The Risks You're Taking When You Start The Snake Diet

If you'd like to shed a few pounds quickly, perhaps you're considering the Snake Diet. No, you won't be feasting on cobra in the name of calorie cutting, but plenty of experts think this approach is poisonous for another reason. The Snake Diet is named after a snake's eating habits: Our reptile friends subsist on single meals of animal prey several times a week, and fast the rest of the time (per Healthline). Going for such frequent and prolonged periods with no food at all is dangerous, according to dietitians and medical experts. "[Y]ou do not need to starve yourself to this extreme to prevent a calorie surplus. Doing so deprives your body of vital nutrients that influence your health, including the health of your immune system," Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, pointed out in Health.

Meanwhile, the Snake Diet's outspoken inventor, self-proclaimed "fasting coach" Cole Robinson (who does not have medical or nutrition credentials) has inspired boos and hisses because of the rather venomous language he uses when referring to people who are overweight. "If you're f****** fat, you don't need to eat!" Robinson shouted into the camera when he was invited on the TV show, The Doctors, to discuss his program. "He starts most videos by shouting, 'Hey, fatty!' It sounds like the diet advice is coming from a grade-school bully," pointed out Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN, in SHAPE.

Snake Diet 'juice' is dangerously high in sodium

Another concern about the Snake Diet is the "snake juice" Robinson recommends dieters drink to avoid electrolyte loss while they are fasting — the concoction, which he sells on Amazon for about $40, entails consuming about a twice the daily recommended amount of sodium each day, which can be especially dangerous if you have high blood pressure, and also can lead to kidney damage (via Prevention). "Call me old-fashioned, but losing weight at the expense of your heart and other organ systems just doesn't sound worth it," Cording remarked.

Above all else, Cording added, you should be skeptical of any health claims proposed by the Snake Diet. "[H]is advice is not based on science," she said. Cording was particularly rattled by Robinson's claim on The Doctors episode that the Snake Diet "melted" a woman's cancer away — a comment which show host Andrew Paul Ordon, M.D., was quick to rebuff. "No, you didn't melt that tumor down," he said on the show. "That would defy science."