The Lemonade Diet, also known as the Master Cleanse Diet, is a modified juice fast that only allows the intake of homemade lemonade during the fasting period. It’s supposed to rid the body of toxins and promote weight loss by eliminating solid foods, especially unhealthy foods, and severely restricting calorie intake.
Does the Lemonade Diet work and is it safe? Read on to learn more.
How Does the Lemonade Diet Work?
As its alternative name – Master Cleanse Diet – suggests, the Lemonade Diet is supposed to “flush out toxins” from the body and lead to rapid weight loss.
For a period of at least 10 days, you will stay away from solid foods; all other liquids/drinks are also eliminated, except for the Master Cleanse lemonade concoction, water with salt, and/or herbal laxative teas.
There are different versions of the lemonade recipe, but it includes freshly-squeezed lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and water. You are supposed to drink between 6 and 12 glasses of the juice throughout the day, plus saltwater in the morning and laxative tea at night. While on this liquid-only fast, you will be limited to no more than 650 calories per day.
It is recommended that you gradually ease into the Lemonade Diet by slowly eliminating solid foods and increasing intake of liquid foods over several days before beginning your juice fast. You should also slowly transition into a regular diet after you finish your master cleanse by reintroducing solids bit by bit every day.
There are no strict guidelines on what you should eat post-master cleanse, but proponents of the Lemonade Diet advise minimizing consumption of meat and dairy, focusing more on whole foods, and supplementing your diet with probiotics to support healthy digestion.
Creators of the Lemonade Diet, and many of its followers, claim that you can do the juice fast up to 45 days and that it’s safe to repeat the regimen. With its severe calorie restriction, however, health experts advise against following the diet for a prolonged period and repeating it frequently.
What Can You Expect From the Lemonade Diet?
Given the severe calorie restriction – no more than 650 calories per day – and zero solid foods for at least 10 days, you may experience symptoms that creators of the diet refer to as “detox diet symptoms.” These may include cravings, irritability, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, aches, pains, and a burning sensation during bowel movements.
These symptoms, however, can be attributed to sugar withdrawal. Additionally, evidence that the Lemonade Diet or other similar so-called “detox diets” can effectively remove toxins from the body is still lacking. The liver and kidneys perform this function adequately enough, filtering ingested toxins and getting rid of them through the excretory system.
With a very low daily calorie intake, only about a third of the recommended daily allowance, combined with daily laxative teas, you will definitely lose weight. The prolonged “starvation,” however, will soon cause your body to conserve energy so your metabolism will slow down and so will your weight loss.
Once you go back to a regular diet, it’s more than likely that you will regain some of the weight you lost, if not all of it. This is because your metabolism has already acclimated to the low-calorie intake during your fast, and unless you also start increasing your physical activity when you go back to a regular diet, your metabolism will remain in its slow state even as you increase your calorie intake.
Is It Easy to Follow the Lemonade Diet?
Preparing the lemonade concoction is easy enough; what you’ll find most challenging is giving up solid foods. The first few days will be the most difficult as your body goes through a sugar withdrawal. And your cravings may never go away for the entire duration of your fast. Combined with the withdrawal symptoms mentioned above, it will take a lot of willpower to stick to the Lemonade Diet for at least 10 days straight.
Because it’s a liquid-only diet and you’ll be drinking your lemonade every two to three hours, you might also find needing to go to the bathroom more frequently inconvenient and annoying, especially when you’re at work. Taking the herbal tea laxatives every night usually also means emptying the bowels a few times in the morning for some people, and stomach cramps are also common.
Eating out will be tricky. So you should make sure not to schedule any lunch or dinner dates during your fasting period.
Needless to say, you will always feel hungry while on the Lemonade Diet.
Is the Lemonade Diet Safe?
Restricting calorie intake to only 650 calories a day is way below what is accepted as safe and healthy by established guidelines for weight loss and a healthy diet.
If you’re already healthy to begin with and with established healthy habits, trying the Lemonade Diet once should be okay. Doing it for a prolonged period and repeatedly, however, will increase your risk for nutrient deficiencies, heart and kidney problems, a weakened immune system, and other serious health conditions.
Dehydration is also a constant risk while on the Lemonade Diet, which is ironic considering that it is a liquid-only diet. With the nightly laxatives, even the 12 glasses of lemonade a day may not be enough to replenish your fluids.
The Lemonade Diet – Final Thoughts
The Lemonade Diet’s severe calorie restriction can lead to rapid weight loss but this is hard to sustain. There is also no evidence that supports the diet’s claim that it can help detoxify the body.
If you’re healthy overall, with no underlying health conditions and with a healthy lifestyle, you can try the Lemonade Diet once. But experts advise against doing it for an extended period and repeatedly as it does not only restrict calorie intake; it also eliminates most of the essential nutrients that the body needs to function properly.
Fasting can be good for the body when done right. There are a number of other fasting diets that are healthier and safer.