The lemonade cleanse, also known as the Master Cleanse, is a liquid diet that involves drinking 6-12 glasses of lemonade daily for a period of 3-40 days. The lemonade consists of lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water. It was originally created as a detoxification diet that claims to eliminate toxins from the body, but there is little scientific evidence to support these claims.
What is the lemonade cleanse?
The lemonade cleanse was created in 1940 by Stanley Burroughs and was later popularized by Peter Glickman’s book “Lose Weight, Have More Energy and Be Happier in 10 Days”. The diet involves the following:
- Drinking 6-12 glasses of lemonade daily. The lemonade consists of lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water.
- Taking a laxative tea in the morning and evening
- Drinking a saltwater flush in the morning
- No solid foods are allowed during the cleanse
The claimed benefits of the lemonade cleanse include:
- Detoxification and elimination of toxins
- Weight loss
- Improved digestion and bowel movements
- Higher energy levels
- Improved mental clarity and focus
- Better skin complexion
What does science say about the lemonade cleanse?
Despite its popularity, there is very little scientific evidence to support the claimed health benefits of the lemonade cleanse. Here is what science says:
- There is no evidence that detoxification or elimination of toxins actually occurs.
- Any weight lost is likely to be temporary and primarily due to loss of water weight and carbohydrate stores.
- It can cause side effects like fatigue, nausea, dizziness and dehydration.
- The severe calorie restriction can slow down your metabolic rate.
- Laxatives can lead to electrolyte imbalances.
- It lacks protein, fat, fiber and other essential nutrients which may cause nutrient deficiencies if done for extended periods.
Overall the lemonade cleanse is not a sustainable, healthy or scientifically-proven way to lose weight or detoxify the body. Any cleanse lasting longer than a few days could be harmful.
How long should you do the lemonade cleanse?
There is no standardized duration for the lemonade cleanse since it was created without scientific basis. However here are some general guidelines on cleanse duration:
|May provide a short “reboot”. Minimizes health risks.
|Rapid weight loss but more side effects. Nutrient deficiencies unlikely.
|Increased weight loss but higher risk of side effects and nutrient deficiencies.
|Extreme weight loss, detox claims unproven. High health risks including potentially dangerous nutritional deficiencies.
|Severe health complications may occur including muscle loss, irregular heartbeat and electrolyte imbalances. Extended cleanses are not recommended.
As you can see from the table, cleanse durations longer than 7 days incur exponentially higher health risks with minimal additional claimed benefits. Many experts advise against following the lemonade cleanse for more than 5 days.
The pros and cons of a short lemonade cleanse
Here are some potential pros and cons of following the lemonade cleanse for 1-5 days:
- Temporary weight loss of a few pounds, mainly water weight
- May provide a brief “detox” or reboot feeling
- Can motivate healthier eating habits afterwards
- Some experience a mild energy or mental clarity boost
- Weight loss is often temporary and quickly regained
- May cause side effects like fatigue, nausea, dizziness
- Lacks essential nutrients which long-term could become deficiencies
- No proven detoxification or cleansing benefits
- Can be hard to stick to for more than a few days
Overall, the risks seem to outweigh the benefits for most people. A 1-3 day cleanse is safer than longer durations if you wish to try it.
Tips for completing a short lemonade cleanse
Here are some tips to maximize results and minimize side effects if attempting the lemonade cleanse:
- Talk to your doctor – make sure the cleanse is safe for any medical conditions
- Stay hydrated – drink the full 6-12 glasses of lemonade daily
- Supplement if longer than 3 days – take a daily multivitamin to help avoid nutrient deficiencies
- Ease into it – start eliminating foods gradually a few days prior
- Listen to your body – discontinue immediately if experiencing concerning symptoms
- Plan for rest – the cleanse can cause fatigue so minimize strenuous activity
- Break the cleanse slowly – reintroduce foods gradually over a few days
Healthier alternatives to the lemonade cleanse
There are many healthier, more sustainable alternatives to cleansing or detoxing your body, including:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables – provide antioxidants and fiber for natural cleansing
- Stay hydrated – drink water and herbal teas to flush toxins
- Exercise regularly – sweat out impurities through your skin
- Get adequate sleep – allows body’s natural detox systems to work
- Take probiotic supplements – supports healthy gut bacteria and digestion
- Reduce processed foods – minimize exposure to food additives
- Manage stress – impacts natural detoxification capacity
- Dry brush your skin – brushing improves circulation and lymphatic drainage
The bottom line
There is little evidence to support the claimed health benefits of the lemonade cleanse. While a 1-3 day cleanse is unlikely to cause harm, longer cleanse durations come with increased health risks and side effects.
For lasting results, focus on long-term lifestyle changes like a nutritious diet, exercise, stress management and adequate sleep rather than short-term juice cleanses. Consult your healthcare provider before attempting any cleanse.