There are many strange diet fads these days, but they each have an element of intuitiveness about them. The Snake Diet (sometimes called the Snakebite Diet) is no different and is one to consider for those wanting a quick-fix for weight loss.
It’s a diet based around fasting, with drastic and rapid results.
The Snake Diet is focused on rapid weight loss. You fast, only eating when you can’t stand another hour fast. After your one, you return to the fast. You also consume “Snake Juice” while fasting.
We aim to delve into the diet and figure out if it’s safe or even as effective as it claims to be.
What Is the Snake Diet?
The Snake Diet is apparently not a restrictive fad-diet, but prolonged fasting as a lifestyle change. A lifestyle emulating the diet of a snake.
It was founded with famine in mind. Humans have survived long periods of famine, so the argument is that the body can survive on just a few meals a week.
This isn’t untrue—humans have survived famine, but millions died.
Is a fasting diet safe and sustainable in the long-term? Its founder, Cole Robinson, seems to think so—although he has no qualifications to back this up. He’s a self-proclaimed “fasting coach” but has no background in nutrition, biology, or medicine.
His diet contains fasts of up to 48 hours, where all you consume is “Snake Juice.” This is a model similar to a water fast but in shorter increments.
You break the fast with a large, calorie-dense meal every two days, or even every three—it depends how long you can stand fasting.
Robinson claims that it works well for weight loss and can be sustained even once you hit your goal weight.
But alas, his claims have no scientific evidence to back them, nor have they been studied in peer-reviewed trials or anything of the sort.
What Is Snake Juice?
“Snake Juice” is nothing more than a highly unpleasant name for what most would call electrolyte water. Water, with additives that keep your electrolytes up while fasting.
Electrolytes in your diet keep your body functioning correctly. If the levels are too low or too high, you won’t function optimally.
You usually consume electrolytes through various foods and fluids, but you can’t do this while fasting. Instead, you need the “Snake Juice” to supplement what you’re missing.
How to Make Snake Juice
Snake Juice is easy to make, with only three ingredients:
- Sea salt.
- Potassium chloride.
However, that will only give you two of the electrolytes your body needs. You’re missing calcium, magnesium, and phosphate.
You mix small amounts of the salt and potassium chloride into your regular drinking water and consume it in large quantities to keep your stomach full.
Here are Robinson’s recommended Snake Juice recipe per two liters of water:
- 2 grams (half teaspoon) of Himalayan pink salt.
- 5 grams (teaspoon) of saltless potassium chloride.
- 2 grams of consumable Epsom salt.
You can also buy the mix on his website but are limited to three packets of it a day. He places no limitations on the homemade version.
He also doesn’t place limitations on using electrolyte tablets instead, which should do the same, if not a better job. They’re available in many health stores as capsules or dissolvable tablets with flavoring, but Robinson would most likely frown upon them.
How to Make Snake Juice Taste Better
There’s a reason you don’t drink salt water—besides not being all that healthy; the taste is abysmal.
By adding a tablespoon of freshly-squeezed fruit juice, you improve the taste vastly. Lemon juice is easiest, but lime and orange juice also work sufficiently.
Following the Snake Diet
Now you understand the basics of the diet, let’s delve into how to follow it. It’s more complex than a water fast with breaks or extreme intermittent fasting.
Some of that complexity comes from the constant revision of the guidelines. There are several rules set on his website, but he constantly changes them when discussing the diet on his YouTube channel.
All we can do is attempt to follow them as best as we can.
One thing we know about the diet is that Robinson states diet-newcomers require only 3,500 calories in a week.
For some people, they need more than that in a day. Tall, largely muscled men with highly active lifestyles require 4,000 calories daily or more. Where overweight people of any sex with a moderately active lifestyle need over 3,000.
So clearly, the calorie intake is well below what some people need—by about 86 percent.
For people needing about 2,000 calories a day, it’s almost as drastic. Furthermore, the USDA states that women should be consuming 1,600–2,400 calories per day, with 2,000–3,000 needed for men.
That’s 11,200–16,800 or 14,000–21,000 weekly calories, meaning people following the Snake Diet are in for monumental calorie deprivation.
Once you hit your weight loss goals, Robinson still recommends a severely restricted calorie intake. He states that active women need five meals a week, totaling 8,500 calories. Active men require a decent 20,000 calories but in only three eating days.
When partaking in the Snake Diet, Robinson recommends you rack your ketones using urine strips.
You may have heard of the keto diet, centered around ketosis—it’s also common in many low-carb diets, so it’s definitely not unique here.
Ketosis is a natural, safe state your body enters when you’re not consuming enough carbs to use for energy. Instead, your body starts burning fat.
You also enter ketosis when your body is in starvation mode.
It’s not really clear what the point of measuring your ketones is when following the diet. You’re fasting, so you’ll definitely be in ketosis—and your meals have to be low-carb, so even when you break your fast, you’ll maintain the state.
The safest part of this diet may be the gradual progression into longer periods of fasting. That doesn’t make the fasts themselves save, but it’s better than diving into 96-hour fasts right off the bat.
There are three phases to go through.
The first phase is where everyone starts. The intent is to get you into ketosis, which you’ll maintain for the duration of the diet, or new lifestyle.
You fast for two days, and consume Snake Juice to keep you full and your electrolytes in check. Although, you also consume apple cider vinegar in unspecified amounts.
Once the 48 hours are up, you have a 1–2-hour eating window. For this, there are no guidelines on what you can and can’t eat. Since you’re supposed to maintain ketosis, you’d assume it has to be low-carb, though.
Then, you do a 72-hour fast and have the same feeding window at the end. Once these two fasts and feeds are up, in Robinson’s mind, your liver is detoxified.
But he never specified what toxins were supposed to have been eliminated.
On top of that, there’s little evidence to support the claim that detoxing through diets actually works.
Phase two is the main “diet” phase. You send your body into starvation mode, fasting from 48–96 hours—basically, as long as you can stand.
Then you consume a single, large meal to meet your weekly calorie requirements.
You consume Snake Juice on fasting days and keep up with phase two until you hit your weight goal. It’s pretty much the Snake Juice diet, with occasional eating.
When you hit your desired weight, you slip into the third phase of the diet: the part where it becomes a lifestyle. You usually do a 48 hour fast, eat, and another 24–48 hour fast.
You maintain your weight by fasting for a day or two, have one meal, and go back to fasting. However, here’s the tricky part: you have to listen to your body and eat when hungry.
But, when fasting, you ignore your hunger, making this confusing.
Also, when fasting, your body may alter the hormones that make you feel hungry and full (leptin and ghrelin). This can make it difficult to follow your body’s commands.
In short, you have a difficult diet based on fasting that, with the continued caloric restrictions for women and some men, can keep you losing weight long after you want to.
Does the Snake Diet Help With Weight Loss?
The Snake Diet will help with weight loss, but it’s not because it’s so extreme. If you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight.
At rest, people can burn even 2,000 calories per day. You can find out how much you burn at rest here.
On many days with the Snake Diet, you consume no calories.
One pound of fat is 3,500 calories—so you lose over a pound every two days.
Not only that, but during the diet, you’re not just restricting calories. You’re cutting your body off from sufficient fuel completely. This results in your body burning fat for energy, but it also means your body isn’t replenished for all the hard work it’s doing.
Healthy, safe weight loss is where you’re losing no more than a pound per week through mild calorie restriction and increased exercise. You can still eat regularly and healthily when losing weight normally, just 500-ish calories less per day.
So the Snake Diet does the opposite of what most do and discourages healthy eating. It also does nothing to promote ridding yourself of bad eating habits—it merely removes eating from the equation most days, creating an unsustainable state of constant weight loss.
And, if that wasn’t bad enough, you’re depriving your body of many essential nutrients that the Snake Juice simply can’t cover. You get no vitamins, fat, or protein—and those aren’t naturally produced, either.
A diet lacking the correct nutrients puts you at a higher risk for disease. Food is more than just fuel; it’s what keeps you healthy as well as keeps you running.
So, yes, the Snake Diet can help you lose weight, and fast. But the weight loss will continue far beyond the diet’s end, and if you don’t do phase three, then the weight loss will likely be unsustainable.
Phase three is unhealthy, so you’re losing weight at a great cost to your health.
The Benefits of the Snake Diet
Robinson seems to think the Snake Diet is marvelous and is a cure-all for type 2 diabetes—which makes sense in theory, as the disease is commonly associated with being overweight.
But he also claims it cures inflammation, which again may be possible—some foods can cause inflammation.
Lastly, he states that it cures herpes, which is a baseless statement. His other two statements are also baseless, but upon further research, they may have some truth to them.
Losing weight can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, weight loss or stopping the consumption of certain elements will not cure it entirely in most cases.
The latter study shows incredibly beneficial results:
- Boosted mood.
- Improved blood sugar regulation.
- Reduced blood pressure.
And those fasts lasted 4–21 days.
However, the participants were always supervised by medical professionals and consumed 250 calories daily.
So it’s possible that there are some benefits of the Snake Diet, but you should recall it’s much more restrictive than anything that’s been studied. And during it, you can’t meet the needs of your body.
The result is that it’s unclear whether the benefits of intermittent fasting or prolonged fasting can apply to the Snake Diet, which more closely resembles starvation than intermittent fasting.
Snake Diet Side Effects
The side effects of malnutrition are:
- Loss of muscle mass.
- Longer healing time from injury.
- Increased risk of illness.
- Feeling cold.
- Risk of surgical complications.
The side effects of starvation are:
- Feeling faint/dizzy/weak.
- Low blood pressure.
- Slow heart rate.
- Abdominal pain.
- Thyroid malfunction.
- Heart attack/heart conditions.
- Organ failure.
It’s unlikely you’ll enter into true starvation mode thanks to your one to three meals a week. But, if you follow the extensively restrictive calorie intake for too long, it may happen.
Snake Diet Pros and Cons
- Rapid weight loss.
- Possible reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, and inflammation.
It’s possible to stick to a new lifestyle, even if there’s some difficulty. It’s sustainable because you’ll never be hungry or without options.
With the Snake Diet, you’re always without options. It’s prolonged abstinence from food, and your body cannot survive in such a state.
So not only is it mentally unsustainable, it’s physically unsustainable.
Creates Unhealthy Connection to Food
The Snake Diet seems like an introduction to a severe eating disorder.
Robinson states you should fast “until you feel like death.” This may lead to people pushing themselves farther each time, thinking they don’t feel close enough to death yet.
It also convinces people they have to feel abysmal to lose weight and get the body they desire.
They may feel like a failure if they don’t fast for long enough, leading to an aversion to food.
Many people with anorexia find food consumption so taxing they cry and cough throughout their meals as if being tortured. For those more affected by Robinson’s negative language, this is how they could end up.
The Snake Diet promotes a problematic relationship with food, hunger, and body image, which can lead to worse problems than the excess weight you wish to lose.
There is no research on the Snake Diet and its long-term effects. But, there’s plenty of research on malnutrition.
Your body needs macro and micronutrients to survive, and while Robinson says his devious concoction of “Snake Juice” will fulfill your micronutrient requirements, it’s not true.
One packet of his Snake Juice powder contains 27–29 percent of your daily requirements for potassium and sodium. Three of those packets don’t reach 100 percent.
Without his powder, you may be getting even less of what you need.
Furthermore, your body requires much more than potassium and sodium. It needs vitamins and minerals, and other electrolytes. Going without these via long-term fasting can cause nutritional deficiencies and electrolyte imbalances, causing health issues.
The Bottom Line
The Snake Diet is a rapid weight loss diet where you fast for days at a time, supplemented with electrolyte water called “Snake Juice.”
It’s a diet that’s supposed to become a lifestyle, with a 48 hour fast followed by a meal.
However, this is a dangerous diet and lifestyle to partake in, no matter how effective it is. You’re at high risk of a number of uncomfortable side effects, and if you choose this as a lifestyle, your weight loss journey won’t stop.
As a result, you may end up sick or underweight. But if you choose to go back to your regular lifestyle afterward, you may gain the weight back.