The maple syrup diet

Known as the Maple Syrup Diet, the Lemonade diet, or the Master Cleanse: whatever you call it, this particular detox method is known across the world, and was created in the 1970s by American naturopath Stanley Burroughs.

This particular dietary regime involves drinking a dexofying beverage for several days. To be specific, roughly 900g of water mixed with non-iodised salt should be drunk every morning, and an herbal tea blend with laxative properties in the evening to stimulate frequent bowel movements.

Burroughs claimed that drinking lemon, hot water, and maple syrup helped to purify the body of waste and retained fluids thanks primarily to its diuretic properties, but the concoction’s other purported effects include drainage, slimming, and energizing.

Other effects said to follow were: weight loss, better concentration, more energy, glowing skin, hair, and eyes, and stronger nails. 

The diet included four different plans to choose from:

  • FULL DETOX: No solid food, and consumption of the beverage 6 to 12 times per day instead of traditional meals, for a maximum of 14 days (but only under medical supervision).  Other beverages were permitted, provide they were free of added sugars, like freshly-squeezed orange juice, apple juice, teas, and infusions. 
  • RELAXED VERSION: Replace breakfast, dinner, or both with 2 to 3 glasses of the drink. Avoid sweets, red meat, fried foods, white bread, coffee, alcohol, and dairy. 
  • ONCE A WEEK VERSION: The beverage is to be consumed only one day a week.
  • MASTER PLAN: Follow the “Once a week” plan for a whole year, with a twice-yearly Full Detox. 

Burroughs provided two approaches to transitioning off of the diet:

1. Vegetarian transition:

Days 1 and 2: Sip orange juice slowly throughout the day. Dilute with water if you have digestive problems. 

Day 3: Drink orange juice in the morning, eat fruit for lunch, and fruit or raw vegetables for dinner.

Day 4: Return to your normal diet.

2. Omnivorous transition:

Day 1: The same as the vegetarian transition

Day 2: Orange juice in the morning and afternoon. For dinner, soup or vegetable broth, avoiding as much as possible the ingestion of any solids and some of the liquid.

Day 3: Orange juice in the morning, the previous evening’s soup or vegetable broth for lunch along with four rye crispbreads, followed by fruit and raw vegetables for dinner.

Day 4: Return to your normal diet, but potentially continuing to consume the maple syrup drink for breakfast if you don’t want to maintain a vegetarian diet.


We’ve outlined this diet solely for informational purposes. We do not recommend that you follow such a drastic dietary regime, especially one that is all liquid, and lacks so many of the necessary nutrients for normal bodily function. In fact, in many cases (e.g. if you have diabetes, or suffer from gastro-intestinal problems) it could be incredibly damaging

These days, nutritionists do not recommend anyone follow such extreme diets: Harvard Medical School, for example, states that not only does this diet plan lack fundamentals like protein and fat, but the consumption of laxative teas puts you at risk of severe dehydration.  In addition, the hunger will slow your metabolism, causing you to quickly regain any weight lost once you’ve come off the diet. In excess, this diet could easily have grave consequences. 

Although its sole consumption is not recommended as a diet, Burroughs’ maple syrup recipe does make a lovely, refreshing drink on a hot summer day!


  • 2 spoons of juice from untreated/unwaxed lemons
  • 2 spoons of 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1 pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 pinch of ginger (optional)
  • 300 ml of water


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