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Master Cleanse (Lemonade) Diet Review, Recipe, Benefits & Side Effects

Master Cleanse Diet (Lemonade Diet)

The lemonade diet, also known as the Master Cleanse is a diet designed to achieve quick weight loss results. Though this diet is nowhere near the principles of healthy eating, many people are following the lemonade diet. This diet was designed by Stanley Burroughs in the year 1941. It was created to treat ulcers, but it gained popularity for its role in weight loss around 1976, when his book ‘The Master Cleanser’ gave precious information about the diet. Two important aims of lemonade diet are:

  • To promote quick weight loss
  • To flush out the deadly toxins and impurities out of the body

Master Cleanse Diet Recipe

Followers of this diet give up on solid foods and are only allowed to consume salt-water, herbal laxative tea and lemonade made from lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup. The lemonade is the special and important component of this diet, which can be consumed whenever the dieter feels hungry. An herbal laxative tea can be consumed at night to induce bowel movements.

How to make Lemonade Drink

All you need for 1 serving is:

  • Lemon juice- 2 to 3 tablespoons
  • Organic grade B maple syrup- 1 to 2 tablespoons
  • Cayenne pepper- 1/10th teaspoon
  • Filtered water- 250 to 300 ml

As per the creator of this diet, the lemonade drink contains all the essential nutrients that are required by the body. 6 to 12 glasses of lemonade drink can be consumed in a day.

Salt Water Flush

The salt-water flush helps to cleanse the gut and promotes elimination of harmful toxins and parasites. This should be consumed in the morning. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons un-iodized sea salt to 1 liter lukewarm water. Shake well before drinking it.

Herbal Laxative Tea

Herbal laxative tea should be consumed at night to induce bowel movements. Its main purpose is to cleanse the digestive tract.

Master Cleanse Results

It has been claimed that, following this diet for 10 days will help in weight loss, boost energy levels, detox your gut and make you feel happy and healthy. However, there are no long-term scientific studies to prove these claims.

How to Start the Master Cleanse Diet

There are three important phases of this diet:

The first phase or the ease-in section is the one, where the dieter needs to start with natural foods such as vegetables and whole grains followed by soup broths and vegetable juices on day 2 followed by orange juice on day 3. Many people think that the ease-in section is not required, but it prepares the body for the rest of the diet.

Phase 2 is the lemonade diet phase, where the dieter has to drink special lemonade drink 6 to 12 times a day combined with a salt-water flush in the morning and a natural herbal laxative tea at night.

Coming off the diet or the ease-out phase is just the reverse of the ease-in phase. During this phase, the dieter should drink orange juice on day 1 followed by vegetable and fruit juices and soup broths on day 2 followed by organic living foods such as vegetables and whole grains on day 3.

One just cannot start with the lemonade or Master Cleanse directly. He or she needs to practice ease-in and ease-out phase in order to make the body and gut comfortable.

Is Lemonade Diet Really Effective?

Lemonade diet results in weight loss and detoxification.

Weight Loss

When a person is on a lemonade diet, the number of calories entering his/ her system is low, around 600-800 calories, whereas the calorie intake prescribed for a healthy adult male and female is 2320 kcals and 1900 kcals respectively, as per the revised Recommended Dietary Allowance for Indians.

Now because the caloric intake of the person is so low, weight loss is bound to happen. During this phase, the body uses fat cells as a source of energy and to perform necessary functions.


The main component of lemonade diet is lemon juice. Lemon juice is an excellent source of vitamin C, a natural antioxidant. This antioxidant fights oxidative stress by scavenging the harmful reactive oxygen species. It protects the cells of the body against destruction and death.

Cayenne pepper, a component of the special lemonade drink is a powerful anti-microbial agent. It helps in the removal of microbes that may otherwise cause infections and damage to the body.

Maple syrup too, is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent that protects the body against attack by toxins.

Water, which is used to prepare this special drink helps in flushing out the toxins, keeps the gut clean and keeps your body hydrated.

As the lemonade drink is a combination of all the above-mentioned ingredients, it helps in detoxification.

Other Benefits

It is very well-known that obesity is the root cause of various diseases and disorders. Because lemonade diet helps in weight loss, it automatically reduces the risk of diseases that are associated with obesity.

Side Effects of Master Cleanse (Lemonade) Diet

Some of the common side-effects of lemonade diet are:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Irregular bowel movements
  • Body ache
  • Poor concentration level

Nutrient Deficiencies

Because this diet involves elimination of certain food groups, it is difficult to meet the vitamin and mineral requirements. Following this diet repeatedly may increase your risk of nutrient deficiencies and can lead to medical issues.

Muscle Loss

Low calorie and low protein intake forces the body to break down protein rich tissues, like muscles. Protein is required by each cell of the body to carry out important functions. When your diet is low in protein, the body depends on muscle proteins. This causes muscle loss, muscle weakness, and you may tend to get tired easily. This further leads to poor quality of life. As lemonade diet does not provide essential amino acids to the body, muscle loss may tend to happen.

Poor Immunity

Low intake of calories, proteins, essential vitamins and minerals may hamper your immune system and put you at an increased risk of acquiring infections. Lack of protein, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, health-promoting plant chemicals in lemonade diet can reduce the ability of the body to fight against infections.

Weight Re-Gain

Poor compliance is a common problem with this diet. Lemonade diet cannot be followed all throughout the life, hence, once when you get back to your normal eating pattern, you may gain back double the amount of weight. Therefore, it is advised to follow a diet, which is doable, and it should give long-term results.

Blood Glucose Instability

In simple terms, lemonade water is nothing but lemon and sugared water. Drinking such a water without eating any solid food may cause spikes and drop in the blood glucose level. This further causes dizziness, light-headedness, hunger pangs and irritability.

Final Verdict

Lemonade diet is a FAD or a crash diet, which is not sustainable. This diet is deficient in vitamins, minerals, protein, essential fatty acids and calories, which is required for the body’s normal functioning. It reduces your body’s resistance against infections and leads to muscle loss too.

There are no long-term scientific studies to prove the beneficial effect of such a diet on human health. Hence, it is better to avoid such FAD diets and follow a well-balanced and a nourishing diet plan.

Talk to a certified Registered Dietician if you need a diet plan for weight loss or any other health issue. There are many other healthier and effective ways to lose weight and to improve your overall health.

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