Skip to Content

Does the Master Cleanse diet promote exercise?

The Master Cleanse diet, also known as the lemonade diet, has become a popular diet trend in recent years. The diet involves drinking a lemonade mixture of lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water multiple times per day and not eating any solid foods. The diet claims to “cleanse” and detoxify the body while promoting rapid weight loss. But does the Master Cleanse diet actually promote exercise as part of the regimen?

Overview of the Master Cleanse Diet

The Master Cleanse diet was created by Stanley Burroughs in the 1940s. It involves drinking 6-12 glasses per day of a lemonade mixture for a period of 10 days or more. The lemonade consists of:

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1/10 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 8 oz water

In addition to the lemonade drink, dieters are allowed to drink herbal tea throughout the day. The diet does not allow any solid foods during the cleanse period. The claimed benefits of the diet include:

  • Rapid weight loss of up to 2 lbs per day
  • Detoxification and cleansing of the body
  • Increased energy and mental clarity
  • Improved skin tone
  • Reduced cravings for unhealthy foods

At the end of the Master Cleanse diet, dieters are instructed to slowly reintroduce solid foods over a few days.

Does the Master Cleanse Diet Promote Exercise?

The original Master Cleanse diet instructions do not specifically promote or include exercise as part of the regimen. The focus is entirely on the lemonade drink and elimination of solid foods. There are no exercise guidelines or recommendations included.

However, some modern adaptations of the Master Cleanse diet do suggest light exercise as an option during the cleanse. Light exercise such as walking, light yoga or stretching are sometimes recommended to help stimulate the lymphatic system and elimination of toxins.

For example, the website suggests:

“As with any detox program, exercise and fitness should be a part of your master cleanse experience. Light walking, light resistance training, yoga or any other lighter types of exercise are recommended.”

So while exercise is not necessarily promoted or required, modern versions of the diet recognize that some light physical activity can potentially complement the cleanse.

Reasons the Master Cleanse May Discourage Exercise

There are several reasons why the original Master Cleanse diet does not promote or include exercise as part of the program:

  • Very low calorie intake – The lemonade drink only contains around 200 calories per day. Such a severe calorie deficit may lead to fatigue, low energy, dizziness and an inability to tolerate intense exercise.
  • Potential electrolyte imbalance – Drinking so much lemon juice and maple syrup can alter electrolyte levels and pH balance in the body. This can adversely affect energy levels.
  • Lack of protein – Protein is essential for building and repairing muscle tissue. With no protein intake, the body may break down muscle and make exercise more difficult.
  • No solid food – The lack of solid food limits the nutrients available to fuel exercise and support recovery.

Followers of the classic Master Cleanse diet are likely to struggle with any exercise regimen beyond very light activity. However, those following a modified version may be able to incorporate light exercise.

Benefits of Adding Light Exercise

While intense or strenuous exercise is not recommended on the Master Cleanse diet, adding some light physical activity can have benefits:

  • Boosts metabolism – Light activity helps increase metabolic rate, supporting calorie and fat burning.
  • Supports detoxification – Exercise helps stimulate circulation and lymphatic drainage, improving elimination of toxins.
  • Manages cravings – Light exercise can help distract from food cravings.
  • Maintains muscle mass – Light resistance training helps maintain muscle mass during rapid weight loss.
  • Improves mood – Physical activity releases endorphins that can improve mood while fasting.

Trying to maintain a normal exercise routine during the Master Cleanse is not advisable. But adding light physical activity provides some benefits without being too taxing.

Is Exercise Required After the Master Cleanse?

Exercise is not required after finishing the Master Cleanse, but it is highly recommended. Here are some reasons why exercise is important after ending the cleanse phase:

  • Supports healthy weight loss – Exercise helps burn additional calories and prevents rapid weight re-gain after the fast.
  • Builds back muscle mass – Resistance training helps build back any muscle that may have been lost during the diet.
  • Boosts metabolism – Weight training and cardio exercise help restore metabolic rate after extended calorie restriction.
  • Improves fitness – All aspects of physical fitness may decline during the cleanse, so exercise helps rebuild cardiovascular endurance, strength and flexibility.

While not required, post-cleanse exercise serves several important functions for regaining health and supporting long-term weight management. Even light exercise during the Master Cleanse can make the transition back to normal diet and exercise easier.

Example Exercise Routine After Master Cleanse

Here is a sample exercise routine that could be followed after completing the Master Cleanse to help rebuild fitness levels and support weight maintenance:

Week 1

  • Light walking or stationary cycling – 15-30 minutes per day
  • Light yoga or pilates – 25-35 minutes every other day
  • No resistance training

Week 2

  • Brisk walking or stationary cycling – 30-45 minutes per day
  • Yoga or pilates – 35-40 minutes every other day
  • Light resistance training – 1 set of 15 reps for major muscle groups 2x per week

Week 3

  • Moderate intensity cardio – 30-60 minutes most days
  • Yoga or pilates – 30-45 mins 2x per week
  • Resistance training – 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps for major muscle groups 3x per week

Week 4 and Beyond

  • Higher intensity cardio – 45-60 minutes most days
  • Yoga or pilates – 30-60 minutes 1-2x per week
  • Progressive weight training program – 3-4x per week

This gradual introduction of exercise helps rebuild fitness levels, boosts metabolism, and supports weight maintenance without being too aggressive after completing the cleanse.


The original Master Cleanse diet does not specifically promote or include exercise as part of the program. The severe calorie restriction makes anything beyond very light activity difficult for most people. However, some modern adaptions suggest incorporating light exercise to complement the cleanse.

Trying to maintain normal exercise routines is not advisable during the restricted calorie intake of the Master Cleanse. However, light physical activity like walking, light yoga, or stretching can provide some benefits. While not required, exercise is highly recommended after completing the cleanse to help rebuild fitness levels, restore metabolic rate, and prevent rapid weight regain.

Time Period Recommended Exercise
During Master Cleanse Light walking, yoga, stretching
1 Week after Cleanse Light cardio, no resistance training
2 Weeks after Cleanse Moderate cardio, light resistance training
3+ Weeks after Cleanse More intense cardio and weight training

While the Master Cleanse diet does not emphasize exercise during the cleanse phase, a gradual introduction of cardiovascular and resistance training after ending the cleanse is highly beneficial.