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People Are Adding Lemon to Coffee to Lose Weight, but Does It Really Work?

September 12, 2023

TikTok is always a great resource for all sorts of lifestyle hacks. Whether we’re trying to make delicious meals faster or make cleaning easier, there are also videos giving us some intel that is at times both shocking and informative. It’s also often a place where we find health hacks and weight loss tips, and while some claims and promises seem dubious at best, others are surprisingly successful.

One of the latest TikTok trends, however, took us by surprise: people are adding lemon to their coffee for weight loss. Caffeine and lemons both are known to have various health benefits, but combining them feels a little jarring and, well, not exactly in our preferred coffee taste profile. So…is it worth trying? What do the experts have to say?

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Why are people doing it?

TikTok videos with the hashtag #LemonCoffee have exploded, and it seems to be incredibly easy and tempting: Just squeeze some fresh lemon in that morning cup of coffee, and get ready to fit into those new skinny jeans. But it’s still a bitter pill (er, cup) to swallow…especially if it doesn’t actually work.

“The trend likely stems from the purported health benefits of both coffee and lemon,” says Kien Vuu, MD, triple-board certified physician, founder of VuuMD Performance and Longevity, and author of Thrive State. “Coffee and caffeine are known for their potential to boost metabolism, which can contribute to weight loss.  Lemon juice is high in vitamin C and has been linked to certain weight loss benefits, such as improved digestion.”

So, is this tart trend too good to be true? “As a medical professional, I am always cautious about trends that promise quick fixes for complex issues like weight loss. While both coffee and lemon have their own benefits, there isn’t solid scientific evidence to suggest that combining them will synergistically affect weight loss,” says Dr. Vuu.

This trend of adding lemon to coffee isn’t all that shocking, or even that original. We probably all remember the original lemon trend of drinking lemon water first thing in the morning to help with weight loss. Spa water is very much a habit that has been around for a while.

“While drinking lemon water will certainly give a small dose of vitamin C, contribute to your hydration for the day, and taste great, there is nothing magic in this beverage that will promote weight loss,” says Jenn Holderness, RD and a Jazzercise FitPro instructor. The same goes for lemon coffee.

Benefits and risks

According to Dr. Vuu, there are both benefits and potential risks in adding lemon to coffee. The benefits include antioxidants and metabolism. “Both coffee and lemon are rich in antioxidants,” says Dr. Vuu, continuing: “Coffee can boost metabolism, potentially aiding in weight loss.”

Most people, when they reach for their morning cup of joe, are likely not thinking about its health benefits— but rather that jolt of caffeine that comes along with it. However, “coffee does contain small amounts of nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants, and a moderate consumption of coffee has even been associated with a reduced risk of several chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes,” says Holderness.

Lemons are not only a great source of vitamin C, but also other important vitamins and minerals such as potassium and other plant compounds that help with inflammation. “While lemons do pack a punch when it comes to nutrition, it must be noted that in order to reap the full benefits, you’ll need more than just a little squeeze of lemon juice in your water…or coffee,” says Holderness.

Of course, there are some cautions to consider, such as acidity and impact on tooth enamel. “Both lemon and coffee are acidic, which could irritate the digestive system, leading to acid reflux or gastrointestinal issues,” says Dr. Vuu.  As for the dental concerns, the combination could be harsh on your tooth enamel and potentially cause erosion.

If you are sensitive to caffeine, you may want to skip this one altogether. “Combining two acidic liquids can be harsh on tooth enamel and the digestive tract,” says Holderness.

While both coffee and lemons separately have some notable benefits, combining the two is not a magic potion for weight loss, no matter how much lemon you squeeze in that morning latte.

“As a dietitian, I depend on science to back up any advice I give consumers,” says Holderness. “There is simply no scientific evidence to back up this claim that adding lemon to your coffee will promote weight loss. But, if adding lemon to your coffee in the morning makes you happy and feel good, and you truly enjoy it, then go for it!

Making the trend work for you

If you’re keen on trying this trend, moderation is key. “Consider a diluted version to lessen the impact on your digestive system and teeth. Consult your healthcare provider before incorporating this into your daily routine, especially if you have existing health conditions,” says Dr. Vuu.

Meanwhile, if you are trying to get some added health benefits from your morning beverage, there are some alternatives to consider. One option may be green tea with lemon: “A less acidic option with its own health benefits,” says Dr. Vuu. Or, add some cinnamon to your black coffee – it’s delicious and is good for you, too. “Cinnamon can also help metabolism without adding acidity,” says Dr. Vuu.

Read next: 7 Healthy Lifestyle Habits That Can Boost Weight Loss

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