The Master Cleanse, also known as the Lemonade Diet, is a liquid fast used for quick weight loss. It was popularized by Stanley Burroughs in his 1976 book The Master Cleanser. The cleanse involves drinking 6-12 glasses per day of a lemonade-like concoction for a period of 10 days or more. Supporters claim the Master Cleanse can improve digestion, eliminate toxins, and lead to fast weight loss. However, health experts warn it is not a long-term solution for weight management and can be downright dangerous.
Master Cleanse Lemonade Recipe
The Master Cleanse lemonade consists of just four ingredients:
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice – 2 tablespoons
- Maple syrup – 2 tablespoons
- Cayenne pepper – 1/10 teaspoon
- Water – 10 ounces
You simply mix the ingredients together in a glass and drink. Most recipes suggest drinking 6-12 glasses per day of the spicy, tangy mixture. The maple syrup provides energy and calories, the lemon juice gives vitamin C, while the cayenne pepper is thought to boost metabolism.
Other Allowed Master Cleanse Ingredients
In addition to the lemonade drink, you can also have:
- Salt water flush – 2 teaspoons of salt mixed in 1 liter of water. Used to stimulate bowel movements.
- Herbal laxative tea – An optional tea to aid digestion.
- Peppermint tea – Can be used to curb hunger.
Master Cleanse Rules
To complete the Master Cleanse, you must follow these rules:
- Drink 6-12 glasses of lemonade daily
- Take the salt water flush in the morning
- Have herbal laxative tea at night as needed
- Drink plenty of water in addition to the lemonade
- Take only the ingredients listed – no solid food
- Ease off the cleanse gradually over 3 days when finished
Weight Loss on the Master Cleanse
The low calorie lemonade drink causes rapid weight loss, mainly from losing water weight and body fat. However, experts warn that much of the weight comes back once you start eating again. Here is the typical weight loss on the Master Cleanse diet:
|Expected Weight Loss
|Total 10 days
Pros of the Master Cleanse
Advocates of the Master Cleanse point to these benefits:
- Rapid weight loss in a short period
- Body detoxification and elimination of toxins
- Breaking bad eating habits or food addictions
- Improved digestion and bowel movements
- Increased energy, clearer thinking, and better sleep
- Low cost and easily obtained ingredients
Cons of the Master Cleanse
However, health experts warn of these drawbacks to the Master Cleanse:
- Extremely low calorie intake – only 600-1200 calories daily
- Nutritional deficiency from lack of protein, healthy fats, vitamins
- Mostly water weight loss that quickly returns after cleanse
- Lack of long-term behavior change for weight management
- Side effects like dizziness, fatigue, nausea, mood swings
- Not suitable or safe for long-term use
Is the Master Cleanse Safe?
The Master Cleanse is intended only for short term use of 3-10 days at most. Longer fasts up to 40 days are considered unsafe by health authorities. Potential dangers include:
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Muscle loss
- Gallstone formation
- Electrolyte imbalances
- Low blood sugar
Consult a doctor before attempting an extended fast like the Master Cleanse. It is not recommended for anyone underweight, pregnant, diabetic, or with eating disorders or gastrointestinal issues.
How to Get Started on the Master Cleanse
If you want to attempt the Master Cleanse, follow these steps:
- Get medical approval from your doctor
- Pick your start and end dates – 10 days or less is recommended
- Shop for ingredients – lemons, maple syrup, cayenne pepper
- Ease into the cleanse over 2-3 days by slowly reducing calories
- Drink 6-12 glasses of lemonade daily along with water
- Follow the salt water flush and herbal laxative tea directions
- Ease out of the cleanse over 3 days by slowly adding back food
Drink plenty of non-carbonated water in addition to the lemonade to stay hydrated and prevent side effects. Keep busy to take your mind off hunger pangs. Stay close to a bathroom during the flush and laxative phases.
Life After the Master Cleanse
Once you complete the Master Cleanse, you’ll need to make long-term dietary changes to sustain any weight loss and health benefits. Avoid returning to unhealthy eating habits right away. Consider these tips:
- Transition to a healthy, balanced whole foods diet
- Focus on fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains
- Drink 64-80 ounces of water daily
- Take probiotic supplements to restore gut health
- Include exercise into your daily routine
The Master Cleanse can help you jumpstart weight loss and a healthier lifestyle. But lasting results require permanent changes to your eating and exercise habits.
The Bottom Line
The Master Cleanse has remained popular over decades as a fast weight loss diet. It involves drinking 6-12 daily glasses of spicy lemonade while taking no solid food for 10 days or more. While it can lead to short term weight loss, it is an extreme diet with health risks. Consult a doctor before attempting. For lasting results, transition to healthy eating and exercise habits after completing the Master Cleanse.