The Lemonade DietLast Updated: June 21, 2021
It actually goes by many names: The Lemonade Diet, The Maple Syrup Diet, The Lemonade Cleanse, and many more. Originally, it was referred to as The Master Cleanse Diet, and became extremely popular when the beautifully curvaceous Beyonce used the diet to slim down to a drastically thin weight for her role in Dreamgirls.
But what is this diet, exactly? On the surface, it seems simple enough: fresh-squeezed lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and water. For a full cleanse, dieters must drink that - and only that - for ten days, along with a laxative tea in the evening and a "saltwater flush" in the morning. But beware - the flush and the tea are both designed to cause "frequent, urgent eliminations" of the bowel. It's all a part of the detoxification that the cleanse promises.
For some, the quick, intense weight loss is worth the ten days of virtual starvation and frequent bathroom trips. But is it a healthy way to lose weight? And are there any unhealthy side effects that you should be aware of before you start? We'll answer these questions in this article, as well as take a closer look on what exactly The Master Cleanse involves. Surprisingly, it's a lot more complicated than just drinking lemonade.
The History of the Master Cleanse
The Master Cleanse diet has actually been around since 1976, when Stanley Burroughs published the first incarnation of it in The Master Cleanser. In addition to the early drafts of what we now know of today as the lemonade diet, the book suggests a number of organic, natural, and household remedies for common ailments which the author believed were caused by modernization.
A Deeper Look at The Master Cleanse Diet
In total, there are actually three phases to this particular diet: an "easing in" period, the "lemonade diet" that most people are familiar with, and an "easing out" period where you gradually work your way back to eating solid foods. Arguably, most hardcore followers of the Master Cleanse program claim that those who try and fail to complete this particular cleanse do so because they tried to perform phase two only.
Phase one, or the "easing in" phase, is a four day process in which you gradually scale down your traditional diet in favor of raw fruits and vegetables, juices, broth, and eventually just orange juice. As part of its transitional nature, "day 5" of phase one is also Day 1 of the lemonade diet. Many serious cleansers acknowledge that easing in is optional, but many users claim that it helps them stick to the lemonade diet for the full 10 days with fewer complications and "detox symptoms".
Phase two is the well-known lemonade cleanse part of the diet, followed by the essential "Ease out" period, or phase three. Despite the fact that many in the community are unsure how necessary phase one is, phase three is the exact same meal plan, but in reverse. You start out with a day of orange juice, followed by a day of juiced fruits and vegetables. On day three, you refrain from juicing the veggies and fruits from the day before, eating them raw instead. And on day 4, you transition back to your regular diet.
In reality, the Master Cleanse is designed to be a life-altering dietary system with connections to the raw food and live food dietary communities. It is also a big business - those who insist on the benefits of the master cleanse offer no shortage of supplemental products to sell you, including the laxative teas, educational books, and beyond. There is much more to this particular diet than just drinking spicy lemonade for two weeks.
How Healthy is the Lemonade Diet?
The health benefits of this particular diet are hotly contested on both sides of the divide. Obviously, the more traditional nutrition experts are against it. According to doctors who have been studying human nutrition for decades, the lemonade diet carries with it some potentially unhealthy consequences:
- Macronutrient deficiencies. The diet is far too low in total calories, calories from fat, calories from protein, and carbohydrate calories. Sure, you may lose a lot of weight quickly, but odds are much of that weight will come from water, muscle, and bone loss - not the unhealthy fat plaguing your waistline.
- Micronutrient deficiencies. The lemonade diet is also deficient in many essential nutrients that the human body needs in order to maintain proper functionality. Amongst these nutrients are potassium (for proper heart and kidney function), calcium (for bone health), vitamin B-12, and vitamin D.
Probably one of the more questionable claims associated with the lemonade diet is that you don't need to supplement with additional vitamins or minerals - in fact, supplementation is strongly discouraged because doing so is believed to interfere with the detoxification process. Proponents insist that the lemon juice has all of the nutrients that the body needs to keep functioning for the course of the cleanse. However, even a cursory look at the nutritional profile of lemon juice disproves this claim.
To be fair, these deficiencies aren't going to cause any permanent damage if you only try the diet once. But if you dive deep into the Master Cleanse community, many of the diet's loyal practitioners suggest performing the cleanse on a regular basis, sometimes cycling in and out 3 times per year or more. However, experts agree that such tenacity could leave you with kidney, heart, and bone density problems later on in life.
Fortunately, there are healthier alternatives. Supplements such as Core Cleanse naturally purge accumulated toxins out of your digestive system with the help of natural herbs and botanical extracts. Best of all, you don't need to adopt some drastic starvation diet in order to use it - just take the recommended daily dosage with meals, and start enjoying the benefits within a matter of days. Ultimately, however, whether you try the lemonade diet or a supplement like Core Cleanse is up to you and whatever professional medical advice your doctor has to offer. Learn more.