The Master Cleanse

Rumor has it Beyoncé used the Master Cleanse, also known as the Lemonade Diet, to get ready for her role in Dreamgirls. The detox has been around since the 1940s and millions of people have used it, making it one of the most well known cleanses around.

The promise: This cleanse claims to provide a healthy number of calories and nutrients while resting the digestive system, flushing your body of toxins and allowing the body to heal naturally. Followers say you can lose up to 20 pounds in less than 2 weeks, and banish cravings. They claim that the process gives you more sense of control over what you eat which motivates you to keep going (even when your stomach is shouting Feed me!!!).

The basics: For 10 straight days you drink nothing but 6 – 12 glasses of a lemonade mixture (water with fresh lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper). The cleanse also requires daily use of either an herbal laxative tea or a “salt water flush.” Yes, you read that right. No. Solid. Food. There is also a 3-day ease in and ease out period, during which you eat more “live foods” (vegetables, grains, fruits, and broth). Exercise is not recommended while you’re on the Master Cleanse.

Does it work? No doubt you will see the scale drop. After all, you’re basically drinking lemon water for over a week. Unfortunately, because the diet is so low in calories, you’ll also be losing muscle mass and bone. And the diet is severely lacking in nutrients.

As for flushing toxins? Well, you’ll certainly be flushing something with the once-a-day laxatives the Master Cleanse requires. Most of all, you’ll probably be miserable with a capital M. Side effects include headaches, dizziness, nausea, and diarrhea. You might also be so exhausted and starving when you’re done, that on day 14 you’ll eat everything you can get your hands on, including, possibly, your fingers.

Steve Sisskind, M.D.

Hi, I'm Dr. Steve Sisskind, Chief Medical Officer & Founder at RealDose Nutrition.

As a young physician, I struggled because my patients came to me with serious health issues, but I didn't have the right tools to help them. Medical school taught me how to put "band aids" on their symptoms with drugs and surgery, but not how to address the root causes of their problems.

Years later I discovered a better approach... based on the fundamental idea that the power of nutrition can transform your health and vitality. But there's a lot of confusion... What foods should I eat? Which supplements should I take? What does the science say?

I have dedicated my life to answering these questions... And I share this knowledge with you every day here at RealDose Nutrition.

I invite you to connect with me by joining my free private community. I've helped thousands of people and I know I can help you too!

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  1. Dr Steve you are the most honest person I have ever seen on the internet, in terms of selling or promoting weight loss activity or products. I too find this kind of cleanse very extreme and I would not recommend it to my personal training clients. But like you have advised consult with a physician first. I would love to know if you are this direct with your patients. If so kudos to you

  2. I’ve done this cleanse twice…the first one the most successful. Outside of weight loss, I also lost my asthma problem. I did not do the laxative portion of it. You need to time it so that day 4 and 5 or 5 and 6 are on the weekend or days where you have no commitments because you will be feeling weak those days. I felt stronger once I passed the midpoint. Wind down to start the cleanse by eliminating heavy foods, and come back into eating also slowly as recommended. It’s not for everyone.

  3. Can a diabetic be on this Cleanse? or is it healthy?

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Juan,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! You may want to talk to your doctor before going this cleanse in order to be certain it is safe for you to take. The reason being, while it may prove to be effective for some, your medications may require for you to be on a different type of diet. Hope this helps! Make it a healthy day!

  4. My sincerest apologies to you Dr. Steve. I did not see that you had maple syrup listed as one of the ingredients for this cleanse!!!

  5. My sister has been on this cleanse and no it is not a joke. You are not only drinking lemon water. You do add maple syrup, the stronger, dark kind, not just the pancake kind, also to this recipe. I apologize, I do not mean to correct you Dr. Steve, unless this is a different cleanse, however all the rest of the ingredients are the same. You get nutrients from the maple syrup, and my sister benefitted a lot from this cleanse. She has never complained about any of the side effects you have mentioned. Just thought you would want to know. It does say that you can lose 1-2 pounds a day, then after the 10 days, you do slowly incorporate solid foods back into your system. You don’t just eat a lot right after you do this cleanse either, just common sense, right? Thanks!

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Kathy,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your thoughts with us! Yes, after completing the cleanse, you may want to start with soft easy to digest food in order not to overload your digestive tract. You can opt to have small frequent meals throughout the day and keep your fiber and meat to within reasonable amounts. Hope this helps! Make it a healthy day!

  6. I am just finishing day 5 of the Master Cleanse. It is a difficult regiment to follow, the morning salt water flushes can be a bit much; however, the results are amazing! I have plenty of energy, I feel great, and I feel healthy. Huger pangs have subsided, and thoughts of eating are like those of an old lover, greatly romanticized. I have every confidence I will make it all ten days and my body will (and is) reaping the healthful benefits. On top of all of this I have lost nearly 7kg (that’s over 15lbs.)!!!

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Ryan,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your results! A 15 lbs weight loss is amazing progress and I am glad that you are responding well to the cleanse. I would like to hear more about your progress and quite curious to learn of your experience. That said, I do encourage you to follow up the cleanse with a high fiber diet to ensure that you stay well balanced and keep the weight off for a long time. Again, I thank you for writing in,Ryan! And make it a healthy day!

  7. It would be more lucrative for you if I could add items to the cart. The site doesn’t work.

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Jessi,

      Thank you for writing in and for bringing this to our attention! I am deeply sorry for the inconvenience when ordering. Our Website and checkout cart has recently gone through some updating and the problem should be fixed now. Hope this helps! Make it a healthy day!

  8. Do you drink 6-12 glasses of lemonade water per day for 10 days or the 6-12 glasses should be the total amount for 10 days. Thank you so much.

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      HI Florence,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your concerns with us! The cleanse calls for 6 to 12 glasses of the lemonade mixture per day. Hope this helps! Make it a healthy day!


    i am very skeptical but i want to try the cleansing. can it be shipped to the caribbean islands?

    • Dr. Steve Sisskind

      Hi Mirium,

      Thank you for writing in and for sharing your thoughts with us! The ingredients are widely available and I am confident that they can be found in most supermarkets. However, be sure to check in with your personal doctor before getting started. Hope this helps! Make it a healthy day!

  10. is this a joke?

    • it must be, given all the side effects he mentions.

      • Dr. Steve Sisskind

        Hi Joan,

        Thank you for writing in and for sharing your thoughts with us! Reading through the article, it can be easy to find out why you will lose weight. After all, you are basically taking in only lemon juice for the next 10 days. Personally, I do not recommend this kind of extreme diet as nothing beats a well balanced healthy diet. For those who are interested in giving it a try, I do strongly recommend that your first talk to your doctor about it. Hope this helps! Make it a healthy day!

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