Can Drinking Lemon Water Aid in Weight Loss?

Can Drinking Lemon Water Aid in Weight Loss?
10.02.2024
  • Lemon water has become a popular beverage, with celebrities and social media users alike claiming it can promote weight loss, clear skin, and more.
  • In general, drinking more water can help with weight loss, however, adding lemon may not be any more helpful, experts said.
  • Lemon contains vitamin C and can add healthy flavoring to water, so the drink can certainly be a healthy part of a person’s diet.

Lemon water has become the internet’s newest favorite morning drink. But is it really as beneficial as some people claim?

On TikTok, people say drinking lemon water has helped them detox, get rid of acne, and, most popularly, manage or lose weight.

One video, viewed over 14 million times, promises that within a week of drinking lemon water, people will see “an increase in calorie burning, potentially aiding in weight management,” as well as improved focus, more energy, and a boosted immune system.

Besides its simplicity, it’s also been endorsed by celebrities such as Gwenyth Paltrow and Miranda Kerr. As a result, lemon water has become popularized as a must-drink for those who are interested in losing weight or improving their health.

But should lemon water really be your go-to beverage if you want to manage your weight? Or is it yet another pseudo-wellness trend that isn’t worth it?

The Lemon Water Trend, Explained

Starting the day with a glass of lemon water has become a popular morning ritual for many people, even before their first sip of coffee.

“It’s not entirely clear where this hack originated, but drinking lemon water is an old folk remedy thought to have evolved over time,” Melissa Mitri, RD, a Connecticut-based registered dietitian and nutrition writer, told Health.

Making lemon water is relatively simple: Cut and juice a lemon and add it to a glass of water. Served hot, cold, or at room temperature, lemon water is also a great way to get a citrusy flavor with no added sugar.

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Though lemon water isn’t necessarily a new trend, it has become especially popular within the last decade or so.

“When one 2008 Japanese study linked antioxidants in lemon to less weight gain [in mice], public interest in this practice increased,” Mitri explained. Some believe that the acid in the lemons “breaks down” fat cells. However, there’s little evidence to support this theory.

What the Research Says About Lemon Water and Weight Loss

Drinking lemon water is a great way to add more hydration to your day, and lemon can be a good source of antioxidants, vitamin C, and small amounts of magnesium, riboflavin, vitamin B-6, and more. However, experts agree that the concoction won’t help everyone lose weight.

“Lemon water is not necessarily better than regular water for weight management,” Samantha Turner, MPH, RDN, registered dietitian and owner of OakStone Health and Nutrition.

“There is no research out there that shows lemon water is superior to plain water for weight loss,” added Mitri. “Drinking more water, in general, is linked to enhanced satiety, weight loss, and a healthier metabolism.”

Research has shown that drinking more water is associated with increased fat breakdown and reduced food intake.2 Increasing hydration has also been linked to a healthier body composition—a 2019 study found that, as water consumption increased, body weight, body fat mass, and waist circumference decreased.

While lemon water specifically doesn’t have research to back up any purported benefits, lemon juice itself may be beneficial.

Lemon juice’s acidity has been linked to a positive effect on the body’s glycemic response, or how the body’s blood glucose levels fluctuate after eating carbohydrates.

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A 2021 study found that participants who drank 250 milliliters of lemon juice (about one cup) had a lower blood sugar spike after eating a piece of bread as compared to people who drank the same amount of tea or water.4

Results of this study also showed that lemon juice increased both gastric secretions and emptying rate, which may support weight loss. This could indicate that lemon water is a healthy after-meal drink, but more data is needed.

In addition to its acidity, lemon also contains vitamin C, and depending on how much you add, it could provide certain benefits.

In human and mouse studies, higher vitamin C intake has been linked to a lower risk of metabolic syndrome, which refers to elevated waist circumference, blood sugar, blood pressure, triglycerides, and/or lower “good” cholesterol. According to researchers, this suggests that vitamin C supplementation or getting an adequate amount through food may help reverse some of these symptoms.

Should You Add Lemon Water to Your Everyday Routine?

The bottom line is that, for now, there’s a lack of strong data to support the idea that lemon water can cause weight loss more so than plain water.

However, drinking enough water is crucial, so jumping on the lemon water trend should be generally safe and healthy.

“[Lemon water] can help provide additional flavor to water and can help reduce the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages consumed, which can help with better weight management,” said Turner.

Lemons also aren’t the only way to get vitamin C or add flavor to water—people can also lean on other fruits high in vitamin C, such as strawberries, kiwis, and oranges if they don’t enjoy lemon water (or if they don’t have a lemon handy).

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And drinking lemon water for weight loss or management should be paired with other healthy habits. “When consumed in addition to building better nutrition habits full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, nuts, and seeds, plus regular exercise, it can help support better weight management,” said Turner.

If you’re interested in trying lemon water, it’s important to keep a few things in mind, as well. The high acidity of lemons could erode tooth enamel if consumed in large amounts. To minimize this risk, consider drinking lemon water through a straw, followed by a rinse with plain water.

Also, those with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or a similar condition might find that consuming citrus fruits such as lemons worsens their symptoms like heartburn or chest pain. 

As with any dietary changes, it’s always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional to ensure you’re making choices that support your individual health needs.

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