7-Day Lemon Diet: Does It Work for Losing Weight?

March 15, 2022 • By Mary Smith
The estimated reading time is 6 minutes
Lemon Diet

Can lemon juice help you lose weight if you consume it for one week straight with no solid foods whatsoever?

The 7-day lemon diet promises to master cleanse your body by removing the toxins from it. Beyonce has used this diet. However, even though the concept is very popular, it doesn’t have any scientific proof or lasting results.

What Is The Lemon Diet?

Namely, the Lemon Diet is a lemon detox diet that consists of consuming only three liquids for a period of 7 days. The approved liquids are:

  • a lemonade
  • a salt-water drink
  • a herbal laxative tea

The claim is that by following the lemon diet for 7 days (or more) you will lose weight, detox your body, and feel healthier, happier, and more vital. Plus, you will also remove your cravings for unhealthy food.

The question remains: Can lemons help you lose weight? Or, in other words, will you lose weight by drinking lemon water?

I think it all had begun with the book The Master Cleanser by Stanley Burroughs where he introduces this popular diet. The book becomes popular and gets many variations of it, such as Peter Glickman’s Lose Weight Have More Energy and Be Happier in 10 Days, a book that continues Stanley’s legacy.

In this article, I will discuss the truth behind these claims, and we will discover together whether the lemon cleanse diet works and more importantly, whether it is safe or not.

The 7-Day Lemon Diet forbids the consumption of solid foods for a week. The only calories and nutrients that will enter your body will be from the lemon juice, the salt water, or the laxative tea. So, it is obvious that you will lose weight.

However, the weight loss will only be short-term since this diet doesn’t have nutritional value and is high in sugar. So, if your plan is to lose weight and improve your health in the long run, this is definitely NOT for you.

How Does The Master Cleanse (Lemon) Diet Work?

Since this diet is liquid-only, it can be difficult for most people to go with their day not eating any solid foods. So, it is highly advisable to ease into it first. Take a few days to prepare your body. Here’s some advice on how you can do that:

Days 1 & 2: Remove meat, alcohol, caffeine, dairy, added sugars, and processed foods. Eat only raw food, fruits and vegetables.

Day 3: Start drinking smoothies, soups, and vegetable and fruit juices as a complete meal.

Day 4: Start drinking only fresh-squeezed orange juice and water. And before you go to bed, drink laxative tea.

Day 5: Start the lemon cleansing diet.

All the calories will then come from the lemon-maple-cayenne homemade drink. Here’s the recipe:

  • 30 grams (2 tablespoons) freshly-squeezed lemon juice (about half a lemon)
  • 2 grams (1/10 teaspoon) cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
  • 40 grams (2 tablespoons) pure maple syrup
  • 8 to 12 ounces of spring water

Mix the ingredients and drink the beverage whenever you feel hungry. The daily recommendation is 6 servings.

Also, don’t forget to drink one quart of warm salted water every morning in order to stimulate your bowel movements. Plus, herbal laxative tea is also allowed and you can drink it before going to bed.

Some people recommend following this regime for at least 10 days for best results, but 7 days can also do the trick. However, there is no scientific research to back these sayings.

Finally, when you decide to stop the diet, it is recommended to slowly ease out of it. Again, you will need a few days to start eating regularly like you used to.  Here’s how you can do it:

Day 1: Begin by drinking freshly-squeezed orange juice.

Day 2: Add vegetable soup to your menu.

Day 3: Start eating fruits and vegetables.

Day 4: You can now eat regularly. However, try putting the emphasis on whole unprocessed foods.

What Happens When You Drink Lemon Water For 7 Days For Weight Loss?

By following this diet you will most probably lose weight due to the low-calorie intake. Each serving of the drink has about 110 calories, with at least 6 servings consumed daily. Therefore, the majority of people will burn more calories than they consume, leading to (short-term) weight loss.

One study discovered that people who were drinking lemon water with honey for 4 days while fasting lost an average of 2.2 kilos (4.8 pounds). Plus, their triglyceride levels went down. (1)

Another study found that women who were drinking sweetened lemon drinks while fasting for 7 days lost an average of 2.6 kilos (5.7 pounds) and they also reported having less inflammation. (2)

And while this cleansing diet does lead to weight loss, there are no studies that show whether the weight loss is maintained long-term. There is research that shows that dieting only has a 20% long-term success rate. Therefore, the best is to make smaller but sustainable lifestyle changes for long-term weight control. (3)

Finally, when it comes to the claim that the lemon diet removes toxins, there is also no evidence that supports the claim. (4)

What Are The Benefits Of Following The Lemon Diet For 7 Days?

The Master Cleanse diet is:

  • easy to follow (it doesn’t require cooking or calorie counting);
  • inexpensive (considering the only ingredients you need are maple syrup, lemons, salt, water, cayenne pepper, and tea);
  • refreshing (some people reported feeling rejuvenated and reenergized).

Downsides And Side Effects

The Master Cleanse diet is:

  • not a balanced diet (you won’t get the necessary vitamins, minerals, fiber, and fat you need);
  • high in sugar; the World Health Organization recommends getting no more than 25 grams of added sugar a day, while just one serving of the lemonade has over 23 grams of sugar. Therefore, the serving of 6 drinks has over 138 grams of sugar that you consume per day, with maple syrup being the main source of it. (5) (6)
  • stressful and difficult to follow both mentally and physically;

The reported side effects are:

  • headaches;
  • fatigue;
  • dizziness;
  • bad breath;
  • irritability;
  • hair loss;
  • muscle cramps;
  • constipation;
  • (7)

Who Should Stay Away From The 7-Day Lemon Diet?

The lemon diet is not recommended for:

  • pregnant women;
  • diabetic people (their blood sugar may get lower);
  • people with a history of eating disorders;
  • people with a history of heart problems. (8) (9) (10)

The Bottom Line

As Dr. Hansa Bhargava, the Chief Medical Officer at Medscape Education says, “if weight loss is your goal, it may work temporarily. Anytime you limit your food intake, especially that drastically, you will lose some weight. The problem is, you will lose muscle mass. This diet puts you at risk for nutritional deficiencies, too. Also, you will likely gain the weight back really quickly once you start eating normally.” (11)

Therefore, this is not a diet that I would be following myself or recommend to anyone. If you want to lose weight best is to have a balanced diet with regular exercising.


Mary Smith

She is a dietitian and a healthy cooking expert that inspires millions of readers to eat nourishing and healthy food and have more balanced lives. She is passionate about writing, based on considerable scientific research to back up her nutrition articles intended for a general readership.
This content is only for educational and informational purposes. It should not be considered as medical advice or taken as a treatment instead of one from a licensed physician. All readers should consult their doctors or certified health professionals before taking any advice from this site and applying it to their condition. We do not take responsibility for possible health issues of any person following the content in this informational website. All the viewers of this site should consult their physicians or doctors before taking on any supplement, diet, nutrition, or lifestyle program.
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