Untrending: Lemon Water Cannot Help You Lose Weight, Or Boost Your Metabolism
Many influencers endorse drinking lemon water to aid weight loss, but research doesn’t agree.
In Untrending, we side-eye the latest fads so we know what we’re getting ourselves into — and what (if anything) we’re getting out of them.
There’s a ritualistic pleasure in waking up, squeezing a fresh lemon into a glass of water, and chugging the resultant beverage. Lemons are lovely — they taste great and they remind us of cleanliness.
The wellness community is particularly obsessed with drinking lemon water in the morning. The trend truly blew up when supermodel Gisele Bundchen stated she starts every day with lemon water. Then, Beyoncé drank a gallon of lemon water daily to lose baby weight. Now, every influencer worth their salt includes lemon water as a part of their morning routine videos. Lemon water is easily accessible, straight from nature, not dangerous, and makes one feel like they’re on the path towards health. But, unfortunately, the health benefits of lemon water — weight loss, immunity, digestion, detox, and more — are exaggerated by many, research suggests.
The good part is that lemons are nutritious fruits rich in Vitamin C, responsible for the growth and development of tissues, repairing wounds and maintaining cartilage, bones, and teeth. Lemons also contain Vitamin B6, potassium, citric acid, and pectin fiber. Lemons have a host of health benefits including ensuring good heart health, curbing kidney stones, and preventing anemia by increasing iron absorption.
Can lemon water help boost metabolism and weight loss?
The component in lemon water that aids weight loss is actually water. Drinking water lends a sense of fullness to the body, which makes people want to eat less. Plus, water has zero calories, but the body still needs to heat it up to metabolize it, so this process technically burns calories. However, in order for this process to cause any sort of meaningful weight loss, it would mean drinking far more water than any person actually ever drinks.
However, adding lemon juice to water helps flavor the water, which can help people transition away from a habit of drinking too many sugary sodas — which is linked to weight gain and many other health issues.
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Can lemon water help me digest my food better?
Lemon water can’t ‘wake up’ or ‘kickstart’ a digestive system. Drinking only water before, during and after meals can help the digestive system break down food better, contrary to a popular myth that one shouldn’t drink water while eating. The lemon juice doesn’t add anything but flavor.
The only lemon part that aids digestion is the peel, which adds fiber to diet and aids digestion.
Can lemon water build immunity?
Vitamin C supports immune defense in the body, and lemons are high in Vitamin C. Research proves that taking around 200mg of Vitamin C daily can cut the risk of getting a cold, but only in super active, athletic individuals. But lemons only contain around 31mg of Vitamin C — nowhere close to what is required to keep colds away. However, what can help is populating one’s diet with multiple Vitamin C rich foods to achieve better immunity.
Can lemon water detox/alkalize my body?
Neither detoxing, nor alkalizing, are necessary for the human body, which has its own systems to take out toxic waste (kidneys), and regulate the body’s pH (lungs and kidneys). Detoxing or cleansing our bodies by only drinking lemon water as a replacement for all meals only serves to starve our body and take away the nutrients it deserves — which is disordered eating. One does not need to change their body’s pH manually, unless they’re sick — in which case, specific doctor’s recommendation are best to listen to.
Lemon water is a delicious beverage, but it doesn’t have it’s own unique benefits. What it can do is help us transition to drinking more water (rather than colas and over-sweetened processed juices) and help us feel ‘clean’ due to our brains associating citrus smells to cleanliness and good health. But, it might help to not make it a daily habit for a long time, considering lemon juice’s acidic nature can be highly erosive to tooth enamel.
Aditi Murti is a culture writer at The Swaddle. Previously, she worked as a freelance journalist focused on gender and cities. Find her on social media @aditimurti.