ASK A TRAINER: 'Should I Do the Master Cleanse?'


Hello everyone. Sharon from Florida has a question inspired by Beyonce.

"I heard that Beyonce lost twenty pounds for her part in the movie DREAMGIRLS by doing the master cleanse. What do you think about this cleanse or others like it as a way to lose weight? Can you workout while you're doing the cleanse?"-Sharon W., Lakeland, Florida

Hi, Sharon. I'm glad you wrote me seeking additional advice on this matter. I guess drastically and abruptly changing your food intake based on what you heard Beyonce did wasn't reason enough to start "The Master Cleanse."

"The Master Cleanse," or the Maple Syrup or Lemonade Cleanse works like this, for ten days you eliminate solid foods from the diet entirely and replace it with a liquid diet consisting primarily of water (cold or warm), two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper.

Before I elaborate on the cleanse a bit more on the fast itself, let me address your question regarding whether you should work out while in the midst of the fast. This cleanse doesn't lend itself to exercise at all. (Check out my post on exercising on an empty stomach for more information on that.)

The Master Cleanse was created by Stanley Burroughs in 1941 and was primarily designed as a system to help rid the body of excess fat and remove toxins. Stanley Burroughs was not a medical doctor, nor was he a certified nutritionist or dietician. He was just some dude that was really into alternative medicine. In his book, THE MASTER CLEANSER, Burroughs wrote that the diet could promote, "lifetime freedom from disease." Oh, boy. How has modern science missed this?

The effectiveness of the diet is highly controversial, as I personally know people who have done it and swear by it. They have reported increased energy, weight loss and being generally happier.

In the medical and fitness community, however, there isn't much of a controversy at all as the cleanse has had no scientific evidence to back up its claims of removing toxins from the body and the weight lost experienced is largely water weight and is usually regained once solid foods are reintroduced into the system. In fact, most experts agree that the Cleanse is downright dangerous, as it doesn't provide an adequate number of calories and is vitally lacking in essential nutrients. It also leaves the body susceptible to extreme dehydration and essentially shuts down the digestive system. In fact, while doing the cleanse, it is recommended that you either take a laxative every night or perform a sea salt water cleanse to move things along.

So if the cleanse is so dangerous and ineffective, why do people swear by it and why did it work so well for Beyonce? If you stop eating, you will lose weight. A good deal of it will be water weight and will be regained once solid foods are reintroduced into the system. Such a drastic calorie restriction is in no way sustainable over a period of time. As for increased energy and improved moods, a good deal of it is placebo.

People swear by it, I know, but I also know people that have smoked crack and they said that feels pretty good, too. I don't recommend the Master Cleanse to anyone (nor do I recommend smoking crack.)

If you want to lose weight and keep your system clean, exercise consistently and eat a healthy diet. It's not a quick fix, but unlike the Master Cleanse, it has been scientifically proven to work. Incidentally, Beyonce has gone on record as saying that, although she did do the cleanse in 2006 that she now exercises regularly and eats well.

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Michael Buckley Michael Buckley is an NASM certified personal trainer and fitness model. As an actor, Michael can be seen in a recurring role on the popular PBS children?s television show, ?Cyberchase FOR REAL.? Other acting experience includes roles in the feature films DELUSIONS OF GUENEVERE, HETEROSEXUALS, MONA, GYPSY 83 and national tours of GREASE and SOUTH PACIFIC. He is also a produced playwright and had two feature screenplays optioned.