I received an email over the weekend from a personal training client who wanted to know my thoughts on the validity of lemon juice and weight loss.
While I didn’t see it, apparently the “tip of the day” on the Bill O’Reilly show a while back was to drink lemon juice and water before meals to help with weight loss.
In today’s post we’ll get into whether or not there’s any truth with lemon juice helping to assist with weight loss.
Is this legit or just more weight loss hype?
More after the jump…
Lemon juice has long been an ingredient in many naturopathic remedies for things like gastrointestinal distress, kidney stones, and liver detoxification. While not a “magic bullet” cure for any ailment, it can be very beneficial in part of a holistic plan to rejuvenate health.
I’ll preface this discussion by stating that I’m a big proponent on the use of lemon juice in the diet. I consume lemon juice on a daily basis, although not for the purpose of losing weight. More on that in a minute.
The practice of drinking lemon juice and water prior to meals can assist with weight loss, just not in the way some individuals mistakenly believe.
There’s nothing in lemon juice that’s going to directly impact metabolic rate or have an effect on lipolysis (fat burning). So don’t expect the pounds to just melt away by downing a bunch of lemon juice.
The correlation is more indirect by helping the individual to consume less at meals. The reason is lemon juice contains citric acid which helps to active digestive enzymes and hormones associated with satiation triggers.
In other words, it helps the body conduct nutrient assimilation and normal digestive functions. This assists with sending chemical signals to your brain via neurotransmitters that “enough is enough” while eating.
Contrast this to consuming processed and refined foods which contain artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated fats, and other “anti-nutrients” which block these signals, thereby causing you to eat more without feeling full.
This is why you can eat a whole bag of chips with ease, but would struggle consuming the same amount of fat and calories from a whole food, say raw almonds for example.
So in short, the answer is yes, drinking lemon juice and water prior to a meal will help you consume fewer calories.
No metabolic tricks, it just helps with digestive system function.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…improving digestive system function is one of the most important things a person can do to assist with weight loss.
The healthier your digestive tract and organs (like the liver and pancreas) are, the better off you’ll be with weight loss.
What about the concern of lemons being acidic and triggering heart burn or acid reflux?
Many individuals shy away from lemon juice because they fear the acidity will cause digestive problems. The exact opposite is actually true. Lemon juice will help to create healthy digestive system function.
While lemons have high amounts of citric acid and are therefore “acidic,” this isn’t the case inside the body. Once in the stomach, lemon juice and water become alkaline and help to neutralize pH balances.
If your body is acidic from consuming high amounts of processed foods, excess sugars, starches, red meat, alcohol, etc, then lemon juice can be very helpful.
The first step towards rejuvenating health in general is to get your body in more of an alkaline state. High acidity is the precursor to most chronic illnesses and disease. It’s the root cause behind inflammation that disrupts hormonal balances and cellular function.
Lemon juice as a “super-food” for detoxifying, cleansing, and rejuvenation…
I mentioned earlier that I consumed lemon juice on a daily basis, even when I’m not looking to lose weight. The reason is for all the benefits I’ve discussed above.
A while back I learned of a juice that is an early morning staple for health guru, Lou Corona. If you’re not familiar with Lou Corona, I suggest you search is name in YouTube and check out some of his videos.
The man is in his sixties but seriously he looks like he’s in his thirties. While I don’t follow a complete raw-food, vegan diet, like he advocates, there’s a lot that can be said for the health promoting benefits of things like juicing.
I watched a video of Lou talking about this one juice that he’s done in the mornings for decades as a way to stimulate digestive function and promote cellular rejuvenation. It’s called the “Lemon-Ginger Blast.”
Basically, he juices a couple lemons along with some apples to cut the tartness, and a piece of ginger root. Greens like parsley or cilantro can also be added for additional benefit, although I usually just juice the lemons, apples, and ginger root.
You can find the recipe in my Lean Code Method Quick Start Nutrition Guide which can be downloaded for free with the above link.
If you try this juice I’ll tell you to go easy on the ginger root when first starting out. Go with a 1″ piece at first then progress to larger sizes as you get used to it. No question it will warm you right up and has a kick.
I’ve found I’ll eat less at breakfast when making this juice first thing in the morning upon awakening. Plus I don’t get as hungry mid-morning when I do this juice. It all goes back to digestive function and providing your body with nutrients, not just calories.
I’ve really got into juicing over the past couple of years and highly recommend it. If you start juicing look to get a high quality juicer like the Breville. It can do whole apples with ease due to the wide mouth and high power motor. It’s the best juicer I’ve found and I tried several before finally investing in the Breville 850 watt- 2 speed juicer.
Whether you decide to start juicing or not, definitely try adding some lemon juice to your water prior to main meals. Slowly drink a tall glass of water with lemon juice then when your meal is ready, eat slowly, taking small bites and fully chewing your food.
Believe it or not, this really does help you eat less and will help you cut out the excess calories.
Shane Doll is a certified Charleston personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts. With a staff of over 10 certified fitness professionals, Shaping Concepts provides fitness consulting in Charleston with a specialty on weight loss and body transformation. See our success stories from numerous Lowcountry residents then sign up for a no-obligations consultation today.