Could you spend 10 days drinking nothing but saltwater, laxative tea and a concoction of lemon juice, maple syrup, purified water and cayenne pepper? Would it be more appealing if someone told you that you could detox your system and lose weight on just such a diet? That's the Master Cleanse or Lemonade diet.
Apparently there are many people out there, celebrities included, who swear by this diet. Beyonce Knowles claims the diet helped her drop 20 pounds to prepare for her role in Dreamgirls.
Devotees of the diet eat no solid food but drink up to 10 daily glasses of the lemon juice cocktail and round it off with saltwater in the morning and laxative tea at night. They are supposed to stay on the cleanse for at least 10 days, then ease back into normal eating with orange juice and vegetable soup.
The main drawback: You never want to be too far from a toilet. The cleanse produces very liquid and copious bowel movements. As for other side effects, some say they are always hungry.
While there's no evidence of medical harm, doctors warn against extreme diets and fasting for extensive periods. One of the biggest concerns being that any weight lost is simply gained right back as soon as the fast/diet is finished. There's also some debate over whether "detoxification" is something the body actually needs.
Weight loss isn't the only benefit that devotees of the Master Cleanse diet have reported.
Zoe Cochran, a 52-year-old in Navasota, Texas, is a hard-core master cleanser. She does an annual 30-day cleanse plus periodic shorter ones.
"After the cleanse I have great digestion and great elimination," she said. "People are chronically constipated."
Cochran said the cleanse also cured an injured knee that was so painful she couldn't get up from a sitting position.
Color me a cynic, but I'm personally partial to eating better and exercising to lose weight. Which generally comes with the added benefits of joint pain relief and extra energy. Besides, I'm not awfully fond of the idea of "very liquid and copious bowel movements."