Among the nearly endless compendium of weight loss diets and approaches to losing weight, nearly all weight loss plans have one thing in common: drink more water.
Not only is the body composed of nearly 70% water, and virtually every cell of the body needs plenty of water to function, but water also helps increase your metabolic rate and helps keep you feeling fuller without consuming more calories.
Some people say that there are even more benefits to drinking lemon water compared to plain water.
Does drinking lemon water increase weight loss? Is lemon water good for your liver? What are the specific benefits of lemon water?
In this article, we will discuss the benefits of lemon water and whether you should consider swapping your usual glass of water for one with a good squeeze of lemon juice.
We will cover:
- Is Lemon Water Healthy?
- How to Make Lemon Water
- 6 Benefits of Lemon Water
Let’s jump in!
Is Lemon Water Healthy?
Overall, lemon water does not contain a significant amount of nutrients, but because lemons provide some vitamin C and other antioxidants, there can be a slight nutritional boost in drinking lemon water compared to plain water.
The specific nutritional facts for a glass of lemon water depend on how much lemon is added to the water.
If a glass of lemon water contains the juice of one medium-sized lemon (about 48 grams of lemon juice), it will provide about 10 calories, 19 mg of vitamin C (about 21% of the daily value), 10 micrograms (mcg) of folate (2% of the DV), and 50 mg of potassium (1% of the DV).
Lemon water also provides trace amounts of certain B vitamins, including vitamins B1, B2, and B5.
Therefore, lemon water is very low in calories and provides vitamin C, and a trace amount of other nutrients.
With that said, there can be some side effects from drinking too much lemon water. Lemons are acidic because they contain citric acid, which may erode tooth enamel.
Additionally, citric acid can exacerbate heartburn or symptoms of GERD.
How to Make Lemon Water
There isn’t necessarily a “right“ or “wrong“ way to make lemon water. Most people squeeze the juice of a single lemon into an 8-16-ounce glass of warm or cold water, depending on how concentrated you like the flavor to be.
Some people add a teaspoon of raw honey or maple syrup and other flavorings, such as a wedge of fresh ginger, a sprig of mint, a dash of salt, or even a sprinkle of cayenne pepper.
6 Benefits of Lemon Water
Most of the benefits of drinking lemon water are attributable to drinking the water itself rather than anything special imparted by the lemon.
However, there may be a slight advantage in certain circumstances of drinking lemon water. Let’s look at some of the benefits of lemon water:
#1: Drinking Lemon Water Aids Hydration
The primary benefit of drinking lemon water is that it aids hydration and helps you meet your daily fluid needs.
Dehydration is associated with many adverse effects, including fatigue, headaches, reduced metabolic rate, increased hunger, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, and constipation, among other issues.
Many people underestimate their fluid needs and are chronically dehydrated.
According to the Institute of Medicine, women should drink a minimum of 78 ounces (2.3 liters) of water each day, and men should drink at least 112 ounces (3.3 liters) per day.
Fluid needs are even higher for people with a larger body size, who sweat a lot, who live in a hot climate, or who perform endurance exercise.
Although lemon water isn’t actually more hydrating than plain water, many people find lemon water to be tastier or palate appealing, so it becomes easier to drink enough water to meet your hydration needs. In these instances, drinking lemon water can certainly be beneficial for your health.
Keep in mind that your total daily fluid intake comes from any beverage, whether drinking lemon water or plain water, along with water that is naturally contained in foods like fruits and vegetables.
#2: Drinking Lemon Water May Decrease the Intake of Juice and Soda
One of the main benefits of lemon water is that it is a much healthier alternative to fruit juice, soda, sports drinks, and other sugar-sweetened beverages.
Sweetened beverages are the primary source of added sugars in the typical American diet.
Sugary beverages contain empty calories, and studies suggest that regularly drinking soda, fruit juice, or sugar-sweetened drinks can lead to excessive sugar intake.
There are numerous adverse health conditions associated with a high-sugar intake, such as dental cavities and periodontal disease, fatty liver disease, obesity, cardiovascular disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, metabolic syndrome, and dysfunction.
If you are able to satisfy your need for flavor by drinking lemon water instead of regular juice or sweet drinks, you will consume far fewer calories and less sugar, reducing the risk of these adverse health effects.
#3: Drinking Lemon Water Provides Vitamin C
Citrus fruits, including lemons, are a great source of vitamin C. Even though other types of citrus provide more vitamin C than lemons, you will get a little over 1/5 of the daily value of vitamin C by drinking lemon water containing the juice of one medium-sized lemon.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect your cells from oxidative damage from free radicals, which are reactive oxygen species that can destroy cells, proteins, and nucleic acids, causing premature aging.
In addition to its role as an antioxidant, vitamin C helps the body absorb iron, produce certain hormones, decrease inflammation, support the immune system and decrease the risk of infection, and synthesize collagen, the most abundant protein in the body.
Some people ask, “Is lemon water good for your liver?”
There is some evidence from animal studies to suggest that lemon juice may help protect the liver, which is largely thought to be due to the antioxidant effects of vitamin C.
#4: Drinking Lemon Water May Aid Digestion
Dehydration is one of the main causes of constipation, and ensuring that you are drinking enough water will help your body in eliminating waste.
There is even some evidence to suggest that drinking lemon water before meals may be particularly beneficial in promoting digestion.
The citric acid present in lemons can increase the secretion of gastric acid, which is a digestive fluid produced in the stomach that stimulates digestion and helps break down the macronutrients in the food you eat.
For example, one study investigated the potential differing effects of drinking lemon water versus plain water on digestion and composition of the gut microbiome bacteria.
Subjects drank 300 mL of either clean water or lemon water before every meal for four weeks. Stool samples were collected at the beginning and end of the study to analyze the intestinal bacteria.
Results indicated that drinking lemon water promoted greater peristalsis and better digestion than drinking plain water, which in turn, improved the composition and health of the intestinal microbiota.
#5: Drinking Lemon Water May Support Weight Loss
Almost every diet has at least one weight loss tip in common: drink more water.
Evidence suggests that water increases fullness, potentially decreasing appetite and caloric intake. It may also boost metabolic rate through a process called water thermogenesis.
There is also some evidence to suggest that lemons may further suppress body fat accumulation and may increase metabolic rate. In this way, drinking lemon water for weight loss may actually be more effective than drinking plain water.
#6: Drinking Lemon Water May Reduce the Risk of Kidney Stones
The sour or tart taste of lemons is attributable to citric acid. Citrate, which is the base molecule of citric acid, helps alkalize urine, making it less acidic.
The National Kidney Foundation suggests that drinking lemon water may help reduce the risk of kidney stones as long as you are drinking an appreciable amount.
The suggestion for reducing the risk of kidney stones is to consume 4 ounces of lemon juice concentrate with water. Drinking lemon water is described to be a complementary medicine approach to kidney stone prevention, along with necessary medications.
Remember, you can virtually never go wrong with drinking more water (as long as you’re not at risk for hyponatremia).
Adding lemon to your water may support accelerated weight loss and provide some added antioxidants, but even if you prefer to sip plain old water, know that you are doing something fantastic for your health.
But what about hot water? Are there specific benefits to drinking warm or hot water?
Check out our article to learn more: 12 Benefits of Drinking Hot Water.