I tried Beyoncé’s strangest diet trick and it actually kind of worked
Killer of the post-spring break bloat
I don’t know how I managed to spend a lifetime in Los Angeles without doing a juice cleanse, but after spending a raucous, fried foodilled spring break in New Orleans, I decided that now was as a good a time as any to formally and fully induct myself into the most basic elements of Angeleno culture.
Choosing a cleanse
Juice cleanses touted by the likes of Bella Hadid often cost upwards of $200. Given that I aimed to break my bloat and not the bank, I turned to the queen: Beyoncé. Back in 2006, Bey made headlines for reportedly losing 20 pounds on the so-called “lemonade diet” in preparation for Dreamgirls. Modified versions of the decades-old Master Cleanse allow you to consume the all-liquid diet for just three days.
The lemonade diet has two relatively unbeatable assets going for it. Comprised solely of water, lemon juice, real maple syrup and cayenne pepper, the Master Cleanse is cheap and easy to make and, most importantly, tastes delicious.
Preparing to not eat solid food for three days (RIP)
I usually eat two carb or meat-based meals a day and work out three days a week. I’m not exactly peak-clean living, and coming from a week of 4 am beignets and daily Bloody Mary’s, I figured that the cleanse would be a struggle.
Nutritionists primarily criticize the weight loss of the lemonade diet because it comes from muscle loss rather than fat loss. So, rather than focus on weight loss, I decided to focus on bringing my now-25 inch waist back down to its normal 24 inches. I also resolved to do some moderate weight training while on the diet so I would lose fat instead of muscle.
Due to reservations at The Nice Guy on Tuesday evening that I couldn’t back out of, I started the diet on Wednesday, spending Monday and Tuesday weaning myself off of my vacation diet and mentally preparing for the days to come.
Last solid food consumed on Tuesday: 9p.m.
Day 1: Okay, this is not that bad
I started my first morning with my only modification to the diet: a cup of green tea to avoid a caffeine withdrawal headache. I then headed out of the house with two liters of my homemade lemonade.
Drinking the concoction throughout the day, I never actually found myself “hungry.” The maple syrup actually provided around 700 calories for the day, and the cayenne pepper kept the drink interesting enough that I actually enjoyed it. However, by the end of the day, my friends who agreed to try it out with me had already indulged in some fat Chipotle burritos. I was in this alone.
Day 2: I might have a heart attack, but I’m fine
I usually walk around five to six miles a day. I was fine doing this, but after trying to run on the elliptical, I actually thought that I was going to die. Five minutes into what are usually 35 minute runs, my heart felt like it was going to collapse in on my chest. Suffocating, I forced myself to walk the rest of my time on the elliptical, gradually returning to a state of (some degree of) normalcy.
I did some weight lifting and felt fine, but by the end of the day, I had to crash by 11. I was beat.
Day 3: EAT A PROTEIN BAR BEFORE YOU DRINK
My lips were on fire from consuming teaspoons over cayenne pepper. My body craved cheese. The end was near, thank God.
We were celebrating my friend’s 22nd birthday that night, so I knew that I would have to eat something before I drank unless I wanted to pass out after a single gin and tonic. Around 6 pm on Friday, I ate pasta. Actually, I ate a few pieces of pasta. I was stuffed immediately.
Going out that night actually wasn’t terrible. I didn’t crave anything more flashy or complicated than a Heineken or a G&T. This brings us to the ease-out.
The real results come from after the cleanse
In the days following the cleanse, everything smelled amazing, and I wanted to consume almost none of it. The cleanse essentially reset my appetite, successfully purging out a week of deep fried Creole and Cajun anything. I could once again see my abs, and my waist returned to its normal size. I even lost a few pounds, but more importantly, I felt infinitely better.
For the Master Cleanse to have lasting impact, you have to take advantage of this dietary reset rather than treat it as a mass starvation. I didn’t fully expect to see the diet through to Friday night, but if I, a pasta-obsessed and diet-phobic carnivore, could make it through the 70 hours, I believe anyone else with enough resolve could. There are no shortcuts to completing it, as drinking less lemonade to consume fewer calories just ups the odds of quitting altogether, but if you give it a good college try, you truly will reap what you sow.