Sirtuin1 During Calorie Restriction – Application for Weight Management

Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

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Sirtuin1 During Calorie Restriction – Application for Weight Management
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Sirtuin1 is a longevity gene that is activated during times of food scarcity. It enables metabolism and your brain to maintain a higher level state of function. The activation of this gene by eating less food is central to the anti-aging theory of calorie restriction. The sirtuin1 gene is also activated by the nutrient resveratrol. A novel animal study1 is proving new insights on how this gene works.

It is not hard to understand that your whole-body metabolism will need to slow down if food is scarce, otherwise you would likely perish from malnutrition. The new science shows that such a conservation strategy has priorities that are designed to help keep your brain alert, so that you have the wherewithal to hunt prey and obtain food. If your entire system slowed down, including mental function, then you would be too tired to hunt and gather and the human race would not have survived. For example, thyroid hormone function is maintained differently in your brain than everywhere else in your body, specifically to help keep your head awake when you haven’t been eating much. Likewise, activation of sirtuin 1 offers considerable survival advantage at times of reduced calorie intake.

In modern times we are looking for strategies to help offset accelerated aging and the progressive accumulation of excess weight. One of the main problems with dieting is that after 2 – 4 weeks of reduced calorie intake then your metabolism tends to slow down to start conserving, and you no longer lose additional weight on the reduced calorie intake.

In the new study scientists developed animals that consistently produce higher levels of sirtuin 1. The research experiments showed that the higher level of sirtuin1enabled the animals to maintain a faster metabolic rate even though they lacked food for prolonged periods of time. In theory, taking resveratrol would help a person maintain higher calorie burning during reduced calorie intake.

On the other hand the researchers also found that the stomach appetite signal known as ghrelin was also activated to a higher extent in this experiment. This means that part of the increased metabolic rate is designed specifically to help with the drive and capability to acquire food. This presents a possible pitfall for dieters, as it means that too much sirtuin 1, while stoking metabolism, could also cause food cravings that would defeat dieting efforts.

However, ghrelin levels can be dampened by the intake of complex carbohydrates, which explains why no carbohydrate diets eventually cause excess food cravings. Thus, while not overeating calories, enough complex carbohydrates should be consumed to help curb appetite, as needed. This point would help to define the percentage of calories from carbohydrates in a diet, which could range from 40% to 60% for most people.

Collectively the data implies that resveratrol is an excellent weight management nutrient as long as you are not overeating. It also means that more may not be better, as too much may make you too hungry. The proof is always in the result. Finding a dose that is right for you would be signified by continued weight loss over a number of months while eating somewhat less food — without suffering from excessive cravings. Such a dose may range anywhere from 100 mg – 600 mg. At this time the science does not support higher doses of resveratrol, such as 1000 mgs or more per day (as is promoted by many supplement makers who don’t quite seem to understand what this nutrient is all about). It is unlikely that the anti-aging benefits of resveratrol will apply to any person who continues to eat too much food.

Referenced Studies

  1. ^ Sirtuin1 Function During Calorie Restriction  Journal of Neuroscience  Akiko Satoh, Cynthia S. Brace, Gal Ben-Josef, Tim West, David F. Wozniak, David M. Holtzman, Erik D. Herzog, and Shin-ichiro Imai

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