The Science Behind Adele’s “Sirtfood” Diet

By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness

October 28, 2020

I was just reading an article about Adele’s weight loss journey. The 32-year-old British popstar lost an astounding 22 kilos (roughly 48 pounds.)

And, you know what? She looks just great!

I’m really happy for her.  Not only do I love her music, but she’s just an amazing talent all around.

One of the most interesting things about her weight loss journey has to do with the special plan she followed.  People are really excited about this “sirtfood” diet.

According to reports, it involves eating foods that boost a special protein called sirtuin.  Your meals include polyphenol-rich foods like blueberries, strawberries, turmeric, walnuts, onions, and green tea – all good for battling inflammation.

Even treats like red wine and dark chocolate are encouraged… to a certain point. That’s because the sirtfood diet also restricts your calorie intake to just 1,000 to 1,500 calories per day.[1]

This choice of foods combined with the calorie limit is said to be Adele’s secret weapon for weight loss.

Now, science doesn’t support all of the biggest claims mentioned by the gossip magazines. So, let’s look at what’s real and what’s just wishful thinking.

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First off, let’s talk about this special protein they mention – sirtuin.  Specifically, we want to focus on something called the SIRT1 gene.

When this SIRT1 gene is activated, your body is in a state of heightened activity.  Your defense mechanisms go up, your body burns fat more easily, and you are left in an all-around healthier state.

So, a higher activation of SIRT1 is definitely a good thing.

SIRT1 is commonly known as the “youth gene” and helps your body produce more mitochondria.  These little energy factors keep your cells powered up to more youthful levels.[2]

The gossip magazines claim that Adele’s food choices were the key to activating this SIRT1 gene.  This is where the science becomes a bit fuzzy.

Some of the foods they mention do indeed activate SIRT1. A plant compound called resveratrol is found in dark chocolate and the grape skins that make up red wine.  This substance does works to activate the SIRT1 enzyme.[3]

There’s just one kicker…

You’d need to chug bottle after bottle of red wine to get enough resveratrol to make a real difference on your SIRT1 levels!  It would take mountains of chocolate too!

You’re much better off taking some sort of resveratrol supplement in capsule form.  This will help you consume enough of the compound to make a real difference.

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The second – and more important – part of Adele’s plan is much less sexy. It has to do with the calorie restriction.

The fact that she limited her calories to only 1,000 to 1,500 calories per day is the true key to her plan’s success.

In fact, calorie restriction is the only proven way to extend your lifespan.  That’s because it activates your SIRT1 – or longevitygene. Calorie-restricted feeding actually slows the aging process.[4]

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Scientists have long known that people who are thinner and restrict their calories live longer, have more energy and are basically stronger all around. Calorie restriction and weight loss also lead to improvements in metabolic indicators for humans.[5]

So, why does calorie restriction benefit you so much?

It makes your body think it’s in a famine situation. The SIRT1 gene is activated and your body naturally gears up for the activity it would take to find your next meal.

Many researchers have been looking at the specific ways that calorie restriction can help obese people activate their SIRT1.

One study followed 19 individuals while they went through a 12-month weight loss plan.  As the people restricted their food intake, they lost weight and their SIRT1 gene expression increased.

These folks also benefited from lower levels of oxidative stress, improved metabolic readings, and easier fat burning while restricting calories.

There was just one problem.  After they began eating like normal, they regained their weight – and then some.[6]

(I’ll come back to this point in a moment.)

Scientists have been able to learn that the SIRT1 gene is an important regulator of insulin sensitivity in humans.[7],[8] In fact, the diabetic medicine Metformin is a direct SIRT1 activator.

If you want to see another example of calorie restriction in action, you can look at the tragic story of the Donner Party.

This group of 81 pioneers was trapped in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada during the winter of 1846.  They had been trying to reach California when heavy snows forced them to camp in the wilderness for four months — with food supplies running low.[9]

Of the 81 people, only 45 survived – mostly women.  While dealing with starvation, the women were able to benefit from the fat pads on their hips.  Their unplanned calorie restriction kicked on their SIRT1 genes so they were able to endure the harsh conditions.

Now before you decide to jump right in on Adele’s plan, you should know there are some risks…

First of all, calorie restriction can have some severe negative effects on your thyroid.

Second, you can’t think of this as a “diet.”  Instead it needs to be your lifestyle for the long term.  You can’t just stop this way of eating as soon as you reach your weight goal.  If you do – and return to a 3,000 calorie per day diet – you’re likely to put the weight right back on.

In fact, you’ll probably also gain an extra five or ten pounds on top of where you started!

Third, you need to eat the right types of foods.  I always suggest that people eat a rainbow dietwith a heavy focus on fruits and vegetables.  You could also try to focus on foods that contain the flavonol quercetin. This includes things like apples, onions, and green veggies.

Overall, it’s not a bad idea to eat SIRT foods, but it’s got to be a balance.   And remember to just eat less.

It will sirtainly be good for you.


[1] Insider Magazine. Landsverk, Gabby, Demand is rising for Adele’s rumored weight-loss plan, the sirtfood diet. Here’s how it works. Available Online:

[2] Ungvari Z, et al. Mitochondrial protection by resveratrol. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2011 Jul;39(3):128-32.

[3] Borra, Margie T., Brian C. Smith, and John M. Denu. “Mechanism of human SIRT1 activation by resveratrol.” Journal of Biological Chemistry 280.17 (2005): 17187-17195.

[4] B.J Merry, Molecular mechanisms linking calorie restriction and longevity, The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology, Volume 34, Issue 11, 2002, Pages 1340-1354, ISSN 1357-2725, (

[5] Fontana L, Meyer TE, Klein S, Holloszy JO. Long-term calorie restriction is highly effective in reducing the risk for atherosclerosis in humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2004;101(17):6659–6663.

[6] Elisabeth Rappou, Sakari Jukarainen, Rita Rinnankoski-Tuikka, Sanna Kaye, Sini Heinonen, Antti Hakkarainen, Jesper Lundbom, Nina Lundbom, Virva Saunavaara, Aila Rissanen, Kirsi A. Virtanen, Eija Pirinen, Kirsi H. Pietiläinen, Weight Loss Is Associated With Increased NAD+/SIRT1 Expression But Reduced PARP Activity in White Adipose Tissue, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 101, Issue 3, 1 March 2016, Pages 1263–1273,

[7] TimmersS, KoningsE, BiletL, et al. . Calorie restriction-like effects of 30 days of resveratrol supplementation on energy metabolism and metabolic profile in obese humans. Cell Metab. 2011;14(5):612–622.

[8] RutanenJ, YaluriN, ModiS, et al. . SIRT1 mRNA expression may be associated with energy expenditure and insulin sensitivity. Diabetes. 2010;59:829–835.

[9]Ewers, Justin. The Ghoulish Tale of the Donner Party. U.S. News & World Report. Feb 19, 2008. Available Online:

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