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Side Effects of the Lemon Diet

Some people worry that the chemical additives in processed foods and beverages accumulate in their cells, causing toxic effects. Proponents of the lemon diet claim that it neutralizes these chemical toxins and expels them from your cells. Lemon cleanse practitioners drink a beverage made from freshly squeezed lemons, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water for a period of 10 days. This diet causes a variety of side effects, some of which may be dangerous. Discuss the lemon diet with your doctor to determine whether it is safe for you.


The lemon diet severely restricts your caloric intake for a period of 10 or more days. Dieters who do not eat solid food and drink only a lemonade beverage often get hungry. Hunger and food cravings are a common side effect of the lemon diet. Detox practitioners recommend drinking more of the lemonade beverage to alleviate hunger pangs.

Weight Loss

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Cleanse practitioners often undertake the lemon diet to lose weight and many succeed. Your caloric intake is very low for the duration of the lemon diet, which causes your body to burn more calories than you eat. Some dieters lose 10 or more pounds over the course of the lemon cleanse. Losing this much weight in a short amount of time may be dangerous for your health.

Gastrointestinal Activity

Some lemon diet practitioners perform a salt water flush, in which large amounts of salt water are consumed to cleanse the colon of waste. Frequent bowel movements are a common side effect of the lemon diet with salt water flush. You may also experience abdominal pain, diarrhea or a burning sensation during bowel movements. Visit your doctor if these symptoms persist, because they may be a sign of a serious medical problem.


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Dieters sometimes experience a loss of energy during the cleanse. Fatigue, lethargy or muscle aches are common side effects of reducing your caloric intake. If you feel dizzy or excessively fatigued, consider terminating the lemon diet early.

Oral Hygiene

Drinking the lemonade beverage may cause a variety of oral hygiene changes. Your tongue may turn white during the cleanse, although it typically returns to a normal color when you end the diet. Other side effects include bad breath and increased plaque buildup on your teeth.


Severely limiting your caloric intake for 10 days may negatively affect your mood. Many people feel irritable or upset during the cleanse, often because they are hungry. Others experience depressed mood or significant mood fluctuations. These side effects usually subside after you finish the lemon diet.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Nutrition experts warn that the lemon diet may leave your body without proper nutrients. According to Lona Sandon, a dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, the lemon diet may cause deficiencies in important vitamins and minerals needed to maintain good health. A healthier way to lose weight involves balancing your diet to include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole-grain products and lean protein.