When you hear about a weight loss trick that promises to help you shed kilos with little effort on your end, it’s understandable to have a healthy dose of scepticism. Case in point: the whole coffee and lemon weight loss hack.
TikTok is blowing up with #LemonCoffee posts that feature people swearing that having lemon juice in black coffee can help you lose weight. (What they don’t claim is that it tastes good!)
The process of making this is simple: You just squeeze lemon juice into a cup of black coffee daily and drink it to (allegedly) help you lose weight.
Lemon coffee devotees don’t just claim the drink is a weight-loss aid, though—some also swear it will help with mood regulation and headaches, among other things. Still, weight loss is the focus angle here.
Meet The Experts:
Sonya Angelone, registered dietician, is a former spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Dr Mir Ali is a bariatric surgeon and medical director of MemorialCare Surgical Weight Loss Center at Orange Coast Medical Center.
It’s important to note that weight is a personal thing and no one should make you feel like you need to lose some, whether it’s by drinking lemon coffee or some other method. But if the #LemonCoffee trick piqued your interest, we’re here to help.
Does coffee alone help with weight loss?
There is some data that suggests coffee may help with weight loss, but there are a ton of caveats. “It depends on the type of coffee you drink,” says registered dietician Sonya Angelone, a former spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. While regular brewed coffee has about five calories a cup, extras like half and half, sugar and flavourings can jack up that calorie count quickly, she points out.
“Some research has suggested that caffeinated coffee can slightly increase metabolic rate and help with weight loss,” Angelone says. “Other studies have shown that coffee—regular and decaf—can suppress hunger by increasing the feeling of fullness and leading to eating fewer calories at a meal.”
But some of those perks require you drinking a lot of coffee—and that’s not necessarily a great idea (think: jitters). The FDA recommends having no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day, which is equivalent to four to five cups of coffee.
On a more indirect level, though, the caffeine in coffee can also help you feel less tired, increasing the odds you’ll be more active and burn more calories, Angelone notes. There’s also this to consider: “Coffee has been shown to slightly increase fat burning during exercise when coffee is part of a pre-exercise routine,” says Angelone. That particular study was only on 15 men, however.
All in all, coffee in and of itself is not a magic weight loss tool—it just may help give you a teensy boost when paired with other key weight loss efforts, such as making changes to your nutrition and strength training.
Does lemon alone help with weight loss?
Lemon water has become a buzzy drink in its own right, but there’s nothing about lemon itself that will help you to lose weight, Angelone says.
“The best part of adding lemon to water is that it encourages drinking more fluids, which can help you feel fuller and eat less,” she says. And research has linked staying hydrated with weight loss. Worth noting: The same benefits aren’t true for lemonade, which has sugar and added calories, per Angelone.
Benefits Of Lemon And Coffee For Weight Loss
The experts we consulted don’t endorse this hack or even really think it works. “There is no scientific data to support this for weight loss,” says Dr Mir Ali, a bariatric surgeon. Angelone also says this really isn’t a thing. “There isn’t anything particularly magical about adding lemon juice to coffee that makes it a weight loss aid,” she says. “It doesn’t raise your metabolic rate to help burn calories faster.”
Ali does note, though, that if you drink lemon coffee (which has very few calories) in place of a sugary or calorie-rich drink, it could potentially help simply because you’re ditching some extra calories. But having black coffee would achieve the same.
Angelone agrees. “Most people drink sugar-ladened coffee drinks because they like the flavour in addition to needing a coffee or caffeine fix,” she says. “However, if adding lemon satisfies a need for flavoured coffee then it may help with weight loss because this beverage contains fewer calories.”
As for those headache-curing claims made by lemon coffee TikTok devotees, there is some data to suggest that a certain level of caffeine could help with migraine headaches, but there’s nothing in there about lemon juice. It’s possible that there’s a link between coffee consumption and reduced depression, which some TikTokers also claim is a benefit of lemon coffee. But lemon juice isn’t included in that and the limited studies available are inconclusive for coffee alone too.
Risks Of Drinking Lemon And Coffee For Weight Loss
There are a few potential downsides to consider before you start squeezing lemon into your coffee. One is that it can be rough on your stomach.
“People who are sensitive to acid might find that adding lemon to coffee increases reflux,” Angelone says. “But these people may also find just plain coffee too acidic.”
All that lemon juice can also erode the enamel on your teeth if you have it consistently over time, Angelone says, leaving you with sensitivity and an increased risk of other dental issues.
Finally, adding lemon to your coffee is a sure-fire way to mess with an otherwise enjoyable cup of coffee. If you actually like the taste of lemon in your coffee, more power to you. But just know that it’s unlikely to help you achieve the weight loss results you may be after.
This article was first published in WomensHealthmag.com