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What happens when you do the Master Cleanse?

The Master Cleanse, also known as the lemonade diet, is a popular detox and weight loss program that involves consuming only a lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper drink for up to 2 weeks. The Master Cleanse has been around since the 1940s but has seen a resurgence in recent years as people look for ways to quickly lose weight and detoxify their bodies. But what exactly happens when you embark on this strict liquid diet? Let’s take a closer look.

Phase 1: Pre-Cleanse (Days 1-2)

Before starting the Master Cleanse, it is recommended to slowly ease off of caffeine, processed foods, meat, dairy, alcohol, and sugar over a period of 2 days. This pre-cleanse phase prepares your body for the dramatic change in intake so that you can avoid strong hunger pangs and withdrawal symptoms.

On these pre-cleanse days, focus on eating raw fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and healthy whole grains like quinoa or brown rice. Drink plenty of water to hydrate and flush out your system.

Phase 2: The Lemonade Cleanse (Days 3-10)

This is the most intense and restrictive phase of the Master Cleanse. During this phase, you consume only the following lemonade drink when you are hungry:

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

You can drink this lemonade as much as you want throughout the day when hungry. Some people consume up to 12 glasses daily. Make sure to drink plenty of additional plain water as well, aiming for at least 64 oz per day.

In addition to the lemonade, you should also consume a laxative tea both morning and night. Options for a laxative tea include:

  • Senna tea
  • Smooth move tea
  • Herbal laxative tea

During this Master Cleanse phase, you are allowing your body to completely rest its digestive system while flooding it with hydration and nutrients from the lemonade drink. This phase generally lasts for 7-10 days depending on your individual goals.

Phase 3: Post-Cleanse (Days 11-30)

Once you complete the lemonade cleanse phase, it is extremely important to slowly reintroduce solid foods over a period of several days. Your body will be very sensitive after the cleanse, so a slow reintroduction is key to avoiding digestive issues.

On the first post-cleanse day, you should only consume fresh juices, smoothies with plant-based protein powder, and raw fruits and vegetables. The following table provides an example post-cleanse reintroduction schedule:

Day Foods to Eat
11 Fresh juices, smoothies, raw fruits & veggies
12 Add in well-cooked vegetables and vegetarian soups
13 Add in gluten-free grains like quinoa and oats
14 Add legumes, nuts, seeds
15+ Gradually reintroduce lean poultry, fish, eggs, dairy if tolerated

Ease back into eating solid foods gradually over the course of several weeks. Avoid processed foods, sugar, alcohol, and caffeine during the post-cleanse phase. Drink plenty of water and focus on eating fresh, whole foods as much as possible.

Weight Loss on the Master Cleanse

One of the main reasons people try the Master Cleanse is quick weight loss. How much weight can you expect to lose on the cleanse? Here are some general guidelines:

  • First 2 days: Lose 2-5 lbs water weight during the pre-cleanse phase
  • Next 7-10 days: Lose 1-2 lbs per day during the lemonade cleanse, so 7-20 lbs total
  • Post-cleanse: Lose 5+ lbs water weight initially after cleanse

Most people lose 10-25 lbs over the course of the full Master Cleanse program, but the amount varies based on the individual. Keep in mind that most of this initial weight lost is water weight and some muscle mass, rather than pure body fat.

To maintain any fat loss after the cleanse, you must stick to a healthy diet and exercise program. If you go back to poor eating habits right away, you will likely regain much of the weight.

Detox Symptoms

As your body eliminates waste and toxins during the Master Cleanse, you may experience some detox symptoms. This is actually a good thing and shows that your body is cleansing itself.

Some potential detox symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Skin breakouts
  • Strong cravings
  • Diarrhea

These symptoms are usually worst on days 3-5 and should subside by the end of the first week as the toxins are fully expelled.

Benefits and Risks

Done under medical supervision, the Master Cleanse may provide benefits such as:

  • Rapid weight loss (although most is water weight)
  • Body detoxification
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Increased energy
  • Improved concentration
  • Healthier eating habits after cleanse

However, there are also some potential risks and side effects to consider:

  • Nutrient deficiencies if done longer than 10 days
  • Muscle loss along with fat loss
  • Gallstones
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Low blood sugar
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Headaches

Those with health conditions like diabetes, eating disorders, kidney disease, liver disease, or nutrient deficiencies should not do the cleanse without medical supervision.

Conclusion

The Master Cleanse is an extreme short-term diet that involves drinking only lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper for up to 10 days to detoxify the body and promote weight loss. Most people lose 10-25 lbs, mostly water weight and muscle rather than fat. Done occasionally under medical supervision, it may provide benefits but also has risks. For lasting weight loss, you must adopt long-term healthy eating and exercise habits.