The Lemon Detox diet diary

Often described as ‘the quick way to lose 10lb in a week’ and loved by Beyonce, The Lemon Detox diet is actually based on 50 years of research that made its founder Hawaiian Naturopath Stanley Burroughs a world revered figure.

The premise is simple: eat nothing for 5-10 days and drink a concoction made from natural tree syrup, lemon juice and cayenne pepper – plus water and a bit of herbal tea – and hey presto, you lose weight.

Simple, you’d think? We gave it a whirl…

SM tester writes: I was delegated this one and wasn’t sure if I’d drawn the long or the short straw. Yeah, I could do with losing 10lb in a week – who couldn’t? – but live on lemon juice? Especially with young kids… Errr…

The first day was obviously the hardest. I am the biggest culprit of finishing off what my kids leave on their plates rather than put it in tuppaware and annoyingly my eldest had asked for pancakes for breakfast. So there I was juicing my lemons to mix up a day’s worth of drink, watching the kids and their dad wolf down plates of stodge and jam… BTW, it’s worth mentioning here that you will need A LOT of lemons for this diet – they recommend organic ones – so a word in the ear of a friendly local greengrocer might be able to score you (as it did me) a whole box of them much cheaper than buying in the supermarket. 

The drink itself is quite tolerable. They suggest you drink it luke warm or tepid – drinking it cold is a bit ‘full on’ … The syrup and the pepper in it sort of give it the taste of one of those ‘old fashioned lemonade’ drinks I used to buy in the health food shop for morning sickness. 

What is trickier is the FOUR LITRES of water you are meant to drink in addition to the two litres of lemon drink. Granted – bar the odd cup of peppermint tea – this is all you are allowed, but at first you feel like you’ve humanly drained a swimming pool for the amount of water you consume. They suggest you keep a bottle at your desk and sip all day but frankly I needed more motivation than that so just set myself a half hourly alarm to then drink a 6oz glass whilst I was working. 

I imagine Beyonce – or any other celeb doing this diet – would probably also book themselves into a yoga retreat or island spa, as this is an easier diet whilst nobody is waving a bacon sandwich in front of your nose or expecting you to whip up a batch of after-school-snack cookies without licking the bowl… 

But I stuck with it. Day one there was no weight change but I was ratty as hell. 

The following morning I woke up early for an almighty wee… and my tummy did look a bit flatter. I sat there in the morning light sipping my drink and thinking ‘maybe this is really going to work’. I took myself back up to bed with a peppermint tea whilst the kids had their breakfast (the tea helps your bowels but also with the funny taste you get in your mouth – again, a bit like the metallic taste you get during early pregnancy). 

‘OK,’ I told myself ‘, you can do this!’ and set myself up for another day. I’ll confess, there is a book that comes with this diet that I had only skim read before commencing. Possibly they should suggest that you only read the bits you need to know for each stage, as reading it on day two I discovered the section about what you can eat once the fasting is over (mmm, porridge, I’d kill for that right now…) and also the Spanish version of the diet, which is only partly made up of fasting and drinking lemon drink and the rest of the time you can eat normal(ish) meals.

By day two I am definitely losing some weight (annoyed that the scales only showed 1lb as it felt like more) but I decided that the distractions were a bit much so packed myself off to a girlfriend’s house for the night, leaving my poor husband with the kids and a compost bin full of lemon skins.

My diet-sleepover was quite a success. She dutifully didn’t laugh at me arriving clutching my bag of lemons, supplied awful 90s films and some lovely herbal tea (possibly not one of the ‘allowed ones’ but…) and was polite about the fact that I was asleep on her sofa by 8.45pm.

Day three is meant to be the hardest and I won’t lie, I was not a happy bunny. Really missing my morning coffee (damn that Nespresso machine, staring at me…) and afternoon bag of Quavers. And I was cold all the time. I had lost 3lb though, plus had a good long think about all the cr*p I eat in a normal day which I tell myself doesn’t matter but (err -half a pack of iced gems is still about 60 calories…) and it does feel a bit ‘cleaner’ to be drinking lemon juice and water – although I was starting to find the taste of the syrup a bit cloying…

Day four and I am sure I won’t make it. I was really about to give in and have a bowl of Weetabix. But then a huge work crisis is suddenly thrown my way and for the best part of the morning I’m scrabbling around the hypothetical ‘box’ trying to think outside of it… Which is at least distracting. I completely forgot to drink any water, neck half the day’s dose of the lemon drink at lunchtime and pick most of the skin off my thumbs trying not to snatch the KitKat off a colleague’s desk. 

Day five: I decided this was the final day. You could do this diet for another five but I feel like I gave it a fair try. I’ve learned a lot about myself and I’ve lost 5lb, which isn’t bad. When you come off the diet they suggest gradually introducing food again (one orange at a time) and it’s natural to gain a bit of weight back – but you can do the diet three or four times a year, apparently. 

Unsurprisingly perhaps, you do actually find yourself craving lemons afterwards (good job I bought that big box!) and I had a newfound affinity for neat lemon juice as a salad dressing…

I would definitely give this another go – in fact, having a wedding to go to in the new year is good motivation to – but I think you need as few distractions as possible in order to get ‘in the zone’ as it were. Also, I was too busy thinking about food and lasting til the next meal to even consider gentle exercise during the programme, but if I did it again I would factor is a bit of Pilates or a swim in there, just to get the endorphin vibes going a bit more.

Find out more about The Lemon Detox from the website.