocolate and red wine
- Uses foods that trigger the sirtuin pathways that impact metabolism, aging and mood
- Helps the body to switch on it’s “fat-burning powers, supercharge weight loss and help stave off disease”
- Has a 2-phases system in which you consume 1000 calories in the first week, then increase to 1,400 calories (which can be repeated)
- Requires you to have a daily green juice including matcha green tea powder, lovage (a herby celery-like leafy plant) and buckwheat.
- Encourages you to pick up your knife and fork, and enjoy eating delicious healthy food while seeing the health and weight-loss benefits
- Will enable you to lose fat whilst minimising muscle loss “in complete contrast to other diets”
Is there a 'skinny gene?'
Researchers from University of British Columbia used a collection of data to determine if such a gene exists. However, their study is based on a collection of biological information but “tissue samples don’t have a universal standard in data collection, which makes comparability a challenge.”
Josef Penninger, Professor and Lead Author of the study has said that “it’s a starting point” and that they still need to confirm their findings.
From this information, where this is currently no confirmation of a definitive ‘skinny gene’ in naturally slim individuals, this would suggest that it’s unlikely to be able to turn on your ‘skinny gene’ with a diet. We’re not even sure it exists let alone lying dormant in our body.
What are Polyphenols?
Polyphenols are a micronutrient, a category of compounds naturally found in plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, tea, dark chocolate, and wine. All of which are included in the suggested foods for this diet.
They act as antioxidants and are also thought to reduce inflamation. You can read more about polyphenols here. Antioxidants serve an important role in the health of our bodies. We can consume antioxidants from foods but our body also produces them naturally.
What are Sirtuin Pathways?
Sirtuin Pathways is a biological communication process in which sirtuin activators affect sirtuin present in cells.
Sirtuins are a group of proteins found in cells, originally discovered in yeast, that play a large of part of maintaining the homeostasis of the organism in which they live. The Sirtfood website states that sirtuin activators “may have a wide range of health benefits as well as building muscle and suppressing appetite”.
Note the word ‘may’ at the beginning of that statement. Studies into the function of human sirtuins in regards to longevity and health benefits is relatively new, researchers first started looking into Sirtuins proteins in 1991 and studies shows that these possible benefits in humans are still undetermined.
Studies state that although positive outcomes to the increase in cellular activity of sirtuins in test subjects, they haven’t yet been tested on humans. There’s also positive evidence towards it’s antiaging properties, particularly in regards to combatting Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
My take on the Sirtfood Diet
Now the science-y bit is out of the way, I wanted to talk about my overall take on the diet.
Regarding the initial calorie deficit, it’s not an ideal situation for everyone but it has it’s benefits for someone looking for a weight loss diet in the first place. Having such a low deficit in certain stages of dieting isn’t such a bad thing as long as you ‘reverse diet’ out of it – meaning you build up your calories.
I would like to mention that an individual would lose weight on that amount of calories no matter what they eat. The food recommendations given don’t provide a magic fat loss forumla. If you’re restricing your calories, that’s what making you lose weight, not the foods you eat.
Where the foods do come into play is the potential benefits from the specific foods listed. As I’ve stated, plant based foods are high in antioxidants which is why you should eat your veggies! As for being Sirtuin activing, we still don’t know if that’s having an affect on our metabolism or satiety which would be the main contributing factors when it comes to the benefits of eating them for weightloss.
While I am an advocate for allowing yourself to have things like red wine and dark chocolate, I don’t fool myself into thinking I’m eating it because it’s good for me. I’m eating it because I like the taste and I want to. The antioxidants in wine just come from the grape skin, so as you can imagine, the amount of antioxidants in red wine is actually quite low. I think they’ve just included these things to make the diet sound more exciting and enjoyable.
While the books aren’t that expensive, it’s possible that people would get sucked into this method and believe the information that the author is sharing with you, even though it’s not proven to be true.
Anyone who loses weight from this diet successfully is able to do so from the calorie deficit given, not from the specific foods, though I still prefer to take more of an individual approach to calorie allowances.
Though the notion of including their recommended foods in a healthy balanced diet isn’t a bad idea, their health claims are a bit far-fetched to say the least as they’re currently unproven and in early stages of research.
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