Celebs such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Real Housewives of New Jersey star Dina Manzo guzzle hot water with lemon as if the liquid was bottled at the Fountain of Youth itself. They’re certain it aids in weight loss—but is the claim too good to be true?
“Hot water with lemon in and of itself does not cause any actual weight loss,” says Alissa Rumsey, R.D., a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. However, if this drink is replacing a beverage that is higher in calories, like coffee with sugar or fruit juice—and that results in a calorie deficit—then it can help you lose weight.
Drinking water—whether hot or cold, infused with lemon, or plain—also helps keep your metabolism humming. “Staying hydrated is an important component of a healthy diet because it boosts your metabolism,” says Rumsey. “For those that don’t enjoy plain water, adding some lemon is a great way to boost the flavor without adding calories.”
In the short term, drinking water with lemon can also reduce bloating—it acts as a mild, natural diuretic, says Rumsey. However, if you’re experiencing bloating in the long-term, it’s best to figure out what is causing it and work to stop those habits: Eating too fast, drinking through a straw, drinking carbonated beverages, consuming too much salt, and consuming foods with sugar alcohols are common culprits.
You also don’t want to chug water with lemon religiously if you experience heartburn or acid reflux, as the citrus in the lemon will only exacerbate your symptoms, says Rumsey. Now you know!