January traditionally kicks off the season of fad diets. This year, the Master Cleanse diet made popular by Beyonce Knowles, who used the drastic fast to shed 20 pounds before "Dreamgirls," has returned to make the rounds of weight loss success wannabes. One reason the fasting concoction of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, cayenne pepper, maple syrup and water has become hot again: A series of new books on the diet, such as "The Master Cleanse Coach: Expert Coaching for You and Your Friends" and "Lose Weight, Have More Energy and Be Happier in 10 Days: Take Charge of Your Health with the Master Cleanse."
The premise of this diet, which Beyonce says helped her lose 20 pounds in two weeks, is that your body stores toxins inside fat cells. By eliminating the toxins with the "cleansing" concoction, you lose weight rapidly and easily. However, fasting is not for everyone: If you have a special conditions, talk with your doctor. And even healthy people should be cautious about following the plan for the 10 days that are required. Learn more by reading "Beyond the Master Cleanse: The Year-Round Plan for Maximizing the Benefits of The Lemonade Diet."
However, in contrast to some diets that require purchasing endless amounts of expensive food (lobster diet, anyone?), this fast is relatively affordable. Squeeze some lemons, get some pepper, add some water and use 100 percent organic maple syrup and you've got your own truly icky-tasting mixture. And for those who want everything ready made, there's a solution: "Lemonade Cleanse To Go (Master Cleanse without the hassles and mess!)"