Can Drinking Lemon Water Help with Weight Loss?

by | Feb 16, 2024 | Weight-Loss

It’s a restaurant staple: a slice of lemon clinging to the rim of your water glass. Sometimes you squeeze it into the water, sometimes you let it be. It’s a simple act that we didn’t think much about—until now. All of a sudden, the whole Internet is telling you to drink lemon water if you’re looking to slim down.

You may have seen your favourite wellness influencer or pseudo-health website taut this as the easiest way ever to shed a few kilos. After all—lemons are cheap and water is (hopefully) part of your daily routine anyway. It sounds too good to be true—so what does the science say?

Let’s break it down. First off, consider the H2O part of the equation. Water is essential for our basic human functioning. “We need water to survive, considering that about 55 to 60 percent of our body weight is water. Among many functions, we need water to maintain normal body temperature, get rid of wastes (via sweat, bowel movements), lubricate and cushion joints, and transport nutrients to the body’s cells,” says Robert Iafelice, M.S., R.D.N., a nutrition expert at SETFORSET.

When it comes to weight loss, some animal studies have shown that drinking more water can boost metabolism. “This leads to increased function of the energy-producing mitochondria which enables increased fat burning,” he says. It is important to note, though: that finding in animals doesn’t automatically mean the same is true in humans, but results could mean potential.

Lemon itself may also have some health-boosting properties. Lemon extract has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity in animal studies as well, which could contribute to weight loss. Again, though, more studies would need to be done to see if the same effect is carried out in humans.

So, what happens when you put the two together? Ahead, a deep squeeze into what lemon water can (and can’t) do for you.

Can Lemon Water Help You Lose Weight?

According to people who know how the body works, all adding lemon to water does is make your water taste like lemon.

“It’s not going to burn fat by any stretch of the imagination,” says Karen Ansel, R.D.N., author of Healing Superfoods for Anti-Aging.

It’s obvious that if you’re using lemon water to replace something else—a 400-calorie mega mocha whipped-cream-topped “coffee,” perhaps—yeah, you’ll lose weight. And there’s a little glimmer of hope that on its own, the water part of the equation may indirectly help your pounds-off efforts. “Drinking about 16 ounces of water before a meal has been shown to help with weight loss,” Ansel says.

One study published in the journal Obesity found that obese adults who drank that much tap water before a meal (not sparkling) lost 13 Kilos more over 12 weeks than people who didn’t “pre-load” with water, possibly because it made participants feel more full. “But adding lemon won’t do anything at all to help you burn more calories,” Ansel says.

READ MORE: Dr Sivuyile Madikana Unpacks Obesity and How It’s Manageable

Can Lemon Water Help You Detox?

Lemons indeed have nutrients in them, such as vitamin C. But even an entire half a lemon in eight ounces of water won’t change your body’s vitamin status much. And lemon as a “detoxer”? Your liver already has detoxing covered for you.

Other Benefits of Drinking Lemon Water

It’s not all debunked myths. There are some benefits to drinking lemon water—they just might not be weight loss related.


In case you didn’t already know, hydration is fundamental for human functioning. Lemon water is a great and flavourful way to make sure you’re getting your necessary daily amount of water. Iafelice says men should drink about 13 cups or three litres per day. For more on how much water you should be drinking, read this.

Reduce Inflammation

Lemons, like other citrus fruits, have a compound in them called limonin, which, Iafelice says, “is known to have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, antioxidant, and liver protection properties.” Limonin has also been shown to be effective at protecting against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), the most common cause of chronic liver disease worldwide.

Of course, sipping on a glass or two of lemon water each day isn’t going to transform you into a perfect vision of health, but coupled with a healthy, balanced diet and regular physical exercise, you may reap the benefits.

Are There Any Side Effects to Drinking Lemon Water for Weight Loss?

If you like the taste of lemon water, and you’re not drinking it solely to lose weight or detox, great. Just be sure to chase your morning glass with a plain-water rinse.

“Lemon is very acidic and not great for tooth enamel,” Ansel says. Erosive food and drinks can weaken tooth enamel and brushing within about 30 minutes can remove some of it. Rinse right away after drinking lemon water, then wait a bit before you brush.

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