The Sirtfood Diet is the one that claims you can eat chocolate, drink red wine AND lose weight. That's all our cravings curbed in one delicious sweep.
Devised by two genius British nutrionists, Glen Matten and Aidan Goggins, the Sirtfood Diet is centred around a newly discovered group of foods called 'sirt foods.' These foods, which include red wine, chocolate, garlic, herbs, spices and walnuts, are full of special nutrients that activate 'skinny genes.' These genes burn fat. But that's not all...
When Glen and Aidan started out researching these 'sirt foods' they weren't looking for a weight loss diet at all, instead they were looking for an eating plan that would have long-lasting health benefits. Glen had just turned 40 and was looking at ways he could have a long and healthy life, through his work, he's found that these sirtfoods can boost immune systems, improve skin and improve sleep quality.
All these health benefits are brilliant, but, of course, what's really captured the imagination of all us somewhat lazy dieters, is the claim that we can lose 7lbs in seven days. In their The Sirtfood Diet book, Glen and Aidan lay out an eating plan which involves restricting calories in the first week to about 50-60% less than normal (1000 per day) - this plan includes drinking three sirt food green juices a day and one special sirt food-rich meal. The next week, you up your calories to 1500 per day, with two green juices and two sirtfood-rich meals.
After that, it's all about including as many sirt foods in your diet as possible. This, it's claimed should encourage sustainable weight loss, as well as making you feel much healthier.
Below, we're going to explore in more detail how the Sirtfood Diet works. If, after that, you fancy giving it a go, we’ve also asked the creators of the diet to give us some recipes, including the much-talked about Sirtfood Diet green juice recipe.
Love juices? Check out our NutriBullet recipes for smoothies that'll have you powering through the week.
What's the Sirtfood Diet then?
The diet is based on ’sirt foods’. Not to get too scientific about it, but ’sirt foods’ are rich in natural plant compounds called ‘polyphenols’. These compounds activate a powerful family of genes: the surtuin genes.
Glen Matten, co-creator of the Sirtfood Diet told InStyle. ‘In layman’s terms they’re called “skinny genes” and once they’re triggered they activate fat-burning and a whole range of health benefits.’
You get the same effect from fasting, which is why things like the 5:2 diet and The Fast Diet are so popular.
Got it. I heard something about red wine and chocolate. Is this true?
Yes. ’Rather than semi-starving yourself,’ says Glen. ‘you can eat your way to weight loss, by having a diet rich in these lovely sirt foods. It’s about celebrating foods like dark chocolate, curry, chill and red wine, not demonising them.’
Sirt foods also include:
• Red wine (especially pinot noir)
• Dark chocolate that is at least 85 per cent cocoa,
• Coffee (which is ideally black).
• Green tea
• Chilli rocket
Sounds brilliant. Who came up with the Sirtfood diet?
Nutritionists Glen Matten, who runs clinics all over the UK, and Aidan Goggins, who is considered one of Europe's leading health experts. They became interested in the idea that plant compounds can trigger this so called ‘skinny gene’ and mimic the effects of fasting.
They tested their idea on a group of people at a London members' club and devised a seven-day eating plan full of 'sirt foods'.
‘First, we thought these compounds were just good for health,’ says Glen. 'But we found that over the seven days people were typically losing 7lbs as well as gaining, or maintaining, muscle.'
The first week on the eating plan involves cutting your calorie intake down to 1000, and then building up to 1500 calories in week two.
Woah, 7lbs in seven days is a lot. Is that sustainable?
The creators of the Sirtfood Diet call the first seven days a ‘hyper success phase’, but say that after that, it’s about transitioning into a balanced way of eating.
Then, they say, you should continue to lose about 1-2lbs a week. The sudden weight loss in the first week is a big motivator, understandably, but the aim after that is to have a diet full of as many sirtfood-rich meals as possible.
Ok then, weight loss aside, what are the other health benefits Glen mentioned?
Glen and Adidan's aim in devising this eating plan was to come up with a diet that would help people be healthier and live longer. ‘The Sirtfood Diet is the blueprint for life-long health,’ says Glen. ‘People will have more energy, they’ll sleep better and it’s great for skin, too.
‘Plus, we believe it can have quite profound health effects. We've had great stories of people reversing their diabetes, their heart disease and their auto-immune problems on this diet,’ says Glen. The weight loss, Glen says, is a pleasant side effect to all these other benefits.
I think I’ll give it a go. Can I have some Sirtfood Diet recipes, please?
Sure, here you go...
If the Sirtfood diet doesn't sound like your thing, maybe the DASH diet will be more up your street.
ASIAN KING PRAWN STIR-FRY WITH BUCKWHEAT NOODLES (SERVES 1)
150g shelled raw king prawns, deveined
2 tsp tamari (you can use soy sauce if you are not avoiding gluten)
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
75g soba (buckwheat noodles)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 bird’s eye chilli, finely chopped
1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
20g red onions, sliced
40g celery, trimmed and sliced
75g green beans, chopped
50g kale, roughly chopped
100ml chicken stock
5g lovage or celery leaves
Heat a frying pan over a high heat, then cook the prawns in 1 teaspoon of the tamari and 1 teaspoon of the oil for 2–3 minutes. Transfer the prawns to a plate. Wipe the pan out with kitchen paper, as you’re going to use it again.
Cook the noodles in boiling water for 5–8 minutes or as directed on the packet. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, fry the garlic, chilli and ginger, red onion, celery, beans and kale in the remaining oil over a medium–high heat for 2–3 minutes. Add the stock and bring to the boil, then simmer for a minute or two, until the vegetables are cooked but still crunchy.
Add the prawns, noodles and lovage/celery leaves to the pan, bring back to the boil then remove from the heat and serve.
STRAWBERRY BUCKWHEAT TABOULEH (SERVES 1)
1 tbsp ground turmeric
20g red onion
25g Medjool dates, pitted
1 tbsp capers
100g strawberries, hulled
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juce of ½ lemon
Cook the buckwheat with the turmeric according to the packet instructions. Drain and keep to one side to cool.
Finely chop the avocado, tomato, red onion, dates, capers and parsley and mix with the cool buckwheat. Slice the strawberries and gently mix into the salad with the oil and lemon juice. Serve on a bed of rocket.
CHARGRILLED BEEF WITH A RED WINE JUS, ONION RINGS, GARLIC KALE AND HERB ROASTED POTATOES (SERVES 1)
100g potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm dice
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
5g parsley, finely chopped
50g red onion, sliced into rings
50g kale, sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
120–150g x 3.5cm-thick beef fillet steak or 2cm-thick sirloin steak
40ml red wine
150ml beef stock
1 tsp tomato purée
1 tsp cornflour, dissolved in 1 tbsp water
Heat the oven to 220ºC/gas 7.
Place the potatoes in a saucepan of boiling water, bring back to the boil and cook for 4–5 minutes, then drain. Place in a roasting tin with 1 teaspoon of the oil and roast in the hot oven for 35–45 minutes. Turn the potatoes every 10 minutes to ensure even cooking. When cooked, remove from the oven, sprinkle with the chopped parsley and mix well.
Fry the onion in 1 teaspoon of the oil over a medium heat for 5–7 minutes, until soft and nicely caramelised. Keep warm.
Steam the kale for 2–3 minutes then drain. Fry the garlic gently in ½ teaspoon of oil for 1 minute, until soft but not coloured. Add the kale and fry for a further 1–2 minutes, until tender. Keep warm.
Heat an ovenproof frying pan over a high heat until smoking. Coat the meat in ½ a teaspoon of the oil and fry in the hot pan over a medium–high heat according to how you like your meat done – see our guide to the timings on page 199. If you like your meat medium it would be better to sear the meat and then transfer the pan to an oven set at 220ºC/gas 7 and finish the cooking that way for the prescribed times.
Remove the meat from the pan and set aside to rest. Add the wine to the hot pan to bring up any meat residue. Bubble to reduce the wine by half, until syrupy and with a concentrated flavour.
Add the stock and tomato purée to the steak pan and bring to the boil, then add the cornflour paste to thicken your sauce, adding it a little at a time until you have your desired consistency. Stir in any of the juices from the rested steak and serve with the roasted potatoes, kale, onion rings and red wine sauce.
SIRTFOOD GREEN JUICE (SERVES 1)
2 large handfuls (75g) kale
a large handful (30g) rocket
a very small handful (5g) flat-leaf parsley
a very small handful (5g) lovage leaves (optional)
2–3 large stalks (150g) green celery, including its leaves
½ medium green apple
juice of ½ lemon
½ level tsp matcha green tea
Mix the greens (kale, rocket, parsley and lovage, if using) together, then juice them. We find juicers can really differ in their efficiency at juicing leafy vegetables and you may need to re-juice the remnants before moving on to the other ingredients. The goal is to end up with about 50ml of juice from the greens.
Now juice the celery and apple.
You can peel the lemon and put it through the juicer as well, but we find it much easier to simply squeeze the lemon by hand into the juice. By this stage, you should have around 250ml of juice in total, perhaps slightly more.
It is only when the juice is made and ready to serve that you add the matcha green tea. Pour a small amount of the juice into a glass, then add the matcha and stir vigorously with a fork or teaspoon. We only use matcha in the first two drinks of the day as it contains moderate amounts of caffeine (the same content as a normal cup of tea). For people not used to it, it may keep them awake if drunk late.
Once the matcha is dissolved add the remainder of the juice. Give it a final stir, then your juice is ready to drink. Feel free to top up with plain water, according to taste.
SIRTFOOD BITES (MAKES 15-20 BITES)
30g dark chocolate (85 per cent cocoa solids), broken into pieces; or cocoa nibs
250g Medjool dates, pitted
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
the scraped seeds of 1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla extract
1–2 tbsp water
Place the walnuts and chocolate in a food processor and process until you have a fine powder.
Add all the other ingredients except the water and blend until the mixture forms a ball. You may or may not have to add the water depending on the consistency of the mixture – you don’t want it to be too sticky.
Using your hands, form the mixture into bite-sized balls and refrigerate in an airtight container for at least 1 hour before eating them. You could roll some of the balls in some more cocoa or desiccated coconut to achieve a different finish if you like. They will keep for up to 1 week in your fridge.
SIRT MUESLI (SERVES 1)
If you want to make this in bulk or prepare it the night before, simply combine the dry ingredients and store it in an airtight container. All you need to do the next day is add the strawberries and yoghurt and it’s good to go.
20g buckwheat flakes
10g buckwheat puffs
15g coconut flakes or desiccated coconut
40g Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
15g walnuts, chopped
10g cocoa nibs
100g strawberries, hulled and chopped
100g plain Greek yoghurt (or vegan alternative, such as soya or coconut yoghurt)
Mix all of the above ingredients together (leave out the strawberries and yoghurt if not serving straight away).