The lemonade diet, originally known as the Master Cleanse, was designed as a cure-all detoxification program as well as a weight loss program. It's a very unhealthy diet that lacks essential nutrients, and there's no scientific evidence that detox diets are effective. Because the diet is meant to cleanse your system, only fresh organic lemons should be used, not processed lemon juice that may have preservatives added.
The "Master Cleanse" was written in the 1940s by Stanley Burroughs as a detoxification program that he claimed could cure almost any illness. It's a modified fast -- there is no food allowed on the program, but you may consume between six and 12 glasses of lemonade made from purified water, organic fresh-squeezed lemon juice, grade B maple syrup and cayenne pepper. Burroughs also recommends a salt-water "internal cleansing" -- drinking saltwater each morning to flush your bowels. The program was meant to be used for between 10 and 40 days; 40 days because that was how long Jesus fasted.
Burroughs is very specific in his book and says "Use fresh organic lemons or limes only, never canned lemon or limejuice nor frozen lemonade or frozen juice." Because the diet is meant to clear built-up toxins from your systems, Burroughs recommends using all organic ingredients if possible to avoid introducing additives, preservatives or pesticides into your body. It's also recommended that you don't store your lemons in the fridge, which can harm some of the enzymes in the fruit. It should be noted that lemons do not have any magical fat-burning properties.
Almost all of your calories will be coming from simple sugars -- maple syrup -- on the lemonade diet. Each glass of lemonade contains about 110 calories, making this potentially a very low calorie diet. You may experience hypoglycemia -- low blood sugar -- because of the drastic reduction in calories. Signs of hypoglycemia include hunger, headache, dizziness, fatigue and mood swings. There is no protein, no fiber and a lack of essential vitamins and minerals on the diet. The lack of nutrients could effect your immune system and leave you vulnerable to illness or infection. The constant flushing of your system can cause some digestive issues, as your body needs beneficial bacteria to absorb nutrients from your food.
There is no medical proof that your body benefits from a detox diet. You have a built-in elimination system -- your skin, lungs, kidneys and liver all work to filter substances your body doesn't need and eliminate toxins. Long-term fasting can actually deplete your body of nutrients and cause lean muscle loss -- which could negatively effect your heart and other organs. Very low calorie diets such as this can slow your metabolism, making weight loss more difficult.
- "The Master Cleanse": Stanley Burroughs
- Master Cleanse: Master Cleanse and The Lemonade Diet
- Calorie Lab: Stanley Burroughs’ Master Cleanse Diet
- "N.Y. Times"; I Heard It Through the Diet Grapevine; Lola Ogunnaike, December 2006
- MSNBC.com; Experts Warn of Detox Diet Dangers; Susan Moores, R.D.; May 2007