At the beginning of the summer holidays I decided to do the Master cleanse, also known as the lemonade diet. For those of you who don't know this involves only drinking a concoction of purified water, cayenne pepper, maple syrup and lemon juice for 10 days. No food, nothing else. It became famous as a crazy fad diet when Beyonce used it to drop a tonne of weight but it has been around since the 1940s. Before I embarked on this insane mission I read a tonne of stuff on the internet and it was incredibly mixed so I wanted to add my two cents.
First of all my reasons. I'd just come back from a stressful year of uni and I felt all over the place emotions-wise. I had been advised, and subsequently read, that fasting can be a great reset button; I didn't know how true this was but I was really curious and thought that 10 days of something not-too-incredibly-drastic couldn't hurt too much. To be honest after months of feeling very out of control it felt pretty good to be micro-managing an area of my life and so I think that was incredibly healing. I didn't really know how beneficial detoxing would end up being on my mind but I was eager to see. I didn't really go into it with the intention of losing weight. Although I did end up losing weight and do have a few pounds to lose I thought it would be silly to aspire to this as I didn't really intend to cut down my diet that much afterwards. I love my food, it makes me happy.
So here is my advice and what I put myself through.
READ ALL YOU CAN
I think this is the main thing that gives this diet a terrible rep. People go into it without properly reading around the subject and so manage to hurt themselves by not doing it properly. I actually found reading about the diet incredibly motivating and reading forums of people getting it wrong gave me a wonderful dose of snugness to keep going (one woman proudly announced that she had done the 10 day fast perfectly, bar a cheat packet of cheez-its each evening. Siiiiiigh). I totally encourage you to read around yourself if you intend to take the diet but my main points (that people often neglected) would be;
Use purified water. I used my Brita filter.
Use freshly squeezed lemons not bought lemon juice.
Don't mix all of your drink at once! The cayenne pepper will get spicier throughout the day.
Use grade B maple syrup, not just stuff from Tescos. You can buy it from Amazon.
TRY AND SCHEDULE SOME TIME OFF
When I was on the diet I was so humbled by checking out the mastercleanse hashtag and seeing other people's journeys. People were doing this crazy, exhausting thing while having to prepare meals for their family or working around food. I really don't know how they did that. I made sure I didn't have anything to do for 10 days and bought loads and loads of books and watched tonnes of America's Next Top Model. The summer holidays was an absolutely perfect time to do it.
MAKE SURE YOU DO THE EASE IN AND EASE OUT
I think this might be the most important thing. Before your diet you need to prepare your body to not have food and this takes four days. On day one you just eat your regular diet but cleaned up a bit; a bit less meat and nothing processed. Also no caffeine! On day two just fruits and veg; smoothies and salads and soups (oh my!). On days three you're allowed sugar free fruit juices and vegetable broth; this is your first liquid day. On day four you're allowed orange juice only and lots of water. When you ease out you do the same thing backwards.
The ease in
This was totally fine. I was a little bit hungry on the liquid day but apart from that I pretty much took it in my stride. I was really impatient to start the actual diet. The orange juice day was by far the worst; much worse than most of the diet in fact and I was really craving something warm.
I was pretty much fine! I think this was almost totally due to doing the ease in because my system wasn't very shocked. The first thing I noticed was that my tongue turned white, after much googling I saw that this was normal for fasting and meant that the toxins were coming out of my body, so a good sign! I didn't really feel very hungry which was strange but I felt very jealous of other people being able to eat. It really made me think about just how much time I dedicate every day to thinking about and preparing food.
The thing that was pretty rubbish about this diet was I hated the taste of the juice. It was all fine until I added the cayenne pepper and then oh my gosh I wanted to throw it all down the sink. But according to instagram and twitter some people loved the taste so don't let me put you off.
Hardcore advocates of the master cleanse recommend you do a salt water flush, this is where you down a huge glass of lukewarm salt water and let it come out the other side bringing loads of toxins with it. I decided against this for some strange reason. Instead I chose to use smoothmove tea, this is a must to stop stomach pain when on the diet. Basically if you're not eating then your digestive system will try and retain everything and you'll feel awful; but if you're taking something that keeps your system moving then you remain a normal functioning human being. The only bad point was on night 4 where I awoke feeling the worst I have ever felt, oh my goodness it was intense. All days after that I felt great though.
These days were also fine, wow I'm making it interesting here. Again I wasn't really hungry and was really feeling lighter and more clear headed. One evening I was laying in bed trying to analyse how I felt and decided that it felt like I'd eaten about 5 hours ago; that feeling where you've been full and you're not full any more and you'll probably be hungry soon but not yet. I basically had that the whole diet. I didn't really ever feel like giving up on the diet, I don't really give up on things like this as a rule. My main motivation throughout was the fact that if I did suddenly give up I would still have to go through the 4 day ease out and so it wouldn't be much of a freedom splurge. I'd read a lot of things where people broke the fast suddenly and went to get a big greasy burger and were really really ill and so it just didn't seem worth it.
I was just mega bored. I wanted to eat and chop vegetables and use utensils! A lot of people report around this sot of time they get a real energy spurt; this is your cave man inside you giving you a bit of get up and go so you go and catch a rabbit or something. I didn't have this but I didn't particularly feel low on energy. I was just majorly bored. Oh and hating the drink. I got sooooo good at downing drinks on this diet purely because it was making me gag.
So this was by far the worst time of the whole diet. You can eat but not eat everything, it was hell! The day I was only allowed vegetable broth was particularly trying. Oh my goodness I just wanted to eat all of the cheese. I also tried to stay off eating meat for as long as possible because this is pretty hard to digest.
So how did I do? This is what everyone searching for Master Cleanse advice wants to know. So I did lose weight; I lost 16 pounds which is obviously amazing and I've managed to keep off 14. I also managed to lose 1-2 inches all over which made a surprising amount of difference and made me feel really good about myself. I also managed to completely kick my caffeine habit which I'm really happy about.
My main difference was that I felt really good about myself. I felt a lot more emotionally clear and bright and generally a lot happier. I don't think it was just that I was proud that I had accomplished something, but that sure did help. My skin is also a lot brighter now, although it's never really been spotty. I was really worried about my hair falling out while on the diet because I know that fasting isn't wonderful for hair but I was happy to see there wasn't any real difference there. My palette is also a lot more refined, I had some dark chocolate and it was heaven and then I had some cheap chocolate and something tasted really off; I think bodies are actually pretty great at recognising crap if we let them. Oh also the mere smell of cayenne pepper makes me gag now.
I think the main thing I've taken from my cleanse is that I am a lot happier and also I understand the implications of what I eat more. I know how good I feel at my base level of eating fresh and good and not much and I can measure my current state against that. Sure, I've had greasy take always since (and loved them!) but I know not to stray too far from that healthy norm.
In short I totally recommend doing the master cleanse in a healthy and informed way. Personally I will be doing it again for sure but will be subbing out that cayenne pepper in exchange for cayenne pepper pills.
edit: here are some links which might be helpful to those of you who would like to try. Please remember these are just a starting point, read as much as you can from as many different sources. pdf of the book
the official website is so helpful. Lot of information and support.
I bought my maple syrup here. It can be quite hard to find and very expensive elsewhere. this video is a pretty good introduction to the diet and what to expect on each day. Worth a watch.
Apart from that search the hashtags (#lemonadediet #mastercleanse) on instagram as there are always a lot of people on it. Although I noticed there are a lot of day1 pictures but not a lot of day10 pictures! Forums are great for support so just google master cleanse and see what pops up. It is worth noting that there is a lot of bad press out there which you will (and should) read. A lot of people really do not advocate this diet but personally I thought it was really good for me. I think as long as you're not doing anything too drastic it's ok to try out and see if it's right for you.