drinking glass with water and lemons

Photo by Alicja Gancarz from Unsplash

There’s no question water is vital for your health. At the same time, lemons are a great source of nutrition. However, where did people get the thought that combining the two makes you lose weight?!

For some reason, lemon water has been proclaimed as a weight loss elixir in media diet culture for several years now. Lemon water is a refreshing alternative to plain water, but beyond that, there aren’t any magical properties about it. Even so, there are still a few benefits of drinking it that are worth talking about.

The Real Benefits of Lemon Water

Hydration

Adding a bit of lemon to your water might help you to drink more because there’s more flavor. There’s never a problem with maintaining proper hydration because staying hydrated helps support your body’s main biological processes, from temperature regulation to fluid balance. If adding lemons (or any other fruit) helps keep your water intake up, then, by all means, do that.

Vitamin C

A couple of squeezes aren’t going to give you as much as eating a whole orange or kiwi would, but lemon water does have a little vitamin C in it. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that has a lot of health benefits, such as boosting the absorption of iron from plant foods, immune system strengthening, and aiding collagen production.

Digestion

Drinking lemon water may help digestion. It contains citric acid, which may help reduce uncomfortable digestive issues like heartburn and bloating.

Sliced Lemon in Water Pitcher
Photo by Julia Zolotova from Pexels

Can Lemon Water Help With Weight Loss?

There’s very limited research to support that lemon water directly aids weight loss. If anything, it might help indirectly. If you’re drinking more water in general, you are less likely to reach for the high-sugar juices and sodas. This is a good thing if you want to drop the pounds. There is more consistent research to support drinking plain water to aid weight loss, in part related to studies showing that drinking water before a meal helps increase the feeling of fullness and reduce the risk of overeating.

Is It Safe?

Lemon water is generally safe to drink, though the citric acid may promote erosion of the enamel on your teeth. However, as long as the drink is diluted with enough water and you aren’t drinking an awful lot throughout the day, this shouldn’t be a problem. Drinking lemon water through a straw also helps reduce this slight risk as well.

Bottom Line

There’s nothing special about lemon water. The potential benefits of drinking it could be achieved by drinking plain water or eating whole fruits and vegetables, as this would provide larger amounts of key vitamins and minerals than a few squeezes of lemon ever could.

However, while lemon water doesn’t contain any special properties that lead to weight loss, it’s a great choice over juices, soda, and other sugary drinks. If you drink these often, replacing it with lemon water may indirectly support weight loss. Lemons are highly acidic, so while generally safe, there’s a slight risk of enamel erosion if the water isn’t well diluted or consumed in excessive amounts throughout the day.

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About Shyla Cadogan, RD

Shyla Cadogan is a DMV-Based acute care Registered Dietitian. She holds specialized interests in integrative nutrition and communicating nutrition concepts in a nuanced, approachable way.

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