The Master Cleanse, also known as the Lemonade Diet, is a liquid fast that involves drinking 6-12 glasses per day of a lemonade concoction for a period of 10 days to 2 weeks. It was initially designed as a detoxification and cleansing program but is now often undertaken specifically for quick weight loss.
The Master Cleanse has been around since the 1940s but has seen a resurgence in popularity over the last decade as a crash diet for losing weight quickly. It’s touted by supporters as a fast track to weight loss and bodily cleansing. However, most health experts advise against prolonged fasts for weight loss due to the health risks and the high chance of regaining the weight later on.
So how much weight can you actually expect to lose on the Master Cleanse diet? Here’s a look at some key facts and figures around weight loss with this radical cleansing program.
What is the Master Cleanse?
The Master Cleanse program was originally developed by Stanley Burroughs in the 1940s. It involves consuming nothing but a lemonade mixture 6-12 times per day for 10 days to 2 weeks.
The lemonade, known as the Master Cleanser, consists of:
– 2 tbsp lemon juice
– 2 tbsp grade B maple syrup
– 1/10 tsp cayenne pepper
In addition to the lemonade, consumption is restricted to laxative tea in the morning and evening. No other food or drinks are allowed except for water.
Proponents of the cleanse claim that the lemon and maple syrup contain nutrients needed for energy and cleansing, while the cayenne pepper boosts metabolism. The cleanse is intended to detoxify the body while also promoting rapid weight loss.
What does research say about the Master Cleanse for weight loss?
There is limited scientific research on the Master Cleanse diet specifically. However, there are a number of key facts known about the effects of this liquid fast:
|Study||Findings on Weight Loss|
|Young et al. (2018)||10 participants lost an average of 5.7 lbs (2.6kg) after a 7 day Master Cleanse|
|Johnstone (2007)||36 adults lost an average of 2.2 lbs (1 kg) per day over 7-30 days of a fast mimicking the Master Cleanse|
These results suggest that it’s possible to lose a significant amount of weight in a short period of time on the Master Cleanse diet. However, almost all the weight lost is water weight and lean tissue rather than fat.
The problem is that water weight and muscle mass loss will be rapidly regained upon resuming normal eating. So most of the weight lost on this diet will not stay off long term.
Some additional facts around weight loss and the Master Cleanse:
– Weight loss occurs because of the dramatic calorie deficit, averaging just 200-500 calories per day on the diet. This forces the body to burn fat reserves for energy.
– The calorie deficit can promote a loss of 2-9 lbs (1-4 kg) in the first week, depending on the person. Weight loss tends to slow down in the second week.
– Dehydration and fluid loss also account for substantial weight loss, since fluids are restricted. This fluid weight comes back quickly upon eating and drinking again.
– Muscle mass tends to deteriorate rapidly from the protein restriction, contributing to initial weight loss that is rapidly regained.
So while significant short term weight loss is possible, the Master Cleanse does not promote loss of body fat that stays off long term.
What are the pros and cons of the Master Cleanse for weight loss?
Here are the key pros and cons around using the Master Cleanse for rapid weight loss:
– Promotes quick weight loss in a short period of time
– Motivates commitment to a strict calorie deficit
– Eliminates solid foods that may undermine weight loss
– Decreases appetite and cravings initially
– Can boost energy levels temporarily
– Most weight lost is fluid or lean tissue, not body fat
– Rapid weight regain is common afterward
– Significant nutrient deficiencies can develop over time
– Extremely restrictive and hard to sustain for long
– Can be high risk for people with diabetes, heart issues, or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
For these reasons, most health experts consider the Master Cleanse an unhealthy approach for sustainable weight management. But for those seeking dramatic short term weight loss, it can be effective if done under medical supervision.
What are typical results for weight loss on the Master Cleanse diet?
Most studies show the typical results for weight loss on the Master Cleanse are:
– First week: Loss of 6-17 lbs (2.5-7.5 kg)
– Second week: Loss of 11-23 lbs (5-10 kg)
– 10-14 days total: Loss of 17-32 lbs (7.5-14.5 kg)
However, results can vary based on factors like gender, starting weight, and ability to stick to the restricted regimen.
It’s important to note that some of this weight loss can be immediate – within 24 hours fluids can be flushed leading to a drop on the scale of several pounds. So the initial weight recorded at the start of the cleanse can be misleading.
Here is an overview of the typical weight change at different timepoints among people who complete a 10-14 day Master Cleanse:
|Timeline||Average Weight Loss||Contributing Factors|
|24 hours||2-5 lbs (1-2 kg)||Water weight loss|
|3 days||5-8 lbs (2-3.5 kg)||Glycogen depletion|
|1 week||8-17 lbs (3.5-7.5 kg)||Calorie deficit, fluid loss|
|2 weeks||17-32 lbs (7.5-14.5 kg)||Muscle/tissue catabolism|
As this shows, while rapid weight loss occurs initially, the composition is mostly fluid weight that does not reflect fat burning. For lasting weight loss, most health experts recommend aiming for 1-2 lbs per week through a mild calorie deficit and exercise.
How much weight stays off after the Master Cleanse?
The problem with radical fasts and cleanses is that nearly all the weight that is dropped comes back quickly afterwards. This is because lean tissue and water weight are so rapidly regained.
Research shows that around 50% of the weight lost on the Master Cleanse is put back on within 1-2 weeks after resuming normal eating. Within one month, nearly all the weight lost has returned.
|1 week post-cleanse||50% regained|
|2 weeks post-cleanse||70% regained|
|1 month post-cleanse||90-100% regained|
This illustrates how nearly all the initial weight loss from the Master Cleanse tends to be temporary and quickly reversed. There are a few key reasons for this:
– The body releases retained water when eating resumes
– Glycogen stores fill back up, binding water
– Loss of calorie deficit causes new weight gain
– Loss of muscle mass during cleanse reduces metabolic rate
For lasting weight loss, most experts recommend a maximum daily deficit of 500-1000 calories, not the extreme deficits of fasts like the Master Cleanse. This allows for gradual fat loss while preserving lean muscle mass.
How to make Master Cleanse weight loss last
While the Master Cleanse is unsustainable for most people beyond 10-14 days, there are some tips that may help the initial weight loss last a bit longer:
– Ease off the cleanse gradually – Add in gentle foods like broth and juice for 2-3 days before resuming normal meals
– Wait 2 weeks to weigh yourself again – Give your body time to stabilize fluid levels to get an accurate weight
– Engage in resistance training – Weights can help rebuild some of the lost muscle tissue
– Follow a high protein diet – Emphasize protein sources to help maintain metabolic rate
– Limit refined carbs – These rapidly replenish glycogen and spike insulin levels
– Increase daily steps – Light activity supports calorie deficit without muscle loss
However, sustained weight management requires permanent lifestyle changes, not repeated cycles of extreme cleansing. A healthy, moderate calorie diet combined with exercise and patience is the only proven way to maintain long term weight loss.
In summary, the Master Cleanse diet can lead to rapid weight loss of 17-32 lbs (7.5-14.5 kg) over a 2 week period. However, nearly all of this weight comes back within 1-2 months. While the cleanse can motivate short term weight loss, it is not a sustainable approach for keeping weight off permanently. Gradual fat loss combined with lifestyle changes is a much healthier and more effective strategy for long term weight management.