What happens to body during Master Cleanse?

The Master Cleanse, also known as the lemonade diet, is a popular cleansing and detox program that has been around since the 1940s. It involves drinking a lemonade-like concoction of lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water for a period of 10-40 days. Proponents claim that the Master Cleanse can remove toxins from the body, help with weight loss, and improve overall health and vitality. However, there are also potential dangers with undergoing such an extreme and prolonged fast. Here we’ll take a look at what happens in the body when doing the Master Cleanse.

Weight Loss

Weight loss is one of the primary reasons people undertake the Master Cleanse. By consuming a very low calorie diet for multiple days, your body is forced to burn fat stores for energy, resulting in potentially rapid weight loss. However, the majority of the weight lost on this diet is water weight and lean muscle mass rather than fat. Some research shows that the Master Cleanse can result in a weight loss of around 1-3 pounds per day for a total loss of 10-40 pounds over a 10 to 40 day period.

Duration Total Weight Loss
10 days 10-30 pounds
20 days 20-60 pounds
40 days 40-120 pounds

While dramatic short-term weight loss is possible, most people regain the weight quickly when resuming normal eating. The Master Cleanse is not a sustainable long-term weight loss solution.


Advocates of the Master Cleanse believe it can effectively eliminate waste and toxins from the body. However, there is limited scientific evidence that juice cleanses and detox diets actually remove toxins. Your body already has its own highly efficient detoxification system in the form of your kidneys, liver, skin, lymph nodes and gastrointestinal tract. When functioning properly, these organs filter out waste products and chemicals without the need for juice fasts or cleanses.

Digestive Rest

Because no solid food is consumed for days or weeks on the Master Cleanse, it gives your digestive system an extended rest. This may be beneficial if you normally eat a diet high in processed foods, are constantly snacking or frequently get gastrointestinal symptoms like gas, bloating or constipation. Taking a break from digesting solid food allows the stomach to shrink back to its normal size and for the intestines to clear out.

Blood Sugar Control

The lemonade drink contains maple syrup, which provides carbohydrates and energy. However, the amount of syrup is relatively small at only 2 tablespoons diluted in water 6-12 times a day. Consuming a very low carb, low calorie diet can help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce insulin spikes for those with diabetes or prediabetes. However, people who take insulin or diabetes medications like metformin need medical supervision when fasting to prevent blood sugar crashing.

Mental Clarity

Some people report feeling more clear headed and focused during the Master Cleanse. This makes sense biologically, as digesting food can divert blood away from the brain. Skipping meals for a day or two may temporarily improve concentration and mental acuity. However, extended food restriction and starvation can certainly have detrimental effects on brain function over the long term.

Acid-Base Balance

The lemonade drink has an alkalizing effect on your body’s pH levels. Lemons are rich in citric acid and citrates, which are metabolized into alkaline compounds. Drinking lemon water may help counteract an overly acidic diet from foods like processed grains, sugars and meats. Proper pH balance is essential for cellular functioning throughout the body.

Potential Dangers

While the Master Cleanse may have some benefits, it also poses a number of health risks. Potential dangers include:

Risk Explanation
Nutrient deficiencies Not consuming any protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins or minerals for days/weeks can lead to deficiencies.
Muscle loss The body breaks down muscle tissue when starved of calories and protein.
Gallstones Rapid weight loss increases risk of gallstones that can block bile ducts.
Hypoglycemia Blood sugar may crash dangerously low without proper medical monitoring.
Electrolyte imbalance Low sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium levels from fasting.
Dehydration Not consuming adequate water when fasting leads to dehydration.
Headaches Headaches are common side effect of fasting due to electrolyte disturbance, low blood sugar, caffeine withdrawal.


The Master Cleanse is an extreme liquid diet that causes rapid weight loss, but also comes with health risks. While short term fasting may have some benefits, extended juice cleansing can result in nutrient deficiencies, muscle loss, severe hunger, headaches and other issues. The Master Cleanse is not a sustainable long-term eating plan and most people regain weight quickly when normal eating is resumed. Consult with your doctor before attempting fasting or detox programs.

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