Does Lemon Water Help You Lose Weight? (From a Dietitian)

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Published by Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer
Last updated: June 22, 2024
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If there’s one beverage in the world that’s been massively glorified in various health and wellness circles, it’s lemon water.

Often touted as a “miracle drink,” it is said to possess fat-burning capabilities that promote weight loss, among other far-reaching promises.

But is there any scientific evidence to back up these claims?

After many hours of research, I got the lowdown on lemon water and its real health benefits.

Quick Summary

  • Lemon water can aid weight loss through improved metabolism, hydration, and increased satiety.
  • It offers additional health benefits, such as boosting the immune system and aiding digestion.
  • A study published in PubMed showed drinking 17 ounces of water increased resting calorie burn by 30% for up to 40 minutes.
  • Personally, I find lemon water an excellent low-calorie alternative to high-sugar drinks for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Can Drinking Lemon Water Help You Lose Weight?

water splashing from a drinking glass with lemon

Lemon water may assist in weight loss, but it has no additional benefits over regular water.

Lemon water may aid weight loss by enhancing satiety, hydration, and metabolism. While studies mostly use regular water, it's likely that lemon water offers similar benefits.

This refreshing drink not only hydrates but also adds a zesty flavor, potentially making healthy hydration habits more appealing.

Additionally, its detoxifying effects can support weight loss by improving digestion and metabolism.

Drinking lemon water may also play a psychological role in weight loss, with its flavor and preparation process encouraging mindfulness and healthier eating habits.

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Reasons To Drink Lemon Water

Research has shown that eating one fruit or drinking its juice can increase your energy levels, prevent kidney stones, improve liver health, and protect against certain types of cancer.

Exploring the roots of lemon water, we find its use in various traditional medicinal practices across cultures, hinting at its long-standing health benefits.

Here are the other benefits of lemon water that can support weight loss and help you stay healthy.

1. It Can Help You Stay Hydrated

man in a white shirt holding up a glass of lemon water

Thirst is often mistaken for hunger, leading to unnecessary snacking. Adequate hydration is vital as water is essential for nutrient transport, waste removal, and toxin flushing.

As a personal trainer, I've noticed staying hydrated with lemon water helps curb unnecessary snacking.

It also helps regulate body temperature, energizes physical activity, and lubricates joints, according to the Nutrition Reviews [1].

Some research also suggests that increased hydration improves your body’s ability to break down fats, which can support your weight loss goals.

Another benefit you may enjoy from consuming adequate water is reduced bloating, puffiness, and weight gain.

Since the main component of lemon water is water, this citrusy beverage can help keep you hydrated.

2. It May Protect You From Certain Illnesses

woman in gym clothes flexing her left arm smiling

Lemon water, rich in vitamin C, may boost your immune system and combat free radicals, reducing illness risks as you age.

One lemon provides over 100% of the daily recommended vitamin C. Adding lemon to green tea can also preserve heart-healthy polyphenols.

In my experience, regular lemon water intake has helped strengthen my immune system.

Lemons contain a fiber called pectin, which has been shown to aid weight loss. This fiber can act as an anti-inflammatory agent, reduce fat absorption, and lower bad cholesterol.

However, your diet must include quite a bit of pectin before you feel any results. So make sure you don’t just squeeze the juice into your water, as pectin is found mostly in the fruit’s skin.

3. It’s Low In Calories

shirtless man using a measuring tape on his abs

Lemon water is a low-calorie option, containing about six kcal per glass without added sugar.

This makes it a healthier choice compared to high-sugar drinks like orange juice or soda. Substituting these beverages with lemon water can significantly cut calorie intake, aiding in weight loss.

I recommend lemon water to clients for a low-calorie hydration option.

Replacing high-calorie drinks like orange juice (110 kcal per cup) or soda (182 kcal per bottle) with lemon water can reduce calorie intake by up to 200 kcal.

A study published in PubMed also showed that consuming low-calorie beverages with meals can lower overall calorie consumption, unlike higher-calorie drinks like milk, soda, and juice [2].

Adding lemon juice to water doesn’t make for a calorie-free drink, but it’s low enough in calories to help reduce calorie intake.

4. It Can Promote Fullness

man doing arm stretches outdoors smiling

Drinking lemon water helps make you feel full without adding calories, which is why it’s an essential part of any effective weight loss program.

I've found that lemon water before meals increases fullness, reducing calorie intake.

A study found that drinking water in the morning before eating breakfast food cuts the calories consumed by 13% [3].

Another study published in PubMed showed that drinking a glass of lemon water with food promoted satiety and decreased hunger during the meal [4].

However, these effects weren’t maintained after the meal.

Since water infused with lemon juice is a low-calorie beverage that can promote satiety in the same way as plain water, it can be a reliable method to lessen your calorie intake and help you lose weight.

Drinking a half-liter of water first thing in the morning might be too much for some, but adding lemon slices could give it an exciting taste and help you finish it easier.

5. It May Boost Your Metabolism

woman smiling while holding a salad bowl and a thumbs up

Whether you add the juice or not, studies suggest that increasing your water intake leads to a boost in your metabolic rate.

Researchers found that increased hydration improves the function of the mitochondria, an organelle in cells that helps generate energy for your body, according to the Frontiers in Nutrition [5].

This effect, in turn, leads to an increased metabolic rate, which may result in weight loss.

Drinking water has also been shown to speed up metabolism by inducing thermogenesis, a process in which your body burns calories to produce heat.

From my training experience, clients who increase their water intake, especially with lemon water, often see a metabolism boost.

While specific research on lemon water is limited, it's mainly water and may boost metabolism similarly to plain water. Its appealing flavor can also encourage increased water intake.

Drinking more water has been linked to higher calorie burn; a study published in PubMed found that drinking 17 ounces of water increased resting calorie burn by 30% for up to 40 minutes [6].

6. It May Help With Digestion

woman in white underwear placing both of her hands on her bare stomach

Lemon juice is acidic, but these acids are good for you.

In some cases, the acids in it can slow down your digestion, helping you absorb nutrients that go through your system while you eat.

Although a slower absorption rate sounds like something you wouldn’t want (since we associate a slowing metabolism with weight gain), it’s actually a very good thing.

The slow absorption rate helps your body send the nutrients where they need to go and helps regulate your blood sugar.

I've observed lemon water aiding digestion in many of my clients.

The Best Way To Use Lemon Water

fresh glasses of lemon water in table and a woman holding a glass of lemon water

Whether you prefer hot lemon water or a cold refreshing one, you can experience the health benefits of this drink at any temperature and enjoy it at any time of the day. You can check how drinking hot water helps lose weight.

In my routine, alternating between hot and cold lemon water maximizes its refreshing effect and health benefits.

However, the acidity of lemons can damage your teeth and make it prone to cavities, specifically if you squeeze the juice and drop the slices into your glass.

“Keeping your tooth health in mind, no more than half a lemon should be added to an 8-ounce cup of water. Adding more water to dilute this amount of lemon would be perfectly acceptable.”

- Melissa Rifkin, Registered Dietitian

Another way you can protect your teeth is to simply brush or rinse your mouth with plain water after drinking lemon water. Wait for at least 10 to 15 minutes before brushing to ensure that the toothpaste won’t interact with any lemon juice that might be left on your teeth.

You can also drink lemon water through a straw to reduce the impact of lemon juice on your tooth enamel.

Tip: To make lemon water tastier, use the juice from at least a small lemon and add a few other ingredients to it, like honey or a teaspoon of stevia.

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References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15808893/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2743119/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8287852/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4901052/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14671205/
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About The Author

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is the owner of Taylor Made Fitness. Her philosophy centers on cutting through the hype and misinformation surrounding dietary supplements, focusing instead on practical, science-backed strategies for health and weight loss.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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