Naturally Lose Weight: Master Cleanse Diet Review

Master Cleanse Diet Review: The Master Cleanse Detox diet, also called the Lemonade Diet, was created by Stanley Burroughs in 1976.
Peter Glickman popularized the diet with his book Lose Weight, Have More Energy and Be Happier in 10 DaysNaturally Lose Weight On The Master Cleanse

Master Cleanse involves a fast from solid foods.  Instead of food, you drink a concoction of 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons Grade-B maple syrup, 1/10 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 8 ounces of spring or purified water.  You can drink it cold or hot.


According to  Burroughs’s, the lemon acts as a purifier and provides potassium, the cayenne pepper adds B and C vitamins and aids in circulation, and maple syrup, a sugar, provides energy and minerals. It is suggested that fasters drink anywhere from 6 to 12 glasses of the stuff a day as well as a mixture of water and sea salt in the morning and an herbal laxative tea in the evening, to help aid in waste removal.The water is salted just enough so that water isn't easily absorbed by the intestines, but isn't so salty that it makes you gag as you drink it.  This passes through your system pretty quickly- somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes.

Master Cleanse is recommended for a minimum of ten days, although many people do the diet for longer periods of time. 

Stanley Burroughs and later authors claim that Master Cleanse successfully eliminates toxins and other congestions that have built up in the body.  It has the endorsement of many celebrities: Beyonce Knowles told Oprah Winfrey that she was able to lose 20 pounds on the Master Cleanse in preparation for the movie Dreamgirls; Howard Stern's sidekick Robin Quivers told People magazine that she went from 218 to 145 pounds on the cleanse and that the diet also helped ease joint pain and fatigue. (It is important to understand that this is a short-term not a long-term diet.  This is not something to do for an extended period of time.)
When coming off this cleanse, you must be careful to slowly wean yourself back onto foods, starting with juice, then moving to thin soups.  Only then will you be ready for a normal food diet.


1.  You will naturally lose weight (1-3 pounds per day) on this diet as with any liquid diet.

2. Liquid fasts can help detoxify your body by giving your body a break from digestion.

3. Convenient. Instead of having to make fresh vegetable juices with a juicer, all you have to do is combine lemon juice, maple syrup in a big gallon container and drink it all day long. No mess to clean up, no juicer to clean.

4. Some people report that this lemonade drink gives them more energy and satiety than vegetable juice fasts or water fasts (perhaps due to the higher amounts of sugar and calories from the maple syrup).   


1.  Lack of essential nutrients--some critics cite a lack of essential nutrients, such as protein, vitamins, and minerals in this fast.  Because of this deficiency in the diet, individuals could experience dizziness, delirium, and fainting.  It is also possible to damage the body if the individuals stay on the Master Cleanse for longer periods of time.

2.  Medical authorities say that people who use the Master Cleanse as a weight loss solution will gain back the weight they lost over time.  Even Beyoncè admitted, "I wouldn't recommend it if someone wasn't doing a movie... there are other ways to lose weight."

3. Can cause loose stools. People have reported having to be near a bathroom at all times in order to prevent accidents.

4. Drinking 2 Tb. of maple syrup 6-8 times a day adds up to a whole lot of sugar and empty calories. The high sugar intake could cause blood sugar imbalances therefore, it is not recommended for hypoglycemic, diabetics and those with insulin resistance.

Dr. Pearsall’s Comments:

I tried the Master Cleanser in the summer of 1996. I liked the fact that it was so easy to prepare and a very tasty drink. I did lose 10 pounds in 7 days but I gained it back over the next month. The best way to lose weight is slowly over time by making natural lifestyle changes that we teach on the Enlita Program.

The amount of sugar (12-16 Tablespoons) consumed on this cleanse is a concern to me. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that maple syrup is a healthy sweetener. Maple syrup does have more trace minerals than white sugar but it still has the same negative effect on the body that sugar does. Traditional juice fasts typically use fresh vegetable juice made with a juicer which is healthier than lemonade, although 1-3 glasses of lemonade a day should not be much of a problem.
I once prescribed the Master Cleanser to a patient of mine. Everything went fairly well until Day 5 of the Master Cleanse when her bowels released without warning while she was grocery shopping. She rushed to the bathroom to discover to her utter horror, a large pool of gelatinous “goo” (maple syrup plus God knows what) filled up her underwear. As mentioned previously, people say they have to be near a bathroom at all times to prevent accidents.

The laxative aspect of the Master Cleanse is due to the salt water combined with the herbal tea laxatives that cause loose stools. I once recommended Epsom Salt (salt plus magnesium) to a patient who was constipated. She had nausea and severe loose stools for the next 12 hours and was not a happy camper. Someday I’m going to write a book entitled Bowel Disasters: What Not To Do With Your Stopped Up Patients.

So while it is true that you must keep your bowels moving on a liquid diet, I recommend doing it with fiber supplementation instead of laxatives. With fiber, you avoid loose stools and instead you have a formed stool 1-3 times a day. Also the benefit to fiber is that it gives you satiety (feeling of fullness) during a fast and so it keeps the hunger at bay. Enemas or colonics are also important to aid with bowel purification.

In conclusion, I do not recommend the Master Cleanse for weight loss because you will most likely gain the weight back when you resume eating. That is not to say I do not recommend detoxification program as a part of a comprehensive weight loss program as a toxic liver and colon will impair your ability to burn fat and may cause your body to resist weight loss to prevent the toxins in your fat cells from being released into your blood stream.

A proper detoxification program involves liver support, supplements to aid in the cleansing and repair of the GI tract, adequate amounts of protein and antioxidants, nutrient dense juices and broths and strategies on supporting elimination with the sweat, bowels, urine, and breathing. Furthermore, the best detoxification program is a holistic one that also addresses eliminating negative thoughts as they can cause harm to your body just as much as physical toxins.

So although the Master Cleanse indeed has merit and has helped many people, I think there are better approaches for both weight loss and detoxification. Weight loss and detoxification are my medical specialties; my team of natural weight loss doctors and experts and I have designed a comprehensive and holistic weight loss program for those who are serious about weight loss and detoxification.

Our program is designed to help you make important lifestyle changes, detect factors that are holding you back from losing weight (i.e. food allergies, emotional eating) and guide you through a thorough detoxification program.


About the Author:
Dr. Kendra Pearsall, N.M.D. is a Naturopathic Medical Doctor specializing in natural weight loss and food addiction. She created to help millions of people achieve optimal health, natural weight loss and life success with her free weekly e-newsletter (sign up at the top of this page.)