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The Master Cleanse

The Master Cleanse
Reading Time: 4 minutes


The Master Cleanse is a juice diet used for rapid weight loss. The diet is based on the book The Master Cleanser by Stanley Burroughs, who proposes the idea as a panacea for all health problems, including obesity. Also called the ‘Lemonade Diet’ because it mainly uses lemon juice for the detoxing process, this liquid diet claims to provide a good rest to the digestive system while providing sufficient amount of nutrients and calories to keep you going. However, it’s hard to see it as anything but an extreme step to meet an unreasonable demand for quick weight loss. It has been used and abused by many celebrities who needed to get thin quickly no matter how, but the safety of the procedure is suspect.

How the Master Cleanse Diet Works

No diet can be as simple as the Master Cleanse because it takes just 3 ingredients. Well, the main part of the diet, the lemonade, takes just freshly squeezed lemons, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. There are a few other things like salt flush and laxative teas, but those are secondary.

The detox lemonade is made as follows:

1. Take 8oz. pure drinking water
1. Squeeze out the juice from a lemon and add 2 Tbsp. of it to the water
2. Add 2 Tbsp. rich maple syrup (dark colored Grade B maple syrup)
3. Stir in 1/10 tsp. cayenne pepper powder (or a little more or less depending on your tolerance) and drink it up.

You’re to have a minimum of 6 glasses of this lemonade throughout the day, but, if you feel hungry, you can have as many as 12 glasses. Drinking all that liquid will definitely produce copious amounts of urine, but you may not have any bowel movements because you’re not taking any fiber-rich food. Taking a laxative at bedtime is the prescribed solution. Another recommendation is performing a Salt Water Flush in the morning.

Salt Water Flush is a stomach and colon cleanse procedure that has been around for a very long time. It uses pure sea salt in very warm water. You typically add about 2 tsp sea salt to a glass of water that’s only slightly less hot than tea or coffee. Stir until the salt dissolves completely and then drink it up at one go. It would be very salty and unpleasant, so a squeeze of lemon may make it more palatable.

Salt Water Flush will be followed by a bowel movement soon enough, but you have to try and delay it as long as possible to allow the minerals in the salt solution to get absorbed. You may need to empty the bowels more than once to get all the mess out, but that’s supposed to remove all the toxic buildup in the digestive tract.

Is exercise involved?

No one who has ever tried even one day of this diet would ask this question. Let’s just say that it’s hard enough to function normally with all the common side effects of the diet, such as headaches, nausea and weakness, to even think about exercise. It is claimed that dieters would feel lighter and full of energy by the 8th day of the typical 10-14 day diet, but ‘light-headed’ is more like it.

The diet actually doesn’t recommend any type of exercise during the cleansing days. It’s just as well, because it could be dangerous to exert yourself any further when you’ve already put your body through so much.

Nutritional profile

The liquid diet provides some energy and a few minerals and vitamins, but it is nowhere near a complete or balanced nutrition that our body requires for normal functioning. That may prompt the body to dig into its stored resources, which could be the driving force behind the weight loss. The diet, after all, is meant as a short term strategy for detoxification and weight loss, and does not claim to be an alternative to normal diet.

The Cost Factor

The Master Cleanse Diet is relatively inexpensive given the fact that its main requirements are a good supply of fresh lemons, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. The method is freely available online, although it is a good idea to get a diet book such as The Master Cleanser detailing every aspect of the diet. There are many more diet help books based on this diet.

Level of Effort

The level of effort required to follow this liquid diet is undoubtedly quite high. It is hard enough shifting from a predominantly solid diet to an exclusively liquid one, especially one consisting of nothing more substantial than the fresh juice of lemons with a sweetener and a spicy ingredient added to it. It is pretty hard to swallow the concoction, not to mention the severe side effects. Many people who start it with all enthusiasm give up on the very first day. Those who hold on can be guaranteed to have several days of agony ahead.

Many people have gone on record detailing their difficulties, but some obviously find it cathartic, like a penance that absolves you of all your sinful eating. Since the diet itself is an extreme measure, it is recommended that you follow an ease-in and ease-out process before and after the diet period respectively. ‘Easing in’ basically means cutting down on calories and replacing meals with vegetable soups before starting the diet. Similarly, you should add in simple, easy-to-digest foods gradually after you end the diet when your ten days or two weeks are up.


Master Cleanse Diet is an extreme diet regimen bordering on self torture. There’s no doubt that it is taxing for your system, and may even be dangerous for people who are diabetic, hypertensive or suffering from kidney problems. There are people who periodically undergo this diet for detoxing after months of excesses in between. They lose weight quickly during the diet period, only to gain back all that, and some more. In conclusion, Master Cleanse Diet may be a quick–and probably dangerous–way to lose weight temporarily, but it’s not worth the effort and the risk.