Snake obesity isn’t really a problem. If you’ve ever noticed that all of the slithery creatures are pretty thin, you might’ve thought about whether eating like a snake might help you slim down too.
…Oh, you haven’t thought about this? Well, don’t worry. Canadian personal trainer and medical non-expert Cole Robinson has. And he wants you to give eating like a snake a try. The Snake Diet promises not only to help you lose weight, but also cure everything from diabetes to herpes.
Robinson also claims the Snake Diet will “challenge everything you thought you knew about food and the limits of the human body.” That might very well be true. The Snake Diet is a fasting diet that encourages humans to adopt the natural eating tendencies of snakes. That means you gorge on one large meal a day consisting mostly of fat and protein. Then you don’t eat again for at least 22 hours.
That doesn't sound too bad. How do I get started?
Well, before you even get started, you need to do a special 48-hour fast where the only thing you consume is something called Snake Juice. This is Robinson’s DIY concoction of 1 litre of water, 2 teaspoons of pink salt, and 2 teaspoons of NoSalt, a salt replacement product. (Whether snakes drink this in the wild has yet to be documented.) Sipping this salty liquid will probably make you want to vomit, but according to Robinson, it’s essential for clearing out toxins, crushing sugar addictions, and transforming your body into a fat-burning machine so you start losing weight ASAP.
Just how much weight are we talking? Well, anything’s possible when you essentially starve yourself. But if you’re looking for hard numbers, one devotee quoted on the Snake Diet website said she lost 5kg in 4 days. (And was also cured of her diabetes in the same timeframe, natch.)
Is the Snake Diet safe?
You might instinctively sense that eating like a snake for any extended period of time might not be sustainable, let alone good for you. But just in case that wasn’t quite obvious, we’re going to spell it out. The Snake Diet is a truly terrible idea. “It’s not built on solid science, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone,” says Eliza Savage, a New York City-based registered dietitian with Middleberg Nutrition.
Fasting for 22 hours a day will likely leave you feeling pretty crappy and low energy. Of course, you’ll probably lose some weight, since you’re taking in considerably fewer calories than what your body is used to, points out Alissa Rumsey, New York City-based registered dietitian and founder of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness. But when you eventually cave and go back to eating like a human, any pounds that did come off will pile right back on. By eating so little, “your body will respond with cravings and eventually, you’ll overeat,” Rumsey says.
Not only that, the whole thing is pretty dangerous. A day’s worth of Snake Juice contains a whopping 4,000 mg sodium—nearly double the amount you should be consuming in a day. That could exacerbate health problems like high blood pressure or pre-existing kidney issues, explains St. Louis-based registered dietitian Sarah Pflugradt. And even if you’re in great shape, you’ll almost certainly feel really, really thirsty. (During the Snake Juice detox period, the only other thing you can have is an additional 1 litre plain water per day.)
Bottom line: Do not try the Snake Diet.
As you move into the fasting phase, drastically slashing your calories will probably set you up for nutritional deficiencies. You’ll also probably end up constipated, since the calories you do get will be coming almost exclusively from fat and protein, Pflugradt adds.
That’s not to say the Snake Diet isn’t backed by good intentions. Intermittent fasting, where you go around 12 to 18 hours in between meals, has been shown to be successful for weight loss. “I like to recommend a shortened eating window that mimics the natural fast that occurs while we’re sleeping,” Savage says. “Try eating only between 8:00 A.M. and 8:00 P.M. This shuts down the kitchen early and prevents excessive snacking which can lead to weight gain.”
This article originally appeared on Prevention US.