The Truth About the Master Cleanse Diet

Updated on March 6, 2019

Cayenne Pepper is One of the Main Ingredients in the Master Cleanse Diet


About the Master Cleanse Diet

The Master Cleanse diet is a fad diet that started in the 1940s and is a liquid based diet that has been scientifically proven to shed weight fast and detox the body of impurities (Olaski, 2008).

Invented by Stanley Burroughs, this detox diet is based around a lemonade drink mixed with maple syrup, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper.

Originally, this fad diet was cooked up in order to flush unhealthy toxins and waste from the body. After several celebrities, most notably Beyonce Knowles, started using the Master Cleanse as a weight loss tactic rather than a detox, the diet became increasingly popular.

The idea of the Master Cleanse is for the dieter to drink the concoction whenever he or she is hungry- the combination of the ingredients are said to help speed up the metabolism, increase energy, decrease hunger and detox the body of impurities.

Claims Pertaining to the Master Cleanse Diet

Some of the claims of the Master Cleanse diet include that dieters will lose ten pounds if they stick to the lemonade mixture twelve times a day for about two weeks.

Other claims include that dieters should expect to see an increase in their metabolism, an improvement in their digestive system and a decrease in the number of unhealthy toxins in the body (Olaski, 2008).

The theory behind this diet is that if you give up solid foods and consume only fluids, weight loss (at least in the short-term) is inevitable.

Is the Master Cleanse Diet a Good Way to Lose Weight? Answers from a Nutritionist

Components of the Master Cleanse Diet

The Master Cleanse diet, also known as the lemonade diet, is typically a one week regimen where you drink and eat nothing but a specific concoction consisting of:

  • Maple syrup
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Lemon juice

The ingredients are combined to create a lemonade like drink that is supposed to replace your food intake for one to two weeks.

Because of the low caloric total of this diet, exercise is strongly discouraged while on the diet, as it can lead to dizziness, fainting and fatigue.

Opponents of the Master Cleanse Diet

Opponents of the cleanse say that any kind of diet that promises that type of weight loss that master cleanse promises can not be healthy.

“Dietitian Melinda Johnson, RD, doesn’t see anything positive about this diet plan” (Zelman, 2008).

Doctor Johnson thinks the diet lacks scientific research and any empirical evidence that shows the diet is healthy.

Johnson says the liver is the body’s natural way of ridding itself of toxins- the master cleanse is not needed for that purpose, and no diet should be used for such dramatic weight loss (Zelman, 2008).

The Master Cleanse Diet Eliminates Food for At Least Ten Days

Any diet that asks you to avoid food for an extended period of time should be avoided.
Any diet that asks you to avoid food for an extended period of time should be avoided. | Source

Have You Ever Tried the Master Cleanse Diet?

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Health Risks Associated with the Master Cleanse Diet

The Master Cleanse diet doesn’t reflect any of the widely accepted guidelines for weight loss or a healthy lifestyle set up by the Food and Drug Administration.

Although this fad diet probably won't do too much harm if you are a healthy individual and only try the diet once, continuous use of this approach to weight loss can be devastating for even the healthiest individual.

For those individuals who already have health problems, the Master Cleanse diet can be even more damaging.

Negative side effects of this fad diet include nutrient deficiencies, long-term weight gain, a weakened immune system, and organ problems.

Dehydration is another major concern associated with the Master Cleanse, since it is essentially a laxative that causes water weight loss. Negative health consequences of dehydration include heart problems and electrolyte imbalances.

Side effects associated with the diet that are common but unpleasant include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and irritability.

Never start an extreme weight loss method like the Master Cleanse diet without consulting with your doctor first.

The Master Cleanse Diet Causes Nutrient Deficiencies and Can Lead to a Full Blown Eating Disorder

Extreme dieting is never the best way to approach weight loss. If you want to lose weight, combine a healthy diet with a healthy exercise routine, and always consult a physician first.
Extreme dieting is never the best way to approach weight loss. If you want to lose weight, combine a healthy diet with a healthy exercise routine, and always consult a physician first. | Source

Nutrient Deficiencies Associate with the Master Cleanse Diet

The Master Cleanse diet can cause serious nutrient deficiencies due to the lack of food ingested during the diet.

Nutrient deficiencies associated with the Master Cleanse diet include:

  • Fat - During the diet, you get an estimated 1 percent of your total calories from fat per day, compared to the 25 to 35 percent recommended by the FDA
  • Carbohydrates - The FDA recommends that a daily day's caloric total consists of 40% carbohydrates; the Master Cleanse supplies you with 98% of total calories from carbohydrates
  • Salt - Recommendations from the FDA regarding salt limit daily consumption to 1500 mg; the Master Cleanse diet far exceeds that number, with just under 3,000 mg of salt per day
  • Fiber - Recommended daily intake of fiber ranges between 22 and 34 grams; the Master Cleanse diet has almost no fiber at all
  • Potassium - An essential nutrient, dietary guidelines recommend that you intake at least 4,500 mg of potassium each day; the Master Cleanse diet provides under 300 mg of potassium
  • Calcium - Crucial for bone health, the FDA recommends that you intake a minimum of 1,400 mg of calcium each day; those on the Master Cleanse diet only get a meager 40 mg a day

Other nutrient defeciencies include Vitamin B-12, which dieters get none of on the Master Cleanse, Vitamin D, which is also non-existent in this diet, and iron.

Do You Think that the Master Cleanse Diet is Safe?

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My Personal Opinion About the Master Cleanse Diet

I would not personally recommend the Master Cleanse diet myself. Extremely deficient in many essential nutrients, this drastic weight loss approach has far more risks than benefits.

I do not think a diet that relies solely on a lemonade with maple syrup for two weeks is healthy for anyone. I also do not think that fad diets are healthy approaches for maintaining a healthy weight or healthy lifestyle.

Not only does the diet fail to provide you with essential nutrients and vitamins, it also makes exercise dangerous for those on the diet. Any diet that does not incorporate some sort of exercise can not be healthy in my opinion.

The key to any healthy lifestyle is moderation when it comes to both eating and exercising, and a diet that relies on water and maple syrup can not be a healthy option for anyone.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2014 Kathleen Odenthal


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I can not say for sure if it is healthy, but I can say it doesn't seem to be unhealthy! The energy this cleanse gives you and you stay with after it's over is like no other!!!! Can't see how that can be unhealthy!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      There are so many fad diets out there, most of which are unhealthy. Excellent hub about the pros and cons.

    • Kathleen Odenthal profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathleen Odenthal 

      6 years ago from Bridgewater

      Thank you! I agree, this is not a diet but a disastrous way to treat your body! I can't imagine just drinking some peppery lemonade for two weeks, and I have had anorexia for 17 years, so that says something!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      6 years ago from Central Florida

      Kathleen, I would never consider this or any other liquid diet. First off, I and all humans have the urge to chew and consume. I would not be able to consume nothing but liquid for an extended period. Plus it's just not healthy for all the reasons you stated above.

      Good presentation, Kathleen. Nice job on the pears photo, too!


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