Snake Diet: Initial Thoughts
I was whining about my weight in some other thread, which led to James (wetwaterdrop) linking me to the Snake Diet.
The Snake Diet is a form of intermittent fasting (e.g. 24-hour, 48-hour or 72-hour fasts, and probably longer for some mad people). The only item you are allowed to consume during a fast is “Snake Juice”, which is water with electrolytes dissolved in it. The diet’s originator, Cole, has his current recipe on the link above, but I use his old recipe since it was easier to find the ingredients:
- 2 litres mineral water
- 1 teaspoon sodium chloride
- 1 teaspoon potassium chloride
I found a table salt called Saxa So-Low which happened to be that exact ratio of sodium chloride and potassium chloride, so I just add two teaspoons of it to a two-litre bottle of mineral water, give it a shake, and it’s ready. The juice tastes salty so it tricks my mind into thinking I’ve consumed something substantial. I actually quite like it. The purpose of Snake Juice is to provide the electrolytes ordinarily found in food in order that you do not experience muscle cramps while fasting. I can confirm it has been effective for that so far.
Premises of the Diet
The premises of the diet, which I have scraped together from the link above and Cole’s highly irritating YouTube videos, are as follows:
- Humans are the only animals who eat three meals every day, and who have a “varied diet”.
- Other animals eat when they find food and are fasting the rest of the time.
- Other animals don’t eat a “varied diet”; they eat the same thing every day, forever.
- Ergo, fasting and a restricted diet are actually the natural order of things.
- Humans are the only animals who eat artificial foods they have created, e.g. refined flour and sugar, which are essentially poisons.
- Coffee, alcohol, painkillers and other substances are also poisons which ruin your digestion.
- As a result of a lifetime of overeating, you are a walking buffet of food which is stored all over your body as fat.
- Hunger is the period during which fat is burned for energy.
In other words, eat less, eat the same boring things you know won’t make you ill, and embrace fasting as an active process for losing weight. When you are at the weight you want to be, only eat once per day (therefore effectively doing 24-hour fasts in perpetuity).
I also found a fascinating clip from Joe Rogan’s channel with Dr. Rhonda Patrick where she explained how fasting has been shown to kill cancer cells and reset autoimmune diseases such as type 2 diabetes. The clip has since been taken down for copyright infringement, but look for any of her videos with Joe Rogan on YouTube as they have tons of information about diet and fasting.
Is the Snake Diet Safe?
If you ask Google the above question, you will be inundated with results from mainstream doctors and dietitians condemning the Snake Diet as unsafe. I will remind you however that these are the same people who, for the last 50 years, have been telling us to eat three carb-laden meals a day, the result of which appears to be diabetes and mental illness. In other words, I’m not too attached to their opinions.
Is the Snake Diet safe? I have no idea. But it feels great for me so far, and the scientific evidence for the benefits of fasting seems to be mounting despite not yet having entered mainstream awareness.
The first week, I did two 48-hour fasts back to back (so, just one meal in four days). I can honestly say it was a piece of piss. (That’s British for “very easy”.) If you’re scared of fasting, don’t be; it feels very natural when you actually do it. I lost 4kg (~9lbs) in the first 9 days. That period consisted of three 48-hour fasts, with the rest of the days being 24-hour fasts. I am tracking all my data in an Excel spreadsheet, which has the fields “Date”, “Weight” and “Meal”. I log everything I consume in the Meal column. Obviously many of the cells in that column are blank.
I took a four-day holiday to Berlin during the logging period, where I just filled in the cells with “Holiday”. I was surprised to find I had not put on any weight on my return, despite eating and drinking whatever I wanted. However, I only ate fewer than two meals per day on average while on holiday, probably as a result of my stomach having shrunk from the fasting in the days prior.
I feel good on my fasting days, and the weight loss is rapid enough to make me look forward to getting on the scales. The only downside I have had so far is that I felt a little lightheaded towards the end of the first couple of 48-hour fasts. Eating cleared this up within half an hour, though.
One of the most noticeable things about fasting is how good food tastes when you finally come to have your meal. Pleasure is amplified by roughly five times. It also seems that, no matter how big that meal is, ketosis triggers again soon after and weight continues to be lost. The main sign I am in ketosis is that I pass more water. This is because it takes a lot of water molecules to store fat molecules.
Interestingly, since I didn’t drink coffee during the first four days of this diet, my caffeine addiction disappeared completely. When I did treat myself to a coffee on day five, it blew my brain up. The crash was pure hell. Caffeine is basically a hard drug – everyone’s just addicted to it, so they are in denial about how powerful it is. I confess I did start drinking a coffee on some days after that because I am an addict and I love the rush. This led to an interesting result, however: In the past, I would have one bad dream per night. This had been going on for years and I no longer cared about it. On fasting days however, this nighttime disturbance vanished completely. Reintroducing coffee – even one cup in the morning – caused the bad dream to reappear that night like clockwork. The causality is so blatant that I am sure caffeine is the culprit. This discovery means I will probably give up caffeine completely, soon.
On the whole, fasting improved my sleep quality. I also found that I actually woke up in the morning, meaning my brain was turned on and ready to go, which is uncommon for me (I usually have to do meditation to trigger this). This occurred automatically at 7:30am each day without my setting an alarm, so that seems to be my “natural time”.
Regarding meditation, I found that fasting is neither of benefit nor hindrance. I cannot say how a beginner would be affected, though. The literature suggests that the mind should actually become slightly sharper during fasting as a result of increased neurotransmitter release.
Dealing with Hunger and Food Cravings
I think people are probably most scared of feeling hungry all the time and not being able to eat what they want during fasting. In addition to drinking unlimited Snake Juice to quell cravings, I created two approaches which dealt with hunger very effectively.
The first involves choosing to see hunger as its own active process. People normally think only in terms of “eating” and “absence of eating”. So, a weekly calendar might look like this, where ‘X’s indicate eating days:
The days with the X would be seen as “eating” and therefore “good”. The blank days would be “absence of eating” and therefore “bad” (or “difficult” or “horrible” depending on your outlook).
Instead, in my mind, I made it look something like this:
(That is supposed to show squares for non-eating days and triangles for eating days.)
In this model, both types of day are valid. There is no “blank” day: they are both active processes. Eating is an active process. Fasting is an active process during which ketosis actively burns fat. This is to move off of “absence/need”-based thinking.
I got this idea from a similar experiment I did a few weeks ago, which was to start thinking of nighttime – “dark” – as an actual thing, as opposed to being an “absence of light”. So, I lay in bed with the lights off and focused on the black of the darkness in front of me. This brought about a relaxation response very quickly, followed by a better sleep than usual soon after. Applying the same kind of thinking to fasting seemed natural.
The second approach I took towards handling hunger was as follows. When I felt hunger, I would scan my body and find exactly where the sensations of hunger were (which was in the stomach area, unsurprisingly). I noticed that the sensations were quite “hot”, if I really got into them. I then began to visualize those sensations as a fire literally burning away fat. This made me no longer mind the sensations, and I actually came to see them as a good thing.
So, these two approaches, together with drinking the Snake Juice, have made dealing with hunger very easy. If you want to try fasting, I suggest you give them a go.
I have continued to track my results and will write an update post in a month or so.