The master cleanse, also known as the lemonade diet or maple syrup diet, is a liquid-only fast that involves drinking 6-12 glasses per day of a lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water mixture for a period of 10 or more days. It was designed as a detoxification and weight loss program.
Many new moms want to know if it is safe to do the master cleanse while breastfeeding. Breastfeeding places higher nutritional demands on the mother, so undertaking a juice fast requires some caution. In this article, we’ll take a look at the potential risks and benefits to help you decide if the master cleanse is right for you during the postpartum period.
Benefits of the Master Cleanse for Breastfeeding Moms
Here are some of the proposed benefits of doing the master cleanse while breastfeeding:
- May promote postpartum weight loss. Many women struggle to lose the baby weight after giving birth. The extremely low calorie intake (around 600 calories per day) can lead to rapid weight loss.
- May help detoxify the body after pregnancy and birth. Eliminating solid foods for a period of time may allow the digestive system to rest.
- May increase milk supply. Anecdotal reports from breastfeeding moms suggest that master cleanse lemonade may boost milk production.
- May improve energy levels. Some master cleanse devotees report feeling more energized after completing the program.
However, these benefits are theoretical. There is no scientific evidence that the master cleanse provides these benefits for breastfeeding mothers.
Potential Risks of the Master Cleanse While Breastfeeding
While the master cleanse may have some benefits, experts agree that it also carries risks that breastfeeding mothers should consider:
- Nutritional deficits. The lemonade mixture lacks protein, essential fatty acids, and many other vitamins and minerals. This puts moms at risk of deficiencies.
- Dehydration. The high lemon juice content acts as a diuretic, increasing water loss. Dehydration can decrease milk supply.
- Toxin release. Rapid weight loss and fasting releases environmental toxins stored in fat cells into breast milk.
- Blood sugar crashes. With no solid food and limited calories and nutrients, blood sugar levels may drop dangerously low.
- Digestive issues. The lack of fiber can lead to constipation. Consuming only liquids may also disrupt healthy gut bacteria.
- Milk supply reduction. Extreme calorie restriction and dehydration may decrease breast milk production.
These risks are significant and can negatively impact both the breastfeeding mother and baby. So should you avoid the master cleanse entirely while breastfeeding? Not necessarily. With some precautions, a short 3-5 day master cleanse may be possible for some women. Let’s discuss how to minimize the risks.
Safety Tips for the Master Cleanse While Breastfeeding
If you decide to attempt the master cleanse while breastfeeding, here are some tips to reduce the risks:
- Consult your doctor, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.
- Limit the cleanse to 3-5 days at first to see how your body responds.
- Drink plenty of plain water in addition to the lemonade mixture.
- Take a daily multivitamin to help meet nutritional needs.
- Eat 1-2 high protein, nutritious meals per day in addition to the lemonade.
- Stop immediately if you experience low energy, milk supply drop, dizziness, or other warning signs.
- Slowly reintroduce solid foods after finishing the cleanse.
By keeping the cleanse short, staying hydrated, and continuing to eat some real food, you can reduce the health risks while still potentially benefiting from a brief detox. However, longer 10+ day master cleanse fasts are not considered safe while breastfeeding.
Foods to Eat While on the Master Cleanse
To provide additional calories, nutrients, and protein, here are some foods that are considered safe to eat while doing a modified master cleanse:
- Smoothies made with protein powder, nut butter, fruits, veggies, and healthy fats
- Vegetable soups or broth-based soups
- Leafy green salads topped with avocado, nuts or seeds
- Eggs or egg whites
- Fish or seafood
- Beans and lentils
- Nutritious bars or shakes (e.g. RxBar, Ensure)
Choose whole, minimally processed foods whenever possible. Try to limit sugary fruits and snacks during the cleanse period.
Sample Meal Plan
Here is a sample 1-day meal plan for a modified master cleanse while breastfeeding:
|8 am||Master cleanse lemonade (1 glass)|
|10 am||Smoothie with protein powder, spinach, banana, nut butter|
|12 pm||Master cleanse lemonade (1 glass)|
|2 pm||Salmon salad with leafy greens, tomato, avocado|
|4 pm||Master cleanse lemonade (1 glass)|
|6 pm||Bean and veggie soup|
|8 pm||Master cleanse lemonade (1 glass)|
Drink additional water as needed throughout the day. You can modify this plan by adding additional protein shakes or snacks if needed.
Transitioning Off the Master Cleanse
It is important to slowly transition back to regular solid foods after finishing the master cleanse. Here are some tips:
- On the first day off the cleanse, stick to fresh vegetable juices, soups, smoothies, and broths.
- On the second day, add in soft foods like eggs, yogurt, applesauce, instant oatmeal or mashed potatoes.
- On the third day, incorporate more fiber with cooked veggies, beans, lentils, quinoa, and brown rice.
- Over the next several days, gradually reintroduce meat, raw produce, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
- Avoid heavy, greasy, sugary, or processed foods right away.
- Pay attention to your digestive symptoms and ease up if you experience gas, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation.
Rushing the food reintroduction process can shock your system and cause gastrointestinal issues after the master cleanse. Take it slow.
The Bottom Line
The master cleanse is an extreme detox program that involves fasting on a liquid-only lemonade mixture for up to 10 days or longer. Undertaking such an intensive fast while breastfeeding is controversial. The extremely low calorie intake can put both mother and baby at risk of nutritional deficits and other health issues.
However, a short 3-5 day modified version may be possible for some women if precautions are taken to get additional calories, protein and nutrition from whole food sources. Drinking plenty of fluids, taking a daily prenatal vitamin, and stopping immediately if any issues arise can help minimize the risks. Any cleanse longer than 5 days is not recommended while breastfeeding. As with any major dietary change, consult your doctor before attempting the master cleanse program.