Lemonade Diet For Weight Loss – Fad or Fact?

Get your facts right before including this drink in your diet and wellness routine.

Medically reviewed by Madhu Sharma, RD Madhu Sharma Madhu SharmaRD
Written by , MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist Charushila Biswas MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist linkedin_icon Experience: 6 years
Edited by , BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Ravi Teja Tadimalla BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health linkedin_icon Experience: 8 years
Fact-checked by , BTech (Biotechnology), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Sindhu Koganti BTech (Biotechnology), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach linkedin_icon Experience: 6 years

The lemonade diet for weight loss can be highly effective and helps remove harmful toxins from the body. Also referred to as maple syrup or master cleanse diet or a modified liquid diet, it can help you shed weight as quickly as two weeks. Guess who made this diet famous? It is the actor and singer Beyoncé Knowles. She is claimed to have lost about 20 pounds for her much-celebrated role in Dream Girls after following this diet. To the uninitiated, this Beyonce diet is all about a 16-day detoxification strategy. But what does science say? Is it okay for you to go on the lemonade diet?

This article answers all your queries. Keep scrolling!

protip_icon At A Glance: Lemonade Diet
  • Principle: A low-calorie liquid diet that includes fresh lemon juice, cayenne pepper, maple syrup, water, and no solids.
  • Purpose: To cleanse the body of harmful toxins and promote weight loss.
  • Who It Is For: Individuals who want to lose weight quickly.
  • Duration: Short-term
  • Who Should Avoid: Pregnant or breastfeeding individuals, those with (a history of) eating disorders, and individuals who take insulin or sulfonylureas to manage their blood sugar levels.
  • Cons: May cause low metabolism, fatigue, mood swings, nutritional deficiencies, and difficulty in concentration.

Lemonade Diet For Weight Loss

1. What Is Lemonade Diet?

A glass of refreshing lemonade
Image: Shutterstock

It is a Master Cleanse, very low calorie diet plan for internal detoxification. The lemonade diet has four main ingredients – fresh lemon juice, cayenne pepper, maple syrup, and pure water. The diet is sometimes also known as the ‘juice cleanse’. This lemon water diet is reputed to be the best diet to shed extra weight and get rid of the accumulated toxins.

This can also help to deal with obesity, which affects 39% of adults aged 18 and older worldwide, as per a study conducted. Out of which 39% of them were men and 40% were women. Further the study also revealed that obesity or being overweight takes more lives than those who are underweight or malnourished.

The lemonade diet was developed by Stanley Burroughs in the 1940s. But it picked up around 1976 when Burroughs wrote two books, “The Master Cleanser“ and “Healing for the Age of Enlightenment”, giving precious information about the diet.

The lemonade diet is said to do wonders by cleansing the body of harmful toxins, especially in the colon region. Today, the lemonade diet is one of the most rapid and extreme weight loss programs for those who wish to lose those extra pounds super quick.

A study on Korean subjects revealed that this special diet helped reduce body weight and fat mass and improved insulin resistance (1). However, one should take great care while following this plan, and it should be under close supervision of health professionals.

While following this diet, no solid food is allowed. It calls for six or more servings of the specialized lemonade mixture every day. In addition to this, the salt water flush helps to cleanse the body. Different people incorporate this diet for varying amounts of time, mostly lasting for two days. Combining food with the diet throughout the entire process would, therefore, defeat its main purpose. However, food can be included in the beginning and at the end of the lemon juice diet to ease your body into and off the diet.

protip_icon Did You Know?
Stanley Burroughs originally started this diet as a treatment for ulcers.

2. How Does The Lemonade Work For Weight Loss?

Lemonade for weight loss
Image: Shutterstock

Those following the lemonade diet are required to consume a concoction of lemon juice, cayenne pepper, maple syrup, and pure water at least six times a day. Any solid food should be avoided, except for phases 1 and 3. Care should be taken to include solids, exclude solids, and again re-include solids judiciously to protect the body from the sudden attack of a very low-calorie diet.

The intake of calories must be well below the dieter’s previous daily intake. Individuals on the diet should consume approximately 500 to 600 calories a day, which is well below the prescribed 1,600 calories for women and 2,500 calories for men. The intake of a low-calorie liquid diet for 10 days will help your body use the fat cells as the energy source for performing the necessary functions (2).

A study showed that people aged between 18-29 years who were given a lemon and honey concoction for 4 days lost nearly 2.2 kg and improved their triglyceride levels (3).

We need to remember that these fancy diet plans are temporary not permanent and sustainable solutions to lose weight.

3. How Does Lemonade Diet Work For Cleansing?

Detoxifying lemonade to cleanse the inner organs
Image: Shutterstock

The combined effect of lemon, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup helps to cleanse your internal organs and eliminate toxins deposited from excessive stress, environmental pollution, and excessive visceral fati  A form of excess body fat that accumulates in the abdomen and can arise from poor diet and exercise. .

The lemonade diet’s main ingredient, lemon, is an excellent source of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant. The antioxidants scavenge the free oxygen radicals that damage the structure of the cells and prevent degenerative diseases (4). Moreover, lemon polyphenolsi  Polyphenols, such as flavonoids and phenolic acid, are compounds found in plants that aid in disease prevention. also prevent fat accumulation by increasing beta oxidationi  A multistep metabolic process during which fatty acid molecules are broken down by the body to produce energy. of fatty acids (5).

Though maple syrup contains refined sugar but a good source of minerals and antioxidants. It is a good source of manganese, which helps the cells to produce energy and is essential for normal nerve and brain function. This sweet, golden syrup also contains zinc that boosts the immune system. Other minerals found in maple syrup such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium help prevent stroke and high blood pressure. But make sure to use it judiciously as it has a high glycemic indexi  A rating system for dietary carbohydrates that shows the rapidity with which each food affects your blood sugar level when eaten alone. (54) and glycemic loadi  It calculates the rise in blood glucose level based on the number of carbohydrates in a typical serving of food. (10) and may shoot up blood glucose levels (6).

Capsaicin, the active component of cayenne pepper, has thermogenic effectsi  It refers to the rise in metabolic rate (the rate at which the body burns calories) after consuming food. , which boost the metabolic rate and aid fat loss (7). A study found that capsaicin in red pepper provided fullness and satiety (8).

Water keeps your body cells hydrated, maintains cell turgidity, and helps to flush out toxins in the body.

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4. The Lemonade Diet Plan

Phase 1

This is a 3-day ‘ease-in’ period. In this phase, you get ready for the Lemonade Diet or the master cleanse.

Day 1 & 2

  • Options:
  • Lemonade detox drink + any fruit.
  • Lemonade detox drink + one slice of toasted brown bread with one boiled egg’s white.
  • One glass fruit juice.
  • Grilled vegetable sandwich or tuna sandwich + Lemonade detox drink.
Evening Snacks
  • Green tea with lemon juice and two digestive biscuits.
  • One medium bowl of vegetable or chicken salad + Lemonade detox drink.
Bed Time
  • One glass of warm fat-free milk with one tablespoon maple syrup.
Why This Works

The first two days of the first phase are crucial. Your calorie intake has been reduced considerably. All unhealthy foods have been replaced with nutritious foods. The lemonade will start doing a proper body cleanse by flushing out toxins from your body. Fewer portions of lunch and dinner will make sure that you eat less. This is the perfect way to signal your body to get prepared for the coming days.

Useful Tips: Snack on fruits or crunchy vegetables. Drink a glass of water right before lunch or dinner.

Phase 1 : Day 3

  • Lemonade detox drink + any fruit.
  • Lemonade detox drink.
  • Lemonade detox drink + one small serving of baked carrots and beans.
Evening Snacks
  • Green tea with lemon juice.
  • Lemonade detox drink+ small serving of tuna salad or tomato and cucumber salad.
Bed Time
  • Lemonade detox drink. Prepare for Phase 2 by getting a good night’s sleep.

On the third day, fewer solid foods are included in the diet chart. The veggies and the tuna salad will provide your body with just the right amount of nutrition your body needs for a day. The lemonade now starts working as a cleanser and also signals the brain that there isn’t enough food and some fat burning is needed.Why This Works

Useful Tips: Eat one apple or watermelon. This will make you feel full. If you feel hungry, drink a glass of fat-free milk.

Phase 2 – The 10-day weight loss and cleansing lemonade diet.

Day 4 – Day 13

This is the toughest phase of this diet. You only have to drink the lemonade six times a day. You cannot eat any solid food or any other liquid food. If you feel hungry, drink water. You will probably feel fatigued as this is a very low-calorie diet. If you feel sick, do not continue with this phase. Start with the Phase 3 diet chart.

Preston Joffer, a weight management coach and blogger, felt extremely hungry when he tried the lemonade diet. In one of his blog posts, he writes, “Days 3 & 4 were terrible. I was starving but after adjusting, the rest of the plan was maybe a 6 or 7 out of 10. You’re constantly drinking so hunger was average. A HUGE [downside] was the need to chew something; I tried gum, calorie free mints, everything! (i).”

Why This Works

The lemonade will kick start the weight loss in your body. This is a low-calorie diet, but the maple syrup, lemon, and cayenne pepper will provide you with sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals. Since you will not be taking any fat or carbs, your body will have nothing to store. The already stored fat will be utilized as energy, which will also aid in weight loss.

Useful Tips: Take as much rest as possible. Since you are on a low-calorie diet, try to conserve as much energy as possible. Do not take stress. Drink enough water.

Phase 3

The 3-day ‘ease-out’ period in which solid foods are re-introduced into your diet.

Day 14

  • Lemonade detox drink + one apple.  
  • One small bowl of low-fat yogurt.
  • Lemonade detox drink + one orange.
Evening Snacks
  • Green tea and four almonds.
  • Lemonade detox drink+ one banana.
Bed Time
  • Lemonade detox drink.
Why This Works

Solid foods are slowly introduced back into your diet. This will ensure that you regain the normal routine of taking solid foods gradually. Increasing your calorie intake suddenly may cause you harm as your body will not be able to process the food so fast.

Useful Tips: Try to avoid overeating. Give your body the time to heal. Do not exercise.

Day 15

  • Lemonade detox drink + one slice of toasted brown bread and a glass of low-fat milk.
  • One glass of watermelon juice.
  • Lemonade detox drink + one small serving of vegetable salad with yogurt dressing.
Evening Snacks
  • Lemonade detox drink.
  • Lemonade detox drink+ a small portion of grilled chicken/fish or grilled vegetable sandwich.
Bed Time
  • Lemonade detox drink.
Why This Works

The fruits and veggies will provide your body the right amount of nutrients it needs. A protein source, such as chicken or fish or lentils, will make sure that your muscles are strengthened as well.

Useful Tips: It is still best not to workout. You can go on a short, lazy walks. Do not overeat. The watermelon juice is important, and you should not skip it.

Day 16

  • Lemonade detox drink + one fruit.
  • Four almonds.
  • Lemonade detox drink + a small-medium bowl of boiled lentils.
Evening Snacks
  • Green tea and one digestive biscuit.
  • Lemonade detox drink+ a small bowl of vegetable or chicken clear soup.
Bed Time
  • Lemonade detox drink.
Why This Works

On the last day of phase 3, you can eat up to 1600 calories. As this is not scientifically healthy, being high in sugar, glycemic index, and glycemic load, it may hamper your blood glucose regulation and cause fatty liver. It provides you with the perfect amount of veggies, fruits, and protein sources so that you can regain your strength. All through this, the natural detox lemonade will continue to cleanse your body and keep a check on your body weight.

Useful Tips: Avoid any fattening foods, no matter how tempting they might be. You can have a cheat day once a week. If you start munching on junk right away, you will gain weight faster and, probably, you will gain more weight. Snack on fruits.

5. How To Prepare the Lemonade Detox Drink?

Preparing the lemonade detox drink
Image: Shutterstock
What You Need
  • Water
  • 2 tablespoons of Grade B maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
How To Prepare
  • In a glass, add the rich maple syrup.
  • Add lemon juice.
  • Add a pinch of cayenne pepper.
  • Finally, add water and stir well.

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6. What To Consume During This Diet

Fruits – Apple, orange, grapefruit, grapes, kiwi, watermelon, and melon.
Vegetables – Spinach, carrot, beetroot, tomato, capsicum, lettuce, beans, gourds, eggplant, onion, broccoli, cabbage, and squash.
Herbs – Coriander, mint, thyme, rosemary, and dill.
Nuts – Almonds and walnuts.
Protein – Lentils, sprouts, fish, chicken, tofu, turkey, soy, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, flax seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
Beverages – Fruit juice, buttermilk, and green tea.

7. What Not To Consume During This Diet

Fruits – Ripe mango, dates, plum, apricot, sultana, and papaya.
Vegetables – Pumpkin, butternut squash, and potato.
Nuts – Cashew, hazelnuts, and peanuts.
Protein – Beef and pork.
Beverages – Alcohol, sweetened and carbonated drinks, and sweetened fruit juice.

8. Role Of Exercise When On The Lemonade Diet

Woman practicing yoga while on lemonade diet
Image: Shutterstock

The lemonade diet will provide you with 600-700 calories per day. It is best to avoid any rigorous fitness regimen during this period. Your body will not have enough energy to support it. You may feel weak and fatigued. However, you can do yoga and a few stretching exercises to maintain blood circulation.

protip_icon Quick Tip
You can, however, engage in light cardio exercises like walking, swimming, biking, running, or tai chi.

9. Best Part Of Lemonade Diet

The best part of this lemon detox diet is that you get a slim body quickly and also end up with gorgeous skin. Low calories keep your weight in check and also use up the stored fat as energy to perform various functions. The ingredients of the lemonade diet constantly provide your body with vitamins and minerals. Also, this diet includes solid foods before and after the actual lemonade diet phase. This helps your body to gradually get used to less food.

10. Benefits Of Lemonade Diet

  • The benefit of this juice fasting diet is often explained in the form of rapid weight loss. To put it in a better way, this weight loss program enables the body to regain its balance of elements and maintain its optimum weight. Those who are not overweight lose between 2-3 kgs, and those who are underweight reestablish the balance of the body’s metabolism. The process would have taken much longer if the body had to burn off all the excess fat.
  • The loss of weight is only a secondary effect, the principal effect being the detox of organs by lowering calorie intake. Moreover, the body gets rid of fat deposits. It is a natural remedy that helps in purification and rejuvenation of skin and hair.
  • Detoxification will allegedly rid the body of warts, arthritis, asthma, stomach troubles, etc. Besides, lemon juice and cayenne pepper will flush out the excess fat from your body, leading to rapid weight loss during the diet. They also cleanse the lymphatic systemi  A network of organs, tissues, and veins that cooperate to transport lymph, a colorless fluid, back into the circulatory system. of toxins. The maple syrup contains all the nutrients your body needs to function during this time.
  • It is good for your skin, hair, heart, and digestive system.

Preston Joffer went on to feel great after the plan as it helped him eliminate his caffeine intake. In the same blog post, he writes, “The progress on measurements and loss was crazy fast, and as long as I was fairly sedentary, my energy was also good along with hunger.”

11. Side Effects Of Lemonade Diet

  • This diet can cause fatigue and weakness.
  • The beverage does not provide proteins, fiber, carbohydrates, or fat to the body.
  • It lowers metabolic health to conserve energy because the mixture supplies insufficient energy.
  • This may lead to weight gain if this diet is followed for a longer period.
  • It will weaken your immune system.
  • You may experience mood swings and find it hard to concentrate.

For Preston Joffer, the cons of the diet outweighed its benefits at the end. He concludes the post by stating, “As soon as I tried to work out I had no strength for activities that required energy….The diet was lacking a majority of the vitamins and minerals; Vitamins C might have been the only one that was decent (I did feel the need to take a multivitamin).”

12. Dos & Don’ts

Things To DoThings Not To Do
It is absolutely essential to wean yourself off caffeine before beginning the diet to avoid unpleasant withdrawal effects.This diet should not be followed for a period of more than two weeks.
Consult your doctor before you start this diet.Do not start with Phase 2. Follow all the phases.
Drink enough water.Do not drink sweetened fruit juices, carbonated drinks, and alcohol. Avoid starchy foods during phases 1 and 3.
Do light exercises, such as stretching.Avoid starchy foods during phases 1 and 3.
Get enough rest and sleep.Do not take stress.

Infographic: Lemonade Diet Essentials

Before you embark on a detox journey with the Lemonade Diet, here are some essential tips to remember, along with a few possible side effects to be on the lookout for. These will help you understand what the diet entails – if it can be accommodated into your routine or not – and the adverse effects it can have. Check them out in the infographic below.

lemonade diet essentials (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Following the lemonade fast diet for weight loss goes a long way in giving effective results. This 16-day program flushes out toxins from the body, especially the colon, and cleanses the internal organs. However, the diet mostly prohibits solid foods and allows for six or more glasses of lemonade mixtures every day. Hence, it must be followed under the supervision of a dietitian to avoid adverse effects. If perfectly followed, with the intake not exceeding 500-600 calories a day, this diet can reduce fat mass, body weight, and insulin resistance. Remember, you should avoid exercising (light stretching is allowed) while on this very low-calorie diet and try to get enough sleep. You also need to avoid caffeinated drinks before starting the diet to avoid withdrawal symptoms. The diet may cause certain side effects like fatigue and weakness. Moreover, it does not provide the body with any of the macronutrients like protein, fiber, and carbs and may even slow down the metabolism and weaken the immune system.

This is a fad diet and cannot be viewed as a solution for long-term weight loss. In fact, it could prove to be counterproductive and adversely affect your health.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much weight can I lose with the help of a lemonade diet?

You can lose 8-10 pounds, depending on how strictly you follow this diet. Do not over starve yourself.

Can I follow this diet after childbirth?

Diet is not recommended immediately after childbirth. It is extremely low in calories, which will make you weak and hinder your recovery. Consult your doctor after a month or two to know whether it will be right for you to follow this diet.

I have diabetes. Can I follow this diet to lose a few pounds?

No. Diabetes is a serious condition, and as this particular plan is high in sugar to give you energy, people with diabetes cannot follow this.

My wedding is in three weeks. Is this diet right for me?

Congratulations! This diet is perfect for you, but follow it only for 10-14 days. Also, since different diets are recommended for individuals with a different medical background, age, bone health, etc., consult your doctor before starting this diet.

Is this diet good for long-term weight loss?

No. This diet is a low-calorie diet and will make you weak. This diet can also lead to compromised immunity.

Key Takeaways

  • The lemon diet is related to the detoxification of the body by removing toxins from the lymphatic system.
  • Cayenne pepper and lemon juice may remove extra body fat from the system, resulting in rapid weight loss while on the regimen.
  • Avoid doing any strenuous exercise when following the lemon diet since the daily calorie intake will range from 600 to 700.
  • This diet lacks proteins, fiber, carbs, or fat.
Lemonade Diet For Weight Loss

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Discover the truth about the Master Cleanse and the Lemonade Diet. Learn how it works, its potential benefits, and the risks associated with this popular diet, all in the video given below. Check it out now!

Personal Experience: Source


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Lemon detox diet reduced body fat, insulin resistance, and serum hs-CRP level without hematological changes in overweight Korean women, Nutrition Research, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  2. Diet and body composition: Effect of very low calorie diets and exercise, Sports Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  3. Does short-term lemon honey juice fasting have effect on lipid profile and body composition in healthy individuals? Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  4. Antioxidant activity of Citrus fruits. Elsevier, Science Direct.
  5. Lemon Polyphenols Suppress Diet-induced Obesity by Up-Regulation of mRNA Levels of the Enzymes Involved in β-Oxidation in Mouse White Adipose Tissue. The Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  6. Sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes: epidemiologic evidence, Physiology & Behaviour, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  7. Effect of chili pepper (Capsicum frutescens) ingestion on plasma glucose response and metabolic rate in Thai women. Journal of Medical Association of Thailand, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  8. Capsaicin increases sensation of fullness in energy balance, and decreases desire to eat after dinner in negative energy balance. Appetite, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
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Madhu Sharma is a member of the National Executive Committee of IDA. She has been associated for almost three decades with Pediatric Nutrition at PGI while serving in the Gastroenterology Department (20 years) and then the Advanced Pediatric Center (10 yrs) at PGIMER, Chandigarh. She is former Senior Dietitian from PGIMER, Chandigarh, retired in 2012.   Madhu has been closely...read full bio

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