Can I Drink Coffee While on the Master Cleanse Diet?

Stanley Burroughs introduced the Master Cleanse in the 1940s, but it took off in 1976 when he published the pamphlet "The Master Cleanser." Burroughs' detox plan, also known as the lemonade diet, has dieters consume nothing but water mixed with lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper -- as well as a laxative tea and saltwater -- for 10 days straight. During this time, dieters can't have any other foods or beverages, including coffee.

Coffee being poured into a cup on a table. Credit: kazoka30/iStock/Getty Images

Preparing for the Cleanse

Because no coffee or other caffeinated drink is allowed on the cleanse, Burroughs recommends you wean yourself of any dependence you may have prior to starting the diet. If you drink coffee daily and abruptly stop when you begin the Master Cleanse, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as headache, fatigue and a general malaise. Cut back your consumption gradually, so that you are no longer drinking it when you start day one of the cleanse. Tom Woloshyn, author of "The Complete Master Cleanse: A Step-by-Step Guide to Maximizing the Benefits," recommends taking pantothenic acid, or vitamin B-5, for several days prior to starting the cleanse to help you withstand the effects of caffeine withdrawal. Consult your physician before adding any vitamin supplement to your daily routine, however.

Why Coffee Is Off-Limits

The Master Cleanse intends to reset your system and create a healthier you. Burroughs and other advocates of the cleanse note that the caffeine in coffee is a stimulant and may interfere with your natural sleep and wake cycle. Too much caffeine can increase the amount of stress hormones your body releases, which taxes your system, explains Mark Hyman, an alternative medicine doctor. Coffee can also interfere with digestion, which is one of the primary bodily systems the Master Cleanse attempts to reset.

Alkalizing Your Body

Woloshyn explains that one of the primary intentions of the Master Cleanse is to alkalize your body -- reduce an acidic body condition, which he says doesn't promote optimal health. He says coffee is a substance that raises the acid levels in your blood and thereby interferes with the diet's ability to establish your body's alkaline-acid balance. Woloshyn also recommends you stay away from coffee when you return to eating a normal diet, too.

Cleanse Considerations

No scientific evidence supports the Master Cleanse as a healthful diet plan. Your body comes with an efficient and effective detoxification system, called the lymphatic system, and the detoxifying organs of the liver and kidneys. Consuming no solid food for 10 or more days can leave you nutritionally bereft and feeling weak. Any weight you lose from abstaining from food and coffee will likely return as soon as you go back to eating whole foods. You may feel awful on the cleanse -- partly because of caffeine withdrawal. Advocates claim this is evidence that the program is working, but pain, fatigue and weakness can be signs of a serious medical condition and should not be ignored.

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