Maple Syrup Diet
By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD
Although she now favours a more balanced eating plan, pop star Beyonce Knowles helped boost the popularity of the Maple Syrup diet.
The ex-Destiny’s Child singer spilled the beans on how she slimmed down and lost 1½ stone in just two weeks for her movie, Dreamgirls. Beyonce’s diet apparently consisted of eating nothing for a fortnight, instead surviving on detox drinks consisting of a syrup mixed with lemon juice, water and cayenne pepper!
The syrup – Madal Bal Natural Tree Syrup – is made from the sap of maple and palm trees. Also known as The Lemon Detox, the diet was introduced more than 30 years ago by naturopath Stanley Burroughs. Many of the claimed benefits include weight loss, cleansing the body of toxins, greater resistance to illness, improved concentration, increased energy, clearer skin and eyes, shinier hair and stronger nails.
The detox drink itself is made by mixing 2 tablespoons of the Natural Tree Syrup (which they say is 20ml) with 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice, a pinch of cayenne pepper or ginger and half a pint of hot or cold water. It’s recommended you drink as much as you like, but ideally six to nine glasses daily.
There are also four detox plans to choose from:
- The Full Detox – this involves surviving solely on the detox drink for 10 days, although it’s recommended that beginners follow it for just 5–7 days. It can also be extended for up to 14 days, but should only be done so with the consent of a health professional.
- Relaxed Version – this involves substituting breakfast, dinner or both these meals with 2–3 glasses of the detox drink. But you should still avoid sweets, processed foods, red meat, fried food, white bread, dairy products, coffee and booze for the remaining meals.
- The Once a Week version – as the name suggests, you skip food and have the detox drinks on one day each week.
- The Master Plan – a hardcore plan that involves a twice-yearly multi-day detox combined with detoxing once a week!
Pop star Beyonce may have a figure that many of us envy, but it seems she believes in the ‘no pain, no gain’ mantra to get it that way. In fact, this is one of the most extreme diets ever and makes Carol Vorderman’s detox plans look like a positive food fest.
This diet is potentially dangerous. Effectively, it involves drinking nothing but sugared water for days on end. Of course you will lose weight, but that’s purely the result of limiting calories excessively.
A tablespoon (which they say is 10ml) of Natural Tree Syrup contains just 26 calories. That means if you have six drinks a day (each containing the recommended 2 tablespoons of syrup), your daily intake will be just 312 calories. Even nine drinks only provide 468 calories.
The effects of crash diet
This low calorie diet plan will leave you hungry, irritable and lacking in energy as your blood sugar levels go on a roller coaster ride of highs and lows. And chances are, the pounds will go straight back on as soon as you ditch the diet.
But it’s not just the extremely low calorie content that’s worrying. These drinks are devoid of protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals and all the naturally occurring plant chemicals (Phytochemicals) we know help to keep us fit and healthy. After just a few days, it’s likely you’ll become constipated due to the complete lack of fibre in the diet. And if you follow this diet for any length of time, you could end up with low nutrient levels, including iron, calcium, zinc and vitamin C. Meanwhile, a combination of sugar and acid (from the lemon juice) is also a disaster for teeth and so may increase the risk of dental decay.
As for the idea that the body needs to detox, this is simply nonsense. Our bodies are cleverly designed to get rid of waste products and toxins – that’s one of the main functions of our liver and kidneys.
Worryingly though, these facts aren’t stopping people from buying this product. Even though it costs a massive £39.99 for a litre (enough for 5 to 7 days), the company that distribute Madal Bal Natural Tree Syrup say they’ve gone from selling 500 tins a year to around 2,000 a month!
Crash Diet Versus Healthy Eating
Bottom line: this is a crash diet – and one of the worst! Put it to the back of your mind and concentrate on getting a bootylicious body by eating a healthy diet that will shift those pounds slowly – but keep them off for good.