Lemon juice, with its tart, bright flavor, is a welcome addition to anything from a plain glass of water to a fully prepared dish such as roast chicken. While it is low in calories and a good source of essential nutrients, lemon juice does not have any special properties that aid with weight loss. However, using it in place of higher-calorie foods for seasoning can help decrease your calorie intake, leading to potential weight loss.
Low in Calories and Fat
A 1/2-ounce serving of lemon juice, raw, has only 3 calories per serving and less than 1/4 gram of fat. In turn, a 1-tablespoon serving of Thousand Island salad dressing has 61 calories per serving and over 5 grams of fat, so switching out dressing for lemon juice reduces your calorie intake by 58 calories. Substituting lemon juice for higher-calorie foods on a regular basis can further increase the calorie deficit, which, over time, can lead to weight loss.
Vitamin C Content and Weight Loss
Lemon juice is naturally a good source of vitamin C, with almost 6 milligrams per 1/2-ounce serving. According to a study published in 2005 in the “Journal of the American College of Nutrition,” vitamin C is related inversely to body weight, and people with low vitamin C levels burned less fat during exercise. MedlinePlus recommends that women consume 75 to 120 milligrams of vitamin C and men 90 milligrams per day, A 1/2-ounce serving of lemon juice provides 5 to 8 percent of the recommended intake of vitamin C.
Help Reduce Sugar Intake
Because of its natural tartness, lemon juice can also replace added sugar in some foods. For example, skip the teaspoon of sugar you use in your tea and use lemon instead. This not only leads to fewer calories consumed, it also reduces your added sugar consumption, which can lead to weight gain. You can also use lemon juice to flavor water -- either with slices of whole lemon or just a drop or two of the juice. This can replace a high-sugar beverage such as soda, which will reduce your calorie intake as well as keep your added sugar consumption low.
Other Uses for Lemon Juice
Replacing higher-calorie foods with lemon juice is quite simple once you start thinking of how the bright sourness of lemon can enhance many foods. Use lemon juice in marinades or in place of higher fat, higher calorie sauces. As an added benefit, the acid in lemon juice will also tenderize meat if you use it in a marinade. Just squeezing a wedge of lemon over freshly grilled or steamed fish adds a lot of taste with virtually no calories.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Lemon Juice, Raw
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Thousand Island
- Go Ask Alice!: How Many Calories Does It Take to Lose One Pound?
- Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition: Lemon Polyphenols Suppress Diet-induced Obesity by Up-Regulation of mRNA Levels of the Enzymes Involved in β-Oxidation in Mouse White Adipose Tissue
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: What Counts as a Cup of Fruit?
- Journal of the American College of Nutrition: Strategies for Healthy Weight Loss -- From Vitamin C to the Glycemic Response
- MedlinePlus: Vitamin C
- Joy of Cooking; Irma S. Rombauer et al.
- American Heart Association: Added Sugars
- Biotechnology Learning Hub: Fruit Enzymes Tenderise Meat