It has been said that making little changes can have a big impact on your weight loss.
One idea that is commonly discussed is using the acidic juice of the lemon to kick-start your diet, either by including it in your meals or by swapping out higher calorie drinks for lemon water.
So, does this actually work? We’ll explore that topic and give you tips to help stay healthy, hydrated and in line to meet your weight loss goals.
Why use lemon water for weight loss goals?
First, let’s start with the facts. Americans simply consume more calories per day that is needed to fuel their lifestyle. On average, we consume about 3,600 calories a day. For most people, that is at least 1,000 unnecessary calories per day. No wonder so many Americans are obese!
It seems this problem could be easily fixed, however, when you consider the fact that 21% of calories consumed by Americans come from what they drink. The sugary beverages that we all love, like juice and soda are filled with calories. There is no doubt about it: we need fluids to survive but they should only account for about 10 percent (or less) of the calories that we consume in a day.
We all know that we should consume about eight glasses of water a day, but it is also difficult to do. Water is flavorless. It can pale in comparison to a soda or other beverage. But using lemon for weight loss by including it in your water not only makes your drink more palatable, but it also can kick-start processes in your body that help you lose weight.
Using lemon water for weight loss is not about replacing meals with the drink or starving yourself during the day and trying to make up for the hunger by drinking lemon water. It’s about swapping out your higher calorie drinks for a low-calorie lemon water, thereby saving you anywhere from 200-1,000 calories per day.
So, what is lemon water?
Lemon water is exactly what it sounds like: water infused with lemon. You can make it a variety of ways. Some people make a glass of ice water and squeeze the juice of a few lemon slices into it.
Others make a hot tea and not only squeeze the lemon juice into the water, but the skins as well.
Unlike lemonade, it is not a sweet treat. If the taste of the lemon is too sour for you, you can add a small bit of honey or a teaspoon of a zero-calorie natural sweetener, like stevia, to make it more appealing.
What are the benefits of Lemon Water for Weight Loss?
There are so many benefits that come with including lemon water in your diet, besides just the drop in calorie consumption.
Research has indicated that eating or drinking lemons can improve your digestion, help prevent certain types of cancer, prevent kidney stones and protect against anemia.
It can not only help you lose weight but also help improve your health. Here are just a few reasons why it is beneficial.
Lemon Water is Low in Calories
If you’re not adding any sugar to your lemon water, there are almost no calories in what you’re drinking and almost no sugar.
Half of a lemon in a glass of water is a total of about six calories. Let’s compare that with a glass of orange or apple juice that has about 110 calories and between 20-25 grams of sugar per eight-ounce glass.
Even if you were to swap out just one glass a day, you’re saving nearly 800 calories per week! Plus, some studies have shown that if you have a low-calorie drink with a meal, you often end up consuming less food during that meal than if you were to have milk, juice, soda or an alcoholic beverage.
Lemon Water Can Boost Your Metabolism
With or without lemon, studies have shown that drinking more water can boost your metabolism.
Starting your day with a glass of hot lemon water can kick-start your metabolism and your body into a calorie burning-mode early in the day. People with this healthy habit often are able to skip the calories they would have consumed by eating breakfast, or by eating less of it.
Lemon water certainly makes drinking water more appealing because it gives it flavor and that often leads to you drinking more water than you normally would have.
Studies have shown that the more water you drink the more calories you burn when you are at rest, called resting energy expenditure. According to these studies, the number of calories an adult burns after drinking a 17 ounce glass of water increases by 20-30% for the following hour!
Drinking Lemon Water Can Make You Feel More Full
As we mentioned above, drinking water before a meal can fill you up, but especially when using lemon for weight loss by adding it to your drink.
A recent study shows that drinking about a half liter of water before eating a meal cuts the calories eaten by 13%.
Of course, eating less is what leads to weight loss, so this is a great method to try!
Scientists believe this happens because the water makes you feel full, even though you’ve consumed no calories. However, a half-liter of water is an entire bottle, which is often difficult to finish prior to consuming a meal. Adding in some lemon slices can help give it an exciting flavor.
Drinking Lemon Water Keeps You Hydrated
Often, our bodies cannot tell the difference between hunger and thirst pangs. We might reach for a snack, not recognizing that what our body actually craves is water. This highlights the fact that having enough water in our bodies is crucially important, not only to weight loss but for our health.
Water fills us up and flushes out toxins and waste that builds up in our system. It regulates our body temperature, gives us energy for physical activity, provides lubrication for our joints and can help ease the physical pain we may fee.
When our bodies are functioning properly, we’re better able to read what they need, and sometimes it is not food. Plus, there is some research out there that shows that when you’re fully hydrated, you’re better able to break down fat, which aids in weight loss. When you’re well-hydrated you also can look thinner because you’ll be less bloated and puffy-looking.
Pairing Lemon Water with Green Tea Prevents Serious Illnesses
Many people have green tea daily because it has been tied to weight loss in some recent studies.
While that’s true, adding lemon to your green tea routine has a huge health benefit: it reduces your risk of some cancers. According to a study done by the Institute of Food Research, people who exercised daily and had four to five cups of tea a day lost two pounds more than those who didn’t drink any tea. But there was another very interesting find to come out of this study.
The antioxidant called polyphenol that is found in the green tea blocks a molecule that triggers heart disease and cancer called VEGF.
However, the polyphenol usually breaks down before its processed by your body. Researchers found that when consumers added lemon juice to their green tea, the polyphenols were not broken down.
Lemons also contain a fiber called pectin that’s been shown in studies to impact weight loss. Pectin can work as an anti-inflammatory agent, reducing bloating and puffiness. It also can assist in reducing the absorption of fat in your body and regulating your insulin (blood sugar) levels.
Even more impressive, pectin has been shown in some studies to lower LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. However, in order to see these benefits come to fruition, you have to ensure you’re not just squeezing the juice of the lemon into your whole water because the pectin is most often found in the skin of the lemon. Further, doctors say that you’d have to consume quite a bit of pectin before you actually see any results. So plan on drinking that lemon water a couple of times a day, and don’t hold your breath.
Drinking Lemon Water Helps with Digestion
Lemons have a lot of acidity to them, but these are acids that can help your body rather than harm it. In some cases, these acids slow your digestion down which helps you to absorb nutrients that pass through your body as you eat.
The slower absorption rate sounds like it could be a bad thing (when we hear that our metabolism is slowing, we associate it with gaining weight, for example) but it is a very good thing. The slow absorption rate helps your body regulate your blood sugar and helps your body send the nutrients where they need to go.
Drinking Lemon Water Helps with Detoxification
Water is key to any sort of detoxification program and when you mix in lemons, you’re going to get even more of a benefit. The nutrients in the lemon promote good liver health and help you release toxins within your blood system.
This is why it is particularly important that you put the entire lemon in your water after you squeeze it (if it is well-washed and you can handle the more potent taste).
A compound in the peels can actually stimulate your liver enzymes, getting rid of waste and even in some cases, can get your bowels moving if you’ve been having troubles.
Lemon Water Keeps You from Getting Sick
Think about the last time you got sick. You might have lost a little weight from not eating, but quickly gained it all back once you felt better, right? You also likely weren’t able to hit the gym or do your normal workout routine.
Here’s some good news about drinking lemon water: the naturally occurring vitamin C that’s found in lemons can help keep you healthy and free of illness. That’s because of the power vitamin C has in boosting your immune system.
Vitamin C fights a tough battle against the free radicals within your body, things that can cause illness and disease as you age. So, how much can one lemon really benefit you? One lemon contains 187% of your daily recommended dose of vitamin C!
Lemon Water Gives You a Boost of Energy in the Morning
There’s no doubt about it: drinking lemon water in the morning is simply the best time. Our body goes through an amazing amount of restorative functions while we sleep, many of which require the nutrients that are found in water.
Having a cup of lemon water in the morning will rehydrate you and give you a boost of energy. Not only that, it will start your day by removing any toxins that your body worked overnight to process out of your system. If you find that you’re often hungry upon immediately waking up, the lemon water might even calm some of those hunger pangs! Drinking lemon water in the morning also gives you a chance to brush your teeth after consuming the tasty but acidic drink.
The acidity of lemon juice can damage the enamel of your teeth, particularly if you don’t just squeeze the juice but put the lemon slice into your glass.
It’s best to follow your glass of lemon water by rinsing out your mouth with plain water and then waiting at least 10-15 minutes to ensure that any brushing or toothpaste don’t interact with residual lemon juice that could be on the surface of your teeth.
You could also drink your lemon water with a straw, thereby reducing the impact that it has on your teeth’s enamel.
Ultimately, there is no magic pill you can take or drink that you can consume that will provide you with immediate weight loss. Even drinking lemon water is no guarantee. However, with diet, exercise and choosing to replace sugary or alcoholic drinks with lemon water, you will save yourself calories each day, and over time will notice that you’re healthier and likely losing weight.