You’ve heard the Kardashians talk about it, so it must be legit, right? Err…
Despite a constant flow of celebs and Instagrammers claiming lemon water has helped them lose weight, you may want to think twice before slugging down gallons of the sour stuff in attempts to shed pounds.
“Lemon water itself is not responsible for weight loss,” says nutritionist Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Change Diet. “If you make zero changes to your diet or exercise routine, but simply start drinking lemon water, you’re not going to lose weight.”
This doesn’t mean that lemon water can’t be a player in your weight-loss plan, however. If you replace a higher-calorie drink that offers no nutritious value, like a soda, with lemon water, you’re on the right track, says Gans. Just don’t quit nutritious, higher-calorie beverages like milk.
Your main emphasis should be on drinking more water in general—whether lemon is involved or not—if you’re trying to slim down. “So often we mistake dehydration for hunger,” says Gans. “You think you’re hungry and go for a snack, when in fact you’re just thirsty and should reach for a glass of water instead.” The next time you’re daydreaming about pretzels a half hour after lunch, try it for yourself. After drinking a glass of water, do you still think you’re hungry?
If putting those lemon slices in your water helps you hydrate better, go for it. Trust us, we’re not hating on lemons here. After all, they contain vitamin C, an antioxidant that supports the immune system in fighting free radicals, says Gans. (Free radicals are molecules created by exposure to things cigarettes or chemicals, or internal inflammation. It’s the body’s response to some sort of stress. From there they wreak havoc on your cells.)
Unfortunately, the few teaspoons of lemon juice that end up in one mug each morning won’t bump your vitamin C up much, says Gans. But again, if a little flavor gets you guzzling H20, squeeze away.