The lemonade diet is fasting diet that relies on an entirely liquid based diet.
Also known as the Master Cleanse, the lemonade fast is rumoured to have wonderful benefits when it comes to weight loss as it is purported to cleanse toxins (Master Cleanse) and burn fat.
There’s a downside with this diet that most people aren’t prepared for with any juice fast.
Unfortunately, no solids are to be eaten for at least 10 days, which can make you feel very hungry.
Any participant in this diet will be getting their nutritional sustenance and caloric intake from a lemon drink you make and sweeten at home.
Although there are claims that this lemonade fast is able to burn fat, making you slimmer.
Throughout this article, I’ll be delving into the evidence for and against this diet to allow potential participants to decide if this diet is right for them.
Preparing for the Cleanse
The biggest hurdle to overcome with this diet is cutting out a lot of things that are bad for you as well as solid food.
Cutting out solid food in its own right is a hard thing to overcome when you consider that most of us have been eating solid food our whole lives.
There are 4 days of preparation you’ll need to undertake to help you acclimate to the lemonade cleanse.
On the first day, it’s important to cut out solid foods that are high in carbs like bread, alcohol, caffeine, dairy and anything sugary. You can get away with the odd bit of fruit though.
On the second day, try and accustom yourself to only eating a couple of pieces of fruit and treat yourself to a bowl of soup or broth.
A glass of grapefruit juice at some point in the day if you’re feeling unwell should help to perk you up.
On the third day, do your best to drink nothing but water but if you feel your blood sugar feels low, another glass of grapefruit juice will help.
On the fourth day, do the same as you did on the third but before you go to sleep try and have a cup of laxative tea.
You’ll also need to stock up on lemons, maple syrup (or honey), cayenne peppers and spring or distilled water. All of these items feature in the making of the drink. You also might want to pick up a drink bottle to put the drink in.
Making the Drink
The instructions for making this drink are surprisingly simple.
The first thing you need to do is squeeze a couple of tablespoons of lemon into a glass or bottle.
Then add two tablespoons of maple syrup or honey, 0.2 grams of cayenne pepper and fill with 250-350mls of distilled or purified water, then your golden.
The key to this diet is consuming the drink mentioned above whenever you start to get hungry. More than 5 of these drinks need to be consumed each day, but there’s not really an upper limit as long as you’re not over-drinking. Your body can’t handle more than a litre of fluid in an hour so you should avoid drinking more than 3-4 an hour.
Stimulating bowel movements during Master Cleanse seems to be a necessary part of the process, so you should drink a cup of laxative tea in the first day or two.
After this, because you’re not consuming much in the way of solids, you should have no problem with bowel movements not passing through.
The recommended duration of this diet is between 10-39 days.
This down to this diet being dangerous in the long term as it doesn’t provide adequate long term nutrition.
If after 39 days you don’t start eating properly again, you may develop health concerns including malnutrition.
Transitioning to a Normal Diet
There will come a time when you feel like you’re ready to get back to a normal diet with solid food.
It wouldn’t be wise after 10-39 days of no food to go back to eating 3 square meals of solid food a day.
It’s better to taper the solidity of your food consumption up slowly.
There are 3 days of recommended steps to get you back to solid food without any problems.
The first day revolves around introducing different sugars and something other than liquid into your diet.
We do this by drinking fresh fruit juices. Grapefruit juice is always a solid choice as in its own right it has dietary benefits.
The second day brings you back to the closest thing you’ll have had to a real meal in a while.
A bowl of soup or broth is your best friend in this situation. Avoid bread for now though and just have the soup.
You’ll likely find the bowl of soup or broth filling enough on its own.
The third day allows you to eat fruit and vegetables.
Bananas are a good choice if you’re feeling shaky thanks to the potassium involved.
The good news is that from the fourth day on you can start introducing solid foods back into your diet.
Weight Loss Implications
Multiple studies have concluded that the lemonade fast can lead to a short-term weight loss of, on average, about 2.6kg (5.7lbs) after 7 days.
After 2 weeks that will lead to a loss of just over 5kg. As a modified type of fasting, this diet works by consuming a lower amount of calories than the body is able to eliminate.
With each drink containing just 110 calories, it’s no surprise that this diet has great short-term effects.
While the short-term success of this diet seems to be backed by studies, the long-term success of this diet is more contested.
The biggest problem with long-term success is that lacking in solid food for so long can cause diet-related malnutrition which can lead to things like anaemia.
Removing certain foods from your diet and making small and more manageable changes and sustaining them is more likely to provide long-term, higher level results.
Beyond the Diet, How’s the Cleanse?
Claims were made that the Master Cleanse is able to remove toxins through the digestive system.
There isn’t anybody of evidence to support these claims making it difficult to back this fasting diet as an actual cleanse.
Healthier eating choices like eating broccoli (cruciferous) and spices can help with strengthening the liver.
This allows it to do its job better which, considering the liver’s entire job is to metabolise and neutralize toxins, means you needn’t worry about finding ways to exert effort into doing it yourself.
To summarise, there’s no evidence at all that this Master Cleanse actually helps reduce the number of toxins in the body.
The Pros and Cons
Accessible and Easy – Because of how simple this diet is, there’s no need to worry about complex recipes or adhering to multiple elements.
After you’ve prepared for going into the diet by slowly adjusting the solidity of the nutrition you’re consuming, followed the diet for however long after 9 days you need to, and then readjusted to adding more solidity in your diet slowly, there’s nothing else to worry about.
It also helps that the recipe for the lemonade drink is nice and easy to make.
Cheap and Cheerful – The lemonade drink is the only thing you need to worry about on your diet.
It also helps that all of the ingredients for the diet can be found in almost any shop and they’re all cheap.
To be fair, when you take into account the reduction of normal foods, you might actually save some money in the process.
Dietary Concerns – Consuming nothing but the lemon drink at the centre of the lemonade fast diet isn’t healthy long-term.
The number of essential nutrients provided in this diet like proteins, fibres, minerals and vitamins are negligible in comparison to a normal diet.
The nutrition provided by the drink includes 23 grams of sugar in every drink you make. That’s a lot of sugar, which creates concerns related to mass sugar intake being heavily linked to diabetes.
With a recommendation of more than 5 servings of this drink per day, you’ll be talking just shy of 140 grams of supplemental sugar.
Although carbohydrates are often viewed as the enemy when you’re trying to lose weight, they actually have nutritional benefits including providing the energy to function while you’re active in day-to-day functions.
It’s Anything but Easy – There’s nothing worse than pining for a nice juicy steak and not being where you need to be.
At that point all you can do is carry on and tell yourself that the steak waiting for you will taste all the sweeter when your weight is where it needs to be.
It’s also hard to go out to a restaurant with friends when you’re just drinking the lemon drink. Without consuming any complex carbs, you might find your energy level drops significantly when you’re a few days in.
This is when it’s hardest to stick to the diet. The short-term gains are worth it but long term, stress hormones are increased during this diet which has been known to cause weight to increase in the long term.
Medical Concerns – The Master Cleanse isn’t without medical side effects.
The most common ones are things like headache, becoming dizzy, being tired all the time, feeling irritable and agitated, hair loss, feeling weak a lot and cramping.
To top all of this off, there’s also the risk of gall stones. Because of all this, it’s more medically sound to make healthy dietary changes over a more prolonged period, but using this for 2 weeks shouldn’t cause too many side effects provided you’re otherwise completely healthy.
A Day in the Life
When you first wake up, use roughly 900mls of warm water and add a couple of teaspoons of sea salt to help with moving your bowels.
At multiple times during the day try and fit in more than 5 drinks. Spreading them out will help level nutrition.
Before you sleep, a cup of laxative tea is ideal.
The Master Cleanse isn’t for everyone.
If you’re diabetic or have any long-term medical conditions, talk to your doctor before starting any type of fasting diet.
It is 9-39 days in length which is a long time to go without solid food, plus the loss in weight is only short-term.
For long-term weight loss and keeping it off, making changes to your diet and lifestyle like starting an exercise regimen are going to be the best and healthiest ways to do it.
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