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Can Drinking Lemon Water Help You Lose Weight?

Health + Wellness
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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.

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Ola Elvestrun, Norway's environment minister, announced Thursday that it is freezing its contributions to the Amazon Fund, and will no longer be transferring €300 million ($33.2 million) to Brazil. In a press release, the Norwegian embassy in Brazil stated:

Given the present circumstances, Norway does not have either the legal or the technical basis for making its annual contribution to the Amazon Fund.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro reacted with sarcasm to Norway's decision, which had been widely expected. After an official event, he commented: "Isn't Norway the country that kills whales at the North Pole? Doesn't it also produce oil? It has no basis for telling us what to do. It should give the money to Angela Merkel [the German Chancellor] to reforest Germany."

According to its website, the Amazon Fund is a "REDD+ mechanism created to raise donations for non-reimbursable investments in efforts to prevent, monitor and combat deforestation, as well as to promote the preservation and sustainable use in the Brazilian Amazon." The bulk of funding comes from Norway and Germany.

The annual transfer of funds from developed world donors to the Amazon Fund depends on a report from the Fund's technical committee. This committee meets after the National Institute of Space Research, which gathers official Amazon deforestation data, publishes its annual report with the definitive figures for deforestation in the previous year.

But this year the Amazon Fund's technical committee, along with its steering committee, COFA, were abolished by the Bolsonaro government on 11 April as part of a sweeping move to dissolve some 600 bodies, most of which had NGO involvement. The Bolsonaro government views NGO work in Brazil as a conspiracy to undermine Brazil's sovereignty.

The Brazilian government then demanded far-reaching changes in the way the fund is managed, as documented in a previous article. As a result, the Amazon Fund's technical committee has been unable to meet; Norway says it therefore cannot continue making donations without a favorable report from the committee.

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An Uncertain Future

The Amazon Fund was announced during the 2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, during a period when environmentalists were alarmed at the rocketing rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. It was created as a way of encouraging Brazil to continue bringing down the rate of forest conversion to pastures and croplands.

Government agencies, such as IBAMA, Brazil's environmental agency, and NGOs shared Amazon Fund donations. IBAMA used the money primarily to enforce deforestation laws, while the NGOs oversaw projects to support sustainable communities and livelihoods in the Amazon.

There has been some controversy as to whether the Fund has actually achieved its goals: in the three years before the deal, the rate of deforestation fell dramatically but, after money from the Fund started pouring into the Amazon, the rate remained fairly stationary until 2014, when it began to rise once again. But, in general, the international donors have been pleased with the Fund's performance, and until the Bolsonaro government came to office, the program was expected to continue indefinitely.

Norway has been the main donor (94 percent) to the Amazon Fund, followed by Germany (5 percent), and Brazil's state-owned oil company, Petrobrás (1 percent). Over the past 11 years, the Norwegians have made, by far, the biggest contribution: R$3.2 billion ($855 million) out of the total of R$3.4 billion ($903 million).

Up till now the Fund has approved 103 projects, with the dispersal of R$1.8 billion ($478 million). These projects will not be affected by Norway's funding freeze because the donors have already provided the funding and the Brazilian Development Bank is contractually obliged to disburse the money until the end of the projects. But there are another 54 projects, currently being analyzed, whose future is far less secure.

One of the projects left stranded by the dissolution of the Fund's committees is Projeto Frutificar, which should be a three-year project, with a budget of R$29 million ($7.3 million), for the production of açai and cacao by 1,000 small-scale farmers in the states of Amapá and Pará. The project was drawn up by the Brazilian NGO IPAM (Institute of Environmental research in Amazonia).

Paulo Moutinho, an IPAM researcher, told Globo newspaper: "Our program was ready to go when the [Brazilian] government asked for changes in the Fund. It's now stuck in the BNDES. Without funding from Norway, we don't know what will happen to it."

Norway is not the only European nation to be reconsidering the way it funds environmental projects in Brazil. Germany has many environmental projects in the Latin American country, apart from its small contribution to the Amazon Fund, and is deeply concerned about the way the rate of deforestation has been soaring this year.

The German environment ministry told Mongabay that its minister, Svenja Schulze, had decided to put financial support for forest and biodiversity projects in Brazil on hold, with €35 million ($39 million) for various projects now frozen.

The ministry explained why: "The Brazilian government's policy in the Amazon raises doubts whether a consistent reduction in deforestation rates is still being pursued. Only when clarity is restored, can project collaboration be continued."

Bauxite mines in Paragominas, Brazil. The Bolsonaro administration is urging new laws that would allow large-scale mining within Brazil's indigenous reserves.

Hydro / Halvor Molland / Flickr

Alternative Amazon Funding

Although there will certainly be disruption in the short-term as a result of the paralysis in the Amazon Fund, the governors of Brazil's Amazon states, which rely on international funding for their environmental projects, are already scrambling to create alternative channels.

In a press release issued yesterday Helder Barbalho, the governor of Pará, the state with the highest number of projects financed by the Fund, said that he will do all he can to maintain and increase his state partnership with Norway.

Barbalho had announced earlier that his state would be receiving €12.5 million ($11.1 million) to run deforestation monitoring centers in five regions of Pará. Barbalho said: "The state governments' monitoring systems are recording a high level of deforestation in Pará, as in the other Amazon states. The money will be made available to those who want to help [the Pará government reduce deforestation] without this being seen as international intervention."

Amazonas state has funding partnerships with Germany and is negotiating deals with France. "I am talking with countries, mainly European, that are interested in investing in projects in the Amazon," said Amazonas governor Wilson Miranda Lima. "It is important to look at Amazônia, not only from the point of view of conservation, but also — and this is even more important — from the point of view of its citizens. It's impossible to preserve Amazônia if its inhabitants are poor."

Signing of the EU-Mercusor Latin American trading agreement earlier this year. The pact still needs to be ratified.

Council of Hemispheric Affairs

Looming International Difficulties

The Bolsonaro government's perceived reluctance to take effective measures to curb deforestation may in the longer-term lead to a far more serious problem than the paralysis of the Amazon Fund.

In June, the European Union and Mercosur, the South American trade bloc, reached an agreement to create the largest trading bloc in the world. If all goes ahead as planned, the pact would account for a quarter of the world's economy, involving 780 million people, and remove import tariffs on 90 percent of the goods traded between the two blocs. The Brazilian government has predicted that the deal will lead to an increase of almost $100 billion in Brazilian exports, particularly agricultural products, by 2035.

But the huge surge this year in Amazon deforestation is leading some European countries to think twice about ratifying the deal. In an interview with Mongabay, the German environment ministry made it very clear that Germany is very worried about events in the Amazon: "We are deeply concerned given the pace of destruction in Brazil … The Amazon Forest is vital for the atmospheric circulation and considered as one of the tipping points of the climate system."

The ministry stated that, for the trade deal to go ahead, Brazil must carry out its commitment under the Paris Climate agreement to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent below the 2005 level by 2030. The German environment ministry said: If the trade deal is to go ahead, "It is necessary that Brazil is effectively implementing its climate change objectives adopted under the [Paris] Agreement. It is precisely this commitment that is expressly confirmed in the text of the EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement."

Blairo Maggi, Brazil agriculture minister under the Temer administration, and a major shareholder in Amaggi, the largest Brazilian-owned commodities trading company, has said very little in public since Bolsonaro came to power; he's been "in a voluntary retreat," as he puts it. But Maggi is so concerned about the damage Bolsonaro's off the cuff remarks and policies are doing to international relationships he decided to speak out earlier this week.

Former Brazil Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi, who has broken a self-imposed silence to criticize the Bolsonaro government, saying that its rhetoric and policies could threaten Brazil's international commodities trade.

Senado Federal / Visualhunt / CC BY

Maggi, a ruralista who strongly supports agribusiness, told the newspaper, Valor Econômico, that, even if the European Union doesn't get to the point of tearing up a deal that has taken 20 years to negotiate, there could be long delays. "These environmental confusions could create a situation in which the EU says that Brazil isn't sticking to the rules." Maggi speculated. "France doesn't want the deal and perhaps it is taking advantage of the situation to tear it up. Or the deal could take much longer to ratify — three, five years."

Such a delay could have severe repercussions for Brazil's struggling economy which relies heavily on its commodities trade with the EU. Analysists say that Bolsonaro's fears over such an outcome could be one reason for his recently announced October meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, another key trading partner.

Maggi is worried about another, even more alarming, potential consequence of Bolsonaro's failure to stem illegal deforestation — Brazil could be hit by a boycott by its foreign customers. "I don't buy this idea that the world needs Brazil … We are only a player and, worse still, replaceable." Maggi warns, "As an exporter, I'm telling you: things are getting very difficult. Brazil has been saying for years that it is possible to produce and preserve, but with this [Bolsonaro administration] rhetoric, we are going back to square one … We could find markets closed to us."

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