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    Also called the Master Cleanse, the lemonade diet has gained spotlight attention from celebrities like Beyoncé and Jared Leto. The diet claims to detox your system, improve health, curb cravings, and shed pounds over the span of 10 days, but does it work? Read >>
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A Lemonade a Day Keeps the Fat Away

What you need to know about the lemonade diet.

Also called the Master Cleanse, the lemonade diet has gained spotlight attention from celebrities like Beyoncé and Jared Leto. The diet claims to detox your system, improve health, curb cravings, and shed pounds over the span of 10 days, but does it work? On a diet in which solid foods aren’t allowed and all you can drink is water and a beverage similar to lemonade, will your body get the calories and nutrition it needs to function?

Before you try a fad diet like the Master Cleanse, know what you’re getting into.

I’ve done juice cleanses in the past and in my 20s I did the Master Cleanse, which left me hallucinating after 10 days. Beware: a juice detox can crash your metabolism and lead to future weight gain. - Gwyneth Paltrow

The Promise

Proponents of the lemonade diet believe that by drinking the lemonade mixture offered in the diet plan, you’ll cleanse your liver, colon, and body of toxins; balance your body’s pH levels; reduce inflammation; improve skin and hair; provide nourishment for better health; and safely lose 20 pounds in a meager 10 days.

Support groups and online coaching are available for a small monthly fee. Otherwise, the diet costs only as much as the lemonade beverage ingredients.
According to the website, the diet only works if you adhere strictly to the guidelines. Also, you can expect symptoms of detox when on the lemonade diet. These include headaches, cravings, and tiredness.

The Premise

Wonder what’s in the lemonade drink besides fresh lemon juice? The recipe also calls for maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and pure alkaline water. Besides the lemonade, you should also drink plenty of pure salt water throughout the day—as much as twice as much as the lemonade you consume. Water, proponents of the diet claim, will assist the cleanse, prevent headaches, and reduce hunger pains. Before bed, you’re to drink an herbal-based tea that contains a laxative. In all, your daily calories will come to about 650.

While on the diet, exercise isn’t needed (or recommended). After surviving on water, lemonade, and herbal tea for 10 days, you’re allowed to slowly add solid foods back into your diet, starting with soup and juice and gradually adding fruits, vegetables, and small amounts of meat and dairy.

The Product

Does the lemonade diet live up to its promises? Well, any diet that severely restricts calories will lead to weight loss. As far as a cleanse goes, your body already naturally cleanses itself everyday through the work of the liver and kidneys. So a liquid diet isn’t needed to remove toxins from your body and blood. Will your health improve and your energy level rise? With such little nourishment, it seems impossible.

The Problem

Diets like the Master Cleanse always come with risks. When a person consumes so few calories while taking a laxative, the weight that is lost will come largely from muscles, bone, and water rather than fat. And while watching the scale go in the right direction is encouraging, you don’t want to lose your precious muscle and bone.

Fad diets that lead to quick weight loss don’t provide lasting weight loss. After all, a person can’t survive more than a few weeks on a diet of lemonade, and once you start eating normally again, you’ll regain all the weight you lost in no time.

Additionally, yo-yo dieting places stress on your heart, weakens your immune system, and can cause kidney problems. A lack of nutrients leads to fatigue, pain, irritability, hunger, nausea, and vomiting. On the lemonade diet, your body won’t come close to getting the recommended daily amount of calories, protein, fiber, potassium, calcium, vitamin B-12, or vitamin D needed for health and wellness. But you will get too many carbs and way too much sodium.

Is fast weight loss worth a growling stomach, numerous bathroom breaks, and compromised health? No. Especially since the weight returns as quickly as it goes.