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Can I use honey instead of maple syrup for Master Cleanse?

The Master Cleanse, also known as the Lemonade Diet, is a liquid fast used for detoxification and weight loss. It was created by Stanley Burroughs in the 1940s and involves drinking 6-12 glasses per day of a lemonade made with lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water for a period of 10 days or more.

What is the Master Cleanse?

The Master Cleanse is a liquid diet that provides around 600 calories per day from homemade lemonade. The lemonade consists of:

  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp grade B maple syrup
  • 1/10 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 8 oz water

In addition to the lemonade, you can also drink peppermint tea and saltwater flush throughout the day. The diet doesn’t allow any solid foods, just the homemade lemonade, tea, and saltwater.

It was created as a detoxification and weight loss cleanse. By consuming only the lemonade for a period of 10 days or longer, you give your digestive system a rest while flushing toxins from your body. The saltwater acts as a laxative to eliminate waste, while the cayenne pepper and lemon juice help stimulate circulation and liver function.

Can you substitute honey for maple syrup?

The original Master Cleanse recipe calls for grade B maple syrup. Maple syrup contains minerals like zinc and potassium, as well as antioxidants that support detoxification. But many people ask if you can substitute honey for the maple syrup in the lemonade recipe.

While honey has some health benefits and a similar flavor, there are a few important reasons why it isn’t recommended as a maple syrup substitute for the Master Cleanse:

Maple Syrup Honey
– Higher mineral content including zinc and potassium – Lower mineral content
– Contains antioxidants beneficial for detox – No antioxidants
– Provides trace vitamins like thiamine – No vitamins

As you can see, maple syrup contains some beneficial micronutrients, antioxidants and vitamins that honey does not. While the main purpose of the cleanse is detoxification, the minerals, vitamins and antioxidants in the maple syrup give an added boost.

Other benefits of maple syrup

In addition to having more minerals and antioxidants compared to honey, maple syrup offers other advantages when doing a liquid fast like the Master Cleanse:

  1. Glycemic control – Maple syrup has a lower glycemic index than honey, meaning it impacts blood sugar levels less. This leads to more stable energy during the cleanse.
  2. Reduced side effects – The minerals in maple syrup can help reduce some of the side effects of laxatives like the saltwater flush.
  3. Flavor – Maple syrup has a more subtle, smooth flavor compared to the stronger taste of honey. The lemonade is easier to drink for 10 days with the more delicate maple syrup.

The more stable blood sugar control in particular makes maple syrup a better choice for energy and hunger management during a liquid fast like the Master Cleanse.

Potential risks of honey

Aside from lacking the minerals and antioxidants found in maple syrup, there are some other downsides to using honey in the Master Cleanse lemonade:

  • Higher glycemic index causes blood sugar spikes and crashes
  • Stronger flavor makes the lemonade harder to tolerate
  • May increase side effects of laxatives

The biggest risk is the blood sugar fluctuations caused by honey’s high glycemic index. These can lead to energy crashes, hunger pangs, and cravings – making the Master Cleanse harder to complete.

Recommendations for honey

Based on its differences from maple syrup, here are some recommendations on using honey if you choose to substitute it in the Master Cleanse lemonade:

Recommendation Reason
Drink lemonade slowly Avoid blood sugar spikes from honey
Use smaller amounts of honey Reduce glycemic impact
Add cinnamon Helps control blood sugar
Supplement with minerals Replace minerals missing from honey

Drinking the lemonade more slowly, reducing the honey, adding cinnamon, and taking mineral supplements can help compensate for some of the issues with substituting honey for maple syrup.

Health benefits of the Master Cleanse

When done with the original maple syrup, the Master Cleanse lemonade diet has a number of health benefits:

  • Detoxification – Rests the digestive tract and flushes toxins from the body
  • Weight loss – Aids rapid weight loss of up to 2 lbs per day
  • Reduced inflammation – The lemon juice decreases inflammation
  • Increased energy – Feel more energetic after eliminating toxins
  • Improved concentration – Clarifies mind and increases focus

The antioxidant and mineral content of the maple syrup boost these cleansing effects. Substituting honey reduces some of the overall benefits, so maple syrup is recommended. But you can still experience detoxification and weight loss with honey if needed.

Downsides and considerations

Some potential downsides and considerations to keep in mind when deciding to do the Master Cleanse include:

  • Fatigue, nausea, dizziness from low calorie intake
  • Weight regain after cleanse ends if healthy habits not maintained
  • Not a sustainable long-term diet
  • May interact with certain medications – consult a doctor first

Doing the cleanse for more than 10-14 days is not recommended. Be sure to ease back into a healthy diet after finishing to keep the weight off. Consulting a doctor is advised, especially if taking any chronic medications.

Transitioning off the cleanse

It’s important to slowly transition off the Master Cleanse and not immediately return to “normal” eating. Here are some tips:

  1. On day 1 after cleanse, drink fresh pressed vegetable juice and eat light raw salads or soups.
  2. On day 2, add in raw fruits and cooked vegetables.
  3. On day 3, add in gluten-free grains like brown rice and quinoa.
  4. On day 4, add legumes, nuts and seeds.
  5. On day 5, reintroduce animal protein if desired.

Increase calories by 300-400 each day. Listen to your body and increase slowly to give your digestion time to readjust. This will help prevent nausea, bloating and weight gain.

Should I use honey or maple syrup?

The Master Cleanse was designed to use maple syrup, not honey. Maple syrup contains beneficial minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that support detoxification and reduce side effects. While honey lacks these benefits, you can still do the cleanse with honey if needed – just be aware of the potential impacts on blood sugar control and side effects.

Diluting the honey lemonade, drinking it slowly, adding cinnamon, and taking supplements can help mitigate the downsides of using honey instead of maple syrup. But for the best results, organic grade B maple syrup is recommended.


The Master Cleanse is designed as a short-term liquid fast using lemon juice, cayenne, and grade B maple syrup. While honey can be used as a substitute if needed, maple syrup offers more benefits including minerals, antioxidants, better blood sugar control, and less side effects.

If using honey due to availability or cost, dilute it, drink the lemonade slowly, add cinnamon, and supplement with minerals for best results. While the cleanse can still produce detoxification and weight loss effects with honey, organic maple syrup is recommended for maximum benefits and tolerability.