There’s nothing like a nice, hot cup of…water with lemon in the morning?
It sounds strange (and honestly not that appetizing), but self-proclaimed “wellness experts” swear by downing a glass of lemon water (hot or cold) in the morning to jumpstart your metabolism and promote weight loss.
While the claim isn’t necessarily a dangerous one (it’s just lemon water, after all), it does sound too good to be true. Here, two registered dietitians weigh in on the whole lemon water for weight loss trend—and if it’s really the magical weight-loss elixir people make it out to be.
So tell me: Can lemon water help you lose weight?
“Hot water with lemon in and of itself does not cause any actual weight loss,” says Alissa Rumsey, R.D., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, so, sorry if you’ve been chugging the stuff straight out of bed.
However, if this drink is replacing a beverage that is higher in calories, like coffee with sugar or fruit juice—and that results in a calorie deficit—then it can help you lose weight, she adds.
Another way lemon water might indirectly help weight loss? Drinking more water in general and staying well-hydrated throughout the day, according to Brigitte Zeitlin, RD, owner of BZ Nutrition.
“Our bodies interpret thirst as hunger, so if you are not drinking enough water, you may think you’re hungry and reach for an extra snack when actually you’re just thirsty,” says Zeitlin. “Staying hydrated throughout the day helps to curb any unnecessary snacking, which will help you shed some pounds.” The lemon trick can actually help people who don’t like the taste of water drink more of it—but you can also switch things up by adding orange or lime to your water, too, she adds.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that lemons (and citrus fruits in general) are acidic, so if you are avoiding acidic foods for heartburn or GERD or for any other reason, you’ll want to drink your water without lemons, says Zeitlin.
Also: If you are avoiding lemons because you think they will erode your teeth enamel, you don’t have to worry about that if you’re only adding a slice to your water. But if you’re extra worried about your pearly whites, go ahead and rinse your mouth out after drinking lemon water and wait a bit before brushing.
The bottom line: Adding lemon to your water will only make your water taste like lemon—and maybe get you to drink a little more. But it won’t directly lead to weight loss.
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