What do you eat on the Master Cleanse?

The Master Cleanse, also known as the lemonade diet, is a fasting regimen that involves drinking only a lemonade concoction for a period of 10 days or more. Created by Stanley Burroughs in the 1940s, it continues to be popular with those looking to quickly lose weight and cleanse their body. But with such a restrictive diet, many wonder—what do you actually eat and drink on the Master Cleanse?

The Master Cleanse Lemonade

The only food allowed on the Master Cleanse is a specially formulated lemonade drink. It’s made from these simple ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp grade B organic maple syrup
  • 1/10 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 8 oz water

You can drink this lemonade anytime you feel hungry. Most people will drink 6-12 glasses per day. Some also allow herbal teas like peppermint tea.

The maple syrup provides a small amount of calories and nutrients. The cayenne pepper adds heat and metabolism-boosting properties. And the lemon juice provides vitamin C and enzymes to stimulate digestion and cleansing.

Salt Water Flushes

In addition to the lemonade, you’ll be doing a salt water flush each morning. This helps stimulate bowel movements and internal cleansing.

To make the flush, dissolve 2 tsp of non-iodized sea salt into one quart of lukewarm water. Drink it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Try to drink it within 5 minutes. This will cause multiple bowel movements and flush out toxins.

Herbal Laxative Tea (optional)

Some people also choose to drink an herbal laxative tea before bed to help cleanse the colon. Options include:

  • Senna leaf
  • Cascara sagrada
  • Aloe vera juice
  • Chamomile tea
  • Peppermint tea

This stimulates bowel movements overnight to support the detox process.

What About Food?

No solid food is allowed on the Master Cleanse. However, some modifications allow small amounts of certain foods for those who need it. This includes:

  • 1 tbsp psyllium husks mixed in water (for fiber)
  • 1 tbsp organic apple cider vinegar (for probiotics and digestion)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth (for electrolytes)
  • A small baked potato or avocado if really needed (for nutrients and energy)

But in general, lemonade is intended as the only real source of calories and nutrients for most days.

Sample Daily Schedule

Here is what a typical day on the Master Cleanse might look like:

Time Drink
6:00 am Salt water flush
8:00 am Lemonade
10:00 am Lemonade
12:00 pm Lemonade
2:00 pm Lemonade
4:00 pm Lemonade
6:00 pm Lemonade
8:00 pm Laxative tea
10:00 pm Lemonade

Drink lemonade whenever you’re hungry and aim for at least 6 glasses spaced throughout the day. You can adjust the timing as needed. The salt flush and tea help stimulate cleansing bowel movements.

The Master Cleanse Ingredients Explained

Let’s take a closer look at the purpose of each ingredient in the Master Cleanse lemonade drink:


Fresh lemon juice provides vitamin C, nutrients, and enzymes to stimulate the liver and flush toxins. Lemon juice also adds flavor and tartness.

Maple Syrup

Grade B organic maple syrup provides a small amount of minerals and calories to give you energy. It also adds sweetness to balance the tart lemon juice.

Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper helps boost metabolism and circulation. It also adds heat and bioactive compounds called capsaicinoids that provide cleansing and anti-inflammatory benefits.


Pure water helps flush out toxins and prevents dehydration during fasting. Room temperature or lukewarm water is best for digestion.

Can You Exercise on the Master Cleanse?

Light exercise like walking, yoga, or stretching is okay on the Master Cleanse. But you’ll want to take it easy since you’re consuming very few calories.

Vigorous exercise that makes you sweat heavily could be dangerous since you’ll be low on electrolytes. So it’s best to focus on gentle movement rather than high intensity exercise.

Listen to your body and rest as needed. Walking is great for moving toxins out of the lymphatic system.

Expected Weight Loss

Most people lose 1-3 pounds per day on the Master Cleanse since it contains so few calories. Losing 10-20 pounds in 10 days is common.

However, this is mostly water weight that will return once you start eating again. Still, it can be a motivator and kick-start a longer term diet.

Easing Off the Cleanse

Once you complete the Master Cleanse, you’ll need to slowly and carefully start eating again. Introducing food too quickly can overwhelm your system.

Start with fresh vegetable juice and broths. Slowly add in raw fruits and vegetables. Probiotic foods like yogurt and kefir can help restore digestive flora.

After a few days on soft foods, you can start to add lean protein, legumes, whole grains, eggs, nuts, seeds and cooked vegetables.

Ease back into eating over 5-7 days. Avoid heavy meats, greasy foods, sugar and caffeine initially. This prevents digestive issues as your body adjusts.

Pros and Cons of the Master Cleanse

Here are some key pros and cons to consider about the Master Cleanse diet:


  • Promotes quick weight loss
  • May reduce cravings for unhealthy foods
  • Cleans out digestive tract and colon
  • Simple and easy to follow
  • Very affordable ingredients
  • Encourages rest and self-care


  • Extremely low in calories and nutrients
  • Can cause headaches, fatigue and irritability
  • Not a sustainable long-term diet
  • Will likely regain weight after stopping
  • May cause electrolyte imbalances
  • Not ideal for diabetics or those on medications

Talk to your doctor before attempting a fast like the Master Cleanse, especially if you have any health conditions or are on medication.

Is the Master Cleanse Safe?

The Master Cleanse is relatively safe for most healthy adults for a short period of 10 days or less. But you may experience side effects like:

  • Fatigue
  • Hunger pains
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Brain fog
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Electrolyte imbalance

Longer fasts of 2-3 weeks are not recommended. You’ll end up deficient in protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.

Some people should not do the Master Cleanse without medical supervision, including:

  • Pregnant or nursing women
  • Children under 18
  • Type 1 diabetics
  • Those with gout
  • People with eating disorders
  • Anyone on medication

The Master Cleanse may also worsen gastrointestinal issues like reflux, ulcers, IBS and diverticulitis.

Tips for Success on the Master Cleanse

Here are some tips to help you succeed on the Master Cleanse detox:

  • Read the original Master Cleanse book for full instructions
  • Stick to the minimum 10 days for best results
  • Drink enough lemonade to curb hunger pains
  • Stay close to a bathroom after the morning salt flush
  • Go slowly transitioning off the cleanse
  • Plan rest days with no obligations
  • Stay hydrated and replenish electrolytes
  • Manage cravings with herbal tea, broth or salt water rinses
  • Join an online support group
  • Use a journal or app to track your cleanse

Pay attention to your body and stop the cleanse if you have any concerning symptoms. With preparation and commitment, you can get through the Master Cleanse and reap the benefits of detoxing.


The Master Cleanse is a liquid-only fast that relies on a specially formulated lemonade drink for nourishment. Salt water flushes and herbal laxative teas stimulate cleansing bowel movements.

No solid food is allowed, but small amounts of broth, psyllium or veggies can be added if needed. Side effects are common so be prepared. The Master Cleanse promotes quick but temporary weight loss and can help jumpstart healthier eating habits.

Talk to your doctor before attempting it, especially if you have any health conditions. With proper precautions, the Master Cleanse can be a safe short-term cleanse for healthy adults.

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