What Is The Master Cleanse? Does It Work For Weight Loss?

by Dr. Ahmed Zayed
Published on September 30, 2020 and last updated for accuracy on October 10, 2020
What Is The Master Cleanse? Does It Work For Weight Loss?

If you have any doubts regarding Master Cleanse for weight loss or how does it work, then you’ve come to the right place.

The Master Cleanse diet, also known as Lemonade diet (1) is a liquid diet that detoxifies the body and may help you lose weight. Even popular celebrities like Beyonce have tried this.  

In this article, we will tell you everything that has been promised and if it helps in losing weight. 

Master Cleanse Diet: What Is It? 

The Master Cleanse or the Lemonade diet should only be short-term. People who want to lose weight rapidly tend to follow this diet. 

  • Master Cleanser is the brainchild of Stanley Burroughs (2). He came up with the idea in 1941. 
  • According to him, it’s an easy and natural way to flush out the deadly toxins from your body. It has been created to act as detox (3) and treat ulcer (4). 
  • The diet’s basic rule is to avoid eating any solid food for ten days. Your only source of nutrients and calories is the lemonade. 
  • It comes into three different phases (5): The Ease In, Lemonade Diet, and Ease Out. 

Well, technically speaking, the Ease In phase isn’t that necessary but it will help prepare your body for the diet. 

The Ease In phase (6) lasts for three days:

  • 1st day: Living foods like whole grains and vegetables
  • 2nd day: Vegetables and fruit juices and soup broths
  • Day 3: Orange juice

In the second phase (7), which is the main part of this diet, you’ll only have lemonade. 

  • You will have to drink this 6-12 times every day or whenever you feel hungry. 
  • While you are following the Lemonade Diet, you may need to take a laxative every night, which is an over-the-counter medication.You can get it from any local drugstore. 
  • A morning saltwater drink made of sea salt and water is also a good option. This helps in maintaining a regular bowel movement. 

Lastly, the Ease Out phase (8). It is the Ease In phase in reverse. 

1st Day: Orange juice

2nd day: Fruit and vegetable juice and soup broths

3rd Day: Living foods

This is what comprises the Master Cleanse diet. You have to wait for a minimum of 60 days before you can go on another cleanse. 

What Does Master Cleanse Diet Promise?

The liquid only diet consists of 3 things: a lemonade-type beverage, an herbal laxative tea (9), and a saltwater drink. 

According to its claim, give it ten days, and you will see a drop in your weight. It will also detox your body and will make you feel happier, healthier, and more energetic. With this, you can curb your cravings for unhealthy food too. 

  • Since you are getting fewer calories, you might lose weight. 
  • However, apart from losing weight, you are also going to lose bone, muscle, and water. 
  • You are more likely to gain weight as soon as you come off the diet. 

Again, if you follow this diet, you cannot consume any solid food. Also, you are not allowed to drink alcohol. 

There is no proof suggesting that detoxification can lead to weight loss (10). Moreover, there is no need to detox the body as it also happens naturally. 

To lose weight permanently and healthily, opt for a healthy diet of vegetables, fruit, low-fat dairy, lean proteins such as skinless turkey or chicken and fish, and whole grains. 

The Master Cleanse Diet Plan In Detail

It is really easy to follow the Master Cleanse diet, but you’ll probably need more tips to do it correctly. Let’s discuss the phases in full details: 

Easing Into The Diet

As you are only consuming a liquid diet, it can be a radical change. So, you may need to ease into it gradually. 

Day 1 and 2: Give up on processed food, caffeine, alcohol, dairy, meat, and added sugars. 

Day 3: Time to get used to the liquid diet by enjoying pureed soups (11), smoothies, or broths. Vegetable and fruit juices are also good. 

Day 4: Just drink freshly-squeezed orange juice and water. For additional calories, add maple syrup. Before you go to bed, you may need to drink laxative tea.

Day 5: Begin with the Master Cleanse diet. 

Once you have started with the diet, all the calories will come from the sugar content of the beverage. 

Here’s the perfect recipe to making that lemonade:  

  • Take 30 grams or two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. It is about ½ of lemon. 
  • Add 40 grams or two tablespoons of pure maple syrup.
  • Add 0.2 grams or 1/10 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (12). It is mainly to give the drink more taste. 
  • Add 8-12 ounces of spring or purified water. 
  • Mix all of the ingredients and drink whenever you feel the pangs of hunger. Make sure to have at least six servings in a day. 

To trigger bowel movements, you can warm salt water every morning. You can also use herbal laxatives

Ease Out of The Diet

1st Day: Start with a freshly squeezed juice and have it for one day. 

2nd Day: Next, you have to add a vegetable soup to your diet. 

3rd Day: Add some fresh vegetables and fruits (13).

4th Day: Now, you can eat regular food again but make sure tofocus on minimally processed and whole foods. 

Does It Help In Losing Weight?

The Master Cleanse or Lemonade Diet is a modified fast diet that can lead to weight loss. Every serving of the lemon beverage contains around 110 calories. You must have at least six servings in a day. As you consume fewer calories than your body is burning, it leads to short-term weight loss (14). 

A study showed that people who drank lemon water with honey for four days lost an average of 4.7 pounds or 2.2 kilograms. Also, they saw a drop in their triglyceride levels. 

Sure, the diet does cause short-term weight loss. However, no study shows that it can be permanent. There’s only a 20% success rate in long-term weight loss. 

Making some lifestyle changes and following a sustainable diet is always better. 


  • The Master Cleanse leads to quick weight. 
  • When you stick to the plan, it can show results. 
  • Typically, you can lose 2 pounds each day. 
  • One of the major plus points of this diet is that it is inexpensive as the only items you need are lemon, maple syrup or sugar, and water. 

Several testimonials (15) over the internet claim that this diet can reduce the symptoms of pain and chronic illnesses. It can also help in improving mental clarity. Some people have reported having seen a positive psychological effect. 


  • Almost all health professionals and nutritionists will advise you against long days of fasting, especially if it is only for losing weight, mainly because of the health risk associated with it. 
  • Another primary concern is the lack of nutrients, proteins (16), and calories in the diet. 
  • It may affect your social life as you will avoid joining group meals. 

A diet like this might not be suitable for everyone. Pregnant and lactating women shouldn’t follow this diet. 

Health Risk Of Master Cleanse Diet

You might be losing a few pounds and feeling less bloated after following this, but there are many health risks associated with it. Let’s take a look at a few of these. 

Causes Unwanted Side Effects (17)

You can feel more dizzy, fatigued, and light-headed as you are consuming low calories. There can be a lack of mental clarity. Moreover, you can also feel extreme hunger after you come off your diet due to insufficient food intake. 

Dangerous for People with Specific Health Condition

People suffering from diabetes or have blood sugar regulation problems have to be careful with these kinds of diets. Moreover, anyone suffering from cancer, anemia (18), and other severe ailments should be mindful when they consider following a low-calorie diet like the Master Cleanse. 

The cleansing diet can also lead to electrolyte disturbances (19) or dehydration because of the intense calorie restriction. 

Leads to Muscle Loss

For most people, losing weight is only a part of the equation. However, preserving or gaining lean muscles is also important. Sadly, a program such as the Lemonade diet, which needs fewer calories and leads to rapid weight loss, can work against this goal. It causes muscle loss. 

Triggers Disoriented Eating Patterns

People who have a history of eating disorders (20) need to avoid this diet. It can increase the risk of relapse. 

It Isn’t Sustainable

Health experts have pointed out that with this diet, you are only losing water weight. With strict carbohydrate and calorie restriction, the sugar stored in your muscles gets used up to create energy. Every molecule of the sugar that is stored binds with three molecules of water. Hence, the scale drops significantly over a short period. However, it doesn’t mean it is leading to weight loss. 

So, as soon as the cleansing is over and you start having food, the weight you have lost will come back. 

What Do Experts Say About The Master Cleanse?

You might be thinking, do the experts recommend Master Cleanse? Several professionals have said their advice, but the verdict given out by McGrath Seltzer is pretty clear – follow this diet with proper caution. 

  • As per McGrath (21), the risk of the diet is more than its benefits. So, the diet is not a sustainable one. 
  • With this diet, you will not be able to make a permanent lifestyle change. Moreover, a liquid diet is not enjoyable. 
  • The liver and the kidneys also serve as natural detoxifiers, so structured detoxes are not required. 
  • She recommends having more vegetables and fruits and drinking enough water to naturalize the mineral and vitamin content. These are essential nutrients and play a crucial role in the natural detoxification of your body. 

According to McGrath, you should include cruciferous vegetables in your diet like cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts along with allium vegetables like onion and garlic that contain sulfur-based compounds. 

It can detoxify your body by activating the detoxification enzymes and promote other functions related to detox. 

  • Despite the much talked about weight loss benefits, Seltzer (21) recommends avoiding this plan altogether. 
  • You need to avoid cleanse, particularly for losing weight. The diet plan doesn’t address the problem that people already have. 
  • So, it will persist even after the diet is over. However, if you still want to try this diet, it is best to talk to a healthcare specialist first. 
  • To lose weight, your best bet is to eat healthily and follow an exercise routine. How you do it will depend on your food preferences, lifestyle, and other factors. 
  • For instance, some intermittent fasting works well. You have to find out what works best for your body. 

If you are losing only water weight, the actual weight can come back immediately. 

Final Words

The Master Cleanse diet, also known as the Lemonade diet, is a 10-40 days liquid cleanse program. It can help you lose weight rapidly, but only temporary. You cannot consume any solid food during the diet, and you get your calories only from a sweetened lemon beverage. 

It is an extreme diet and there isn’t any evidence suggesting that it is really effective in flushing out toxins. Also, it is necessary to note that this diet is not for everyone. 


  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25912765/
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_Cleanse
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3239317/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537128/
  5. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/master-cleanse-lemonade-diet
  6. https://themastercleanse.org/ease-in/
  7. https://themastercleanse.org/
  8. https://themastercleanse.org/ease-out/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6823525/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25522674/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2128765/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4477151/
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6266069/
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3225890/
  15. https://themastercleanse.org/group-cleanse/winners/
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/protein/
  17. https://www.livescience.com/48887-juice-cleanse-dangers.html
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499994/
  19. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21681474/
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1022101/
  21. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/master-cleanse-diet-pros-cons-benefits-and-risks-how-to-do-it


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