Maple syrup diet
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- The maple syrup diet is a type of detoxification diet that is promoted for rapid weight loss. It has also purportedly been used to help treat ulcers, improve concentration and energy, clear skin, promote shiny hair, and make nails stronger. However, scientific evidence supporting these claims is lacking.
- During the diet, people drink a mixture of maple syrup, freshly squeezed lemon juice, spring water, and cayenne pepper for an average of 10 days. During this time, some people may also take regular laxatives to help promote bowel movements. According to secondary sources, it is important to slowly return to solid foods after the diet period, due to possible problems, such as constipation. The process may be repeated generally as desired, although many proponents say it should not be repeated more than twice per month.
- Safety concerns surrounding this diet are mainly related to the nutrient depletion that may occur. Any number of ailments, such as anemia, bone weakness, or electrolyte disturbances, may result due to lack of nutrients. This may pose serious problems.
- Stanley Burroughs originally created the maple syrup diet in the 1950s. His book The Master Cleanser described the process as a detoxification plan aimed at clearing the body of toxins and internal waste, which he claims build up from an unhealthy lifestyle.
- The maple syrup diet became well known in 2006 when singer, songwriter, and actress Beyoncé Knowles described using it to lose 20 pounds for a role in the movie Dreamgirls. Knowles later told the media that she would not recommend the diet for anyone attempting to lose weight unless it was a situation similar to her own.
- In 2007, Dr. Mehmet Oz appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss detox diets, including the maple syrup diet. Although he did not explicitly state whether he was in favor of such diets or not, he did say that a diet like the maple syrup diet may be helpful in mentally preparing a dieter for a more long-term diet or weight loss program.
Theory / Evidence
- General: The maple syrup diet is a type of detoxification diet that is promoted for rapid weight loss. It has also purportedly been used to help treat ulcers, improve concentration and energy, clear skin, promote shiny hair, and make nails stronger. However, scientific evidence supporting these claims is lacking.
- People following the maple syrup diet drink a mixture of maple syrup, lemon juice, spring water, and cayenne pepper. There are many different variations of the diet. The "full detox" is the most common and requires dieters to drink only the maple syrup mixture (without food) for 10 days. People following this diet variation consume an average of 500 calories daily, compared to the recommended daily intake of 2,000 calories. Thus, the calorie deficit during the diet period causes weight loss.
- According to some anecdotal reports, dieters may lose about two pounds daily on average. Therefore, if done for the recommended 10 days, dieters may lose up to 20 pounds.
- According to secondary sources, there are concerns, however, that this type of calorie restriction only causes the loss of water weight and lean muscle rather than fat. Due to the body's need for protein and the lack of this nutrient in the maple syrup drink, lean muscle is broken down to provide that necessary protein. The loss of muscle mass in turn causes a slowing of metabolism. Therefore, when the dieter does begin to eat again, metabolism is much slower and weight gain is therefore likely.
- In addition, there is a lack of medical evidence that detox diets rid toxins that are not eliminated by the body's natural waste removal organs, such as the kidneys and liver. In fact, fasting may cause the elimination of healthy bacteria that are necessary for proper digestion and immunity.
- Maple syrup: Maple syrup is added to the mixture to provide some calorie intake and glucose to the diet.
- Lemon juice: In theory, the lemon mixture may act as an appetite suppressant, laxative, or diuretic.
- Water: Water helps prevent dehydration during the maple syrup diet. Also, some evidence suggests that drinking water before meals may help promote weight loss. Researchers found that people ate fewer calories after drinking two cups of water.
- Cayenne: Cayenne taken by mouth has been studied as a potential stimulant and treatment for diabetic neuropathy, duodenal ulcers, indigestion, ear infections, Helicobacter pylori infections, pain, rhinitis, sore throat, tonsillitis, and weight loss. However, more research is needed to determine if cayenne is effective for any of these indications.
- Laxatives: Due to the lack of fiber in the maple syrup diet, constipation is likely. Therefore, people often take laxatives to help promote bowel movements.
- This information has been edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
- American Society for Nutrition (ASN).
- Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine.
- Weight Loss Resources.
- General: People following the maple syrup diet drink a mixture of maple syrup, lemon juice, spring water, and cayenne pepper.
- There are many different variations of the diet. The "full detox" is the most common and requires dieters to drink only the maple syrup mixture (without food) for 10 days.
- The "relaxed" version allows the dieter to only substitute breakfast, dinner, or both with 2-3 glasses of the maple syrup drink. While the dieter is allowed to eat freely for any remaining meals, it is recommended to avoid sweets, processed foods, red meat, fried food, white bread, dairy products, coffee, and alcohol.
- The "once-a-week" version is the least challenging and requires the dieter to replace food with the maple syrup drinks once a week.
- In comparison, the "master plan" is the most demanding: dieters commit to a multiday detox twice a year, as well as detoxing once a week.
Most proponents of the diet state that in order to make each 10-ounce glass, two tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, two tablespoons of maple syrup, 1/10 of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and eight ounces of spring water are combined. If desired, lime juice may used instead of lemon juice, but the amount remains the same (two tablespoons). Cayenne pepper may generally be added to taste, although most people add a pinch to each glass.
- Lemon juice: Based on secondary information, the importance of making a fresh glass of the lemonade mixture rather than making one big batch for the day is because lemon enzymes have the most activity when the lemon is fresh. If premixing is necessary, it is recommended to only mix the fresh lemon juice and the maple syrup. This way, the maple syrup preserves the enzymes, and they do not lose activity.
- Another variation that some sources describe is to blend part of the lemon skin and pulp with the lemon juice to increase the laxative properties of the drink.
- Generally, drinking 6-10 glasses of the lemonade mixture daily is recommended. Some secondary recommendations specify that dieters should try to drink as close to six glasses as possible for maximum weight loss, and never drinking less than six glasses a day. However, it is important to drink whenever one experiences hunger or a lack of energy. The length of the diet can also vary anywhere from four days to fourteen, although the general consensus seems to be 10 days at a time, 3-4 times a year.
- While performing the diet, drinking water is highly encouraged. Various secondary sources claim that drinking water in addition to the lemonade mixture may curb hunger and help prevent dieters from eating.
- Cayenne: Cayenne pepper is added immediately prior to drinking the lemonade mixture.
- Laxatives: One of the necessary and somewhat uncomfortable procedures during the diet centers on daily laxative administration. Due to the lack of fiber in the diet, it is necessary to take laxatives at least once daily to promote regular bowel movements. The first laxative should be taken the night before the diet begins and continued nightly until the diet is completed.
- Dieters may also drink mint or peppermint tea if desired.
- Salt-water flush:
Dieters may also perform a salt-water flush every morning. This consists of 1-2 teaspoons of non-iodized salt stirred into water. Proponents stress that iodizedtable salt should not be used, because it may be less effective. Additionally, the salt-water flush should be done on an empty stomach. This will allow optimal bowel movements. If bowel movements do not occur, the amount of salt used may be increased.
- After-diet regimen: All maple syrup diet plans discuss an after-diet regimen, where individuals generally fade out from a diet based solely on liquids. The first day after completion of the diet, diluted orange juice is consumed. The second day after the diet consists of soups or blended foods. The third day is usually a combination of fruits and vegetables. Other recommendations instruct dieters to eat a vegetable soup for days 2 and 3 after the end of the diet.
- One specific recommendation details a somewhat extended process that begins with an ease-in period, followed by the diet, and then an ease-out period like the one detailed above. Meat, coffee, and milk products should be avoided immediately after the diet period, because they may irritate the stomach and colon, possibly leading to constipation and other complications.
- After the diet is complete, many sources stress the importance of healthy eating and limiting calorie intake to avoid gaining back the weight lost during the diet period. It is important to limit fatty foods, meat, processed foods, simple carbohydrates, salt, and bread.
Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.