Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Diet health centre

The Lemonade Diet or Master Cleanse

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

The Lemonade Diet, also known as the Master Cleanse or Maple Syrup Diet, is an extreme diet consisting of nothing more than a lemon juice concoction. It's been around for more than 50 years and was developed as a detoxification and fasting programme, but is now promoted as a quick weight loss plan.

Its popularity soared a few years ago after Beyonce announced she'd lost 20lbs on the diet for the film Dreamgirls. The diet is sometimes called Beyonce's Lemonade Diet or Beyonce Lemonade.

As well as weight loss, it claims to help you look younger, ease chronic pain, cleanse your body of internal waste and boost your energy levels in just 10 days.

What you can eat

The short answer is: nothing!

No solid foods are allowed, nor any supplements. You consume only 6 or more servings daily of the Master Cleanse lemonade drink to keep you hydrated.

The only other options are a 'salt water flush' salt water solution in the morning and a herbal laxative tea (a 'detox' tea) at night, if needed.

A single serving of the Master Cleanse drink consists of:

  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Organic maple syrup
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Half a pint of water

After following this for four to 14 days, dieters are urged to slowly ease back into solid food, starting with foods like vegetable soup, followed by fruit and vegetables. Some versions also recommend a probiotic supplement, too.

A newer variation of the Master Cleanse diet includes an 'Ease in' three day start to the diet. The 'Ease-in' phase allows you homemade vegetable soups, salads, hummus, and homemade fruit juices or smoothies.

How it works

People lose weight on the Lemonade Diet because it is more a fast than a diet, and has so few calories. Its extreme low calorie intake will cause a faster weight loss than a more conventional diet.

The Master Cleanse Diet is supposed to "release years of built-up waste in just 10 days, while your energy soars" but in reality you may experience headaches, fatigue, dizziness, sluggishness, diarrhoea, nausea or constipation.

What the experts say

Weight loss is inevitable when you stop eating and drink very few calories, but this kind of diet can also be dangerous to your health. Nutritionists point out that the Master Cleanse diet plan is deficient in all the essential nutrients: calories, vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, fibre and fat.

They question how a diet consisting only of a low-calorie beverage can provide enough energy for normal bodily processes, let alone leave you feeling energised. They point out there isno medical evidence that fasting or 'cleansing' diets actually rid the body of any toxins not otherwise discarded in bodily waste.

The British Dietetic Association describes the plan as extreme and unsafe and not a programme it can recommend anyone trying. It also cautions that you are likely to regain any weight lost and even put on weight as you return to a normal diet.

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

How to help headache pain
rash on skin
Top eczema triggers to avoid
Causes of fatigue & how to fight it
Tips to support digestive health
woman looking at pregnancy test
Is your body ready for pregnancy?
woman sleeping
Sleep better tonight
Treating your child's cold or fever
fifth disease
Illnesses every parent should know
spoonfull of sugar
Surprising things that harm your liver
woman holding stomach
Understand this common condition
What your nails say about your health