Lemonade has been increasingly marketed in diet programs as an aide to weight loss. In particular, the Lemonade Diet, also known as the Master Cleanse, is a popular weight-loss program first developed by Stanley Burroughs in the 1940s. Lemonade is claimed to help detox the body by getting rid of accumulated toxins and waste products from poor dietary habits and environmental chemicals. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, there is a lack of scientific evidence validating detox diets.
Benefits of Lemonade
According to The Diet Channel.com and Kimberly Synder, CN and author of "The Beauty Detox Solution," lemon juice may help break down built-up waste in the digestive tract. It is also a source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C, B and riboflavin and minerals magnesium and phosphorus. Although lemons are acidic, a condition that is believed to unbalance the natural acid/alkaline state of the body, they are far less acidic than the natural state of the stomach and help to maintain a healthy acid/alkaline balance in the body. This decreases the risk of health issues, such as poor digestion, heartburn and allergies. Snyder also writes that lemon water helps to decrease the risk of constipation by increasing the secretion of bile from the liver.
The Lemonade Diet
The Lemonade Diet, or Master Cleanse, is a detox program that involves drinking a specially prepared Master Cocktail for fast and effective weight-loss. The cocktail includes the combination of water with 10 oz. of fresh lemon juice, a tbsp. of maple syrup and cayenne peppers. The diet is meant to be followed for a 10- to 14-day period, during which time devotees drink six to eight glasses of the lemonade water daily in addition to water and herbal tea with laxatives. It is believed that the lemonade drink helps to flush the body of waste products, allowing the organs time to rest and repair and decrease food cravings. Although this diet may aid weight loss, losses are typically a result of severe caloric and nutrient intake and lack scientific validity. Speak with a physician prior to initiating any diet plan such as this, which may incur serious health risks.
Although lemonade has been touted to benefit weight loss, it has been argued that there is nothing unique about it. According to The Diet Channel's Karen Crawford, MS, RD, CSP, lemonade drinks prepared with water and maple syrup lack nutrition and are essentially just sugar drinks. Lemonade provides no valid detoxing properties, and lemon juice is simply a weak acid much like vinegar. Other common ingredients added to lemonade diet drinks, such as cayenne pepper, may only irritate the gastrointestinal tract, leading to diarrhea. As stated by the Mayo Clinic, the healthiest weight loss includes a well-balanced diet combined with regular exercise.
Beware of detox diets such as the Master Cleanse or a variation of the Lemonade Diet that involve fasting solely on lemonade drinks and liquids for short- or long-term periods. Low calorie and nutrient intakes on these diets increase the risk of uncomfortable symptoms, such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, mental confusion, lethargy and constipation. Furthermore, poor nutrition for prolonged periods of time can result in health risks, such as heart conditions leading to cardiac arrest, hypoglycemia and vitamin deficiencies. Always consult with a physician prior to initiating any new dietary regimen to ensure individual needs are met.