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Side Effects of the Lemonade Diet

author image Michelle Kerns
Michelle Kerns writes for a variety of print and online publications and specializes in literature and science topics. She has served as a book columnist since 2008 and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Kerns studied English literature and neurology at UC Davis.
Side Effects of the Lemonade Diet
A woman pours a glass of lemonade. Photo Credit: Pefostudio/iStock/Getty Images

Followers of the Lemonade Diet -- also called the Master Cleanse -- forgo solid food and drink only saltwater, herbal laxative tea and a lemonade beverage made from water, fresh lemon or lime juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup for 10 days. You'll most likely lose weight on the plan since you will consume only 650 calories each day, says "U.S. News & World Report." You will probably regain the pounds you lost, however, when you return to your normal eating habits, and the diet may cause you to experience a variety of side effects. Ask your doctor for advice before beginning the Lemonade Diet.

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Commonly Reported Side Effects

While following the Lemonade Diet, 25-year-old Molly Davis reported feeling irritable and tired. She developed acne and a white film on her tongue. These and other side effects like headaches, body aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, burning bowel movements, lack of energy, dizziness and feeling faint are the most common side effects experienced by Lemonade Diet adherents. While proponents of the program say these symptoms are caused by the toxins you are eliminating from your body, there is no scientific evidence to back up this claim.

Blood Sugar Fluctuations

The Lemonade Diet doesn't include any fiber and supplies only about 1 percent of the average adult's recommended daily intake of protein. Because of this, the high concentration of simple carbohydrates you'll consume by drinking the required beverage will cause a sharp spike in your blood sugar level. If you have diabetes or are prediabetic, these fluctuations can make it difficult for you to manage your condition. Returning to solid food after completing the diet can cause further irregularities in your insulin and blood glucose levels.

Possible Nutrient Deficiencies

The Lemonade Diet does not supply the recommended daily allowance of fat, protein or essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium, potassium, vitamin D and vitamin B-12. While you may not suffer long-lasting health repercussions from the plan's recommended 10 days, repeatedly following the diet or staying on it for a longer period of time may increase your risk of nutrient deficiencies and related medical issues. This is especially true for pregnant or nursing women, the elderly, young children and teenagers and individuals with a chronic condition like heart disease.

Muscle Tissue Loss

When writer Carolyn Hsu tried the Lemonade diet in 2009, she was surprised to see how much muscle mass she had lost during the plan's 10 days. In response to the low amount of calories and protein you consume each day on the program, your body will respond by breaking down muscle tissue for energy, causing you to look flabbier even while you're losing weight. In addition, you may weaken organs like your heart.

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