Lemon is the king of citrus fruits. The fruit itself and lemon water have tons of health benefits, besides keeping us refreshed and reenergized on hot summer days. Many people take lemon water to slim down. Sure, it seems like an easy, affordable, and simple way to lose weight, but does it really work? Actually, it does! Scroll down to see why lemon water is your best ally for successful weight loss.
1. Low in calories
Successful weight loss results from decreasing the number of calories you consume and increasing the number of calories you burn. Introducing low-calorie foods and beverages to your diet poses a great way to jumpstart your weight loss. When it comes to beverages, lemon water could be one of the best options, and it’s all thanks to low-calorie content.
Let’s say you squeeze the juice from half a lemon into the water – there would be only six calories in each glass of lemon water (1). For comparison’s sake, a cup of orange juice contains 110 calories (2).
By swapping beverages higher in calories with low-calorie lemon water, you get to decrease calorie intake during the day. This acts as an easy and convenient way to support your weight loss.
While the number of calories from these beverages may not seem that significant to reduce, it plays a role in overall intake on a daily basis. Beverages are important here. Although it’s easy to assume people compensate for high-calorie drinks by eating less, that doesn’t happen. One study showed consumption of caloric beverages with meals only adds to energy intake from food (3).
In other words, drinking high-calorie beverages amps up total energy intake and may complicate your weight loss efforts. While lemon water isn’t calorie-free, it’s still a lot more convenient due to its low-calorie content.
To give a boost to your weight loss, you may want to ditch high-calorie beverages and store-bought juices in favor of homemade lemon water.
2. Faster metabolism through hydration
Fast metabolism proves to be vital for successful weight loss. As seen above, weight loss happens when you lose more calories than you burn. The best way to lose those calories is to burn them through exercise. Physical activity acts as a major metabolism booster because it helps build lean mass, thus making the body use more energy to maintain it (4). However, other factors can also contribute to a faster metabolic rate, and certain foods or beverages are among them. More specifically, lemon water can give your metabolism a boost as well.
Lemon water brings much-needed refreshment in summer, vitamin boost in winter, and hydration all year round. You see, by keeping you hydrated, lemon water can accelerate your metabolic rate.
A study from the Frontiers in Nutrition found good hydration improves mitochondria function (5). Mitochondria are powerhouses of cells; they generate energy. Enhanced function of mitochondria could speed up metabolism and subsequently contribute to weight loss. In adipocytes (fat cells), amplified mitochondrial activity increases lipolysis (breakdown of fat).
Further research is necessary on this subject, specifically to focus on lemon water and its impact on metabolism. But, it is important to mention staying hydrated promotes weight loss through thermogenesis, too.
The term thermogenesis refers to a metabolic process wherein the body burns calories to produce heat. Factors that influence thermogenesis include diet, exercise, and environmental temperature. Since it increases calorie burn, thermogenesis supports weight loss (6).
In one study, 14 subjects were asked to drink 500ml (16.9 ounces) of water. The simple act of drinking water increased metabolic rate by 30% for 30 to 40 minutes (7). While the effect was short-term, it shows staying hydrated throughout the day can give a significant boost to the metabolism. Remember, the study focused on regular water, but lemon water could give it an extra boost and potentially maximize its effects on weight loss.
3. May suppress your appetite
Weight loss and its maintenance come with a wide range of obstacles. Probably the biggest obstacle is excessive calorie intake due to overeating. Unfortunately, overeating is a major problem today due to the Western diet characterized by high-calorie foods and little to no actual nutritional value.
Overeating causes weight gain due to excessive calorie intake. Digestive enzymes in the body break down the food you eat. However, the quantities of these enzymes are limited. The more food you eat, the more difficult digestion becomes. If you overeat frequently or regularly, the digestion process slows down. As a result, food remains in the stomach for longer, and the body converts it into fat (10).
In order to lose weight and keep it off, you need to control your appetite, especially if you tend to overeat. Your diet is crucial here, and lemon water can help you out. In fact, people who drink lemon water for weight loss do so because it keeps them full for longer.
A study that evaluated the effects of water on calorie intake in 24 overweight subjects found it can make you eat less. Drinking 500ml (16.9 ounces) of water before breakfast reduced the number of calories they ate by 13% (11). It’s wise to drink a glass of water before a meal, but lemon water could be even better due to the extra vitamin boost.
So in a way, lemon water acts as a practical appetite suppressant without excess calories. During the meal, you’d eat less, which could help you control your appetite more effectively. All this leads to successful and sustainable weight loss.
4. Improved digestion
Lemons are acidic, but acidity, in this case, helps the body instead of harming it. These acids may slow down digestion and allow the body to absorb nutrients your body needs to function normally. A slower absorption rate also helps the body regulate blood glucose. Don’t confuse it with slow absorption caused by overeating and the presence of too much food in your stomach.
Basically, the point here is that lemon water could improve digestion and thereby help you slim down. Proper digestion is necessary for the absorption of nutrients but also promotes bowel movements. This way, your body gets rid of toxins that would build up and impair your health or make it more difficult for you to slim down.
5. Energy boost
Besides a well-balanced diet, effective weight loss requires regular exercise. The two, exercise and diet, should go hand in hand. One complements the other; it doesn’t replace it. A growing body of evidence confirms that combined intervention of exercise and diet works the best for sustainable weight loss (12).
Diet is not just about what you eat, but beverages you drink too. That’s where lemon water steps in.
When you wake up in the morning, you feel slow and without energy? Don’t worry; most people do. Just by drinking a glass of water, your energy levels go up because you’re more alert. But, the sourness of lemon works even better. For that reason, drinking lemon water could give you the energy boost you need to wake up, feel alert, and focus. And these benefits do not have to limit to mornings. You can apply the same principle throughout the day. It’s normal for energy levels and concentration to go down during the day, and lemon water gives you the kick you need to be more energetic (13).
This energy comes in handy when you’re exercising. You can do more sets, reps and get the most from your workout routine.
6. Rich in vitamin C
Lemon is known for its vitamin C content. One whole raw lemon, including the peel, supplies the body with 83mg of vitamin C, which accounts for 92% of recommended daily intake (14). Vitamin C is an immune system booster, but it does so much more than that. You see, this micronutrient also functions as an antioxidant.
Drinking lemon water means you’re taking much-needed antioxidants that can help you slim down. But, how? Antioxidants work to neutralize free radicals, which would otherwise cause oxidative stress.
Increased oxidative stress may contribute to weight gain (15). In fact, their relationship is a two-way street. Excess weight is associated with low-grade chronic inflammation in adipose (fat) tissue. This happens due to activation of the innate immunity in adipose tissue that supports oxidative stress and pro-inflammatory state (16).
Strengthening antioxidant defenses could decrease oxidative stress and help you slim down.
When it comes to vitamin C, it is important to mention low levels of this micronutrient are linked to increased body fat and waist circumference. The quantity of vitamin C in blood is related directly to the process of fat oxidation. These effects are present at rest and as you exercise. In one study, subjects with the lowest levels of vitamin C had the highest body fat mass. The amount of fat mass decreased with the intake of vitamin C.
Scientists explain it’s important to understand the dangers of vitamin C depletion since it affects 15% of adults in the U.S. The biggest factor in vitamin C deficiency is problematic food supply. Vitamin C in foods is destroyed by exposure to oxygen, light, and heat (17).
Since vitamin C is an unexpected ally in weight loss, lemon water becomes even more important. Drinking lemon water regularly prevents deficiency-related problems, strengthens antioxidant defenses, and may help you slim down.
Plus, vitamin C can decrease the risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease and helps regulate blood pressure. This is particularly important if we bear in mind overweight or obesity are associated with these health problems.
How to Make Lemon Water?
Lemon water is not the same thing as lemonade; it’s not meant to be sweet. Basically, lemon water is exactly how it sounds like – water infused with lemon. To get the most out of your lemon water, you should always use fresh lemons and avoid artificial lemons from a bottle.
Into 8 ounces of cold (or warm) water, squeeze half a lemon. Organic lemons and filtered water are the healthiest options if you have access to them. Some people make hot tea and add lemon together with skins.
Another option is to wash lemon thoroughly, slice it up (without removing the peel) and add those slices into the water. Then, you can sip water infused with lemon or even eat those slices.
Keep in mind lemon water shouldn’t be sweet, but if you find it too sour, you can add a bit of honey or a teaspoon of zero-calorie natural sweetener. That said, it would be best to drink it without any sweetener whatsoever.
Give your lemon water an extra health boost by adding a few sprigs of mint, a slice of fresh ginger, a sprinkle of turmeric, or a dash of cinnamon. Another option is to add slices of other fruits such as oranges, limes, or cucumber slices even to your water.
If you want to make the whole process fun and practical, you can always squeeze the fresh lemon juice into ice cube trays and freeze. Then, you can add lemon water ice cubes to your water. It’s a fast, easy, and fun way to have lemon water, especially on hot summer days.
The ideal temperature of lemon water is a subject of many debates. Some people say cold lemon water is better than warm, and vice versa. The reality is there is no research to support any side of the issue. It’s unlikely the temperature will make any meaningful difference.
The best thing to do is to choose the temperature you prefer and go for it.
Is Lemon Water Safe?
Lemon water is safe for consumption, but citric acid in lemon may erode tooth enamel. Drink lemon water through a straw or rinse your mouth with “regular” water after you drink lemon water. You may want to avoid brushing your teeth right after you drink lemon water. The tooth enamel is still in an acid-softened state. Therefore, if you like to drink lemon water in the morning, you should brush your teeth before breakfast.
Lemon water can relieve heartburn for some people or cause it for others. Some people report they need to urinate more frequently when they drink lemon water. This could be due to high vitamin C content, which has diuretic properties.
All in all, lemon water is safe, and you’re unlikely to experience side effects that harm your health.
Lemon water is a popular choice of beverage. What’s there not to like? Lemon water is refreshing, reenergizing, and good for our skin. It also happens to be your best ally for successful weight loss. While studies focusing specifically on lemon water and weight loss are necessary, several mechanisms are involved. Lemon water is low in calories, high in vitamin C, may speed up metabolism, suppresses appetite, and may promote digestive health. All these factors are linked to weight loss that you can actually keep off. If you don’t have a habit of drinking lemon water, you may want to start doing so.