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Arpita Chawla
Fitness, health and hygiene
Fitness, health and hygiene
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Sorry, but drinking lemon water will not help you lose weight

Can drinking lemon water help you lose weight?

The straight answer: No

The facts: It's one of the supposed "golden rules" of weight loss, and many dieters subscribe to it: drink a glass of warm water to which a squeeze of lemon juice has been added, and you will "cleanse" your digestive system and encourage the release of toxins and excess fat.

Unfortunately, drinking lemon water does nothing more than hydrate your body and provide vitamin C, says Jaclyn Reutens, a clinical dietitian at Aptima Nutrition & Sports Consultants in Singapore.

"From a physiological perspective, being well-hydrated ensures that your organs function normally and your metabolism runs optimally," she says. "The reverse is true when you are dehydrated. The lemon juice, besides being high in vitamin C, adds extra flavour to the water, which is good if you find plain water unappealing.

"When you have a palatable beverage, you tend to drink more of it and this keeps your body hydrated. That's really the only benefit of the lemon juice - the juice itself does not have fat-burning properties."

Even lemon water that is warm will not help speed up your metabolism, as is commonly believed. "The temperature of the water is insignificant. It only affects how quickly you might drink it," Reutens adds.

Drinking lemon water regularly throughout the day can only help with weight loss if you are consuming it in place of sweetened beverages such as ice-blended coffee drinks, energy drinks and soft drinks.

Charmain Tan, a registered dietitian at Seventeen Nutrition Consultants, says while sugary drinks are loaded with calories, lemon water is calorie-free.
"A 473 millilitre bottle of Snapple, for instance, contains 150 calories. You would need to walk for about 42 minutes or jog for 17 minutes to burn those calories off," she says. "But drink lemon water instead, and you create a calorie deficit, which can help you lose weight in the long run."

This is particularly noteworthy if you drink a few or several sugar-laden or creamy beverages every day. Dropping just 500 calories daily can help you lose up to a kilogram a week, depending on your overall health, whether or not you exercise, and other factors.

If you suffer from hyperacidity in your stomach, Reutens advises to avoid drinking lemon water on an empty stomach, as this will only make the problem worse.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Lemon water: the bitter truth for dieters
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