Beyoncé’s master cleanse gave me a concussion
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Like most people my age, I’m pretty much on an endless quest to be more like Beyoncé.
I’ve had a vegan phase, I practice my belt voice along to “Lemonade” whenever given the opportunity, and I’ve even taken a Beyoncé-themed dance class in order to improve my Bey themed dance moves.
So when I found out that Beyoncé had given up food for 10 days in order to drink her own version of lemonade — the goddess-making concoction of cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and maple syrup known as the “master cleanse” — I was unsurprised. The cleanse has been touted for years as Beyoncé’s sole method of losing 20 pounds in mere weeks for her role in Dreamgirls in 2006.
Never mind that Beyoncé chose to gain back the weight afterward and apparently never ventured near master cleanse territory again, preferring instead to, you know, eat solid foods. When I found out Yolanda Foster and Gigi Hadid were also fans of this detox, I knew I had to try it. For science!
Here’s how the master cleanse works: each morning, you wake up and do a “salt water flush,” chugging two teaspoons of salt in room-temperature water on an empty stomach. This is supposed to result in “several eliminations” throughout the day and if it doesn’t, you need to up the salt. Assuming you don’t immediately barf that up, you follow it with six glasses of the lemonade concoction over the course of the day. Greet sweet sleep with a glass of laxative tea, then start the process again the next morning. This is supposed to go on for a minimum of 10 miserable days.
I immediately began to fantasize about how I would feel on the 10th day of ingesting solely Beyoncé nectar. Would I see fairies? Would my insides sparkle like Yolanda Foster’s kitchen counters? I pictured myself glowing, with sun rays shooting out my fingers, sipping on my lemonade. Such a look.
I had never cleansed for 10 days before, so I decided to immediately tell all of my friends that I was not to be ingesting food for a week and a half. I instructed them to slap me on the wrist if I was tempted to snack on their fries. They looked at me with serious concern in their eyes, and most of them laughed. “You’ll last like two days, Iva.”
Reinvigorated with determination in the face of their disbelief, I set out armed and ready for the local health food store where I justified the purchase of $14 maple syrup with the fact that I would’t be spending money on food for over a week. When I woke up the next morning, I prepared my daily concoction of cayenne pepper, maple syrup, and fresh squeezed lemons. Yum! This was actually good. I felt so confident that I signed up for a 7:30 p.m. ballet class, envisioning myself attempting triple pirhouettes. I would surely be able to do them now that I only subsisted on lemonade.
I had reached out to many doctors before embarking on the cleanse, hoping that they would be able to tell me the incredible benefits that would surely happen to me, but most refused to comment on the record, except to give opinions on how dangerous the master cleanse could be. And by 3 p.m., I understood why. Every time I stood up I felt so dizzy, I almost fell back over again. I had no concentration in my classes, and when people asked me questions I wouldn’t respond right away. But I’m no quitter! I ran home after my last afternoon class to chug another liter of my spicy lemonade before heading off to ballet.
But then, 15 minutes into our barre routine, I felt pretty weak but I remember thinking my grands battements were higher than they’d ever been in my life.
Sadly, that was the last thought I had before I found myself lying on the floor rubbing my head, my entire ballet class around me. I had fainted and dropped to the ground.
Going home with my fainting-induced concussion that night, I reconciled myself to the fact that the master cleanse was perhaps not for me.
Although there are allegedly about 900 calories ingested per day on the master cleanse, only slightly less than most juice cleanses, they all pretty much come from the simple sugar of the maple syrup, which immediately spikes your blood sugar. Without any protein present to balance the spike, it can actually be an extremely dangerous effect for hypoglycemics and diabetics. Not to mention, there are few to no nutrients in the master cleanse. While the master cleanse creator Stanley Burroughs touts maple syrup as being dense in nutrients, it’s really not all that great. Even one whole cup a day will only get you 22% of your calcium requirements and 21% of your iron requirements. And when it comes to the weight loss promised by the cleanse, most doctors or nutritionists agree that any weight lost will generally pack right back on after you end the cleanse.
In fact, many doctors agree that you might actually gain weight after ceasing the cleanse. The less you eat, the more your body desperately tries to conserve energy by dropping your metabolism and holding on to fat. So when you return to eating, you might gain a little bit of weight even if you’re eating the same number of calories you did before the fast itself.
While I won’t try the master cleanse again, I do believe that fasting can be very beneficial to the body if practiced in a safe and careful way that a doctor or nutritionist approves. Your body is constantly in a process of digestion, and taking a break from that can actually be pretty healing and reset your attitude and habits towards food, according to the Mirror. But rather than getting your calories from the blood-sugar-spiking maple syrup, try a green juice cleanse. Short juice fasts are a much healthier and easier way to go.
And listen to your body. If you feel like you might faint, just eat the damn french fries.