The cayenne pepper diet is a type of cleanse or detox diet that involves consuming cayenne pepper and lemon juice mixed with water several times per day. Proponents of the diet claim that it can help with weight loss and improving health.
Overview of the Cayenne Pepper Diet
The cayenne pepper diet is a short-term diet that typically lasts between 7 and 14 days. It involves consuming a cayenne pepper and lemon juice drink multiple times throughout the day. The main ingredients in the cayenne pepper diet drink are:
- Cayenne pepper
- Lemon juice
- Maple syrup or honey (optional)
The basic recipe for the cayenne pepper diet drink is:
- 2 tbsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 8 oz water
- 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup (optional)
You mix all the ingredients together and drink it. The diet involves consuming 6-12 glasses of this spicy lemonade drink throughout the day for between 7 and 14 days. In addition to the cayenne pepper drink, you can also consume:
- Herbal teas
No other solid foods are allowed on the diet. The cayenne pepper is claimed to boost metabolism, while the lemon juice helps to detoxify the body. Proponents say the diet can lead to weight loss and give you more energy.
Reasons People Follow the Cayenne Pepper Diet
There are several purported benefits that motivate people to try the cayenne pepper diet:
- Weight loss – The diet is very low in calories, so it can lead to a drop on the scale. However, most of the weight lost is water weight and lean muscle mass rather than fat.
- Detoxification – The lemon juice is claimed to help cleanse toxins from the body and promote kidney function and liver health.
- Increased metabolism – Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, which may temporarily boost metabolism and fat burning.
- Anti-inflammatory effects – Cayenne pepper has anti-inflammatory properties that could improve health in some people.
- Improved circulation – Cayenne pepper helps dilate blood vessels, which can increase circulation.
- Reduced hunger – The spicy cayenne drink is claimed to reduce appetite and cravings.
However, there is limited evidence that the cayenne pepper diet provides lasting weight loss or health benefits. Any weight loss while on the diet is mostly due to the very low calorie intake and loss of water weight.
Phases of the Cayenne Pepper Diet
The cayenne pepper diet is broken down into three main phases:
Phase 1: The Master Cleanse
For the first 2-4 days of the diet, you consume only the cayenne pepper lemonade drink whenever you feel hungry. You can drink 6-12 glasses per day. This phase is designed to flush toxins and promote detoxification.
Phase 2: Easing Into Food
For the next 5-7 days, you slowly reintroduce solid foods into your diet. You continue drinking the lemonade drink frequently throughout the day. You can add in simple foods like broth, fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs, fish and grains.
Phase 3: Transitioning to Regular Diet
For the last 3-5 days of the diet, you stop drinking the spicy lemonade and transition back to regular meals. It’s recommended you stick with healthy, whole foods and limit sugar, junk food and alcohol.
Pros and Cons of the Cayenne Pepper Diet
Here are some potential benefits and drawbacks of following the cayenne pepper diet:
- May lose weight quickly
- Claims to detoxify the body
- Could reduce inflammation
- May temporarily increase metabolism
- Easy to follow with only one main ingredient
- Low cost ingredients
- Extremely low in calories, protein and nutrients
- Mostly water weight loss that is often regained
- Can cause dizziness, nausea and fatigue
- Not a long-term weight loss solution
- No evidence that it detoxes the body
- May cause gastrointestinal issues
Side Effects of the Cayenne Pepper Diet
Because the cayenne pepper diet is so restrictive and low in calories, it comes with a range of potential side effects including:
- Fatigue and low energy
- Hunger and food cravings
- Gas and bloating
Consuming large amounts of cayenne pepper daily could also cause:
- Abdominal pain
- Irritation of the gastrointestinal tract
- Increased acid production in the stomach
The cayenne pepper diet may be unsafe for people with certain medical conditions including:
- Digestive disorders like GERD or ulcers
- High blood pressure
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding
Children, adolescents, elderly people and those on medications should avoid trying the unproven cayenne pepper diet without first consulting a doctor.
Shopping List for the Cayenne Pepper Diet
The cayenne pepper diet requires only a few inexpensive ingredients. Here is a basic shopping list:
|Cayenne pepper||1-2 bottles|
|Lemon juice||1-2 bottles|
|Maple syrup or honey (optional)||1 bottle|
|Herbal tea (optional)||5-10 tea bags|
|Chicken or vegetable broth (for phase 2)||5-10 cans or cartons|
You’ll also want to have sea salt, black pepper, olive oil and vinegar on hand if including fruits, veggies, eggs or fish during phase 2. The great thing about this diet is that the ingredients are inexpensive and easy to find at any grocery store.
Cayenne Pepper Diet Sample Menu
Here is what a typical daily menu might look like on the different phases of the cayenne pepper diet:
Phase 1: Master Cleanse
- Upon waking: 8-16 oz cayenne pepper lemonade drink
- Mid-morning: 8-16 oz cayenne pepper lemonade drink
- Early afternoon: 8-16 oz cayenne pepper lemonade drink
- Late afternoon: 8-16 oz cayenne pepper lemonade drink
- Evening: 8-16 oz cayenne pepper lemonade drink
- Herbal tea as desired
Phase 2: Reintroducing Foods
- Breakfast: 1 cup berries + 8 oz cayenne lemonade
- Snack: Hardboiled egg + herbal tea
- Lunch: Veg broth or green salad + 4-8 oz cayenne lemonade
- Snack: Apple + handful raw nuts
- Dinner: Baked fish + veggies + 8 oz cayenne lemonade
Phase 3: Transition Diet
- Breakfast: Oatmeal + berries + milk
- Snack: Carrots and hummus
- Lunch: Turkey sandwich on whole grain bread + yogurt
- Snack: Cottage cheese + peach
- Dinner: Chicken stir fry + brown rice
During the initial detox phase, you’ll only be consuming the spicy lemonade drink. As you transition back to foods, focus on healthy fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats.
Recipes for the Cayenne Pepper Diet
The main recipe you’ll need for the cayenne pepper diet is the spicy lemonade drink. But here are some other recipe ideas:
Cayenne Pepper Detox Drink
- 2 tbsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 8 oz hot water
- 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey (optional)
Add all ingredients to a mug and stir to dissolve. Drink immediately or chill for 30 minutes before drinking.
Green Tea with Lemon and Ginger
- 1 green tea bag
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Stevia or honey to taste (optional)
Steep the green tea bag and ginger in hot water for 5 minutes. Remove tea bag and stir in lemon juice and sweetener if desired.
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1/2 cup frozen berries
- 1 scoop protein powder
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 1 handful spinach
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Enjoy during phase 2 of the diet.
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- 5 cups water or vegetable broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
Simmer chopped vegetables in broth or water for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Tips for Success on the Cayenne Pepper Diet
Here are some tips to help you follow the cayenne pepper diet correctly and minimize side effects:
- Drink plenty of fluids – Stay very hydrated by drinking herbal tea, water and broth in addition to the spicy lemonade.
- Go slow – Gradually increase the cayenne pepper amounts to allow your body to adjust to the heat and prevent GI issues.
- Manage cravings – Fight hunger between drinks by staying busy and drinking herbal teas.
- Supplement if needed – If you start feeling lethargic or dizzy, supplement with electrolytes.
- Transition smart – Slowly reintroduce foods during phase 2, starting with broth and simple foods before richer proteins and starches.
- Avoid overeating – Stick with small portions as your transition back to regular foods so you don’t overwhelm your system.
The cayenne pepper diet requires discipline to follow. But if you stick to the plan, you can complete it safely and potentially see results.
Should You Try the Cayenne Pepper Diet?
The cayenne pepper diet is an extreme, short-term cleanse diet. It may lead to quick weight loss at first, but it is not a sustainable or healthy long-term eating plan.
If you are looking to lose weight, you are better off following a balanced diet rich in lean proteins, fiber, healthy fats and nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits. Focus on getting regular exercise and reducing overall calorie intake in a moderate, consistent way.
The cayenne pepper diet may cause more harm than good for many people. Discuss it with your doctor before trying, especially if you have any medical conditions or take medications.
While the cayenne pepper diet may not be the best choice, adding some cayenne pepper to your normal healthy diet could provide beneficial effects. Cayenne pepper contains antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory and metabolism boosting properties when consumed in moderation.
The cayenne pepper diet is a short-term cleanse diet that involves drinking spicy lemonade made with cayenne pepper and lemon multiple times per day. It also restricts calories to promote quick weight loss. However, it is an extreme diet and the results are rarely permanent. While cayenne pepper has some health benefits, there are better and safer ways to lose weight and detoxify the body.