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Lemon Water for Weight Loss: Benefits, Facts, and More

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Lemon water is a sugar-free hydrating fluid that may assist in weight management efforts when consumed in place of sugar-sweetened beverages. 
  • Lemons are a good source of vitamin C and other antioxidants, which can positively benefit immune health, digestion, and heart health. 
  • Some diet plans involve drinking lemon water while fasting for prolonged periods of time, but this is not recommended. Instead, try drinking one to two glasses of lemon water daily in addition to balanced nutrition and physical activity habits. 

Lemon water is a refreshing beverage prepared by mixing lemon juice into plain water. It’s touted for having numerous health benefits, including weight management. Though more research is needed, lemon water may reduce weight when consumed instead of sugary drinks

Lemons are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, providing a good source of vitamin C and beneficial plant compounds called flavonoids. These have been linked with health benefits ranging from improved immune function to reduced heart disease risk. 

While there isn’t a specific public health guideline for lemon water consumption, consuming the juice of one lemon daily diluted in water is considered safe and effective. Continue reading to learn more about the benefits and nutritional value of lemon water. 

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Does Lemon Water Help You Lose Weight?

If you’ve ever searched “lemon water” online, chances are you’ve come across diet plans referencing the benefits of lemon water. While research is limited, lemon water may aid in weight management by replacing sugar-sweetened beverages in the diet and through possible improvements to metabolism

Research shows that almost 50% of adults in the United States drink at least one sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) daily. Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, like soda and juice, is linked with weight gain, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. 

Since lemon water contains almost no calories, it can positively impact weight management efforts when consumed instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. A 2022 study found that substituting calorie-free beverages for SSBs resulted in lower body weight. It also led to a reduction of risk factors for heart disease and metabolic syndrome.

The impact of the nutrients and compounds in lemons on metabolism and weight is still being studied. An older study from 2008 found that mice who had a diet supplemented with lemon polyphenols (beneficial plant compounds) had improved insulin resistance, blood sugar levels, and metabolic function. As a result, the lemon extract prevented weight gain and body fat from increasing. 

For more guidance on reducing sugar-sweetened beverages, consider meeting with a registered dietitian through Nourish for compassionate, evidence-based care. 

Nutritional Value of Lemons

Lemons are low in calories, fat, carbohydrates, and protein. They primarily consist of water, fiber, vitamin C, and beneficial plant compounds like flavonoids. However, since lemons are generally not eaten whole like an orange, the fiber component is not consumed. 

The juice of one lemon contains:

  • 10 calories.
  • 0.2 grams of protein.
  • 3 grams of carbohydrates. 
  • 0.1 grams of fat. 
  • 49 milligrams of potassium. 
  • 18 milligrams of vitamin C. 

Lemon juice has been purported to help many ailments, from the common cold to kidney stones. The health benefits of lemons are thought to come from their antioxidant properties from vitamin C, flavonoids, and carotenoids. These plant compounds have been linked with a reduced risk of obesity, heart disease, and some forms of cancer. 

Health Benefits of Lemon Water

Drinking lemon water may offer some benefits, though more research is needed to fully understand the impact of this beverage on human health. 

Promotes Hydration

Lemon juice adds flavor to water, making it more appealing and interesting to drink. Incorporating lemon water into your day may encourage you to drink more water and stay hydrated. 

The National Academies of Medicine recommends most females drink between six and nine cups of hydrating fluids daily and males drink between eight and twelve cups daily. These recommendations increase with physical activity and in hot climates. 

Surveys have found that approximately half of people around the world do not drink adequate water. Adequate hydration is linked with healthy aging and a reduced risk of chronic diseases, especially those of the heart and lung. 

May Aid Digestion

Lemon water is often recommended to help digestion, and studies have indeed found a link between lemon and digestive health. Lemon can aid in stomach emptying and improve nausea. Lemon has also been linked to reduced inflammation of the digestive tract. 

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May Boost Your Immune System

Lemons contain vitamin C, a micronutrient and antioxidant which is well known for its benefits on the immune system. Consuming adequate vitamin C has been shown to aid in preventing and treating infections and the common cold. 

Lemons were historically eaten to prevent and cure scurvy, a condition caused by vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C deficiency can lead to impairments in immune function and wound healing. Interestingly, it’s the fourth most common vitamin deficiency in the United States. 

A simple intervention of drinking lemon water daily can contribute to adequate vitamin C intake in the context of a balanced diet. 

May Curb Appetite

Drinking lemon water may help appetite regulation by reducing energy intake and improving fullness after eating. Research shows that drinking water both before and during meals leads to lower food intake and greater satiety. 

A study from 2018 found that taking a supplement containing lemon polyphenols resulted in lower blood pressure, weight, and hunger levels in adults who were overweight. The researchers hypothesized these results were due to changes in gut hormones that impact metabolism and appetite. 

May Improve Heart Health

Lemon water may improve heart health and cardiac risk by improving cholesterol and blood pressure levels. The polyphenols in lemons have been shown to impact cholesterol metabolism by reducing LDL “bad” cholesterol levels and minimizing fat buildup in the arteries.

Daily lemon juice consumption paired with regular physical activity in the form of walking has been shown to lower high blood pressure levels. 

May Prevent Kidney Stones

Citric acid, found in citrus fruits, is known to be beneficial in people with recurrent calcium oxalate kidney stones. Lemon juice is an excellent source of citric acid, with five times the amount in orange juice. 

A 2021 study on found that an intake of two ounces of diluted lemon juice twice daily (equivalent to one lemon) was safe and effective for reducing the frequency of kidney stone formation. 

How Much Lemon Water Should I Drink?

Though there are no specific guidelines for daily lemon water consumption, many recipes recommend using the juice of half to one lemon in a glass of water, depending on personal preference. 

Potential Risks and Drawbacks

Before drinking lemon water for weight loss, consider these potential risks:

Enamel Erosion

Lemon water is generally considered very safe to drink. However, when consumed frequently, the acid from the lemon juice in the water may hurt your teeth. A 2015 study found that lemon juice contributes to enamel erosion more significantly than other acidic beverages, like dark colas and orange juice. 

One possible solution is to drink lemon water through a straw to minimize the amount of the beverage that comes in contact with your teeth. 

Overhydration 

Many unreliable sources online recommend “lemon water detox” diets for weight management. These are not evidence-based and have risks. They often involve fasting and replacing food intake with lemon water, which can encourage the consumption of large volumes due to increased hunger. 

Though rare, it’s important to avoid overhydration or water intoxication, which can occur when you drink significant amounts of water or fluids in a short period of time. Talk to your doctor about the best hydration goal for you, and avoid restrictive fad diets. 

Takeaway

Lemon water can aid in weight management efforts by replacing sugar-sweetened beverages and it contains health-promoting compounds like vitamin C. However, lemon water is not a cure-all and should not be a replacement for nutrition and lifestyle changes for weight management. 

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Managing Weight Loss with an RD 

Weight management is complex and involves genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. Working with a registered dietitian can help you understand eating habits and other modifiable factors that may be impacting your weight. 

At Nourish, our registered dietitians follow a non-diet approach. The focus is on building realistic, long-lasting healthy habits that fit your lifestyle. You’ll be met with compassion and non-judgment throughout your health journey. 

Appointments with your dietitian will be virtual, making it easy to access care from wherever you are. In addition, Nourish accepts most insurance plans, with most of our patients paying zero dollars out-of-pocket. Start today and book an appointment.

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