The Cayenne Pepper Diet; that sounds promising. According to Beyonce, this diet helped her lose 20 pounds in preparation for her starring role in Dream Girls. This concoction of lemon juice, water, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper is a detox diet that is suppose to help people lose weight. It’s quite simple, you mix the listed ingredients and drink this delicioius drink six times a day along with a laxative tea at night, and BAM you’re 20 pounds lighter….
Alright, so basically after you starve yourself for the recommended 4-14 days of “fasting” with this drink you can ease back into “normal” food. But what does your body go through during this two week process?
First off, maple syrup consists only of sugar, lemon juice has trace amounts of the necessary vitamins, and cayenne pepper, well I wouldn’t suggest drinking it straight up. This diet plan states the obvious “if you don’t eat you’ll lose weight” (at first). So, let’s take a look at the side-affects of starving yourself:
“During the fast, you can expect to feel hungry, and may experience headaches, fatigue, dizziness, sluggishness, diarrhea, nausea, or constipation” (WebMD). During starvation periods, your body relies on basic instincts to survive, it needs water and the majority of weight loss in the first week will be mostly water mass. Secondly, your body needs fuel, that being said it starts to break down muscle in order to get protein, in the end you lose muscle and water mass, not the fat mass you wanted to lose.
Also, while on this diet, it would be extremely hard to exercise, never mind staying awake during work. Cognitive function slows down; your brain uses about 25% of your calorie intake. If we do the math for a normal 1600 calorie diet, your brain consumes 400 calories-that’s even if you skipped organic chemistry. So, if you limit yourself to about 200 calories a day on the Cayenne Pepper Diet, your brain will only be consuming about 50 calories (that could possibly have embarressing side affects).
Binging for a handful of days often leads to a purging period- aka eating everything in sight! These kind of detox diets often lead to weight regain as well as a negative relationship toward food. They are unsustainable and practice dangerous dieting methods. They encourage you to eat 1/8 of the daily recommended caloric intake as well as about 1/50 of the recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals.
I know the idea of losing 10 pounds one week before a big event is something I’ve even strived for, but eating a healthy, balanced diet and increasing aerobic activity is a much better alternative than restricting yourself of the very nutrients that actually help you lose weight and stay healthy.