So what is all this chat about drinking lemon water every morning? Suddenly it seems that everyone from famous actresses to our next-door neighbour has found the miracle cure for weight loss in a glass of warm lemon-infused water.
Is it just hype, or are there any real health benefits?
Let's take a look!
Stimulates the bowel
This is an important one, so I'm putting it at the top. It's not always something we like talking about, but we should, because regular and complete elimination (pooping) is essential for good health!
When we wake up in the morning we are dehydrated after a night’s sleep and no fluids. Our body is literally crying out for hydration and if you sleep in an over-heated room, even more so. Our digestive system has been resting too (hopefully you didn’t have a 10 pm curry….) and it needs to be woken gently. Do you like being dragged out of bed and into work-mode within minutes of starting your day? Me neither. And nor does our digestive system. 2-3 glasses (or more) of WARM water on an empty stomach does wonders for gently waking our digestive system and stimulating the bowel. Ideally the water should be warm. Not cold water, and not hot.
So why add lemon juice?
Well, apart from being pleasant-tasting and therefore easier to drink than ‘plain old water’, lemons are high in vitamin C, which may boost collagen production, which in turn helps our skin cells renew. It is also a powerful antioxidant. Cut an apple in half and put lemon juice on one half only. Now watch which half turns brown. No prizes for guessing which part stays fresh-looking and which turns brown! Lemons contain limonene, which has antiviral properties and may be useful for keeping colds and flu at bay.
Not only are we dehydrated when we wake up, we are also naturally acidic. Lemon juice, even though it is acidic, has an alkaline effect in our body and is said to counteract that overnight acidity. I haven’t found any specific studies that back it up though. The acid-alkaline discussion is one which I will try to delve into another time.
Increased metabolic rate
Drinking water on an empty stomach increases your metabolic rate. In a study, ‘Drinking 500 ml of water increased metabolic rate by 30%. The increase occurred within 10 min and reached a maximum after 30-40 min. The total thermogenic response was about 100 kJ. About 40% of the thermogenic effect originated from warming the water from 22 to 37 C.'
Will it help me lose weight?
Whilst the thermogenic effect of drinking warm water on an empty stomach sounds promising, drinking a few glasses of warm water, lemon-infused or not, will not help you lose weight, especially if cappuccino and croissant are on the menu for breakfast. HOWEVER, if those glasses of delicate-tasting water are replacing soda (diet or not), then yes, you’ll be consuming less calories and above all less ‘empty’ calories.
Less empty calories = weight loss
Exactly how much nutrition is actually in your lemon water is debatable, but it can make drinking a few glasses of water on an empty stomach easier, and that is our main goal, to drink more!
How to make lemon-infused water
A lovely way of having refreshing lemon water in the morning, is to prepare it before you go to bed.
In a litre-sized glass jug or a large glass mason jar, add 1 washed organic, or wax-free lemon cut up into pieces. Whenever possible use organic or wax-free lemons since you’ll be leaving the rind on. If you have only got waxed lemons, just remove the outer yellow rind. If the lemon is fresh with a nice thick skin you can do this easily with a vegetable peeler, otherwise it’s easier with a knife. Just cut the lemon into quarters and then cut away the skin.
Now fill the jug or jar with filtered water, cover with a lid and leave overnight. The next morning you have a lovely, delicate lemon water ready to drink.
For added deliciousness, slice a 1-2 inch piece of ginger root and add it to the water, along with some fresh mint leaves.
I usually add a small piece of turmeric root sliced up too or a couple of chunks of cucumber.
If you forget to prepare your lemon water before bedtime, no worries, just squeeze a little lemon juice into a glass of warm water, but don’t make it too strong, or you might get stomach ache. If you like it strong, don’t forget to rinse your mouth with plain water afterwards, as whilst lemon juice has an alkaline effect on our body, it is acidic on our teeth. Alternatively, you could use a straw!
If you have a delicate stomach and can't handle lemon juice, try limes which are easier on the tummy.
Some additions to your infused water
If you're craving a soda during the day, try a glass of sparkling water with some lemon and ginger. In the morning still water is preferable though.
There is really no limit to what you can add to your water, so get adventurous and experiment! Strawberries, raspberries, mango and pineapple all make a lovely infused water, but in all honesty, I prefer to eat them! :)
I'm Nicki Perkins, creator of lovingly plant-based and my passion is helping people adopt a healthful and delicious plant-based lifestyle.