Some fad diets claim that you can lose a lot of weight and melt away fat simply by drinking lemon juice mixed with water. Some of these "detox" diets even recommend going without food for days or weeks, and make other potentially unhealthy recommendations, such as the use of herbal supplements and laxatives.
But lemon water doesn't have any magical fat-burning properties, and fasting isn't a healthy or sustainable way to lose weight. However, as a virtually calorie-free beverage with a little zing to it, it makes a great diet drink, and staying hydrated is key to losing weight. Always consult your doctor before changing your diet.
Replace Sugary Sodas
Losing weight is all about controlling your calorie intake. To shed pounds, you need to remain in a calorie deficit, meaning you're taking in fewer calories than you're expending each day. By reducing your calorie intake by 500 each day, you can shed about a pound a week. Water is, of course, calorie-free, and lemon juice is virtually calorie-free -- the juice of one whole lemon only has 11 calories. If you typically have two sodas a day, just by replacing them with a glass of lemon water, you can shave 300 calories off your daily intake.
Stay Hydrated, Eat Less
If you've ever felt hungry and then drunk a glass of water only to notice that you're not hungry anymore, you've experienced firsthand that thirst can be mistaken for hunger. Instead of reaching for a snack the next time you feel peckish, gulp down a glass of water with fresh lemon juice. Then, wait a few minutes to see if you really need those extra calories or if the lemon water was enough to satisfy you.
Drink It Before Meals
Drinking a glass of lemon water before a meal might help you eat less at that meal to reduce your daily calorie intake. Researchers from the American Chemical Society conducted two studies on drinking water as a weight-loss strategy. In the first study, they found that participants who drank two glasses of water just before eating a low-calorie meal consumed 75 to 90 fewer calories at that meal.
In their second study, the researchers divided 48 adults into two groups, both of which followed a low-calorie diet for 12 weeks; one group drank 2 cups of water before meals and the other group didn't. At the end of the study, the water drinkers lost almost 5 pounds more than the water drinkers. The researchers presented their findings at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.
A Twist on Lemon Water
You can drink your lemon as a soothing hot drink or as a cold refreshing drink. Use fresh-squeezed lemon, or buy bottled lemon juice for convenience. Just be sure whatever you buy doesn't contain added sugar. If you get bored with lemon water, try jazzing things up with fresh mint, cucumber slices, watermelon cubes or crushed berries. Fresh fruit will add a little sweetness to your water while contributing negligible calories.
- U.S. News & World Report: Master Cleanse (Lemonade Diet) Overview
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Balancing Calories
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Lemon Juice, Raw
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Carbonated Beverage, Cola
- U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps: Drinking Water Week: May 6-12, 2007
- EurekAlert!: Clinical Trial Confirms Effectiveness of Simple Appetite Control Method
- Photo Credit FogStock/Erik Palmer/FogStock/Getty Images
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