When life gives you lemons, make lemon water?
Drinking lemon water regularly might improve digestion and support healthy weight loss, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Does lemon water really help support weight loss?
Though anecdotal research suggests that lemon water supports weight loss, the science isn’t totally there yet to back it up.
A 2013 study with animals found that the antioxidants in lemons significantly reduced weight gain in mice with obesity. But until similar studies are conducted on humans, it’s hard to know for sure.
Let’s be real: Whether it’s the tuna diet, juice cleanses, or the 14-day lemon water challenge, there’s no weight loss miracle cure. That being said, a little lemon water could help you reach your fitness goals.
It’s low cal and low sugar
If you’re looking for a semi-sweet low cal drink, lemon water just might be it. When you squeeze half of the fruit into your cup, you’re looking at a ~6-calorie beverage with only ~0.55 grams of sugar.
For that reason, it’s a suitable swap for anyone who wants to kick their OJ, sweet tea, or soda habit.
In comparison, 1 cup of 100 percent OJ contains 120 cals, while a 16-ounce soda contains ~182. Both drinks typically contain ~21 grams of sugar.
So, how much sugar is OK?
The American Heart Association recommends a maximum 25 grams of added sugar per day for women and 36 grams a day for men.
If you replace just one high cal beverage per day with a glass of lemon water, you can cut 100 to 200 calories and many grams of sugar without missing out on any bites to eat.
In a study, researchers found that replacing just one sugar-sweetened beverage (looking at you, energy drink) with water led to a significant reduction in obesity and an overall increase in healthy weight among study participants.
Though lemon water is not pure H2O, its low sugar and extremely low cal content should yield similar results.
At risk of sounding like your high school sports coach, hydration really is key.
Drinking enough water helps carry vital nutrients to cells and flush out the system. A 2010 research review showed that it helps regulate body temperature and boosts physical performance. Basically, it’s one of the MVPs for your health.
A research review with animal studies suggested that increased hydration can aid weight loss by increasing the breakdown of fats in your body.
Feeling a little bloated? Sipping on water (lemon or not) might help. Staying hydrated may help reduce water retention due to constipation, which can ease that unsavory puffy feeling.
It could (maybe) boost your metabolism
Your metabolism has a lot to do with genetics, but that’s not the whole story. Research suggests that drinking enough water can potentially give your metabolism a tiny boost.
A research review with animal studies suggested that sufficient hydration enhances the function of mitochondria, a type of organelle in cells that helps the body produce energy.
Drinking water also seems to spur thermogenesis (AKA heat production) in the bod. You have to expend energy to warm it up to body temperature, which could explain the slightly increased metabolic speed.
Sounds cool, but keep in mind the overall effect is super minor since we’re talking about tiny chemical changes.
An assessment found that scientific claims of water-induced thermogenesis were too minor to have a real impact on metabolism.
It can make you feel full
A rumble in your tummy means you’re hungry, right? Not always. As it turns out, many think that they need to eat when they really need to sip on something. A 2010 research review showed that 37 percent of people sometimes mistake thirst for hunger, since thirst signals can be weak.
So, when you reach for a glass of lemon water instead of a snack, you may be surprised to feel satiated. (Of course, if the water doesn’t do the trick, go ahead and munch away.)
Drinking a glass before mealtime may also help you consume healthier portions. In a study, researchers found that participants who drank a glass of water before eating a meal ate less than those who didn’t.
It could increase weight loss
So, now you know that drinking more water (including with lemons) can have potentially beneficial effects on hydration, metabolism and satiety. There’s decent evidence to suggest it could bolster weight loss, too.
A 2013 research review showed that increased water consumption combined with a weight loss program reduced participants’ body weight outcomes. The ones who just did the weight loss program without upping their water intake didn’t yield significant results.
While the effects were less apparent on those who weren’t dieting, researchers concluded that increased water intake = potentially increased weight loss.
So, while downing cups of lemon water won’t necessarily make you drop pounds like crazy, it could support a healthy weight loss routine.
It could come with potential side effects
Though lemon water is a safe and pretty healthy beverage, your dentist might not be so pleased to hear it’s your new go-to.
A study using animal teeth showed that lemon water (and plain lemons) contain citric acid, which can erode tooth enamel. To minimize risks, drink it through a straw and rinse your mouth with water afterward.
Lemon water may also lessen or worsen symptoms of heartburn. In some people, the citric acid can provoke heartburn. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, when consumed warm with honey, lemon water can have the opposite effect, neutralizing stomach acid and soothing symptoms.
Another potential side effect is non-stop pee breaks — but that’s true when you drink more of any liquid. Some people claim that they pee more when they drink lemon water because of vitamin C’s diuretic effects, but there’s no evidence to suggest that naturally derived vitamin C has this impact.
Still… it’s not necessarily better than regular H2O
Before you start downing glass after glass of lemon water, you should know that plain ol’ water will do the trick too.
While there’s some scientific evidence to suggest that drinking more water can support healthy weight loss, the data on lemon water in particular just isn’t there yet.
Lemon water does contain a pinch of vitamin C and antioxidants that regular water doesn’t have. But these little bonuses aren’t likely to affect the number on the scale.
So, what other health benefits does lemon water have? According to Harvard Health Publishing, some evidence suggests that drinking lemon water may help prevent kidney stones due to its acids. That’s about it.
Because it seems like there’s a fad diet for everything, you may have heard about the 14-day lemon water challenge. While it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where it came from, basically, it goes like this:
Day 1: Drink the juice of 1 lemon mixed with 1 cup water.
Day 2: Drink the juice of 2 lemons mixed with 2 cups water.
Day 3: Drink the juice of 3 lemons mixed with 3 cups water.
Day 4: Drink the juice of 4 lemons mixed with 4 cups water.
Day 5: Drink the juice of 5 lemons mixed with 5 cups water.
Day 6: Drink the juice of 6 lemons mixed with 6 cups water.
Day 7: Now, drink the juice of 3 lemons mixed with 10 cups of water and 1 tablespoon honey. Sip it throughout the day.
Day 8: Back again. Drink the juice of 6 lemons mixed with 6 cups water.
Day 9: Drink the juice of 5 lemons mixed with 5 cups water.
Day 10: Drink the juice of 4 lemons mixed with 4 cups water.
Day 11: Drink the juice of 3 lemons mixed with 3 cups water.
Day 12: Drink the juice of 2 lemons mixed with 2 cups water.
Day 13: Drink the juice of 1 lemon mixed with 1 cup water.
Day 14: Almost done: Now, drink the juice of 3 lemons with 10 cups of water. Add 1 tablespoon honey. Sip it throughout the day.
The diet claims to detoxify your system and accelerate weight loss. Afterward, you’re supposed to have dropped several pounds.
There’s really no evidence to suggest that will happen. You could try this regimen, but it’s probably more effective to eat nutritiously, exercise, and drink lemon water (or plain water) as desired.
There’s definitely no right (or wrong) way to drink lemon water. If you want to spice up your citrusy H2O, though, here are a few ideas.
Lemon turmeric water
Adding a little turmeric to your water may spice up the flavor — it also may contribute to your weight loss #goals.
A research review found that curcumin consumption (the primary substance in turmeric) had a significant reduction in BMI and weight in patients with metabolic syndrome.
Lemon ginger water
Lemon and ginger are a match made in heaven. Add a little chopped fresh ginger to your glass to enrich every sip.
Not only does ginger support healthy digestion, but a study also found that participants who took ginger supplements experienced significant weight loss.
Let’s be realistic…
While research shows that turmeric and ginger can elevate your H2O game, you’re likely not getting the same concentration of ingredients used in their studies.
But added taste counts for something.
Mint and lemon
Adding a few sprigs of mint to your lemon water can create a zing. While there’s no evidence to suggest that mint consumption contributes to weight loss, it may help your breath smell a little fresher.
Warm vs. cold lemon water
Lemon water: It’s hot and it’s cold, it’s yes and it’s no, it’s in and it’s out…
Fire up the kettle or grab some ice cubes — either warm or cold lemon water can support a healthy diet.
Basically, the jury’s still out on cold versus warm water. So, drink up on whichever you prefer.
Let’s be real: Lemon water’s not a weight loss miracle cure. But it can promote feelings of fullness and aid in hydration. As for boosting your metabolism, let’s consider that folklore for now, as the science is slim.
When it comes to losing weight, though, there’s no scientific evidence to suggest it’s any better than plain water.
If weight loss is your goal, you’ll likely have the most success by drinking it as a low cal replacement for soda, juice, or other high cal beverages.