This weeks post is actually an English assessment I recently handed in on The Master cleanse. We were supposed to do our articles about a global/national issue of today and had to find a good sized editorial/column to base ours on. At the same time I was reading The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffrey Steingarten, a brilliant book by the way, and thought I may as well look for one of his articles online; anyhow, I found his one for The Master Cleanse, read it, really enjoyed it and went straight to writing. Just finished it only last week. Anyway here it is and I hope you enjoy reading it! Oh, by the way, in non-blog format this is just 3 and 1/2 pages in length, not an endless stretch of writing that looks impossible to get throught, like this does.
Above: Mmmm… Lunch!
Radical weight loss diets are the new BLACK.
They’re the rage.
They’re the must try, must have, must do thing of todays impatient, instant oatmeal society.
A society where it seems impossible to find time for healthy eating and exercise outside of work, school or university and where a lot of people are overweight. These people are also stressed, tired and very busy.
A lot of people, probably like you, have to get up at the crack of dawn every day so that you get to work on time, (this resulting in you having to yawn constantly for most of the day, and you’ve probably also started finding yourself waking up in strange places after accidental naps; like up against the photocopier at work).
It’s also likely that you don’t have time for breakfast, so after dashing out the door for work you have to swing by the McDonalds drive through for a less than satisfying bacon and egg mcmuffin (This is chock full of calories by the way), which you have to take a bite out of every time you stop at the traffic lights. Or you might decide to skip it completely, be absolutely starving and lacking in energy till lunch and then gorge on a whole lot of unhealthy food. Maybe at Carl’s Junior?
There’s also the possibillity that you had to skip lunch as well, undoubtedly having to suffer through the traffic crawl home, absolutely racked with hunger, all because your colleague Simon from accounts took the day off sick. You got stuck with his work on top of yours, had to stay in at lunch so you had enough time to get all the work done and to top it all, you know that he was really playing golf because he sent you a picture of him from the golf course!
It’s unsurprising that by the time you get home you’re completlely knackered. The number one priority on your mind is relaxation and comfort and what is more comforting and delcious a pleasure than food? Chocolate biscuits and a tall glass of wine is probably top of your list. Maybe with cheese to go with the wine as well, or some of those lovely Peckish wasabi crackers. All in all, that’s gorging, not snacking. In the little time you have for yourself it’s understandable that you don’t want to spend it eating healthy carrot sticks dipped in 97% fat-free yoghurt hummous. And the propsect of changing into a pair of stretchy spandex pants and going out for a jog is as unrealistic for you as meeting Olivia Newton John at your local supermarket.
The Master Cleanse (Also commonly known as The Lemonade Diet) is a prime example of a radical diet. It’s the go to diet for people wanting to shed those extra ten kilos that have eluded them for years, really, really quickly.
Most people who consider these radical diets, have tried and failed at the more traditional ones where sensible eating and plenty of exercise are the objective. They have probably failed so many times that they have lost confidence in themselves. They might also lack the will power and follow through to go on them too, and when they’re super stressed at work, more often than not, they’re going to to bite the head off a choloate bunny and keep on going rather than nibble at a celery stick and cottage cheese smorgis board.
So the first question I felt I wanted to know when writing this article was – “What exactly is The Master Cleanse and how is it different to all of those other diets circulating round the internet?” Well, The Master Cleanse is a diet where you subsist for 10 days on 6 – 12 glasses of mineral water mixed with 2 tbsp of Grade B maple syrup and of lemon juice with a pinch of cayenne pepper, every single day. Each serving roughly contains about 100 calories and can be drunk hot, cold, or frozen if you like. You also have to drink two tall glasses of herbal laxative tea twice daily and have the option of drinking a glass of lightly salted water on the first or second day as well.
What makes this diet different is that by fasting on The Master Cleanse your body supposedly purges itself of all of the built up toxins and chemicals that have entered your body. Stuff like food additives, pesticides, toxins, etc. But according to nutritionists like Samuel Klein, the director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the medical school of Washington University in St. Louis, they are suspicious of diets like the master-cleanse. According to Mr Klein, there is no medical data or evidence to prove that the Master Cleanse or similar diets provide any medical benefit, and he also believes that fasting does not help rid the body of toxins, which actually happens naturally in the body. “While fasting for a few days is not dangerous, Dr. Klein said, “Fasting for too long can deplete muscle tissue, including your heart muscle, and it can reduce the size and functioning of organs like the kidney and liver.” Some nutritionists also say that fasting can slow down your metabolism, making it even harder to lose weight further down the track.
Joy Bauer, a nutritionist and the author of “The 90/10 Weight-Loss Plan.” said that “People want a quick fix and they want to be thin so badly that they’re vulnerable and open to almost anything. Of course you’re going to lose weight,” she said. “You’re starving yourself. Seldom do the pounds stay off,” she also added, “And people have a tendency to binge once they begin eating again.”
Other less sceptical dieters have more positive things to say about the cleanse.
Kristina Wong, a performance artist in Los Angeles, lasted on the fast for only five days, but did see results. “I looked great,” said Ms. Wong, who uploaded a video diary of her fasting experience on YouTube in September. “No more stomach rolls. I was such a skinny mini.”
Jeffrey Steingarten, one of Americas most influential food critics and writers reported that he not only lost ten pounds, but said that the cleanse made his normally clear skin look even clearer. It also removed some red blotchy patches from his face that had been leftover from a case of rosacea 7 years ago and he commented that his sense of taste and smell were heightened. He also noticed that after the cleanse he required less salt on his food, and interestingly enough, if you avoid salt for a period of time then a smaller amount will have the same effect on your taste buds. He hadn’t consumed any sodium/salt at all.
The Second and most important question I needed to answer was – “If you lose a whole lot of weight after completing the diet, are you likely to see it return in a matter of days, or is it actually possible to keep it off and maintain your slim and trim physique?” Many internet articles have answers to this, all of which are very different.
The common answer to this is no. Not really. There are successful dieters who have managed to keep their weight off but it’s not fun. A lot of them restrict themselves to unpermissive low calorie diets mixed with ample amounts of exercise, which does seem to work. Others revisit the master cleanse several times a year or even every couple of months to combat weight gain too, and then there are the cleverest people who just go on it for 2 or 3 days after periods of especially unhealthy eating/binging in order to reshed the fat that’s clawed its way back up; I’d say this is the easiest way to go too.
But here’s the thing. You can’t return to your normal eating patterns. Jeffrey Steingarten did and most of his ten pounds reappeared in a matter of days; but Jeffrey obviously did not watch what he ate and probably consumed high calorie foods such as chocolate, cheese, foie gras and wine, this rapidly allowing the fat to creep back on up.
The third question I wanted answers to was, “What are some of the negative things about the diet? Does it actually feel like you’re starving yourself?” This is one of the questions that I really focused on when writing this article. I’m not going to lie, It’s horrible! Definitely horrible for the most part. But funnily enough, on the first day of the diet you don’t actually feel hungry at all, you actually feel full of energy! Jeffrey said that on the first day he nearly floated out of bed. As the diet goes on though, you will start to day dream about Mars Bars and doughnuts. Coffee addicts will really be dealt a blow on this diet too.
Kristina Wong said she found herself staring longingly at take out menus and scouring food blogs while on her fast. “I drive a car that runs on vegetable oil so it smells kind of like a fast-food restaurant, and there were times when I was so hungry I just wanted to pull over and put my mouth around the exhaust pipe,” she said.
A few pieces of advice for those still considering –
A lot of dieters warn that it’s best to stay close to a rest room at all times. – “One day it was just two hours of me running back and forth to the bathroom,” Kristina Wong said.
Do not consume any solid foods for whatever reason! You cannot forget that you are drinking two cups of laxative tea each day.
Being on a diet like this one makes socialising with friends quite difficult. A lot of having fun with friends is centred around eating together, whether in restaurants, at home or even at the movies and because of this, a lot of dieters have to miss out so that they won’t surcome to temptation. Try to plan when you cleanse as best you can.
Some good background reading –
I Heard it Through the Diet Grapevine
Mr Clean: Jeffrey Steingarten Puts the Master Cleanse to the Test (as appeared in Vogue Magazine)
I survived the Master Cleanse – Then Gained All the Weight Back
The Lemon Detox Diet – A Recipe That Really Works
Note – Just got my marks back the other day and got a low merit for it, no excellence in sight. That’s okay though because at the end of the year I’m going to resit it with the same article, just with a slightly different bent to it and ace it. The Reason I didn’t get top marks for it by the way is because I didn’t express enough of my own opinions and needed to give a little more insight, and investigate deeper and deeper, etc, etc. Didn’t see that in other professional articles I read while researching…