How do you use Master Cleanse?

The Master Cleanse, also known as the Lemonade Diet, is a juice fast used for quick weight loss. It was initially developed in the 1940s and has seen several revivals since then. The Master Cleanse involves drinking only a lemonade concoction for 10 days straight. While potentially effective for weight loss, it is an extreme diet and should be approached with caution.

What is the Master Cleanse?

The Master Cleanse is a juice fast created by Stanley Burroughs in the 1940s. It involves drinking 6-12 glasses per day of a lemonade concoction for 10 days. The lemonade consists of water, lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. No other foods or beverages are allowed during the cleanse, except for herbal laxative tea at night and salt water flushes in the morning. The salt water flushes and laxative tea help stimulate bowel movements.

The purpose of the cleanse is to flush out toxins and lose weight quickly. Proponents claim it can “detoxify” the body, leading to improved health and energy. However, there is little scientific evidence that juice cleanses actually remove toxins from the body.

What do you drink on the Master Cleanse?

The only thing allowed on the Master Cleanse is a lemonade drink, salt water flushes, and herbal laxative tea at night. Here are the ingredients for each:

Lemonade Drink

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

Drink 6-12 glasses of this mixture throughout the day whenever you feel hungry. Many people drink it through a straw to prevent damage to tooth enamel from the lemon juice.

Salt Water Flush

  • 2 teaspoons non-iodized salt
  • 1 quart lukewarm water

Drink first thing in the morning on an empty stomach to stimulate bowel movements.

Herbal Laxative Tea

Drink an herbal laxative tea like senna leaf or peppermint at night. This also aids bowel movements.

What are the steps to doing the Master Cleanse?

Here is a summary of the key steps to doing the Master Cleanse:

  1. Ease into it (3 days) – Gradually eliminate solid foods from your diet over a few days while introducing the lemonade drink.
  2. Lemonade only (7-10 days) – Drink 6-12 glasses of lemonade mixture per day for 7-10 days. No solid foods are allowed during this time.
  3. Salt water flush – Drink salt water flush first thing in the morning to stimulate bowels.
  4. Laxative tea – Drink a laxative tea at night to further stimulate bowels.
  5. Ease out of it (3 days) – Gradually reintroduce solid foods over a few days as you cut back on the lemonade.

The salt water flush and laxative tea are key to cleansing the bowels and colon during the cleanse. It is also important to drink plenty of water in addition to the lemonade to stay hydrated.

What are the claimed benefits of the Master Cleanse?

Proponents of the Master Cleanse claim it can provide many benefits including:

  • Rapid weight loss – Can lead to losing 2-10 lbs in 10 days
  • Toxin removal from the body
  • Reduced cravings for junk food and sugar
  • Improved energy and mental clarity
  • Better skin and hair
  • Reduced joint pain and inflammation
  • Improved immunity and resistance to illness
  • Overall detoxification and cleansing of the body

However, there is limited scientific evidence to back up these claims. Any weight lost is primarily due to the extreme calorie restriction, not the removal of toxins.

What are the side effects of the Master Cleanse?

Some potential side effects and risks of the Master Cleanse include:

  • Hunger – Extreme calorie restriction can lead to hunger pangs, irritability, and food cravings.
  • Headaches – From caffeine withdrawal and low blood sugar.
  • Fatigue – From inadequate calories.
  • Muscle loss – The body will start to break down muscle tissue for energy after 1-2 days without protein.
  • Nutrient deficiencies – Provides almost no protein, fat, vitamins or minerals over 10 days.
  • Dehydration – Drinking so much lemon juice can alter fluid balances.
  • Electrolyte imbalances – Low sodium levels from only drinking lemon juice for days.
  • Tooth enamel erosion – Lemon juice is highly acidic and can damage tooth enamel over time.
  • Gallstone risk – Rapid weight loss increases chance of developing gallstones.
  • Yo-yo dieting – Weight regain after stopping the cleanse.

Due to the extreme nature of the Master Cleanse, it is not recommended for extended periods of time. If done for more than 2-3 days, it should be done under the supervision of a doctor.

Who should not do the Master Cleanse?

The Master Cleanse is a very restrictive and extreme diet. It should not be done by:

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women – Too low in calories and nutrients for fetal/infant health.
  • Children or teenagers – Restricts needed nutrition for growth and development.
  • Elderly people – Can exacerbate nutrient deficiencies.
  • People with health conditions – Such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, etc.
  • People with a history of eating disorders – Fasting and extreme dieting can trigger disorders like anorexia and bulimia.

Anyone planning to do the Master Cleanse should consult their doctor first, especially if they have any underlying health conditions or nutritional needs.

How much weight can you lose on the Master Cleanse?

Weight loss on the Master Cleanse can be rapid, but varies from person to person. Some factors that influence weight loss include:

  • Starting weight – People who weigh more tend to lose more pounds.
  • Metabolism – Slower metabolisms lose weight at a lower rate.
  • Exercise – Even light exercise during the cleanse can accelerate weight loss.
  • Compliance – Those who follow it strictly tend to lose the most weight.
  • Duration – Weight loss tends to level off after the first 7-10 days.

On average, people lose around 2-7 lbs during the first week of the Master Cleanse. However, a lot of this initial weight loss is water weight or muscle tissue rather than fat.

Here is a table showing estimated weight loss on the Master Cleanse:

Duration Average Weight Loss
3 days 2-4 lbs
7 days 5-10 lbs
10 days 8-17 lbs
2 weeks 10-23 lbs

Keeping the weight off long-term is challenging as most people regain weight once they resume normal eating. The Master Cleanse is not a sustainable weight loss solution.

How to Make the Master Cleanse Lemonade Recipe

Making the lemonade drink for the Master Cleanse is simple. It only contains 4 ingredients:

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

Here are step-by-step instructions for making a serving of the Master Cleanse lemonade:

  1. Squeeze the juice from 1 fresh lemon into a glass. This should yield approximately 2 tbsp lemon juice.
  2. Add 2 tbsp of pure maple syrup into the glass.
  3. Sprinkle in 1/10 tsp of cayenne pepper.
  4. Pour 8 oz of cold water into the glass.
  5. Stir or shake all the ingredients together until well mixed.
  6. Drink immediately. You can dilute with more water if too strong.

Tips for making the lemonade:

  • Use fresh organic lemons not bottled juice
  • Use 100% pure maple syrup, not flavored syrups
  • Drink through a straw to prevent tooth enamel erosion
  • Rinse mouth with plain water after drinking
  • Consume within 15 minutes as the cayenne pepper sinks
  • Adjust lemon-maple-cayenne ratio to taste

You will need to drink 6-12 glasses of this lemonade per day to get through the Master Cleanse. Prepare multiple batches at once and store in the fridge for convenience.

Sample Master Cleanse Diet Menu

No solid food is allowed on the Master Cleanse diet. Here is a sample menu of the beverages you would consume each day:

Upon Waking

  • Salt water flush – 2 tsp salt in 1 quart water


  • 1 glass lemonade drink


  • 1 glass lemonade drink


  • 1 glass lemonade drink


  • 1 glass lemonade drink


  • 1 glass lemonade drink

Before Bed

  • Herbal laxative tea

Drink additional lemonade anytime you feel hungry or get cravings. Aim for a minimum of 6 glasses per day. Plain water can also be consumed as needed.

Tips for Completing the Master Cleanse Successfully

Here are some tips to help you complete the Master Cleanse safely and effectively:

  • Ease in and out – Gradually transition on and off the cleanse over 3 days to prevent side effects
  • Stay busy – Keep yourself occupied with work, hobbies, exercise to distract from hunger
  • Supplement wisely – Take a daily multivitamin and supplements if directed by your doctor
  • Avoid caffeine – Caffeine withdrawal can worsen headaches
  • Get support – Partner with a friend or join an online group for motivation
  • Stay hydrated – Drink plenty of additional water in addition to the lemonade
  • Rest and relax – The cleanse can cause fatigue so ample rest is important

Monitor yourself carefully throughout the cleanse and stop immediately if you experience adverse effects or health issues.

Is the Master Cleanse Safe?

The safety of the Master Cleanse is questionable for several reasons:

  • Very low calorie – Drinking only lemon juice provides less than 500 calories per day compared to the 2,000 calorie recommendation for women.
  • Nutritional deficiency – The lemonade contains almost no protein, fat, carbs, vitamins or minerals.
  • Dehydration risk – Can alter electrolyte balances from drinking so much lemon juice.
  • Tooth enamel damage – Lemon juice erodes tooth enamel over time.
  • Yo-yo dieting – Weight regain is common after stopping the cleanse.
  • Medical supervision – Consult a doctor before doing it with any health condition.

While the Master Cleanse may lead to quick weight loss in the short-term, it is not a safe or sustainable approach for the long-term. Extreme caution should be taken for cleanses lasting more than 2-3 days.

How to Maintain Weight Loss After the Master Cleanse

The biggest challenge with the Master Cleanse is keeping the weight off afterwards. Here are some tips to maintain weight loss after finishing the cleanse:

  • Transition to healthy balanced diet – Focus on lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains.
  • Include exercise – Even light activity like walking helps burn calories.
  • Drink plenty of water – Stay well hydrated.
  • Get enough fiber – Eat high fiber foods to stay full.
  • Portion control – Be mindful of overeating.
  • Daily weigh ins – Monitor your weight to catch regains early.
  • Lifestyle changes – Make long-term changes to diet and exercise habits.
  • Avoid trigger foods – Cut back on sugar, salty snacks, sodas, etc.

Any weight lost on the Master Cleanse will likely return if you go back to old eating habits. Make diet and lifestyle changes for lasting success.


The Master Cleanse is a liquid-only juice fast intended for quick but extreme weight loss. It consists of drinking 6-12 glasses per day of a lemonade concoction for a period of 10 days. While it can lead to substantial short-term weight loss, it is an extremely restrictive and potentially harmful diet. Serious complications can result from the nutrient deficiencies, electrolyte imbalances, and frequent bowel movements.

The Master Cleanse is not a long-term solution or cure-all detox diet. At best, it can help jumpstart weight loss efforts when done short-term under medical guidance. But maintaining the weight loss long-term requires transitioning to sustainable, healthy eating habits.

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