Adele might be making media waves for her recent weight loss transformation, but don't be fooled–"The Sirtfood Diet" is no miracle.
The Sirtfood Diet––the brainchild of two celebrity nutritionists and the alleged "secret" behind Adele's weight loss––boldly claims that by following their plan and focusing on the "top 20 sirtfoods" (foods said to increase specific proteins in the body called sirtuins, which are related to metabolism regulation), dieters can activate their "skinny gene." Best of all, "top 20 sirtfoods" include red wine and dark chocolate. You can even lose seven pounds in a week, they claim.
"A diet where I can eat chocolate and drink wine? Sign me up!" Except no, absolutely the f*ck not.
It's a tale as timeless as snake oil salesmen. A celebrity loses a dramatic amount of weight with a secret new diet, and people turn out in droves to buy the book, desperate to transform their own bodies and blinded to the one simple truth of weight loss: There is no shortcut.
This is exactly why fad diets, such as "Sirtfood," are largely considered scams.
Here's how The Sirtfood Diet's "lose seven pounds in just one week!" malarkey actually works, and the scariest part is that, technically, they're telling the truth. You'll lose the weight; you just won't keep it off for more than a few weeks.
The Sirtfood Diet is divided into two phases.
Phase One lasts a week, and it's the phase during which adherents are said to lose those seven whole pounds. For the first three days, dieters drink three green juices daily and eat a single "Sirtfood" meal from their cookbook. This totals 1,000 calories per day. For the latter four days, calorie intake is upped to 1,500 with two daily juices and two "Sirtfood" meals.
Then, during Phase Two, you stop counting calories but continue drinking one green juice and eating three "Sirtfood" meals from the recipe book every day. Anytime you want to lose more weight, all you need to do is repeat Phase One. Simple right? Just follow the plan and lose the weight.
Well, sure, but it has nothing to do with "Sirtfoods." An average adult woman needs to eat an estimated 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day (based on height, weight, and activity level––your mileage may vary, and you can get a better sense of your specific caloric needs using a TDEE, or Total Daily Energy Expenditure, Calculator) in order to maintain your weight. This means that almost any adult on the planet will lose a significant amount of weight if they eat 1,000 calories per day.
Truly, all weight loss (short of liposuction) boils down to calories in vs. calories out. That doesn't mean calorie numbers are the only factor to consider when trying to lose weight. Health is a complex subject, and nutrient-dense foods will generally be better for your body than foods with low nutrient density, even if their calorie counts are similar. But the fact remains that you'll lose weight if you eat fewer calories than you burn, regardless of whether you're eating 1,000 calories of kale, 1,000 calories of chocolate, or 1,000 calories of pizza. The key to everything is consistency.
Maintaining consistency is the exact reason that accredited weight loss plans don't advise eating 1,000 calories per day––because eating 1,000 calories per day isn't sustainable. Sure, you can lose a good chunk of weight after a week of literally starving yourself, but you'll gain it all back as soon as you start eating properly again.
In other words, fads diets like "Sirtfood" might offer quick ways to lose weight temporarily, but they don't help you stay that way, and they certainly don't promote healthy eating patterns.
If you actually want to lose weight, here's what you do.
Step 1: Calculate your TDEE using a calculator like this one.
Step 2: Eat 250-500 calories below your TDEE.
Step 3: Exercise consistently. The more calories you burn exercising, the more weight you lose (or the more calories you can eat while still losing weight).
Step 4: Hit your goal. Re-calculate your TDEE.
Step 5: Eat at maintenance to remain at your new weight. Keep exercising.
It really is that straightforward. Do the work that meets your specific body's needs, and you can lose the weight. Keep doing the work, and you can keep the weight off. It's not about how you look in a week. It's about how you feel for the rest of your life.
Just remember, there are no secret shortcuts or celebrity magic tricks to getting healthy––despite the promises of wealthy people with personal trainers and unsustainable crash diets.