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How Does A Lemon Detox "Diet" Work?

Updated on June 6, 2021
Sam Shepards profile image

Hi, I'm Sam. I enjoy writing about nutrition and health-related topics, especially alternative and plant-based remedies.

The Lemon Detox Diet is one of the increasingly popular diets, claiming it can help you lose weight, cleanse your body, and get healthier. However, there are some different opinions about how good a lemon detox is for you. Here’s our guide to all the pros and cons.

How Does the Lemon Detox Diet Work?

The lemon detox diet consists of drinking 6-10 glasses of a lemon juice drink for a period of 5-14 days. The drink is similar to lemonade, combining water, lemon juice, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and syrup as a sweetener. In addition to the lemon drink, you can drink salt water and herbal laxative tea.

According to the detox diet’s rules, you cannot eat any other food, and exercise is discouraged. Proponents of the lemon detox diet claim that it will cleanse your body of toxins, improve digestion, and lead to weight loss. You can buy a lemon detox or you can make lemon detox drinks yourself, using the following ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 cups of water (depending on how strong you want the drink to be)
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 1/10th teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Lemon Detox Benefits

Quick Weight Loss

The lemon detox diet cuts a lot of calories from your daily intake. This means that you can lose weight quickly, often enough to drop a pants size (or even 2) over 10-14 days.
A Break from Unhealthy HabitsDuring the lemon water detox, you don’t eat any other foods. This means that for the period of the diet, you are free from any unhealthy eating habits, including processed and sugary foods. The detox’s supporters claim that it can cut cravings, so that you can eat more healthily once the detox is over. The lemon detox can be a reset for your mentality on eating.

A Break from Unhealthy Habits

During the lemon water detox, you don’t eat any other foods. This means that for the period of the diet, you are free from any unhealthy eating habits, including processed and sugary foods. The detox’s supporters claim that it can cut cravings, so that you can eat more healthily once the detox is over. The lemon detox can be a reset for your mentality on eating.

Cleansing Your Digestive System

The break from solid food will also clear out your digestive system. The lemon drinks and salt water will flush out your system, giving you a clean start when you return to a normal diet. The detox may also work to cleanse your body of toxins.


Lemons are full of Vitamin C, so the lemon detox will really boost levels of the vitamin in your body. Vitamin C is essential to your immune system, which fights disease and keeps your body healthy. A lemon detox diet can give you immune system a serious temporary boost.

Water With Lemon

Negatives And Side-effects Of Lemon Diets

Long Term Weight Gain

While the lemon detox can be very effective in helping you to lose weight quickly, you are likely to gain it back after finishing the detox. Because you are cutting so many calories during the detox, your body essentially goes into starvation mode. In addition to burning fat, your body may start using water, bone, and muscle mass.

The decline in calories will also cause your metabolism to slow down. This means that you may gain weight when you start eating a normal diet again, perhaps even gaining more than you lost. If you’re looking for long-term, sustainable weight loss, the best approach is a healthy diet with many fruits and vegetables and regular exercise.

Lack of Nutrients

Although the lemon detox is high in vitamin C, it lacks other important vitamins and minerals that your body needs. It is especially lacking in protein, providing only 20% of the suggested daily value. This can make you feel fatigued during the period of the detox and may harm your health more than it improves it.

Difficult to Complete

The lemon detox is also difficult to do. It is against normal human instinct to stop eating and only drink liquids for any sustained time. If you attempt the detox, you will likely experience strong hunger and cravings. Furthermore, while supporters of the lemon detox claim that the diet will give you more energy and enhanced concentration, many who have completed the detox complain that it left them with fatigue, lethargy, headaches, and a lack of concentration.

Lemon Detox Diet Verdict

Some people who have tried the lemon detox love it. They say that it makes them feel healthy, energetic, and refreshed, and helps to lose weight. Most nutritional experts, however, say that the lemon detox is not a healthy approach to losing weight or clearing your body of toxins. They recommend a diet based on fruits and vegetables in order to cleanse your body of toxins without depriving it of nutrients and calories.

In general I prefer moderate eating habits. Also some forms of fasting or minimalism. Meatless weeks, vegetable juicing, reducing sugar intake etc. Although I’m testing some diets and detox regimes for now, mostly for clearing my mind, it’s not really my cup of tea. Eat with moderation, walk more and sleep well is doing 95% of the work the body needs.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2016 Sam Shepards


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