We love Adele and her music, but we heard a strange rumor about the busy Grammy-winning mom recently: Word is, at the urging of her personal trainer, Pete Geracimo, Adele has lost 30 pounds thanks to a new healthy eating fad called the Sirtfood Diet. But Adele has yet to say anything about the diet herself, so the rumors could likely be just that — rumors.
That said, regardless of whether Adele is as enthusiastic about it as her trainer, the Sirtfood Diet has undeniably taken the United Kingdom by storm. (In fact, rumors are circulating that English socialite and younger sister to the Duchess of Cambridge, Pippa Middleton, is also following the diet in preparation for her May 20 wedding.) Plus, it recently made its U.S. debut: The diet plan's cookbook, The Sirtfood Diet, was released stateside on March 7.
According to the Sirtfood Diet's Instagram account, many professional athletes swear by the plan, which promises to "help you burn fat" so you "really can lose seven pounds in seven days" and reap other major benefits — all without giving up indulgences, such as red wine and chocolate.
Is the trendy diet plan worth your time and energy? We dug a little deeper to find out.
What Is the Sirtfood Diet?
As its name suggests, the diet centers on "sirtfoods" that are rich in sirtuin enzymes, which are proteins that may have anti-aging properties. A lot of sirtfoods turn out to be plant-based, including blueberries, strawberries, kale, arugula, citrus, coffee, buckwheat, matcha green tea, and chocolate (if it contains at least 85 percent real cocoa).
The official diet plan offers to deliver meals to clients, but it's also possible to go to the grocery store and cook your own meals. The diet itself is broken down into two phases:
Phase One lasts for seven days, and for days one through three, your diet is restricted to three green juices and one meal chock-full of sirtfoods. For these three days, you're restricted to just 1,000 calories per day. Then, for days four through seven, you're allotted two green juices and two meals a day.
Then comes Phase Two, which is 14 days intended "to help you lose weight steadily." To do so, you're allotted three meals rich in "sirtfoods" and one green juice daily, which ups your calorie intake to 1,500 calories per day.
Is the Sirtfood Diet Worth Trying?
Well, the sirtfoods themselves are delicious and generally healthy, so that's a good start.
"What I do love about this diet is the emphasis on plant-based foods that are chock-full of phytonutrients, antioxidant-compounds that we should all be eating more of in order to reduce risk of chronic disease and boost immune function," says Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, nutrition director at the Good Housekeeping Institute. "Loading up on leafy green veggies, fish, dark red/purple fruits and veggies, olives, and olive oil — plus making an effort to eat more seafood — is key to overall health, weight loss, and longer-life."
But nutritionists are skeptical that eating sirtfoods alone could really be sustainable.
"That all sounds like fun, but this is not a list for breakfast, lunch, and dinner without enhancing it with different things," says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, nutrition consultant and creator of BetterThanDieting.com. "Sirtuins supposedly regulate metabolism. Just because there are enzymes to help reactions go further, it doesn't mean you should live off of them on a daily basis."
Plus the jury's still out on whether or not sirtuin enzymes are good for you, as most research has only been conducted on animals, so the health benefits for humans are unclear.
London adds that diets are, by design, meant to be temporary, which means they'll only yield "temporary results."
"This is by no means a diet that I would recommend for most people," London says. "Restricting calories to 1,000 per day for most of us is unrealistic, even if only temporarily. Diets that are designed with temporary stints of restriction are susceptible to backfiring. That's because when we go 'cold turkey' on the foods we love, we wind up overcompensating later in the day, week, or even month, making us feel like giving up and throwing in the towel entirely."
Taub-Dix also warns that fad diets tend to become the most popular when they allow us to indulge in our guiltiest pleasures. But if you sit down and "drink a whole bottle of red wine" and eat a piece of "dark chocolate the size of a brick" simply because your diet allows it, you won't lose the weight that the diet plan promises.
Ultimately, it's all about finding a balanced eating plan that works for you over the long term.
"It really depends what you're actually going to do on a daily basis — not about a particular food, but what you eat every day, month, and year," Taub-Dix adds. "These foods are great for you, but you need to couple it with other things, like whole grains and protein."