Ali­son Walsh road-tests the lat­est won­der diet

Need­ing to get her act to­gether, Ali­son Walsh em­barks on the 2016 won­der diet.

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - NEWS -

Iar­rived back at work af­ter the Christ­mas break with a physique like Santa. I needed to clean up my act im­me­di­ately. Among the pile-up of mail on my desk lay sev­eral newly re­leased books, in­clud­ing The Sirt­Food Diet: The revo­lu­tion­ary plan for health and weight loss by Bri­tish nu­tri­tion­ists Ai­dan Gog­gins and Glen Mat­ten. “Lose 7lb [3kg] in seven days!” the cover shrieked. A quick on­line search re­vealed this diet had been at­tract­ing wide at­ten­tion since its New Year pa­per­back pub­li­ca­tion, had so­cial me­dia abuzz, and had wedged it­self on best­seller lists. Lon­don’s The Times re­ported it as the diet ev­ery­one would be talk­ing about in 2016.

I had no idea what sirt­foods were, but they in­cluded red wine, choco­late and coffee. Sounds good, I thought, al­though I did no­tice the list of high­est-rank­ing sirt­foods also in­cluded hale and hearty can­di­dates such as buck­wheat, cel­ery and kale – the fash­ion­ista veg­etable for­merly known as cat­tle feed. The au­thors say th­ese foods are rich in the nu­tri­ents that stim­u­late fat-burn­ing genes known as sir­tu­ins. Pre­vi­ously, the only known ways to get those genes switched on had been fast­ing and ex­er­cise.

I de­cided to dive in for the diet’s 3kg-in-sev­en­days “hy­per-suc­cess” phase, as I needed to trun­cate my in­take and this diet at least seemed to in­clude healthy foods. And of course there was the red wine, the choco­late and the coffee …

Phase one re­stricts food in­take to 1000 calo­ries (4184kJ) a day in­gested via three green juices and one meal. I was go­ing out that evening, so af­ter work I ca­reened off to buy the re­quired foods and a new blender (our pre­vi­ous one ex­pired while purée­ing rasp­ber­ries for the Christ­mas tri­fle, a pos­si­ble poin­ter to where my diet went hor­ri­bly wrong) so I could get crack­ing the next day.

In the morn­ing I re­alised I should have bought a juicer, not a blender, as my ma­chine groaned un­der the pres­sure of the quan­tity of veg­eta­bles. In fact this first green juice batch, quickly put to­gether be­fore I skated out the door to work, was so thick, it was pretty much ined­i­ble. “Pond scum,” re­marked one col­league, look­ing doubt­fully at my glass. “Sludge,” shiv­ered an­other. I could only eat a few spoon­fuls and I was starv­ing. How­ever, a black coffee, a bet­ter con­structed juice when I got home and the meal (prawns with buck­wheat noo­dles and a square of 85 per cent co­coa choco­late) meant I was a shoo-in for suc­cess on the scales: half a kilo had evap­o­rated the next morn­ing.

On the se­cond day I added enough wa­ter to my green juice to make it drink­able and ended up with a sub­stan­tial vol­ume of not en­tirely un­pleas­ant juice de­spite its agri­cul­tural aroma. Keep­ing it cold and adding some ice cubes made it much more palat­able. Din­ner was kale and red onion dahl with buck­wheat. I was down a kilo by the next morn­ing.

Af­ter three days of this, par­tic­i­pants grad­u­ate to 1500 calo­ries, drop­ping one juice and adding a se­cond meal. The menu is rel­a­tively en­tic­ing, with ve­gan or car­niv­o­rous op­tions. Day six ends with the choice of steak with a red wine jus, al­though open­ing a bot­tle of wine to use 40ml in the sauce can only be de­scribed as ex­treme cru­elty to di­eters. De­spite all the talk about red wine, that was the only sign of it in the first week.

I did find that I couldn’t al­ways drink all the juice and that the meals were quite large. Some in­gre­di­ents were dif­fi­cult to lo­cate and I never did find buck­wheat flakes. The 40 par­tic­i­pants who took part in the ini­tial di­etary test­ing on which the book is based were mem­bers of a health club in Lon­don’s up­mar­ket Chelsea, and had their meals pre­pared by the club’s “renowned” head chef. So they wouldn’t have had to drive around in a frenzy, go­ing from shop to shop, seek­ing co­coa nibs and en­dive, would they?

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