What is the Snake Diet and How Does it Work? 

Medically Reviewed by Dr Babar Shahzad, BSc and MBBS on January 19, 2020.

In the ever-changing world of diets, it’s normal for trends to come and go from the celery juice to the raw food diet. The controversial snake diet was founded by trainer Cole Robinson that follows the same way snakes live. You eat a huge meal and then live off of it for a certain period of time.  

The snake diet focuses on a fasting lifestyle that promotes a specific eating routine. The diet plan has a structured way of eating starting off with a detox period followed by fasting and then – a maintenance phase. In this article, we discuss what exactly the snake diet is, how it works and if it’s safe. 

What is the Snake Diet?

The snake diet has been designed to mimic the way wild animals eat. The idea is that you eat one large meal and then fast for the rest of the day or even several days.
Basically, snakes eat one big high-fat, protein-packed meal a day, and then don’t eat for around 22 hours. The snake diet is meant to follow this.  

During times of fasting, you can’t consume food or any calories.
The only thing you can consume during fasting is snake juice. The snake juice consists of water, sea salt, potassium chloride, baking soda, and sulfate salts. It is intended to replenish your electrolytes. The snake juice recipe was created by Robinson himself.

However, experts suggest that the amount of sodium could make you go beyond your daily recommended intake.

The snake diet encourages proactive eating which refers to intentional eating windows. This diet has quite tight feeding windows of just an hour or two. Robinson claims that the diet can cure type 2 diabetes and inflammation while increasing productivity. However, these claims have not been supported by research which is one of the reasons the diet has been so controversial. 

How Does the Snake Diet Work?

To get you started with the snake diet, you’re meant to fast during the first 48 hours. This means not eating or drinking anything except for snake juice. After the initial two days, you’re meant to follow a low-carb, high-fat diet with lots of non-starchy veggies and moderate amounts of meat and fat. The aim of the diet is to get your body into a metabolic state of ketosis where your body uses fat instead of glucose as its main source of energy. This state of ketosis is often associated with the ketogenic diet. 

After the first meal, the founder recommends another 72-hour snake juice fast  Only this time, you add in a tonic of apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. This time around, he suggests fasting for longer if you feel you’re not losing enough weight. 

The snake diet cycles between fasts and re-feeding windows. Same as any restrictive diet it helps you lose weight. However, keeping the weight off requires more than a diet; it requires healthy lifestyle choices and changes.  

Is the Snake Diet Safe?

The snake diet wasn’t created by a medical professional or nutritionist and doesn’t have any research to support its claims. The diet does have its followers and fans who report massive weight loss.
However, the mixed responses to the diet shouldn’t be taken lightly. Having said that, you can use some principals from the snake diet and apply it in a way that is well-tested and considered safe like intermittent fasting (IF). 

Proponents of the fasting diet can be used in a way that promotes weight loss and overall wellbeing. The most popular types of intermittent fasting are 16:8, 5:2 and alternate-day fasting.  Short-term fasting has been shown to increase the metabolic rate by 3.6-14%, helping you to burn even more calories.  

Several studies have also found that intermittent fasting could improve the body’s resistance to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is an imbalance in the body between free radicals and antioxidants. Over time, this damage can result in diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.  

Intermittent fasting has been shown to both support weight loss and improves your gut health. IF could encourage gut health by reducing gut permeability and increasing the diversity of bacteria within the gut.
One animal study found that after just four weeks of intermittent fasting, mice showed a significant increase in bacterial diversity in the gut.

Find out more about gut health and intermittent fasting.

FAQ: How to start a snake diet?

If you’re interested in starting the snake diet, be aware that the claims are unsubstantiated and the diet hasn’t been created by a medical professional or nutritionist. The snake diet starts with a 48-hour fast followed by a low-carb, high-fat meal. A 72-hour fast then continues.
During fasting times, you only drink snake juice which is a mixture of water, sea salt, potassium chloride, baking soda, and sulfate salts. The snake diet has faced mixed reviews with criticism from experts for being drastic and making false claims.  

Bottom Line

Diet trends will always come and go but it’s important to understand how each diet could help or harm you. When trying out new diets, always go in with your eyes open.
Following a drastic diet, like the snake one, may help you lose weight initially however due to its restrictions, it’s not a long-term solution. A type of fasting focused lifestyle, such as intermittent fasting, can be carried out successfully and healthily when done right under the correct guidance.