Fad Diet Takedown: The Master Cleanse

Trust me, I dislike the work “diet” as much as you do.

It comes with heavy connotations. The word itself has a will to change associated with it, but the type that isn’t long-lasting nor sustainable. No other nation is probably as health and fitness conscious as ours and yet Americans continue to hit the highest rate of obesity among English-speaking countries. According to a 2017 study, five of our states have exceeded a 35% obesity rate. That’s a bit alarming, yet it comes as no surprise. Thankfully though, our country gives us the option to at least choose a healthier lifestyles. Corporate America feeds off of this – We are constantly thrown promotions to hop on different workout and diet routines. Some that work, some that don’t.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I’m going to take on some “fad diets” and dig into the truth and effectiveness (or not) behind each one.  So let’s start with one of the most popular fad diets: The Master Cleanse.

(photo by Getty Images)

The Master Cleanse, is essentially a detox diet which you take on for 10 days, every 3-6 months. Made popular by celebrities such as Beyonce, Angelina Jolie and even Denzel Washington, the benefits are not only to lose pounds at an accelerated rate. It’s also made to cleanse your body from the toxic and filthy foods that your body has been so used to through the course of your lifetime.

The Master Cleanse is a three ingredient diet. All you need is lemons, grade-B syrup, and cayenne pepper to start. Just put those in water and there’s your meal plan for the next 10 days. One takes a laxative before heading to bed (I took a senna tea). In the morning one drinks a “salt water flush”: This usually consists of a teaspoon of sea salt (non-iodized salt) mixed with warm water and chugged. This will make your body flush out hard. It’s uncomfortable in the morning, sometimes painful, but most of all  — shocking with the amounts of trash that gets pushed out of your system. Even after 5 days of consistently drinking late night teas and morning salt waters, there will be ample, and I mean AMPLE amounts of defecation coming out of your body. In that aspect, I knew things were getting out of my system, and I was dropping weight quick.

Now for your daily meal, and this is where the three ingredients kick in…It’s a combination of water mixed with fresh squeezed lemons (preferably organic but definitely not store-bought lemon juice), grade-B maple syrup, and a hint of cayenne pepper. That’s all you get to allocate for your meals during this 10 day process. This lemonade is all you need through the course to give your body the nutrients it needs to sustain energy, activity, and functionality as you go through the morning salt water flushes. All you have to eat throughout is water and your lemonade creation.

This was my experience: The first day I felt fine. Hungry yes, but fine. As an emotional eater, I knew my body was filled with a lot of bad that I was willing to make the effort to detox and see how I felt after the 10 days. I was motivated – which is essential to making it through. Days 2 and 3 were the most difficult as my energy felt like an all time low and I just wanted to take naps throughout my day. But I was motivated and constantly told myself it’s just 10 days of my life to experiment and see how my body felt and looked after it was all done. By day 4 (and 4 salt-water flushes later) I started to feel clean and re-energized. Once I hit the mark of those positive feelings, it drove me to keep going. It helped that I already saw my waistline trimming and seeing major positive side effects. Even my senses felt heightened, my smell and even sight was stronger. Needless to say, I made it through my 10 days so effectively, that I kept going to day 14, the two week mark. I would have went further but it felt like my body needed to be reintroduced to solid foods sooner than later.

(photo by Getty Images)

Don’t get me wrong, drinking my lemonade concoction daily wasn’t an easy task. Going out with friends I would have to refuse dinners and received a few eye rolls.  Even some found pleasure in tempting me out of it with a french fry or two. I was living in Tokyo at the time, and passing by all these restaurants and storefronts with enticing delectables made it even more of a challenge. But, my will power and motivation was stronger than my desire for these goods. After all, it’s only 10 days. To succeed, one needs to have a stronger purpose that defeats the quick highs.

As I mentioned, after just 5 days I started to feel clean, light, energized, and healthier. The diet didn’t weaken my exercise routines by any means, it actually drove me. By the end of the Master Cleanse, the best way to describe how I felt: Like a newborn baby. Fresh and ready to bring back solids, but clean ones. My first taste of something different was orange juice. Something that was once refreshing and sweet tasted sour and icky. Vegetables that were stir-fried, I tasted the oiliness more than the vegetable itself. And when I had my first bite of meat…boy, did it taste awful. This made me think extra hard about the stuff that my previous body was so accustomed to: What have I been eating that my newborn system now rejects because it has been cleansed?

I lost about 10-12 lbs during this process and that’s a lot for someone like me with a smaller frame. It was a great way not only to lose weight but to clean your body and start anew. Eventually, however, as my body regained recognition of foods it once loved, I unfortunately started to appreciate the alluring meals that aren’t always good for you. I gained all the weight back, and I went back to my old habits.

I’ve tried a few times to reinstate the 10-day master cleanse into my daily activity but it proved impossible. I lost motivation the 2nd and 3rd attempts because I knew that the diet, although extremely beneficial, wasn’t sustainable in the long run. It was a quick fix, served its purpose, but sustaining a super clean diet was near impossible for me.

(photo by Getty Images)

The Master Cleanse is meant to be revisited every few months but it was difficult as heck for me to retreat back to lemons, water, and cayenne pepper on the daily. The salt water flushes in the morning were the worst part of the process. Best be near a toilet for the hour or two after drinking that salt water. I was scared to leave the house too early before I flushed everything out. The first experience is always easiest to maintain, any other attempt thereafter, I probably needed a new form of motivation.

My takeaway from this is that The Master Cleanse did exactly what it promised. It cleansed my body effectively. Through the entire course, I continued to defecate even when I thought there couldn’t possibly be anything left. It proved to me how much bad toxin our bodies continue to hold. I want to do it again, not because of the weightloss, but mainly because of the way my body felt after everything. I felt brand spanking new, like a new body was gifted to me to work with. But, it’s not sustainable (especially the weightloss) and that’s why it’s recommended to do the Master Cleanse seasonally. It was a very very popular diet that was extremely effective but not measured to keep up with the normal daily activities.

Just like any other fad diet, it comes into style because it works. But it goes away when you realize you can’t maintain the newfound body you find…. Unless you complete it again.

Next week, I’ll visit another fad diet, stay tuned…