New year, new start. It’s the same old song, the annual oath sworn as the chimes of a new year toll in. Many of us propose drastic change to our lifestyles: time to finally shed those excess pounds, we say. Dieting is never going to be easy, but fresh on the roll-call of regimes is the Sirt Diet: and, with its much-lauded results, it looks set to eclipse all other faddy weight-loss crazes. But does it actually work?
First things first: what, can we ask, are Sirts? The word is short for the group of proteins known as sirtuins, which play an integral role in regulating the chemical processes said to kickstart fat burn. They’re involved in cell processes which encourage DNA repair and help decrease vulnerability to disease. What’s more, research shows that sirtuins imitate the effects of low-calorie diets, which are cited as being able to extend lifespans. ‘Sirtfoods’ – including buckwheat, dark chocolate, green tea, olives, and turmeric – are so-named for their high levels of polyphenols, natural chemicals which activate sirtuins. When we consider that sirtfoods feature heavily in lifestyles with low rates of disease – in the Mediterranean diet, for example – it seems plausible that there’s something to be said for incorporating more of them into our diets.
Authors of The Sirtfood Diet Aiden Goggins and Glen Matten, in an interview with The Times, tested the potential of these wonderfoods by putting a group of volunteers on a specifically designed meal plan. Each person consumed three sirt juices and one sirt meal (cauliflower couscous and salmon, for example) for three days, followed by four further days of two juices and meals. According to results, the average weight loss within a week was half a stone; participants claimed to feel rejuvenated; and some purported to have increased muscle mass.After the initial week, the regime relaxes into something more of a normal diet, although the primary focus remains on juices packed with greens, such as kale, matcha, parsley, and apples.
Goggins and Matten themselves stress that it’s not a starvation diet, but one to improve well-being, increasing overall nutrient intake.
So, the Sirtdiet seems to achieve credible results. But, as with every new dieting craze, there are other things to bear in mind. Consider the main cause of the participants’ weight loss: their diets provided them with twenty-five percent less calories than a woman’s recommended daily allowance. Anyone restricting calorie intake in this way is bound to lose pounds, even though the dieters didn’t feel hungry: evidently, some properties of the sirtfood react to produce the effect of both satiating and satisfying appetite. Furthermore, the main component of the diet – the juices – spell out a bleak future for those with preferences for solid food. Of course, if you’re the Sirtdieter David Haye, you can have your juices delivered ready-made, no problem – but for the rest of us, this involves hefty investment in a stuffed fridge of vegetables. With the large part of sirtfoods weighing in on the expensive side of the spectrum – strawberries, walnuts, soy – this isn’t perhaps the most student-friendly diet. Finally, as fresh warnings on alcohol consumption tell us that a glass of wine a day is absolutely not safe, we receive the conflicting message that drinking sirt-friendly Pinot Noir will help us to lose weight. Met by inconsistencies everywhere we look, we must always be wary of any new diet or health craze.
All points considered, the Sirt Diet seems to do the same thing as any health expert under the sun: encourage us to eat a wider variety of fruit, vegetables, nuts, pulses, and healthy fats. As this is a feat which can be performed on any budget, with no requirement to to adopt a semi-liquid diet, consider opting instead for a Diet of Moderation and Balance.