The Snake Diet Analyzed

What Is The Snake Diet?

The Snake Diet is either one of the stupidest, most dangerous weight loss programs out there, or it’s a wondrous piece of satire that manages to skewer the entire fat loss industry brilliantly.

If you just go by The Snake Diet website, then it just seems like your run of the mill BS fat loss diet. A lot of useless jargon, the word “toxin” thrown about randomly, and a large amount of ridiculously unlikely testimonials.

But, because we are diligent (read nerdy) researchers, we dived into the Snake Diet YouTube page and it threw us. The videos are all presented by the inventor whose name is Cole Robinson.

Source: The Snake Diet Official Youtube channel.

If The Snake Diet is serious, then Cole is completely certifiable. But – and this is what is driving us crazy – if this is satire. It is absolutely fantastic; the performance is amazing.

Our belief that the diet could be satire is not completely without evidence. In 2017, an article was published in The Weekly Alternative Truth titled “Snake Diet Worries”. Check out this quote from the satirical website:

“It involves eating a whole Cow, preferably in one sitting. With the aim of not eating again for two months. While unique in its approach to dieting, the key weight loss measure of not eating for two months is causing some worries in the health industry. Main criticism is from the Snack Often Society whose profit margins are taking a massive hit from people ‘falling for this snake thing” [1]

Could Cole Robinson be playing us all for fools? It is entirely possible. In this climate of Fake News, The Snake diet could be the first time that the fitness world has been hit by such an epic prank.

But the problem for us is that 1) We have a sneaking suspicion that The Snake Diet might be real, and 2) Even if it is fake there have been enough online articles about it that it’s going to be a real diet for some people.

So, for the rest of this article we are going to treat The Snake Diet like it is a legitimate fat loss program that is being sold to people.

How Does This Diet Work?

The idea behind the snake diet is to only eat one large meal per day and then to fast for the remaining hours of a 24-hour day. Before starting The Snake Diet, you are encouraged to fast for 48 hours first, only consuming “snake juice”. This is a drink made from water, salt, potassium chloride, baking soda, and Epsom salts.

If you understand the nature of these ingredients, then you can probably already see what is going to happen. You are going to lose a vast amount of water weight, which will also make you look leaner.

The Calorie-Requirements Of The Snake Diet

When eating, Cole claims that you should be consuming no more than 50% of your recommended calorie intake. This would be 500 calories for a sedentary woman, or 750 calories for an active woman. 1,000 calories for a sedentary man, or 1,500 for an active man.

The foods you eat should be very high in protein, very low in fat, and should contain zero carbohydrates. Cole states that keeping the carbohydrates at zero would keep you in ketosis, even with fat at very low levels.

The idea is that you follow The Snake Diet religiously until you are shredded. If you have a bad day then you need to follow a 48 hour fast to get you back on track. Cole wants you to restructure your life so that you only ever have one meal per day, and that meal is high in protein, low in fat, and contains zero carbohydrates.

The Pros

Below we’ve listed the positive aspects of the Snake Diet:

It Limits Your Daily Caloric Intake

Any weight loss diet that wants to be successful, needs to focus on creating a calorie deficit. You’d think that this would be an obvious point that required no explanation, but there are a surprising amount of insane weight loss programs out there that do not involve a calorie deficit.

This means that the snake diet works. Sure, as we mentioned earlier, The Snake Diet will probably only work short-term and may cause more harm than good. But it does work.

The Diet Is No-Nonsense

Say what you like about Cole, but his presenting skills are fairly unique. While he does spout a lot of pseudoscientific nonsense. There is something quite refreshing in his no-nonsense approach.

Maybe we’ve been over-exposed to the sort of wishy-washy empowerment talk. When Cole says stuff like “You’re fat because you’re eating too much” and points out that a severely obese person could survive a day or two of fasting, we have to agree; tell it like it is.

It’s High In Protein

A lot of very low-calorie diets tend to be quite low in protein too. But this can cause a lot of issues. If you are in a calorie deficit and you aren’t getting adequate protein you will begin to lose muscle mass. But with a high protein diet, you can prevent this muscle loss. Or if not prevent, at least keep it to a minimum.

Intermittent Fasting does work

At its core, the snake diet is just intermittent fasting. Yes, Cole tries to emphasize how different the two are, but they aren’t. To some degree we all follow intermittent fasting.

While at work you may go five or six hours without eating, then there are the eight hours while you sleep. If you woke up late for a meeting and ran to work where you stayed locked in a room for five hours you would have fasted for 13 hours.

Diets such as the 5:2 have been around for a long time, and while they are not perfect for everyone, they certainly work and can get you good results.

Studies have shown no ill effects from this type of eating pattern, and have actually seen benefits. Lowered inflammation, reduced risk of heart disease, and yes, even some fat loss.

This tells us that somewhere buried in this strange diet plan, there is something that could actually work. A 30-day period where you ate just once per day, and made sure that what you ate was within a (reasonable) calorie deficit? That could actually work.

The Cons

Below we’ve listed the negative aspects of the program:

It Heavily Restricts Your Food Intake

The main problem with the Snake diet is that it is too extreme. We know that a certain type of person believes that extreme means amazing, but when it comes to diets, extreme is a very bad word.

A very low-calorie diet is defined by the NHS as any “diet plan that involves eating about 800 calories or fewer” [2]. They are a last resort practice, usually for obese people who need to lose weight for surgery and require medical supervision. They are not seen as a long-term weight loss strategy, and often, people who undergo them have gained the weight back again within a year.

The Diet Plan May Cause Negative Side Effects

As this is basically a VLCD, following it for a prolonged period of time can lead to several side effects, such as fatigue, headaches, dehydration, cramps, and thinning hair.

These side effects are simply caused by a lack of calories and vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients.

The Diet May Actually Slow Down Your Metabolism

If you go on one of these eating programs and lose around 10% or more of your body weight (which will happen if you follow it for long enough) you can expect to see a 20-25% drop in your daily energy expenditure (calories burned per day) [3].

A reduced energy expenditure means that to continue losing weight you would need to reduce your calories even more (or increase the amount of calories you burn through exercise). It is for this reason that 80% of people who successfully lose weight will regain it again in the future.

How does the snake diet approach this? It doesn’t. There is no long-term strategy here.

There’s A Chance Your General Health Could Suffer Due To Lack Of Nutrients

The second big issue with the snake diet is malnutrition. You will basically be eating beef, broccoli, eggs, bacon, and nuts, which is not varied at all; many important vitamins, minerals and nutrients may be missed out on.

As we previously mentioned, it’s not exactly healthy to live this way. If you do plan on following the program we recommend supplementing at least one daily multivitamin that includes all your RDAs.

Should You Use This Diet For The Purposes Of Weight Loss?

The snake diet is basically intermittent fasting using a massive calorie deficit. The whole snake thing is just a marketing ploy.

But we’re not saying that it doesn’t work, but it’s a very unorthodox and almost silly-in-nature approach – but none of us can sit here and say that it won’t lead to weight loss, because it absolutely will.

If you know anything about weight loss then you will know that it all comes down to calories in versus calories out. If you are following an eating plan where the number of calories you consume is less than the calories you burn (through exercise, metabolism etc) you will lose weight – this is because your body uses stored body fat to meet your calorie needs.

The deficit does not need to be huge, even a deficit as small as 50 calories per day would lead to long-term weight loss. As you can imagine, the bigger the deficit, the more fat loss can occur (or the quicker it occurs).

The Snake Diet calls for a 500 to 750 calorie deficit for women, and a 1,000 to 1,500 calorie deficit for men! This is absolutely huge – essentially making it a VLCD.

If you stay on a weight loss eating plan where the number of calories you consume is half of what you need to function then you will lose weight. Because you are basically starving. This is intermittent fasting taken to 11 (if you’ll forgive the Spinal Tap reference).

Any eating program like this will lead to serious fat loss in a relatively short time frame. This can come with a lot of benefits. A reduced risk of Type II diabetes, a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, strokes, certain cancers, and many other diseases and ailments that affect the overweight and obese.

Conclusion

At first glance we were undecided as to whether the Snake Diet was a form of satire or not. Now that we are at the end, we worry that it is not.

Cole definitely seems to believe what he is preaching when it comes to the methodology of The Snake Diet, which we think it a little problematic. He uses just enough science to sound like he knows what he is talking about, and his entire business revolves around the belief that nobody is going to look too closely.

When it comes to stuff like this you have to ask yourself. Why is it that the semi-successful personal trainer with no background in nutrition found this amazing eating program that cures cancer? Why was it not the dietitians, nutrition scientists, or doctors?

Intermittent fasting will work, but it doesn’t work for many people, and it is not the best way to reach your goal. The sad fact is that creating a small calorie deficit over a long period of time is the best way to lose weight safely and effectively.

Matthew Smith, BSc
Matthew Smith, BSc
Staff Writer at DietProbe
Matthew Smith is a qualified sports scientist and registered exercise professional. He's a fitness and nutrition enthusiast and has a background in coaching and personal training.
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