It’s the elixir celebrities and wellness gurus swear by: lemon water. Starting your morning with a glass of warm or cold lemon water is supposed to “wake up your metabolism” and “flush out toxins.” Sure, lemon water is tasty, but is there any truth to its magical properties? Can it actually help you lose weight and detox your system? We tapped some registered dietitians to find out.
Will Drinking Lemon Water Help You Lose Weight?
“No, lemon water will not make you lose weight alone because there is no compound within lemon water that will either speed up metabolism or decrease calorie absorption,” dietitian Amanda Baker Lemein, MS, RD, LDN, told POPSUGAR.
There are other claims that the acidity in lemons will increase your rate of digestion, but dietitian and personal trainer Jim White, RD, ACSM, and owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios said the acidity of lemons will only affect your pH balance for a short period of time because your body will naturally regulate its own pH balance.
There are other theories that the pectins in lemons, which are fiber, will help you feel full, but the amount of pectin in lemon water is extremely low. And while a 2008 study linked lemon polyphenols, antioxidant compounds found in plants, with fat loss, the polyphenols found in lemons are in the rind, not the juice. Plus, the study was conducted on mice, not humans.
Will Lemon Water Detox Your Body?
Another misconception about lemon water is that it will help “detox” your body and flush out toxins. For starters, your body does a good enough job on its own detoxing itself (thanks to your liver and kidneys), so eating or drinking certain foods won’t magically rid your body of any toxins.
In fact, lemon water cleanses, such as the Master Cleanse, can actually do you more harm than good. They put you in an extreme calorie deficit and starve you of essential micro- and macronutrients, which slows down your metabolism and won’t help your body function at its proper levels
“If you are looking to cleanse your digestive system, you can do so through consumption of fiber and drinking plenty of water, but there is no scientific evidence that lemon water will provide any ‘detoxifying’ effects,” Jim said. “Going on a lemon water cleanse could have adverse effects on your body and overall health as their guidelines require the user to starve their body of essential nutrients.”
So, Should You Still Drink Lemon Water?
This doesn’t mean you should stop squeezing lemon in your water altogether. If you enjoy the taste, go for it.
“Staying hydrated is very important for weight loss, so if the added flavor from lemon helps you drink more water, that along with eating a lower calorie diet will help you lose weight,” Amanda said.
And while lemon juice will give you a boost of vitamin C, which can help your immune system, it’s not a magical weight-loss beverage.
“Lemon water will not directly detoxify your system or expedite weight loss or cure any serious conditions,” dietitian Joy Bauer, MS, RDN, CDN, told POPSUGAR. “It’s highly overrated for weight loss, so it’s best to manage your expectations when it comes to this drink.”