Created by Stanley Burroughs in 1941, the Master Cleanse is a liquid diet used to promote weight loss and overall detoxification.
The diet was particularly common in the 70s and has most recently seen a resurgence due to Yolanda Hadid popularizing the diet as a way to help control the symptoms she experiences due to Lyme disease.
The premise is simple: ease in, the lemonade diet, and ease out. What this essentially means is a short period of clean eating; think fruits and veggies, whole grains, and broths.
From there, you begin the main part of the diet: a mixture of fresh lemon juice, pure maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and filtered water that is supposed to help clean out toxins in the body while promoting more energy and weight loss. Before ending the diet, it’s crucial to follow another period of hyper clean eating to seal everything in and fully reap the benefits.
Here’s exactly what happened when I followed the Master Cleanse for a week—and why I actually think I’d try it again. Note that for the purpose of this journal I did not record my ease in or ease out periods, which is basically my normal diet.
My partner usually joins me when I do a green juice cleanse or other weird health trend, but he was adamant on sitting this one out… and I don’t really blame him. While the lemon drink itself is actually pretty delicious (who doesn’t love a little maple syrup lemonade?), going on an all-lemon drink diet is pretty extreme—even for us.
I often do one-day water fasts so today was pretty easy for me. I had six cups of the lemon drink throughout the day, along with water, so aside from a few added trips to the bathroom it was more or less a normal day.
Similar to a juice cleanse, day two sucked—a lot. I had no energy whatsoever and decided to skip my workout to just loaf around my apartment. I did notice that I had already lost two pounds but I don’t really count this kind of weight loss—it’s all water weight and usually comes back once you start eating solid food again.
I’ve done a lot of these types of cleanses and had a feeling that by day three I would have a lot of energy and clarity—and I was right. By the third day I felt wonderful; I was lighter and less bloated, I woke up in the morning before my alarm and I started to notice the inflammation in my fingers going down significantly. I suffer from psoriatic arthritis, an autoimmune/inflammatory condition, so finding something that actually helps my targeted inflammation is a huge win in my books.
By day four, I was really looking forward to my first meal post-cleanse. In fact, I spent more time than I want to even admit scrolling through UberEats and DoorDash and looking at all the options I’ll have when the week is finally over. I’m no stranger to liquid cleanses but I suspect someone doing this for the first time would struggle with not being able to consume any solid food for days on end.
I honestly didn’t really have high hopes for the Master Cleanse diet—aside from Yolanda Hadid’s co-sign, anyways. That said, it actually had an amazing effect on my overall wellbeing and I definitely see myself punctuating my lifestyle with the occasional two or three day cleanse. I will admit that five days is a little long to go without more sustenance.
I knew lemons were great for detoxifying and reducing inflammation, but I didn’t expect it to help with my inflammation just this much. Not only did it help soothe my skin, it also brought down the swelling and pain in my fingers.
By the end of the last day, I had also lost an eye-popping five pounds in total weight. That said, I realize this will probably all come back once I start eating my regular diet again and I definitely don’t recommend following this diet if your goal is sustainable weight loss.