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Home / Fitness and Health / Snake Diet or Snake Oil? What it is, how it works and more

Snake Diet or Snake Oil? What it is, how it works and more

Created by the Healthline experts for Greatist. Read More

From Taylor Swift scandals to Harry Potter, snakes don't have the best reputation. We call people "snakes" when they lie, stab back or act in a slippery manner, which fuels our suspicions.

Despite its name, however, we were ready to give this fad diet a chance. Spoiler: It doesn't live up to the hype. If you are careful not to follow a diet named after a sometimes poisonous reptile, you are not wrong.

The snake diet is fasted for at least 2 days while "snake juice" is consumed, which is basically electrolyte water. Then you should have a big meal and start over.

To put it very clearly, medical practitioners strongly advise against longer fasting. It is unsustainable and can be very risky because it leaves little space for essential nutrients.

Whether you are serious about dieting or are just curious about the controversy, here are the details.

No matter how many trendy diets the Snake Diet claims, it would help you lose pounds quickly (or, in this case, push them away). Like other diets (such as the cabbage soup diet or the lemon detox diet), the snake diet is based on a hunger model and does not provide enough nutrients to support a healthy lifestyle.

The founder, Cole Robinson, is a 34-year-old fasting trainer who has neither knowledge nor experience in nutrition, biology or medicine.

He instructs his customers to fast (or "fuck as long as possible" as he says on YouTube) for 48 hours while drinking electrolyte water when needed. Then he advises to take 1

to 2 hours to eat a meal. And repeat.

This diet is much more extreme than intermittent fasting due to the lack of nutrients and the long period of fasting. It is based on the eating behavior of some wild animals like snakes, which sometimes only eat once a week. (They also swallow rodents as a whole, so … not the best role models, IMO.)

When he appeared on The Doctors, he also claimed that his client fasted her cancer, which "melted" her tumor. On the show, Andrew Paul Ordon, MD replied, "No, you didn't melt this tumor down. It would defy science."

Robinson frequently changes diet on his YouTube channel, so his recommendations can vary from day to day .

"Snake juice", which is an essential part of the diet, can be made at home or bought directly from Robinson. Here is the breakdown of the electrolyte preparation:

  • 8 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt-free potassium chloride
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Himalayan pink salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of food-grade Epsom salt

Robinson doesn't say exactly how much to drink, but he does limit buyers to three commercial packages a day. who are new to the diet do not need more than dangerously low 3,500 calories a week.

Due to the very limited calorie intake of the diet, for those who try, there is a risk of serious calorie deficiency. And with such a low calorie intake, there can be an uncertain weight loss.

According to the CDC, 1 to 2 pounds a week is safe and healthy weight loss – and if you walk slowly and steadily, it may mean that you are more likely to prevent it.

During the diet, Robinson encouraged participants to measure ketones with a pee strip. By now, you've probably heard everything about ketosis, the metabolic state that results from long-term fasting and a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet.

The snake diet is not the same as ketosis-inducing intermittent fasting. However, this means that only water is consumed for 8 to 36 hours. While both plans encourage longer fasts, the long fasting times of the snake diet pose serious risks.

The diet consists of three main phases:

Phase 1

This is the first 48-hour fast. Robinson says he should consume an unspecified amount of an apple cider drink and snake juice at this stage.

Then you can eat for 1 to 2 hours, although Robinson does not state what you are allowed to eat. Just got it. Because next comes a 72-hour fast. Robinson claims this phase will "detoxify your liver."

Remember that your body is already a detoxification machine: your liver and kidneys constantly rid your body of impurities. There is also no real evidence that detox diets remove toxins at all.

Phase 2

Somehow you should fast for a little longer now: between 48 and 96 hours. Robinson encourages fasting until you can no longer stand it.

Phase 3

Phase 3 consists of 24- to 48-hour rapid cycles that are peppered with individual meals. At this stage, you should listen to your body's natural hunger signals. Since most people's hunger signals are triggered within 8 hours, this advice is somewhat contradictory.

It is true that fasting can help you lose weight. Fasting forces your body to use energy that is stored in fat and muscle mass.

A 2016 study found that intermittent fasting leads to weight loss that is similar to daily calorie reduction and is a safe and effective method for weight loss for some people. But the snake diet is really more of a starvation diet than a fasting diet.

When fasting starves, things change. When trying to protect your vital organs, your body could stop some non-vital processes (possibly fertility, too, according to some studies on rats).

The snake diet also does not contain enough essential nutrients such as protein, fat and vitamins. Since your body doesn't produce these nutrients naturally, you need to incorporate them into your diet somehow.

If you do not get enough of these nutrients for a long period of time, this can lead to long-term side effects, such as an increased risk of chronic diseases and weakened bones.

Robinson claims that the snake diet cures type 2 diabetes, herpes, and inflammation (oh, and cancer – NBD). But he must not have listened to teachers who told him to quote his sources because these claims have no scientific basis.

It is true that healthy weight management correlates with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes – but the claim that diet can cure diabetes is a stretch.

In a 2019 study of 1,422 adults who ate only 250 calories a day for 4 to 21 days (under constant medical supervision), the participants reported better moods, improved blood sugar regulation and reduced blood pressure. However, due to the risk of prolonged fasting, there is not much research on it.

In addition, the snake diet is much stricter than typical intermittent fasting. With regard to a classic pro / contra list, it is therefore unclear whether this diet has an advantage.

We'll be honest: the snake diet could be the worst since the tapeworm diet. (We are sorry to report that this is a real thing.) Here are just some of the negative effects:

It promotes eating disorders.

Our culture's focus on diets in general can be harmful, especially for those who already have a rocky relationship with food. In a 2008 study of adolescent girls exposed to fasting, those who fasted appeared to be at higher risk of bulimia and binge eating.

In the long run, fasting can also change your body's levels of leptin and ghrelin. Hormones that control abundance and hunger. In essence, it can upset your system.

Robinson also says to fast "until you feel like death" … yes, no. The feeling that death should never be your goal.

It is very restrictive.

Robinson's diet recommends eating several thousand fewer calories than the USDA guidelines recommend for healthy adults. It also encourages people to dry quickly (i.e. no water), which can increase the risk of dehydration and can be extremely dangerous.

It is not sustainable.

Without vital nutrients, you slowly feel low in energy. In a 2018 study, people who had been fasting with water for 2 or more days reported lower quality of life and increased fatigue. They also had side effects such as insomnia, nausea, headache, and high blood pressure.

Finally, you need more micronutrients to improve your health and well-being than this diet offers, which makes it unrealistic and unsustainable.

Let's face it: it's dangerous.

The snake diet is less a diet than a way to put your body in starvation mode. At its core, it encourages people to avoid food for as long as possible. Sure, there's an electrolyte drink thrown in there, but that doesn't really help when there is a severe lack of nutrients.

So please don't try. You deserve to feel good, enjoy food, and love yourself.

  • Just because snakes sometimes only eat once a week doesn't mean you should. (They don't swallow whole mice to be fair.) They deserve better!
  • The snake diet does not provide enough essential nutrients for a healthy lifestyle. It is not sustainable and can lead to eating disorders.
  • Intermittent fasting could be a safe approach to weight loss, although research is not conclusive.
  • Never fast for more than 72 hours without medical supervision. Back-to-back fasting with little food in between – as the snake diet recommends – can pose a serious risk.
  • If you are interested in finding a way to become a healthier person, talk to your doctor before trying an oil snake.

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