Master Cleanse Diet


In 1941, alternative medicine performer Stanley Burroughs introduced the world to the Master Cleanse Diet.  While erroneously referred to as a diet, the program is actually a body and mind detoxification program, which gained popularity in the 1990s when Peter Glickman mentioned the program in his book, Lose Weight, Have More Energy & Be Happier in 10 Days.  

Today, detox dieting is a multi-million dollar international industry that puts forth a variety of claims about its products, including their ability to cleanse the body of years of toxic build-up, boost energy, help with weight loss, improve mental clarity, and even return that glow to your dull skin.  

Several variations and offshoots of the Master Cleanse program are marketed today including the Lemonade Diet, the Maple Syrup Diet, and the 21 Pounds in 21 Days diet.    However, the Master Cleanse remains the most widely recognized.


The Master Cleanse Diet claims to aid in the removal of harmful toxins trapped in the body, promote weight loss, and cure a variety of other disorders through fasting, and the consumption of lemon-based drinks and laxatives.


Toxins from pollution, cigarette smoke, alcohol, caffeine, and processed foods build up in our systems and cause a host of health problems including weight gain, energy loss, and dull skin.  You can “cleanse” your body of these toxins and return to good health by fasting and drinking a specific drink combination of fresh lemons, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and pure water.  

Program Overview

Participants do not eat any solid food during the main cleansing phase.  Supporters recommend that participants remain on the detox plan for at least 10 days; however, some advocate an even longer period of fasting.

There are three stages to the Master Cleanse/Lemonade Diet:

1.      Ease-In (also known as the pre-diet routine) – a three-day preparatory period where you gradually wean yourself off solid foods in preparation for the fasting portion of the program.

2.    Lemonade Diet – during the main phase, participants drink a minimum of 6 to 12 glasses (about 60 ounces) of the lemon concoction, and chase it down with a couple of laxatives a day.  No solid foods are allowed at all.  Participants are instructed to drink the mixture anytime they feel hungry.   At a minimum, 10 days on this phase is suggested, but some people have gone longer (up to a month or more).  

    According to participants, you know it’s time to come off this phase is when the white film that appears on your tongue during detox disappears and it turns pink and healthy again.  This supposedly is a signal that all the toxins have been removed from your body.

    Master Cleanse drink recipe:  2 tablespoons Grade A maple syrup, juice of half a lemon,     1/10th tsp of cayenne pepper, and one quart of spring water.

3.     Ease-Out – once the detoxification is complete, participants are encouraged to spend three days gradually returning to a healthier, more natural diet.  Over the course of those three days, participants start by drinking orange juice (Day 1), then juice blends,  soups, and broths (Day 2), and then healthier foods (Day 3).

Plan Strengths

Detox programs such as the Master Cleanse Diet are effective if restricted to just 2 or 3 days.  This abbreviated approach works well in riding the body of toxins, while also providing a psychological boost to any long-term weight loss regimen.  These types of programs are also good at getting people to really think about what they are putting into their bodies, and how they can potentially improve their eating habits.

Plan Weaknesses

The primary criticisms of the Master Cleanse Diet are that it is deficient in providing the necessary proteins, vitamins, and minerals needed. Additionally, vital electrolytes are lost.  Side effects and symptoms experienced, whether a result of the program or ridding the body of toxins is often severe.  Headaches, fatigue, vomiting, and nausea are commonly cited occurrences.  

Furthermore, there is no empirical or scientific evidence that supports this approach as an effective weight loss program.  Temporary weight loss is definitely assured, given the severe restriction in caloric intake, but over the long term, weight loss cannot be sustained.  Many people report regaining any weight loss.  


The Master Cleanse is not recommended solely as a way to lose weight and keep it off over the long term. In fact, there are much safer ways to lose weight without potentially incurring any long-term health risks.  However, a short-term detoxification program can be effective in cleansing the body of toxins, and setting yourself up to move forward toward embracing a healthier lifestyle.  

The information provided here is for educational or informational purposes only.  Dave DePew does not endorse any of the programs/services reviewed here. Before starting a new exercise regime or weight loss plan, talk with your doctor.

Additional Resources

Master Cleanse Diet,

The Lemonade Diet,

Modified Detox Diets Can Help With Weight Loss, CBS4com,

Detoxing: In pursuit of a body that’s pure, by Hilary MacGregor 

Liquid Diet


There definitely is no shortage of liquid diet plans out there today.  Considering that consumers spend over $1 billion a year on these types of diet plans, business continues to boom as consumers search for that quick weight loss fix.  Unfortunately, these programs may provide temporary weight loss, but the slew of accompanying health problems does not make them a healthy option for permanent weight loss.


You can lose weight by replacing meals with a convenient diet drink.


This approach to weight loss is based on the idea of meal replacement.  Shakes or drinks take the place of a balanced meal.  

Program Overview

This is a rather extreme way to restrict caloric intake.  Depending on the product, participants either partially or fully replace meals and snacks with some form of liquid substitute, typically in the form of a tea, juice, or shake.   Some plans suggest drinking the shakes/drinks for only one to two meals, then eating a sensible dinner.  Others require that the participant drink only shakes and eat no food for a specified period.  

Most liquid diet programs consist of anywhere from a two-week to three-month fasting period of liquid shakes, followed by some type of refueling stage (learning how to switch over to eating sensible meals), and then a maintenance stage (eating sensibly on your own without support).  Again, these programs can vary greatly so participants need to really dig into the specifics of each program, and would definitely benefit from discussing with a physician and dietician before undertaking.  

Liquid diets are sold over the counter, as well as under the medical supervision of a doctor. Each plan varies, placing its own unique “spin” on its product.  It’s probably therefore not surprising that some of these plans are more effective than others.

Variations of liquid diet programs include Ultra Slim Fast, Optifast, Medifast, HMR, Slender Now Thick Shake, and the Master Cleanse program.  

Plan Strengths

With most liquid diet plans, short-term weight loss will generally occur in most people.  Considering the severe restriction of calories and the body’s immediate ability to begin burning already-digested fat on tap, this outcome is pretty much a foregone conclusion. 

In cases of extreme obesity and under the supervision of a physician, liquid diets have proven successful for weight loss.  Generally, the more obese a participant is, the more weight is lost.  Researchers have also found that diet plans that include both food and liquids can assist overweight people in controlling the number of calories they eat, helping them to keep the weight off for several years.

Plan Weaknesses

The majority of liquid diets on the market are not suitable for long-term weight loss.  As mentioned, there is definitely not a problem in losing weight in the short term, but keeping it off is!  Liquid diets are not recommended as a long-term weight loss solution and for good reason.  Your body cannot survive and thrive on so few calories, and the lack of vital nutrients needed from eating a balanced diet.

The loss of vital nutrients has a significant impact on health.  Most liquid diets only provide 36 percent of recommended fiber and only 18 of 23 amino acids.  Furthermore, with only 400 to 800 calories allowed a day, participants can expect to experience more than a few serious side effects such as fatigue, dizziness, hair loss, muscle cramps, anemia, constipation, gallstones, and even heart damage.  Did I also mention the loss of lean body mass from a lack of protein?

Liquid diets have also been associated with various cardiac problems such as cardio arrhythmia, and individuals suffering from diabetes have had to struggle with dramatic fluctuating blood sugar levels resulting from the severe restriction of calories.  These diets are not for everyone, especially people suffering from pre-existing health problems, or women that are pregnant or nursing.  

Depending on the plan, it may or may not include a recommendation for exercise.  Ironically, though, given the severe restriction on calories, participants may find it difficult to maintain the level of energy needed to even exercise.


Liquid diets have always been a popular fad diet approach.  The idea of rapidly losing weight appeals to most individuals looking for that “quick fix”.  Unfortunately, these programs are generally not safe to undertake for any long period, unless under the watchful eye of a physician.  The immediate weight loss is definitely alluring, but when balanced with the potential health risks and the likelihood that any weight loss will reappear (along with probably a few extra pounds) in the long run, liquid diets really are not a safe or effective option for weight loss.

The information provided here is for educational or informational purposes only.  Dave DePew does not endorse any of the programs/services reviewed here. Before starting a new exercise regime or weight loss plan, talk with your doctor.

Additional Resources

Liquid Diets for Losing Weight,

Mayo:  Clear Liquid Diet, 

Liquid Diet, 

The 3-Day Diet


The internet has been instrumental in extending the shelf life of this particular fad diet.  Since 1985, this diet has floated around, rearing its ugly head, and spawned a variety of 3-day diet approaches, many of which are no better than this one.  


Loose up to 10 pounds in just three days.


By following a very specific, regimented diet plan for 3 days, then returning to normal eating for 4 or 5 days, the body will experience a unique metabolic reaction that will boost fat burning and result in weight loss.  

Program Overview

To lose the promised ten pounds in just ten days, participants are required to follow the 3-day diet meal plan exactly – no variation and no overeating/under eating.  After three days, participants can return to their normal eating activities for four to five days.  They can then return to the 3-day plan, as many times as they want, provided they always include that four to five day normal eating period as a break in between.

Day 1 

Breakfast:  Black coffee or tea, with 1-2 packets Sweet & Low or Equal, 1/2 grapefruit or juice, and 1 piece toast with 1 tablespoon peanut butter

Lunch:  1/2 cup tuna, 1 piece toast, Black coffee or tea, with 1-2 packets Sweet & Low or Equal

Dinner: 3 ounces any lean meat or chicken, 1 cup green beans, 1 cup carrots, 1 apple, 1 cup regular vanilla ice cream

Day 2 

Breakfast: Black coffee or tea, with 1-2 packets Sweet & Low or Equal, 1 egg,  1/2 banana,  1 piece toast

Lunch: 1 cup cottage cheese or tuna,  8 regular saltine crackers

Dinner:  2 beef franks, 1 cup broccoli or cabbage, 1/2 cup carrots, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup regular vanilla ice cream

Day 3 

Breakfast: Black coffee or tea, with 1-2 packets Sweet & Low or Equal, 5 regular saltine crackers, 1 ounce cheddar cheese, 1 apple

Lunch: Black coffee or tea, with 1-2 packets Sweet & Low or Equal, 1 boiled egg, 1 piece toast

Dinner: 1 cup tuna, 1 cup carrots, 1 cup cauliflower, 1 cup melon, 1/2 cup regular vanilla ice cream

In addition to its strict daily food prescription, participants drink 4 cups of water or non-caloric drinks daily.

Plan Strengths

I guess we should throw this plan a bone and say it at least encourages the consumption of water, vegetables, and lean meats.  Weight loss will also probably result given the severe restriction of calories; however, it will be water weight and not fat – no one can lose 10 pounds of fat in just three days.  If only that was true!

Proponents of the diet claim that in addition to weight loss, participants will enjoy increased energy, a reduction in allergies, healthier skin, and a reduction in allergies.  Unfortunately, there is no literature, studies, or testimonials available to support these claims.  I guess we are just supposed to take their word for it.

Plan Weaknesses

Besides the obvious fact that there are no supporting studies (or even a book), that explains how this diet increases the body’s metabolic rate, this diet is by no means a comprehensive approach to weight loss.  It does nothing to educate participants about good food choices, and it fails to address the need for consistent physical activity.   All participants get is a 3-day meal plan – that’s it.  

By returning to “normal” eating habits during that four to five-day break, participants will revert to the same eating habits that contributed to their weight gain in the first place and fail to break the weight gain cycle.  

Sure, participants will lose weight, because they have reduced caloric intake to less than 1,000 calories, but it won’t be fat and it won’t stay off.  


This is a classic example of a yo-yo diet that fails to provide a game plan for healthy long-term weight loss.  For those wanting to lose a little water weight, this diet will probably do the trick, but proceed cautiously.  Like most fad diets, you are likely to find yourself gaining instead of losing weight over the long term.  Your best bet is to look elsewhere for a healthier weight loss alternative because this diet is not sustainable.

The information provided here is for educational or informational purposes only.  Dave DePew does not endorse any of the programs/services reviewed here.  

Additional Resources

The 3-Day Diet, WebMD,