Can Drinking Lemon Water Help You Lose Weight?
By Rachael Link
Lemon water is a beverage made from water mixed with fresh lemon juice. It can be enjoyed either hot or cold.
This type of water is often claimed to have various health benefits, including improving digestion, enhancing focus and increasing energy levels.
It’s also said to help promote weight loss and is a popular part of many diets.
Lemon Water Is Low in Calories
Lemon water is generally a very low-calorie beverage.
Assuming you squeeze the juice from half a lemon into water, each glass of lemon water will contain just six calories (1).
For this reason, if you swap out higher-calorie beverages like orange juice and soda for lemon water, then this can be an excellent way to cut calories and help with weight loss.
For example, one cup of orange juice (237 ml) contains 110 calories, and a 16-ounce (0.49-liter) bottle of soda contains 182 calories (2, 3).
Replacing even just one of these beverages per day with a glass of lemon water could reduce daily calorie intake by 100–200 calories.
Some evidence even shows that drinking low-calorie beverages with meals could decrease the number of overall calories consumed in the meal.
In one study, 44 women ate lunch with either a beverage that contained calories or one that did not. Researchers then measured the calories consumed.
They found that drinking calorie-containing beverages like sugar-sweetened soda, milk and juice with a meal did not make people compensate by eating less. Instead, the total calories consumed increased, due to the calories from the beverage (4).
Though lemon water is not calorie-free, it is low enough in calories that it could produce a similar effect and help decrease calorie intake.
Summary: Lemon water is low in calories. Drinking it instead of higher-calorie beverages could help contribute to weight loss.
It Can Keep You Hydrated
From carrying nutrients to cells to transporting waste out of the body, drinking enough water to stay hydrated is a critical component of health.
Maintaining adequate hydration is essential in everything from regulating body temperature to improving physical performance (5).
Some evidence also suggests that staying hydrated can aid in weight loss.
Research indicates that increased hydration may increase the breakdown of fats and enhance fat loss (6).
Staying well-hydrated may also help reduce water retention, which can cause symptoms like bloating, puffiness and weight gain (7).
Since the majority of lemon water is made up of water, it can help with maintaining adequate hydration.
Summary: Drinking lemon water could help you stay hydrated, which reduces water retention and may increase fat loss.
Drinking Lemon Water May Boost Metabolism
Studies show that drinking enough water can potentially help increase your metabolism.
Researchers suggest that good hydration enhances the function of mitochondria, a type of organelle found in cells that helps generate energy for the body (6).
This leads to an increase in metabolism, which may lead to subsequent weight loss.
Drinking water has also been shown to increase metabolism by inducing thermogenesis, a metabolic process in which calories are burned to produce heat.
In one study, 14 participants drank 16.9 ounces (0.5 liters) of water. Drinking water was found to increase their metabolic rate by 30 percent for 30–40 minutes (8).
Another study looked at the effects of drinking water in 21 overweight children. Drinking 0.3 ounces of water per 2.2 pounds of body weight (10 ml/kg) increased metabolism by an impressive 25 percent for 40 minutes (9).
Research on lemon water specifically is limited. However, because water is the main ingredient, it likely carries the same metabolism-boosting benefits as regular water.
Summary: Studies show that drinking water could increase metabolism by enhancing mitochondrial function and inducing thermogenesis.
Lemon Water Can Make You Feel More Full
Drinking water is often recommended as a fundamental part of any weight loss regimen, as it can promote satiety and fullness without adding calories.
A 2008 study looked at the effects of water on calorie intake in 24 overweight and obese older adults.
The study revealed that drinking 16.9 ounces (0.5 liters) of water before breakfast decreased the number of calories consumed in the meal by 13 percent (10).
Another study found that drinking water with a meal decreased hunger and increased satiety during the meal (11).
Because lemon water is low in calories and can promote fullness in the same way as regular water, it can be an effective way to help reduce calorie intake.
Summary: Regular water and lemon water can help promote satiety and fullness, which may decrease calorie intake and lead to weight loss.
It Could Increase Weight Loss
Due to its potential beneficial effects on metabolism, satiety and hydration, some evidence suggests that water (including lemon water) could enhance weight loss.
In one study, 48 adults were assigned to two diets: a low-calorie diet with 16.9 oz (0.5 liters) of water prior to each meal or a low-calorie diet with no water before meals.
At the end of the 12-week study, participants in the water group had lost 44 percent more weight than participants in the non-water group (12).
Other research suggests that increasing water intake could help stimulate weight loss, independent of diet or exercise.
A 2009 study measured water intake in 173 overweight women. It found that greater water intake was associated with a greater loss of body weight and fat over time, regardless of diet or physical activity (13).
Though these studies focus specifically on regular water, the same results most likely apply to lemon water as well.
Summary: Some studies suggest that drinking regular water or lemon water could increase weight loss, regardless of diet or exercise.
Lemon Water Is Not Necessarily Better Than Regular Water
Lemon water comes with a lot of potential benefits, from promoting hydration to increasing satiety.
However, it’s important to note that these benefits all come from its main ingredient — water.
Lemon water does contain some additional nutrients from the lemon juice, such as vitamin C and antioxidants, but these are unlikely to have any effect on your weight.
Additionally, the alkalizing effect of lemon juice has no clear effects on weight.
All that being said, lemon water may have some benefits for preventing kidney stones, due to the acids it contains (14, 15, 16)
Summary: Lemon water may be beneficial for weight loss, but has no added benefits over regular water.
How to Drink Lemon Water
Lemon water is a highly customizable beverage and can be tailored based on personal preference.
Recipes usually call for the juice from at least half a lemon mixed with a glass of water. To add more flavor, try adding in a few other ingredients.
A few fresh mint leaves or a sprinkle of turmeric are delicious and healthy ways to spice up a glass of lemon water.
Many people prefer to start their day with a refreshing glass of lemon water, but it can be enjoyed at any time of day.
It can also be consumed hot, like tea, or with a few ice cubes added for a cool and invigorating drink.
Despite claims that lemon water has greater benefits when consumed at certain temperatures, there is little evidence to support that it makes a difference.
Summary: Lemon water can be customized based on personal preference, and it can be enjoyed hot or cold at any time of day.
The Bottom Line
Lemon water can promote fullness, support hydration, boost metabolism and increase weight loss.
However, lemon water is no better than regular water when it comes to losing fat.
That being said, it is tasty, easy to make and can be used as a low-calorie replacement for higher-calorie beverages.
In this way, it could potentially help promote weight loss and improve health.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.