Nutrition: Could latest diet be a dead Sirt?
A diet that lets you enjoy chocolate and red wine – and still lose weight? No wonder the Sirtfood plan is set to be the next big fad. Gemma Dunn finds out more...
LET'S be honest – how often have you turned down a biscuit or slice of cake, because you're "cutting down", only to happily glug a calorie-laden large glass of wine later on?
For many of us, it's an unwritten rule that when it comes to dieting or watching our weight, we pick and choose when we want to abide by the 'rules'.
When it comes to the Sirtfood Diet, however, the rules are somewhat different. Many healthy eating experts think diets are plagued with problems, as they force you to cut down drastically and make certain food groups the 'enemy', often setting you up for even greater weight gain and yo-yoing in the long run, when your willpower inevitably caves and you binge on all those 'bad' things you've been depriving yourself of.
Nutritional medicine experts Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten believe they may have an alternative solution, with their 'revolutionary' new eating plan. The duo have allegedly harnessed the power of Sirtfood science and are now sharing their findings in their book, The Sirtfood Diet, due out in January.
Sirtfoods are a recently discovered group of plant foods, known as sirtuin activators, which switch on so-called 'skinny gene' pathways in the body. These are the same pathways more commonly activated by fasting and exercise – meaning they help the body burn fat, increase muscle, aid biological processes and stave off disease.
Foods in this bracket include kale, blueberries, citrus fruits, apples, onions, green tea, capers and – wait for it – red wine and dark chocolate (hurrah!). Tick and tick; although public health nutritionist and lifestyle consultant Yvonne Wake warns that the "chocolate needs to be of high quality and consumed in moderation".
And as for red wine, she advises: "A small glass a few times a week is OK, but I wouldn't recommend it every day, as it will become a habit."
With the aim of creating a diet that's affordable, easy to follow and simple to maintain, Goggins and Matten tested their diet on 40 members of one of Europe's leading health clubs. Their logic was, if they obtained good results with this relatively healthy sample, they could hope to achieve even greater gains with people starting from a lower base.
The results showed an average of 7lbs weight loss in seven days, with increases in muscle mass, wellbeing and energy reported too. While Wake maintains that "7lbs in a week is way too much [to lose], for health reasons", the diet is – as anticipated – causing quite a stir in the celebrity world, with fans such as James Haskell, Lorraine Pascale and Jodie Kidd already spreading the word.
Not everybody is so enthusiastic about it, however, and Wake warns that quick-fixes can cause more harm than good in the long run.
"There is absolutely no fast track; the only way we can truly look after ourselves and be as slim and healthy as we need to be is by eating a wonderfully healthy, balanced diet and doing at least an hour of day of exercise a day – and that includes walking," she says.
"I'm anti-any fad diet and I'm anti anything that takes you away from making sure your daily intake is nutritious and contains all the right vitamins, minerals and trace elements. As long as you consume protein, carbohydrates, fibre and fresh vegetables daily, then why complicate it?"
:: The Sirtfood Diet: The Revolutionary Plan For Health And Weight Loss by Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten is published by Hodder & Stoughton, priced £7.99. Available January 7.