Experts Disagree Over Lemon in Coffee

We’ve spoken about the bad diet advice that circulates on TikTok. This relatively new video app is rife with diet advice, and a lot of it is either incorrect or downright dangerous. Some of it is just dubious. The problem is, TikTok is very popular, and videos go viral quickly. It’s easy, when you are bombarded with something, to believe it. A recent diet trend that started on TikTok has been drinking coffee with lemon to lose weight. But is there any truth to it?

More than 7.5 million people have watched a video saying lemon coffee is a fat-burning elixir. There is little science to back up the claim, and now nutritionists are arguing over the merits of the advice.

Adding lemon into coffee will not promote weight loss, just like drinking lemon water has little impact on body weight,” said registered dietician and weight loss author Erin Palinski-Wade. “However, drinking more calorie-free beverages, especially warm beverages, can help to increase the feeling of fullness, which may lead to eating smaller portions and weight loss. But it isn’t the lemon causing the weight loss.”

Some people go further than debunking it, claiming it’s dangerous. Citric acid in lemon juice can cause damage to the lining of the throat, tooth enamel and worsen acid reflux. Drinking copious amounts of coffee can put too much caffeine in your system.

The idea that combining coffee and lemon juice creates a ‘fat burning’ elixir is false. While each component may have some of their own health benefits, there is no scientific evidence to prove that the pairing of the two would promote weight loss,” said Michelle Rauch, a registered dietician. “Consuming too much of this concoction can actually have adverse effects to one’s health.”

But others do see some benefits to it. Meg Mill, a functional medicine health consultant, said that it won’t make you lose weight directly, but “lemon juice can slow down how quickly you absorb the carbohydrates from food so your blood sugar does not rise as fast… Research shows that polyphenol antioxidants found in lemons reduce weight gain in mice, but it has not been proven in humans. Instead, the weight loss could be because your blood sugars don’t go up as high, so you feel satisfied longer.”

Dr. Mindy Pelz pointed out that lemon juice can lower water retention, so people might lose water weight. “Lemon in your water has also proven to add to the feeling of fullness you get when you drink a glass of water. This might be the effect that many are experiencing when they put lemon in their coffee,” she said. “Less water retention, feeling of fullness, mixed with lemon’s naturally low-calorie content may feel to some as a great way to aid weight loss. But as far as scientific evidence that lemon speeds up your metabolism, there, unfortunately, is no research to back that claim up.”

Karen Graham, a registered dietician, pointed out that you have to have at least half a teaspoon of lemon juice to see any impact on your blood sugar response. That’s probably more than people are using in their coffee. She didn’t view the trend as unhealthy but simply ineffective. However, she said if you’ve tried it and you think it’s working, that’s okay.

Eating is so much our mind — it’s our whole perception of what is satisfying to us,” said Ms. Graham. “So, if someone feels that having lemon juice in their coffee and they notice they’re losing a little bit of weight, maybe it’s because they’ve altered something else in their behavior. If you enjoy it, do it.”

Let’s not trick ourselves into believing there is one magic drink for weight loss. This simply doesn’t exist,” concluded Heide Hauer, a nutritional trainer. 

The bottom line is while coffee and lemon juice may both possibly aid weight loss in some way. There is no magic bullet for weight loss. This trend doesn’t have solid science backing it up. If you like the flavor and feel it helps you, drinking it in average amounts is fine; just be mindful of the acid and caffeine. But don’t expect the miraculous results people are claiming on the web.

Banner image: L.D.I.A via Unsplash
October 25, 2021
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