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Nutrition » Diets » The Snake Diet: Rapid Weight Loss or Danger to Health?

The Snake Diet: Rapid Weight Loss or Danger to Health?

What is the snake diet?

A snake diet is a new nutrition trend that gains popularity among people who are trying to achieve their weight-loss goal. This eating pattern resembles intermittent fasting, however, it is a much more intense way to lose weight. Primarily, a snake juice diet consists of starvation that leads to rapid weight loss. This eating plan follows the snakes’ fasting lifestyle, which involves a lengthy fasting period followed with a 1-2 hour eating window. It was designed by Cole Robinson, a self-described fasting expert, who has no professional background in such areas as nutrition, medicine, or even biology. Many followers of this diet consider it to be an effective way to achieve the desired weight. However, that nutritionists do not recommend sticking to it, as this diet might harm your overall health. This article explains how the snake diet works, and what dangers and risks it entails.

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How to start the snake diet? 

This eating approach has three main phases.

Phase 1

The first phase of a diet designed to make your body enter and maintain a metabolic state that is called ketosis. One can reach ketosis with the help of lengthy fasting or a low-carb diet, like a keto diet. During ketosis, human body burns fat instead of glucose (blood sugar) to get energy (18, 13).

In order to enter ketosis, you will need to start with an initial 48-hour fasting period (or even longer) that should be supplemented with a snake juice. Then, there is an eating window of 1-2 hours before the next fasting period. After this, a 72-hour fasting period starts, it’s purpose is to detoxify the liver. However, it’s not clear what toxins are meant by the author of the diet as liver and kidneys are considered to be natural detoxifiers that flush all harmful compounds through urine, sweat, and feces (12, 4). Moreover, the study shows that detox diets are not effective in purging any contaminants from the body (6). 

Robinson also claims that people who start this diet for the first time need around 3.500 calories per week while the USDA recommends around 16.800 calories for women and 21.000 calories for men per week (2). A drastic calorie restriction can lead to a variety of health problems, including reduced fertility and weaker bones.

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Phase 2

The second phase involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting. The fasting period should last up to 48-96 hours broken with one big meal. You should stay on this phase until you reach your desired weight. According to Robinson’s eating theory, once you achieve your weight loss goal, the recommended weekly calorie intake should be around 8.500 for active women and 20.000 for active men. These calories should be distributed across 5 meals within 3 eating days.

Phase 3

This phase involves 24-48-hour fasting cycles broken with one big meal. Experts recommend to measure ketones in the body to track the process and maintain ketosis. 

Snake diet juice recipe

During the fasting period, you can’t consume any calories. The only thing that is allowed during the “No food” period is snake juice. A snake diet juice recipe was also designed by Cole Robinson to provide electrolytes your body requires. You will need 5 snake diet ingredients to prepare this juice: 

  • 8 cups (2 liters) of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) of Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) of salt-free potassium chloride
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) of food-grade Epsom salts

Snake diet refeed

There are no specific rules on what you can or can’t eat during your eating window. Fasting, just like high-fat and low-carb diets, leads to a fat burning state of ketosis. Following a keto diet can make fasting easier as fatty food gives the feeling of satiety. Fasting can help you enter ketosis faster (10). Try to keep your meals simple and be consistent. 

Can it help you lose weight?

Starvation and drastic calorie restriction result in weight loss as the body is forced to use its energy stores. Usually, our body burns fat and lean muscles simultaneously to survive. However, a snake juice diet does not replenish the food your body needs, which leads to a rapid, unhealthy weight loss (8, 5). On a fast, you generally lose about 2 pounds (0.9 kg) per day for the first week, then 0.7 pounds (0.3 kg) per day by the third week (8).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a safe weight loss range is about 1–2 pounds (0.5–0.9 kg) per week. Moreover, the study shows that following a healthy, well-balanced diet and regular physical activity are the most important determiners of health (7, 11). A snake diet doesn’t help you develop healthy eating habits and may lead to weight gain after getting back to a regular diet plan. Furthermore, this diet can’t provide all essential minerals, vitamins, nutrients which makes it extremely dangerous. The study shows that long-term fasting may lead to severe health problems (3).

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Benefits of the snake diet

Robinson states that this eating approach can treat a number of diseases, including type 2 diabetes, herpes and inflammation. Nevertheless, these claims are unsubstantiated. The prolonged fasting and inflammation and diabetes need further study, as for now, the results are mixed (15, 16). A snake diet resembles intermittent fasting but it’s many stickers making it harder to get the body’s nutritional needs (1). It is still unclear whether this diet has any benefits except for the dangerous weight loss. Since the Snake Diet requires eating irregularly and the amount of food is very little, any limits on water intake will increase the risk of dehydration and are utterly dangerous (17). The human body needs around 30 different vitamins and minerals, which can be obtained by consuming food. Such a lengthy fasting can cause electrolyte imbalances and nutritional deficiencies (14, 9). 

Cons of a snake diet:

  • It encourages unhealthy eating habits 
  • It can lead to extreme nutrient deficiencies, dehydration, and eating disorder
  • It’s an exhaustive and very restrictive eating plan
  • It’s unsustainable as requires prolonged fasting
  • It fails to meet your nutritional needs
  • It can be harmful to your health

Common side effects of fasting

A fasting lifestyle can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms especially in the transition period when your body switches from sugar burning to fat-burning mode. Symptoms may vary from person to person as they depend on many factors like your metabolic flexibility, health status, and lifestyle. Here is the list of the most common side effects of fasting:

  • dizziness
  • headaches
  • low blood sugar
  • muscle aches
  • weakness
  • fatigue

How to prevent side effects of fasting? 

You are most likely to experience side effects of fasting if you are new to this eating approach. It’s better to limit your consumption of carbs and processed foods to reduce the possible side effects. However, if you already stick to a low carb diet, then you will probably won’t have any side effects. To get the best weight loss results, it’s important to stick to the fasting consistently and follow a healthy eating plan in order to reduce possible unpleasant symptoms that may appear.

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Conclusion

There are a lot of followers and defenders of this eating approach. However, be aware that this diet has not been tested and is scientifically suspect. Meeting your goal weight requires more than just a diet. Achieve the dream body by making healthy lifestyle choices, changing your eating habits and getting more exercise.

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DISCLAIMER:

This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any medical conditions. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

SOURCES:

  1. Alternate-day fasting in nonobese subjects: effects on body weight, body composition, and energy metabolism.(2005, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  2. Appendix 2. Estimated Calorie Needs per Day, by Age, Sex, and Physical Activity Level (2002, health.gov)
  3. Are dietary patterns useful for understanding the role of diet in chronic disease? (2001, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  4. Blood, urine, and sweat (BUS) study: monitoring and elimination of bioaccumulated toxic elements. (2011, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  5. Changes in fat-free mass during significant weight loss: a systematic review (2007, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  6. Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence (2015, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  7. Diet quality–what is it and does it matter? (2009, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  8. Fasting: The History, Pathophysiology and Complications (1982, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  9. Fasting – the ultimate diet? (2007, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  10. Fasting: Molecular Mechanisms and Clinical Applications (2014, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov) 
  11. Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence (2006, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  12. How does the liver work? (2009, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  13. Ketogenic Diet  (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  14. Micronutrients in health and disease (2006, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  15. Prolonged fasting-induced metabolic signatures in human skeletal muscle of lean and obese men (2018, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  16. Safety, health improvement and well-being during a 4 to 21-day fasting period in an observational study including 1422 subjects (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  17. Survival time without food and drink (2009, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
  18. The therapeutic implications of ketone bodies: the effects of ketone bodies in pathological conditions: ketosis, ketogenic diet, redox states, insulin resistance, and mitochondrial metabolism (2004, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
Olivia Johnson

Olivia Johnson

Olivia is a passionate writer and a whip-smart proofreader who takes pride in her ability to turn hard-to-digest information into an enjoyable read. She is a book worm, a life of the party, a meditation and fitness enthusiast, and a champion for healthy living all in one. Dissecting dietary fads, debunking long-established weight loss myths and delivering science-backed quality content is her top priority. When working on a piece, Olivia tunes into her own experience of trial-and-error weight loss which helps her cut through the clutter when doing extensive research. Her unbridled enthusiasm spills over into her work and motivates readers to chase after their full potential.

Laura VanTreese

Laura VanTreese

Hi! My name is Laura VanTreese. I am a professional nutritionist as well as personal trainer who has over 8 years of experience in the health and wellness world. I have worked in a variety of different settings as well as with a vast array of clientele. I worked primarily as a nutritionist in a public health setting working mainly with pregnant and postpartum women helping them to maintain a healthy lifestyle while juggling the new demands of motherhood. I've also worked for several years as a personal trainer and have helped numerous clients create a sustainable healthy lifestyle through manageable healthy eating habits and regular exercise routines. My main goal in life is to help others achieve their health and wellness goals and I'm so happy to have this platform to be able to do just that! :)

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