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The Lemon Detox Diet has been voted one of the worst diets in many surveys. It’s a silly, faddish semi-fast that’s been around for years and honestly I’d forgotten all about it until I read a list of the worst diets for 2014. The next day I spotted the proprietary version for sale at a pharmacy hoping to catch those New Year resolutions and I thought ”Whoa there. Didn’t that come and go years ago?“ Clearly not. So here’s my not-so-favourable take on this silly diet detox.
There’s nothing wrong with lemons themselves. I’m a big fan and always have a few lemons in my kitchen for their high vitamin C content and acidity (which slows digestion and lowers the GI of the final dish) not forgetting their good keeping qualities. I love them in lots of things from marinades to salad dressing. As well as a glass of water with a slice of lemon first thing in the morning to hydrate and get me going.
But can lemons somehow magically melt away unwanted fat? I hardly think so although it’s something we all love to hear. A bit like the grapefruit-at-breakfast-melts-fat myth from the 1960s.
As this urban myth has grown, so has the celebrity food status of the humble lemon! Now so many diets utilise lemons as a fat-blaster, they’ve moved from being a simple morning cleanser to being the super start of the whole detox movement. And the basis of the Lemon Detox Diet …
Lemon Detox Diet – what it is
Sometimes sold as the “Lemonade Diet”, the Lemon Detox is a semi-fast based on a sugary syrup (made from low-quality maple syrup and palm syrup) that you BUY and mix up with water along with freshly-squeezed lemon juice and cayenne pepper for a bit of hot zing.
You drink 8 or 9 glasses of this lemony syrup drink - and have no solid food - for 10 to 14 days. It’s a Spartan low-calorie regime that supplies you with only 2500 kJ (600 Calories) a day but not enough protein, fat, B vitamins, minerals or fibre. Yes you’ll lose weight but not because of anything magical about the drink (which you could mix up yourself at home – see below) but because you’re not taking in much of anything!
How do you make this proprietary Lemon detox drink?
The drink consists of the Madal Bal Natural Tree Syrup™ plus your own fresh lemon juice, cayenne pepper and water. Each day, you make up a 2-litre batch using:
- 140ml of Madal Bal Natural Tree Syrup which you buy
- Juice of 3 freshly squeezed lemons (about 140ml)
- 2-3 pinches Cayenne Pepper
- Approx 1700ml of fresh or filtered water
How does it taste? Pretty awful. I struggled to get through even two glasses of the drink on one day in my trial effort.
How to make the home-made version
The one you can make yourself at home is based on the recipe first published in the 1940s and then revived in the 1970s by Stanley Burroughs in a book called The Master Cleanser. According to a natural health website, this recipe is recommended for 10 days and each glass consists of a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice, the same amount of real Maple syrup, a pinch of cayenne pepper and around 300ml (10oz) of water.
What’s wrong with the Lemon Detox Diet?
Here are my 5 reasons why this diet won’t work in the long term:
- It’s a crash diet or semi-fast. It’s too low for more than a couple of days. You exist on a very low intake of just the Lemon Detox drink which is around half of what you should be eating on a standard diet plan of 1200 Calories for women. Once you return to your normal diet, you’ll put the weight back on.
- It’s nutritionally deficient and unbalanced. You’ll be short on protein, fats, vitamins, minerals and fibre (think constipation). While the lack of vitamins and minerals won’t do any harm to a healthy person for a few days, it’s not something I’d recommend. Yes, you should take a vitamin and mineral supplement if you do the full 14 days.
- It teaches you nothing about making healthy meals for life - it doesn’t teach you about the right foods to eat – and you’ll have to start eating again at some point.
- You are too weak to exercise which is a key element of weight loss maintenance.
- You’ll lose fluid and electrolytes (potassium, sodium etc.), not body fat.
Widely condemned as a stupid fad diet
Here’s why I think it should be discarded as a silly fad diet:
- It promises extreme weight loss without any effort
- It makes it sound sooo easy, simple and quick
- It replaces all meals and foods with this horrible drink
- If you buy the proprietary product it costs you – about A$90 per bottle or can of the syrup from a pharmacy – and someone else is profiting from your weight loss effort.
- It’s not supported by any scientific research.
- There are glowing testimonials and photos from people who claim to have succeeded on the diet plan, but there is no way of knowing whether this is true or whether the pictures have been computer enhanced.
The bottom line
Give the Lemon Detox Diet a miss. One day on the diet after a pig out won’t do a healthy body any harm but don’t do the whole 14 days suggested. If you want a detox that works, you can create one at home for yourself much more cheaply and healthily by cutting out alcohol, highly processed foods, fatty foods and living on salads, vegetables, fruit, whole grains and water. Oh and the odd lemon.