Can Lemon Water Help With Weight Loss?
There is a lot of talk on the internet about health benefits of lemons and lemon water. More often than not the information is conflicting with regards to its effects on the body mass index (BMI) and majority of evidence is anecdotal. There seems to be a lot of hope to find a magic bullet which just might solve our weight loss woes.
Before we dig deeper into the use of lemon water for weight loss, here are some evidence-based facts about lemons:
- Vitamin C: A single lemon contains approximately 50% daily dose of vitamin C
- Digestion: Lemon juice thins the bile and stimulates its outflow, enhances the action of liver enzymes and prevents the formation of gallstones
- Alkaline pH: During digestion citric acid found in lemons becomes alkaline and affects the acidity of the stomach
- Gut Health: Lemons contain pectin, a prebiotic that supports healthy gut bacteria
- Kidney Stones: Citric acid also increases urination and decreases formation of calcium kidney stones
Lemon water is viewed as an elixir for effortless weight loss, detoxification, energy booster but the evidence to support its efficacy is largely missing. As an evidence-based practitioner, I looked into science behind these claims and here is what I have found to date.
In a study conducted by Shetty et. al, participants drank half a lemon juice with one teaspoon of honey diluted in 290 ml of water four times a day for four successive days while fasting. A significant reduction in weight, BMI, fat mass (FM), free FM (FFM), muscle mass (MM), total body water (TBW) was observed by the end of the week.
Lemons also have effects on metabolic alterations caused by obesity. Fukuchi et al. concluded that giving lemon polyphenols to obese mice on a high fat diet have significantly improved their cholesterol, blood sugar levels as well as insulin resistance compared to obese controls.
Research has also shown that plasma level of Vitamin C is inversely related to body mass and the degree of obesity. Having low plasma Vitamin C levels is associated with increased body mass index (BMI), belly fat, increased all-cause mortality, the risk of heart attack, and gallbladder disease. On the other hand, increase in Vitamin C intake is associated with higher levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL-C) levels in women and may prevent coronary heart disease.
Although there is some evidence to support using lemon water as weight loss remedy, clinical evidence for its use remains sparse. Regardless, lemon water is a refreshing beverage you can sip as an alternative to sugary drinks such as pop and juices. So the answer to our question is that lemon water might have some benefit to weight loss, but it cannot replace a good diet comprised of adequate fiber and plenty of physical activity as primary intervention.
If you want to enjoy lemon water, make sure that you use a straw or rinse your mouth with baking soda to prevent enamel erosion.
- Slavin J. Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits. Nutrients. 2013;5(4):1417-1435. doi:10.3390/nu5041417.
- PENNISTON KL, NAKADA SY, HOLMES RP, ASSIMOS DG. Quantitative Assessment of Citric Acid in Lemon Juice, Lime Juice, and Commercially-Available Fruit Juice Products. Journal of endourology / Endourological Society. 2008;22(3):567-570. doi:10.1089/end.2007.0304.
- Ustinova O. I, Ustinov Y. V. Biological Activity of Fresh-Squeezed Lemon Juice. Biosci Biotechnol Res Asia 2015;12(3).
- Shetty P, Mooventhan A, Nagendra HR. Does short-term lemon honey juice fasting have effect on lipid profile and body composition in healthy individuals? Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. 2016;7(1):11-13. doi:10.1016/j.jaim.2016.03.001.
- Gamboa-Gómez CI, Rocha-Guzmán NE, Gallegos-Infante JA, Moreno-Jiménez MR, Vázquez-Cabral BD, González-Laredo RF. Plants with potential use on obesity and its complications. EXCLI Journal. 2015;14:809-831. doi:10.17179/excli2015-186.