Drinking lemon juice and hot water for weight loss is a common practice among dieters. After all, the lemonade diet, the lemon juice detox diet and other similar cleansing programs are all the rage nowadays. Although there's nothing magic about lemon, this versatile citrus fruit is rich in vitamin C and flavonoids, reduces water retention and may help support your body's fat-burning.
Citrus Flavonoids Facilitate Weight Loss
What makes lemon stand out is its high antioxidant content. This juicy fruit boasts large doses of naringenin, apigenin, hesperidin and other flavonoid compounds with cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory and anti-obesity effects, reports a March 2019 review published in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. It's also a good source of vitamin C, which may play a role in obesity prevention and treatment
The review suggests that citrus flavonoids modulate adipocyte differentiation and improve the body's ability to metabolize fats. These bioactive compounds may help control calorie intake and protect against obesity-related disorders.
As the review authors note, citrus flavonoids have the potential to improve cardiovascular health and insulin sensitivity. At the same time, they reduce obesity and suppress inflammation in adipose tissue. Naringenin, for example, has been shown to reduce fat mass, body weight, lipid accumulation and visceral fat in animals. More studies are needed to confirm its effects on humans.
In December 2017, the_ BMJ_ published a meta-analysis of three large-scale studies assessing the relationship between flavonoids and weight management. The researchers found that consuming even small amounts of flavonoid compounds may help prevent weight gain and facilitate fat loss in the long run.
These phytonutrients occur naturally in most fruits and veggies, not just in lemons. Strawberries, blueberries, apples, limes and peppers are all excellent sources of flavonoids.
Lose Fat and Water Weight
Lemon water isn't a magic potion for weight loss, but it can help you get leaner when consumed as part of a healthy diet. Vitamin C, one of its most abundant nutrients, may influence metabolism and body weight.
A review published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology in May 2014 revealed some interesting findings. It appears that vitamin C has the potential to prevent obesity and its complications.
As the researchers explain, this water-soluble vitamin inhibits the conversion of glucose to fat in adipose tissue and modulates fat breakdown, aka lipolysis. It may also lower blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation.
Read more: 20 Fat-Loss Secrets
Obesity is a major risk factor for diabetes, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and inflammatory disorders. It also puts you at risk for heart disease, osteoarthritis and mental illnesses.
A diet rich in vitamin C may help counteract some of these side effects. For example, if you're obese or overweight, you can drink lemon juice and hot water for weight loss, better blood sugar control and improved metabolic health. (Although, for the record, you need to do more than just drink lemon juice and hot water to reap the benefits it offers.)
Lemon juice, the primary ingredient in lemon water, provides 47.2 milligrams of vitamin C per serving (a half of a cup) — that's more than half of the recommended daily intake. It also delivers small doses of calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, folate and other micronutrients.
Why Use Hot Water?
Plain water, whether hot, warm or ice-cold, keeps you hydrated and fills you up. According to some studies, it might also boost your metabolism. A June 2016 research paper published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition suggests that increased hydration promotes weight loss, while dehydration contributes to weight gain.
The review authors state that increased water intake may increase fat breakdown and elevate the metabolic rate. At the same time, it induces thermogenesis, leading to more calories burned throughout the day. These effects were observed in both animal and human studies. For instance, one of the studies cited in the above review found that drinking 500 milliliters (16.9 oz) of water before breakfast may aid in weight loss and reduce food intake.
When it comes to fat loss, water temperature won't necessarily make a difference. There is little evidence on the benefits of drinking hot lemon water — or hot water in general — and most studies are conflicting.
Researchers at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences state that drinking a glass of ice-cold water burns an extra 8 calories compared to room-temperature water. This means that if you drink five glasses of cold lemon water a day, you'll burn an additional 40 calories. Depending on how much lemon juice you use, you might end up ingesting more calories than you burn.
Read more: 12 Ways to Make Water Taste (Much) Better
One of the few studies available on this topic published in the International Journal of Nursing Research and Practice in January-June 2016 issue , suggests that warm lemon water facilitates weight loss. The subjects were asked to drink 500 milliliters of warm water (104 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit) mixed with the juice of half a lemon twice daily before breakfast or dinner for three weeks.
By the end of the study, they had lost 2.2 pounds to 8.8 pounds and several inches from their waistlines. Their metabolic rate increased by 30 percent within 30 to 40 minutes of drinking the beverage.
Scientists state that warm water is more effective at increasing energy expenditure than cold water. Additionally, the vitamin C in lemon juice stimulates fat breakdown. However, the study was small and its findings may not translate to a broader population.
Lemon Water Side Effects
Drinking warm or hot lemon water is generally safe. Just make sure you don't go overboard. Due to its high acidity, lemon juice can affect your teeth and trigger heartburn.
The American Dental Association (ADA) points out that acidic foods and beverages, such as citrus fruits and their juices, can erode the tooth enamel. Over time, they may contribute to tooth decay, cavities and other dental problems. ADA recommends drinking plenty of water every time you drink acidic beverages or eat acidic foods.
Lemon water side effects may also include heartburn and acid reflux. This beverage can irritate the esophageal mucosa and cause heartburn or worsen its symptoms.
Depending on how much lemon water you drink, you may also experience frequent urination. The vitamin C in lemon juice has diuretic effects, increasing the amount of urine produced. This can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. However, if you're struggling with fluid retention, it can help you lose water weight.
Beware that lemon water isn't always healthy. Many recipes call for brown sugar, coconut sugar or lemon juice powder. Not to mention that a growing number of stores sell bottled lemon water that's packed with sugar and preservatives.
You don't need a lemon water recipe to prepare this beverage. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a mug filled with warm or hot water, mix well and enjoy. Add a pinch of cinnamon, some grated ginger or a few drops of liquid stevia to boost its flavor.
Read more: The DOs and DON'Ts of Clean Eating
In addition to drinking lemon water, clean up your diet and change your eating habits. Avoid empty calories, cut down on sugar and limit processed foods. Lean meat, fish, low-fat dairy, vegetables, nuts, seeds and fresh fruits should come first on your list. Steer clear of vending machines and read food labels.
- Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity: "Beneficial Effects of Citrus Flavonoids on Cardiovascular and Metabolic Health"
- BMJ: "Dietary Flavonoid Intake and Weight Maintenance: Three Prospective Cohorts of 124,086 US Men and Women Followed for up to 24 Years"
- Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology: "Vitamin C in the Treatment and/or Prevention of Obesity"
- NCBI: "Complications of Obesity in Adults: A Short Review of the Literature"
- Frontiers in Nutrition: "Increased Hydration Can Be Associated With Weight Loss"
- University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences: "Does Drinking Cold Water Burn More Calories Than Warm Water?"
- International Journal of Nursing Research and Practice: "Effect of Warm Lemon Water Drink on Selected Physical Parameters Among the Overweight Female Nursing Students of RIMS & R, U.P"
- American Dental Association: "Top 9 Foods That Damage Your Teeth"
- International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders: "Diet Changes for GERD"
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Big Doses of Vitamin C May Lower Blood Pressure"
- USDA: "Nutrition Facts for Lemon Juice"
- Journal of Food Science: Reassessment of Some Fruit and Vegetable Pectin Levels