TikTok Is Praising Lemon Coffee for Weight Loss—Experts Caution Side Effects

  • A new TikTok trend is encouraging viewers to add lemon to their morning coffee as a means of quick weight loss, as well as relief for diarrhea and headaches.
  • While both coffee and lemon have individual health benefits, research on combining the two is lacking.
  • Experts agree that the trend is not worth the hype, and may actually do more harm than good.

TikTok influencers are touting the benefits of putting lemon in your coffee, but does it actually work?

From celery juice to apple cider vinegar concoctions, TikTok is leading the charge in wellness trends. The latest fad is #LemonCoffee and it’s rapidly gaining momentum as a fast means to lose weight by adding lemon juice to your morning coffee.

Influencers are not only singing the praises of this so-called fat-melting cup of Joe but also a relief for other ailments, such as diarrhea and headaches. So does this drink actually work? Before trusting your TikTok feed, it’s best to look to the experts.

Health Benefits of Coffee and Lemon

Individually, coffee and lemons have potential health benefits, but there is no evidence that mixing the two creates a weight loss magic bullet.

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world with 75% of Americans consuming it daily, mainly for its caffeine content. Both caffeine and chlorogenic acid, released when coffee beans are roasted, are powerful antioxidants and reduce the risk of several types of cancers. Coffee is also associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease.

Lemons and lemon juice carry their own health benefits as well. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and flavonoids, which are known for their antioxidant properties and are linked to a reduced risk of cancer. Vitamin C also plays a role in a strong immune system and your body’s ability to fight infections, as well as cardiovascular health. 

But what happens when you mix coffee and lemon together?

Will Lemon Coffee Help With Weight Loss?

Since caffeine is a diuretic, a popular claim is that lemon coffee flushes the body of harmful toxins and excess water. While drinking caffeine may promote more urine production, there is no evidence that drinking lemon and coffee together does anything for your body that your natural toxin-flushing system isn’t already doing. The liver is responsible for metabolizing nutrients and medications and excreting any toxins that are harmful to the body—no single food or drink can assist with or speed up this process. 

Further, there are countless claims that lemon coffee helps to speed up your metabolism, resulting in weight loss. There is good evidence that caffeine can increase your resting metabolic rate, or the number of calories burned at rest.

Caffeine has a profound effect on the nervous system, which promotes the energized feeling from caffeine as well as breaking down fat cells. Coffee also has an appetite-reducing effect and some individuals notice a decreased food intake when they consume caffeine. Much of this is also contingent on a negative energy balance, or taking in fewer calories than you burn, exercise, and other factors that contribute to an overall healthy and balanced lifestyle.

There is no scientific evidence that adding lemon to coffee enhances metabolic rate or any calorie-burning effect.

“As much as we love instant gratification, there is no magic pill. Hydration is an essential piece of weight loss and overall health, so if adding lemon to your water helps motivate you to up the hydration, that’s a wellness plus,” explained Paige Mandel, MS, RD

Will Lemon Coffee Reduce Sugar Cravings?

Another claim popularized by lemon coffee is that the vitamin C, magnesium, calcium, and antioxidants it contains can help reduce sugar cravings and the desire for sugary foods.

While it is true that your body may crave sugar when low on certain nutrients, there is no evidence to support a direct link between drinking lemon coffee and a reduction in sugar cravings. Your body may crave sugar and sweet foods because it is wanting a source of quick energy when it may also be lacking in some essential nutrients.

Incorporating more nutrients may help with cravings and energy levels, however, the amount of lemon juice you are likely adding to your coffee won’t make much of a difference to your overall wellness.  

Will Lemon Coffee Relieve Headaches and Diarrhea?

The jury is out on coffee’s role as a remedy for headaches. Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning that it tightens blood vessels and reduces blood flow toward your head, relieving pain. On the other hand, some individuals experience caffeine as a trigger for headaches and migraines.

So depending on the individual, coffee may improve or worsen headaches, however, this is due to the caffeine and not specifically as a result of lemon and coffee combined.

Another popular claim is that lemon coffee relieves diarrhea.

“This sounds like a recipe for a harsh trip to the bathroom. The extra acidity combined with caffeine—without any slowed release from protein, carbs, or fat—could be tough on anyone with sensitive digestion,” explained Morgan Bookheimer, MS, RD, SHRM-CP.

There’s no evidence to support that the use of lemon in coffee helps treat diarrhea and coffee stimulates your colon, possibly leading to diarrhea.

Negative Side Effects of Lemon Coffee

While individually coffee and lemon have health benefits, combining the two doesn’t speed up metabolism or melt fat away. In fact, drinking too much of this new trend may result in some health ramifications.

Drinking or eating anything for the purpose of weight loss can be a red flag for disordered eating and some larger health issues at bay. It could be a sign that you are restricting your food intake, not eating enough calories and nutrients, and at the same time, not building sustainable, healthy habits. Just like any trend or fad diet, the ability to maintain the practice or results will likely not last long.

Bookheimer added that “the lemon + coffee combo could be tough on the tooth enamel and might cause staining or erosion. Teeth enamel is sensitive to highly acidic beverages.”

Individuals with heartburn issues may also want to steer clear of this trend. Both coffee and lemon are typically on the “limit” list for those with heartburn when consumed individually, much less together. The combination of the two and consumed on an empty stomach would potentially lead to uncomfortable burning sensations.

Mandel concluded that “similar to the trending ‘internal shower,’ blending caffeine and lemon juice is just a double diuretic concoction. This is likely dehydrating rather than hydrating.”

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