Does Lemon Water Help with Weight Loss?

Weight loss trends and fad diets just won’t leave us alone. It seems like everyone is promising a simple solution in the form of a magic pill. 

You know me— as a Registered Dietitian, I like to look at the science and facts, not make conclusions on intuition and anecdotes. It’s time to get to the bottom of one popular weight loss promise: lemon water. 

Does this diet trend turn out to be…well, a lemon? 

If you’ve been obediently squeezing lemons into your water and wondering is this even doing anything? Here’s your answer. 


The Science Says Squeeze Away!

This simple solution sounds too good to be true, right? Your instinct is correct. Lemon water alone will not do much of anything to your body composition. But a squeeze of citrus can help move your body in the right direction.


Lemons Peel May Promote Weight Maintenance

Multiple studies have found evidence that lemon water can help in small ways to push your body toward weight loss. 


In one study, researchers fed a group of mice a high-fat diet and another group of mice a high-fat diet as well as lemon peel. The mice who were eating the high-fat diet with lemon peel gained less weight than the other group. This suggests that lemon helps promote weight maintenance. The researchers believed that the polyphenols in lemons may protect against weight gain. 


Warm Lemon Water Could Advance Weight Loss

So, lemon peel might promote weight maintenance. But what about the juice? 


A small study of female nursing students in India suggests that lemon juice works too. In this study, the participants were asked to drink 500ml of warm water mixed with half a lemon twice per day (before breakfast and before dinner). As a control, the participants were also asked not to exercise or follow any restrictive diets. After 3 weeks, the women lost an average of 2-9 pounds. 


Here’s the theory: Warm water can increase your metabolism. This low-calorie beverage could have replaced higher-calorie drinks. Possibly, lemons played a role too. 


Lemons Boost Vitamin C, Which May Help You Burn Fat

There’s some evidence that vitamin C can help with weight loss. Studies have found that people who have enough daily vitamin C (100-200 mg/day) burn more fat during exercise than people with low levels of vitamin C.  


One lemon contains about 30mg of vitamin C, which may give you that extra boost to hit your daily intake goal. 


Staying Hydrated with Lemon Water Could Boost Your Metabolism

It’s hard to say with certainty that lemon water in particular boosts metabolism. But there is a wealth of evidence that drinking enough water each day has a positive effect on your metabolic rate. 


Research shows that people who’ve made a habit of downing a few cups first thing in the morning burn more calories for the following 60 minutes or longer! Water increases your energy expenditure (the number of calories your body burns). In fact, one study found that drinking just 2 cups of water temporarily increased people’s metabolic rate by 30%! 


If a squeeze of citrus increases your water intake, keep up the habit. 


Other Reasons to Sip Lemon Water

Lemons won’t melt away fat, but this addition does have many health benefits. The vitamin C that’s potent in lemon water helps promote healthy skin and wound healing, improves iron absorption, and supports your immune system. This hydrating beverage rich in citric acid may also prevent kidney stones


Lemons Have Their Limits

So does lemon water cause weight loss? In short, not exactly. There’s no lemon-shaped magic bullet for weight loss. And while lemon water won’t hurt (in fact, it may assist in weight loss), it’s not something that, on its own, will cause your body to suddenly burn off extra weight. 


Before making this a long-term habit, there are a few side effects you should weigh. Relying too heavily on this weight-loss technique could harm your body in other ways over time. 


Your teeth are most at risk. Frequently downing lemon water, which is highly acidic, can lead to tooth decay. If you love sipping this sour beverage, protect your teeth by using a straw. You can also avoid brushing your teeth right after an acidic drink to protect your enamel. 


Weight Loss Methods That Really Work

The idea is appealing. No one’s telling you to jog in the heat of summer on your lunch break. No one’s saying you have to eat limp salads for dinner. The promise of such a painless habit (just add a squeeze of lemon and the fat will fall off!) makes us feel like we can do it. 


Weight loss doesn’t have to be constraining or confusing. The old one-two punch of diet and exercise has the quickest and most powerful effect on your body composition.


After decades in the health industry and working personally with thousands of clients, I know what works. The following six strategies have helped me and my clients lose excess weight, keep it off for years, and feel like themselves again. 


  1. Macro Management: Understanding the right ratio of macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fat) in your daily diet is key to weight loss success. But macro-counting doesn’t have to turn into a second job. Grab this free guide to learn how to calculate and count your macros and calorie intake for weight loss.

  2. Intermittent Fasting: Simply switching your meal schedule around can help you lose weight without going on a restrictive diet and cutting out more calories. Figure out when to eat to burn fat naturally with my Intermittent Fasting Guide.

  3. Meal Planning and Prepping: Sticking with your health goals takes a bit of strategy. In my experience, planning and prepping my meals has been key to keeping me on track week after week. Get a healthy meal on the table each night and become a meal planning pro with these tips.

  4. Exercise: While I’m a strong believer that diet is 80% of the battle, exercise still plays an important role in weight loss, mental health, and overall well-being. One of the fastest ways to boost your metabolism is to increase your lean muscle mass. Check out this list of the best exercises for women in their 30s or women in their 40s and 50s.

  5. Stress Management: While we all live with some stress, excess stress increases the production of cortisol, which boosts belly fat. Manage stress with daily meditation, yoga, or a bit of regular alone time. Maintain a positive mindset, even in the midst of chaos in six steps.

  6. Sleep: Your body becomes stingy in giving up its fat when it’s sleep deprived. If you want to improve your health and boost your weight loss, start with sleep. Sleep plays a major role in your hunger hormones, cravings, exercise efficiency, and fat loss rate. Try out these five hacks for sound slumber to increase your energy and lose weight more easily. 


When Life Gives You Lemons, Join LEAN

Tired of empty promises? It’s time you join LEAN. I’ll hold your hand and teach you how to create a healthy lifestyle that you love and lose weight too. 

Not sure you can trust LEAN? Give my testimonies page a quick scan to see if it really works. 

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