What Is the Sirtfood Diet?

Foods that are part of a sirtfood diet

Verywell / Debbie Burkhoff

At Verywell, we believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy lifestyle. Successful eating plans need to be individualized and take the whole person into consideration. Prior to starting a new diet plan, consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian, especially if you have an underlying health condition.


The Sirtfood Diet was developed by Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten, nutritionists in the U.K. The diet is explained in the book of the same name, “The Sirtfood Diet,” which was originally published in the U.K. in 2016 and the United States in 2018.

The diet claims that followers can lose up to seven pounds in seven days. It is advertised as a dietary plan that turns on your “skinny gene” by consuming foods rich in sirtuins (SIRTs), a group of seven proteins found in the body that are associated with several health benefits and functions, including slowing down the aging process, reducing inflammation, and regulating metabolism.

Sirtuin-activating foods (sirtfoods) may be able to increase the level of these seven proteins in the body. Sirtfoods are mainly plant-based, antioxidant-rich foods like dark chocolate, matcha green tea, kale, strawberries, red wine, blueberries, and more.

At its core, the Sirtfood Diet is a calorie-restricted diet that dubs sirtfoods as the new superfoods. While there is scientific research to support the functions of sirtuins in the body, there is a lack of evidence supporting the Sirtfood Diet as a whole.

What Experts Say

“The Sirtfood diet emphasizes eating foods that are high in sirtuins. Sirtuins (SIRTs) are a group of seven proteins found in the body that have been shown to regulate a variety of functions, like metabolism and stress responses, and potentially play a role in longevity and disease management. While most of the research on the benefits of sirtuins is on animals, the emerging science in humans is promising. Needless to say, the diet comes with drawbacks. Primarily it promises to activate your ‘skinny gene.’ Any diet that makes a promise like that should be a red flag. In addition, while the foods on the diet are nutrient-rich and can provide many health benefits, the diet can be restrictive, expensive, and unrealistic to follow long-term. Lastly, the first phase of the diet is too low in calories for most people, and this plan is not meant for those with a history of disordered eating.”

Barbie Cervoni, MS, RD, CDCES, CDN

What Can You Eat?

Famous for allowing red wine and dark chocolate, the Sirtfood Diet mainly consists of various fruits, grains, leafy greens, herbs, spices, oils, and drinks that are high in sirtuin activators. Meat is optional on the Sirtfood Diet, so it can be adapted for vegans and vegetarians. However, meat should be eaten in moderation.

What You Need to Know

While the food is high in sirtuins, the calories are low. Restricting your calories is just as important as consuming sirtfoods on this diet. 

There are two phases of the Sirtfood Diet, which lasts for a total of three weeks. 

Phase One (one week):

  • During days one to three, you can eat one meal rich in sirtuins and three green drinks (juices or shakes), which add up to 1,000 calories total.
  • On days four to seven, you can increase your daily calories to 1,500, which is split between two meals and two green drinks.

Phase Two (two weeks):

  • During these two weeks, you consume three sirtuin-rich meals and one green drink per day.

After three weeks, you can repeat the program immediately or modify it to incorporate sirtfoods into your diet without calorie restrictions.

What to Eat
  • Fruits and vegetables

  • Grains

  • Animal products (in moderation)

  • Coffee, tea, and red wine

  • Herbs and spices

  • Dark chocolate

  • Soy and beans

  • Nuts

  • Extra virgin olive oil

What Not to Eat
  • Refined flours

  • Added sugars

  • Processed foods


Fruits and Vegetables

Sirtfoods tend to be rich in antioxidants, so it is no surprise that the following fruits and vegetables are encouraged on the Sirtfood Diet: kale, strawberries, onions, arugula, capers, blueberries, Medjool dates, and red chicory. 

Herbs and Spices

Turmeric, parsley, lovage, and other herbs and spices are recommended while on the Sirtfood Diet. They can be used in green juices or to add flavor to meals.

Beverages

While on the Sirtfood Diet, you consume at least one green drink (juice or shake) per day. In the very beginning, several green drinks are recommended per day. As time goes on, you’ll slowly incorporate more meals and fewer drinks. Antioxidant-rich drinks like red wine, coffee, and tea are allowed daily.

Soy, Legumes, and Meat

Protein sources on the Sirtfood Diet include soy, legumes, and meat. Soy and legumes are sources of sirtuins while meat is not. If meat is consumed, it should only be eaten in moderation since it is high in calories and not a rich source of sirtuins. Vegans and vegetarians can get their protein from plant-based sources of sirtuins like tofu and beans.

Grains

The Sirtfood Diet allows grains, including pasta made with grains, though buckwheat is strongly recommended since it is high in sirtuins. Buckwheat flakes and puffs can be used to make sirtuin-rich breakfast foods like muesli.

Healthy Fats

Nuts, olive oil, and dairy are all allowed on the Sirtfood Diet. Sirtuin-rich sources of fat include extra virgin olive oil, walnuts, and fatty fish.

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • May contribute to weight loss

  • Rich in antioxidants

  • Evidence supporting sirtuins

  • Suitable for vegans and vegetarians

Cons
  • Very low in calories

  • Unsustainable long-term

  • Lack of evidence supporting the diet

  • Heavy in green juices

Is the Sirtfood Diet a Healthy Choice for You?

The main appeal to the Sirtfood Diet is weight loss. Though the diet claims you can lose seven pounds in seven days, this is not in line with the generally recommended one to two pounds of healthy weight loss per week. 

The Sirtfood Diet is not recommended for people with diabetes, other chronic conditions, or a history of disordered eating.

The Sirtfood Diet consists of many nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and herbs. However, replacing meals with green juices and restricting calories to 1,000 to 1,500 daily is unsustainable long-term.

Health Benefits

The Sirtfood Diet consists heavily of plant-based foods that are rich in nutrients, antioxidants, and sirtuins, which may yield some health benefits.

May Result in Weight Loss

The premise of the Sirtfood Diet is that by consuming plenty of sirtuin-activating foods, certain genes will be turned on to boost metabolism and burn fat. Some animal studies have linked these genes to lipolysis and fat loss. Weight loss experienced on the Sirtfood Diet may also be attributed to the calorie restriction.

Sirtuins May Have Anti-Aging Properties

In addition to weight loss, slowing the aging process is a major appeal to the Sirtfood Diet. Researchers have studied the anti-aging properties of sirtfoods and suggest fusing Asian and Mediterranean diets, which are especially rich in sirtfoods, to prevent chronic diseases and ensure healthy aging.

Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidant-rich foods like blueberries, red wine, coffee, and dark chocolate are not only allowed on the Sirtfood Diet, they are encouraged. Antioxidants have been shown to protect against disease and free radical damage.

Health Risks

Though the Sirtfood Diet contains plenty of fruits and vegetables, it is often criticized for being too low in calories and thus unsustainable long-term. However, aspects of the Sirtfood Diet can be incorporated into a balanced diet.

Low in Calories

The Sirtfood Diet ranges from 1,000 to 1,500 calories per day. The 2020-2025 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends between 2,000 to 3,200 calories per day for adult men and 1,600-2,400 daily calories for adult women depending on age and activity level. Eating fewer calories has been shown to result in weight loss, but a diet that is too low in calories may not be nutritionally adequate.

Not Sustainable

The first phase of the Sirtfood Diet replaces up to two meals per day with green juices. It is also very low in calories. Though the second phase contains more calories and solid meals, the three-week plan is not sustainable long-term. The diet allows followers to repeat the three-week plan immediately to continue weight loss, which is not recommended.

A Word From Verywell

When trying a new diet, you may feel a sense of optimism that this new way of eating will help you reach all of your goals. There is no magic diet that can help you accomplish your goals in just a matter of days or weeks. However, a balanced lifestyle can help you improve your long-term health over time.

The Sirtfood Diet is like other fad diets. It promises rapid weight loss in a short amount of time. You may experience weight loss not because the diet is revolutionary but because it is so low in calories. While you may lose weight on this plan, there is more to health than a number on a scale.

Remember, following a long-term or short-term diet may not be necessary for you and many diets out there simply don’t work, especially long-term. While we do not endorse fad diet trends or unsustainable weight loss methods, we present the facts so you can make an informed decision that works best for your nutritional needs, genetic blueprint, budget, and goals.

If your goal is weight loss, remember that losing weight isn’t necessarily the same as being your healthiest self, and there are many other ways to pursue health. Exercise, sleep, and other lifestyle factors also play a major role in your overall health. The best diet is always the one that is balanced and fits your lifestyle.

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5 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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