The cayenne pepper, lemon, honey diet is a detox or cleanse based on the Master Cleanse detox. The difference is the Master Cleanse diet uses maple syrup in place of honey. It is one of many cleansing diets, but does it provide real results?
Lemon, Honey, Cayenne Cleanse Drink
According to the "Master Cleanser," an updated version of the Master Cleanse detox by Stanley Burroughs, you're supposed to make a single serving of the drink with:
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- 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1/10 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more, to taste, if desired)
- 8 to 12 ounces of purified water
The altered version of the program uses raw honey in place of the maple syrup. It's common to make a large batch of the drink to have it on hand for when hunger strikes. Since it's the only thing you'll use for the duration of the fasting diet, you'll want to have plenty of cayenne pepper, lemon and honey available.
How to Follow the Diet
During the lemon-honey-cayenne cleanse, no solid food is allowed. All your calorie consumption comes from the drink you make with cayenne pepper, lemon and honey. You can consume the mixture whenever you're hungry, though it's recommended that you have at least six glasses every day.
Other than the Master Cleanse detox drink, dieters are advised to drink a quart of warm salt water in the morning to promote bowel movements. If dieters experience constipation, use of herbal laxative teas is permitted.
Dieters are advised to follow the diet for at least 10 days but can continue for up to 40 days if desired. There is no scientific evidence to support the recommendations. Proponents of this diet claim your body needs 10 days to eliminate toxins and the longer you stay on the program, the more weight you'll lose.
The lack of solid food sets you up for nutrient deficiencies. According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine, lack of sufficient protein may lead to swelling, muscle loss and thinning hair. The Academies also says a lack of iron can lead to anemia and extreme fatigue. The effects depend on which nutrients are deficient, how deficient you are, and how long the deficiency remains.
Does the Cleanse Work?
Because of the drastic cut in caloric intake, you're likely to see some weight loss at the end of the fasting period. When you resume eating solid food, however, it's likely the weight will return quickly because the loss is not likely to be fat, but water.
A small-scale study of 84 women who used a lemon detox diet, published in the May 2015 issue of Nutrition Research, suggests that a lemon detox program reduces body fat and insulin resistance through caloric restriction. This study involved participants remaining on the fast for seven days, so there is no evidence to support the benefits over an extended period of time.
Another small-scale study featured in the March 2016 issue of the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine involved 50 participants and looked at the short-term use of a lemon juice and honey fast. This study looked at the use of the fast for four days. The results indicate that the fast may be safe and effective in reducing fat in healthy individuals. As with the other study, there is no evidence to support participants' ability to keep the weight off in the long term.
Although these two studies show a cleansing diet has positive benefits, it's unhealthy to maintain such a restricted caloric intake for a long period of time. Doing so could have negative effects on your overall health. It's best to speak with your doctor before beginning a lemon-honey-cayenne cleanse to ensure you are healthy enough.
- International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition: Effects of Natural Honey Consumption in Diabetic Patients: An 8-Week Randomized Clinical Trial
- International Journal of Biological Sciences: Honey -- A Novel Antidiabetic Agent
- ABC News: The Truth About Lemon Water
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Cayenne
- Physiology and Behavior: The Effects of Hedonically Acceptable Red Pepper Doses on Thermogenesis and Appetite
- U.S. News and World Report: Master Cleanse
- The Wall Street Journal: The Debate Over Juice Cleanses and Toxin Removal
- Eating Well: Are “Natural” Sweeteners Really Any Healthier Than Sugar?
- Google Books: "The Master Cleanser"
- The National Academies of Sciences Engineering Medicine: "Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements: Protein"
- The National Academies of Sciences Engineering Medicine: "Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements: Iron"
- Nutrition Research: "Lemon Detox Diet Reduced Body Fat, Insulin Resistance, and Serum Hs-CRP Level Without Hematological Changes in Overweight Korean Women"
- Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine: "Does Short-term Lemon Honey Juice Fasting Have an Effect on Lipid Profile and Body Composition in Healthy Individuals?"
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