The Master Cleanse is a 10-day fast that is used for detox and weight loss purposes. It has also been called the Master Cleanser Diet after the original book that described it, the Lemonade Diet, the Maple Syrup Diet, and the Cayenne Pepper Diet after some of the ingredients used, and the Beyoncé Diet after its most famous fan.
Although the Master Cleanse is often referred to as a fast, it’s not really a complete fast, in that up to 1,300 calories are consumed each day in the form of sugars from the ingredients in the beverage that Master Cleansers prepare and drink.
More about Detoxing
Most people today, deep down, are interested in the Master Cleanse primarily for its get-skinny-quick aspect, although they rarely admit it. But there is also a detox component. What about detox?
There’s no evidence that our bodies contain excessive toxins of the sort Burroughs discusses, and there’s no evidence that detox diets flush out anything bad in your body. Many of our organs, including the liver, kidneys, lungs, and the intestines, are very efficient filters that expel toxins. There are toxins that may be trapped in fat cells or the lungs, but this sort of diet does not help with expelling those.
We’ve included some quotes from Stanley Burroughs at the end of this article so you can read for yourself how naive and outdated his medical theories were.
How to Do the Master Cleanse
In a nutshell, the Master Cleanse is this:
- The diet takes at least 10 days (up to 40 days, the period of time that Jesus fasted after his baptism, as Burroughs points out)
- The only nourishment that you take is a special lemonade concoction made from the Master Cleanse ingredients: lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and water, six to twelve glasses per day, each glass containing about 110 calories in sugar carbohydrates
- An herbal laxative tea is drunk at night and a quart of salt water is drunk first thing in the morning, resulting in several liquid bowel movements every day — you need to always be near a toilet when you do this diet, and you need to stock up on toilet paper
- You come off the diet by transitioning to solid food over a few days, ideally becoming a raw food vegetarian in Stanley Burroughs’ version of the diet
The Master Cleanse Lemonade
The lemonade is prepared by mixing the ingredients in this free recipe:
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice. Burroughs recommends organic lemons, fresh, not bottled juice. Limes may be substituted. Lemon zest and pulp may be added, making sure that the lemons are organic and not artificially colored or treated with pesticides.
- 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. This must be pure maple syrup, not pancake syrup. Burroughs recommends the darker Grade B, which has more color and nutrients than Grade A, which is also acceptable. He goes into aspects of maple syrup production that would be difficult for the average person to investigate, such as whether formaldehyde or plastic tubing is used (not recommended by Burroughs).
- 1/10 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Burroughs insists that cayenne chili pepper be used, but permits ramping up from a lesser amount if the taste needs getting used to.
- Water. Burroughs recommends a 10-ounce glass of medium hot water, but also allows cold water to be used. Some have interpreted “10-ounce glass” to mean 8 ounces of actual water. Since Burroughs also allows plain water to be drunk during the fast in addition to the lemonade, this doesn’t seem important.