What is it?

The Master Cleanse Diet is a liquid diet used to detoxify the body and encourage weight loss. It was created by Stanley Burroughs in 1941, who proclaimed that the liquid cleanse was a healthy and natural process to flush the body of deadly toxins, pesticides, and other impurities. It was originally intended to treat ulcers and act as a detox. The cleanse has since become popular as a weight-loss plan with Peter Glickman's 2004 book Lose Weight, Have More Energy, and Be Happier in 10 Days.

The Master Cleanse is meant to be strictly followed over a three-to-10-day period. It is broken up into three phases: Ease-In, The Lemonade Diet, and Ease Out. The Ease-In period is not technically required, but is recommended as a way to prepare your body for the rest of the diet. It is broken out into three days:

  • Day 1: living food diet
  • Day 2: fruit and vegetable juices and soup broths
  • Day 3: orange juice

The Lemonade Diet phase is the main component of the Master Cleanse. During this phase, you consume only a special "lemonade," which is meant to be drunk six to 12 times a day, or whenever you are hungry.

The Master Cleanse lemonade is made up of:

  • 2 Tablespoons of organic lemon juice which must be freshly squeezed.
  • 2 Tablespoons of organic grade B maple syrup—it's important to avoid imitation maple syrup as it contains additives.
  • 1/10 Teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 10 oz of filtered water

During the Lemonade Diet phase, you must also take either a nightly herbal laxative (which you can buy at a drug store) or a morning salt-water flush made up of water and sea salt. These are meant to induce daily bowel movements.

The Ease-Out stage is essentially the Ease-In stage in reverse:

  • Day 1: orange juice
  • Day 2: fruit and vegetable juices and soup broths
  • Day 3: living food diet

Once the cleanse has been completed, it's important to wait for at least 60 days before going on another cleanse.

The diet is also sometimes referred to as the "Lemon Detox Diet" or the "Maple Syrup Diet."

The Promise

The Master Cleanse Diet claims to help the body become healthier and energized. Throughout the cleanse, toxins will naturally be removed from the body and weight will subsequently be lost.

Pros & Cons

Due to the low-caloric intake, you will lose weight on the Master Cleanse Diet. However, the diet only includes 600-1200 calories per day, which is well beneath the recommended 2000 calories for an average adult. In addition to being extremely low in calories, the cleanse is deficient in vital nutrients, protein, carbohydrates, essential fats, fiber, and vitamins. There is no scientific evidence that the cleanse helps to clear toxins out of the body. Our bodies are designed to eliminate toxins on its own via the kidneys, liver, and lungs so shouldn't need the help of a cleanse diet.

Exercise is not mentioned as part of the Master Cleanse diet. However, physical activity would probably be difficult on such a low-calorie diet. People often suffer headaches, dizziness, diarrhea, and nausea while on the cleanse.

Healthline Says

The Master Cleanse Diet is a crash diet and isn't safe or sustainable. The cleanse is deficient in essential nutrients and calories, and puts the body into a state of starvation which can reduce muscle tissue and deteriorate healthy bacteria that aids digestion and boosts immunity.

There is no scientific evidence that shows that the Master Cleanse actually removes any "toxins" from the body. And while you will lose weight, this type of weight loss will most likely be accompanied by subsequent regain, which can severely stress the body, particularly the cardiovascular system. There are much healthier and effective ways to lose weight that do not involve long-term health risks.

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