Master Cleanse (Lemonade Diet)

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Balanced Diet

These diets provide far fewer calories than is generally recommended, which leads to weight loss.

Pros & Cons

  • Easy
  • Cheap
  • No teeth required
  • Nutritionally not the soundest

The aim: Quick weight loss.

The claim: Drop 20 pounds in 10 days and cleanse your body of toxins.

The theory: If you give up solid foods and consume only fluids, weight loss (at least in the short term) is inevitable.

How does Master Cleanse (Lemonade Diet) work?

Originally cooked up to flush purported toxins and waste from the body, Master Cleanse – also known as the Lemonade Diet – has only recently become popularized for quick weight loss. (Beyonce allegedly used it to slim down for her role in "Dreamgirls.")

Say goodbye to solid food. For at least 10 days, your new best friends are not-quite lemonade, water and laxatives. That means 4 cups of salt water each morning, a cup of herbal laxative tea at night and six to 12 glasses throughout the day of the "lemonade" – a concoction you make from fresh lemon or lime juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water, according to, one of the most comprehensive Master Cleanse websites. (Several variations of the diet exist, so it's up to you to decide which one to follow.) Crave something more substantial? Too bad. Straying from the 650-calorie per day regimen is not allowed.

After a minimum of 10 days (some dieters apparently stick it out for 45), you'll slowly transition back to solid foods with soup and fruit juice. The website doesn't specify what your post-cleanse diet should be, but it does advise that you eat as little meat and dairy as possible and supplement meals with a probiotic to aid digestion. While dieters commonly repeat the regimen – the website's author claims to have done it 18 times since 2003 – experts don't advise making this your permanent routine.

Beware: You may experience what the website calls "detox diet symptoms," such as cravings, fatigue, irritability, aches, pains, nausea, vomiting and a burning sensation during bowel movements. Proponents claim these symptoms are signs of the body's detoxification, but there's no scientific evidence that Master Cleanse or other detox diets actually rid the body of toxins. What's more, say experts, the liver is perfectly capable of purging the body's impurities.

How much does it cost?

Practically nothing. Drinks are made from water and household ingredients. The priciest items will be lemons and maple syrup.

Will you lose weight?

How could you not, with nightly laxatives and so few daily calories (650 is about one-third of the number most adults are advised to get)? But don’t expect lasting results: You'll mostly be losing water weight and lean muscle mass – not fat – and fasting may stall your metabolism, making you more likely to regain once you resume a normal diet.

How easy is it to follow?

Though preparation is simple, giving up solid foods in favor of liquids may prove difficult.

Convenience: Making the drinks is a cinch. The real annoyance will be running to the bathroom all day long.

Recipes: Ingredients and measurements for the "lemonade" can be found at, among other websites.

Eating out: Unless you're sticking to water, eating at home is your best bet.

Alcohol: Forbidden.

Timesavers: None.

Extras: None.

Fullness: A growling stomach is a likely companion on this liquid diet.

Taste: Some dieters reportedly liken the lemonade to an energy drink.

What is the role of exercise?

It's not part of the plan, and it may even be dangerous to exercise when you're consuming so few calories. Ask your doctor before exercising while on Master Cleanse. In general, adults on healthy diets are encouraged to get at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity activity (like brisk walking) each week, along with a couple days of muscle-strengthening activities.

Diet Details


These diets provide far fewer calories than is generally recommended, which leads to weight loss.

Pros & Cons

  • Easy
  • Cheap
  • No teeth required
  • Nutritionally not the soundest