For all the diet war tribalism you see online, lemon water seems the one drink where all health influencers can agree. -preferably drunk out of an oversized mason jar-
Adding lemon to water is refreshing and comes with some excellent health benefits.
For all the health boosts adding lemon juice to water entails the debate rages as to whether lemon water breaks a fast.
I was very interested in this topic personally as I fast regularly and start my days drinking lemon water.
I often wonder if the lemon juice negates the hard-earned intermittent fasting benefits or if it’s all in my head.
The following article aims to get a clear answer: does lemon juice break a fast?
Read on to see what I’ve discovered!
Nutritional Value of Drinking Lemon Water
Lemon water is considered a miraculous drink in the journey of fat loss since it reverses the metabolic changes due to obesity.
According to the research, lemon juice is a significant source of nutrition, and it has anti-cancer, anti-tumor, and anti-inflammatory properties. 1Marta Klimek-Szczykutowicz, Agnieszka Szopa , Halina Ekiert , Citrus limon (Lemon) Phenomenon Plants (Basel). 2020
The nutrition profile of 1 cup (8 ounces) of lemon juice has:
- Calories: 4
- Carbs: 1.5 grams
- Sugar: 0.5 gram
- Fiber: 0.5 gram
- Protein: 0 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Vitamins: A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, C, and E
- Minerals: Iron, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Sulphur, Phosphorus, Chlorine, Boron, Manganese, Copper, Molybdenum, Fluorine, and Zinc2Olga I. Ustinova and Yuri V. Ustinov Biological Activity of Fresh-Squeezed Lemon Juicebiotech-asia. 2016
In short, lemon water has nearly zero calories, and you can add it to your meal plan without any worry.
Does Drinking Lemon Juice Break A Fast?
To answer this question, you must identify the purpose of your fast.
Fasting in the 21st century has become a different practice than its beginnings as a traditional religious practice.
Religions like Judaism and Islam use fasting more for spiritual cleansing of the body and mind to repent and beg God for mercy.
In these cases adding lemon to your water, assuming you’re allowed water, may not matter.
This is a totally different conversation for biohackers looking for longevity and health optimization and involves more nuance.
You have to consider the purpose of fasting. Is it for just weight loss and t0 boost metabolism? Or are you looking to boost autophagy and longevity metrics?
In any case, early time restricted feeding will help. It’s just the approach will be different
In this case, the last thing you want is to stop eating early one day and spend your energy fighting hunger pangs through to the next morning, only to find out you missed out on the full metabolic benefits of a proper fast because you add lemon your morning drinks.
How Much Sugar Is In Lemon Juice?
Since glucose is the number one nutrient that will break your fast, it’s important to know how much sugar is in lemon juice.
Every 100 grams of lemon juice has a total sugar content of 2.5 grams, which amounts to 10 calories, which many nutritionists overlook due to its meager contribution to carbs and not-so-sizeable effects on the overall diet.
Even if that trace amount of sugar worries you, just remember that lemon juice has been proven to boost insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance while lowering inflammatory markers and modulating fat burning.3Daniela Freitas, François Boué , Mourad Benallaoua , Gheorghe Airinei , Robert Benamouzig, Evelyne Lutton, Laurène Jourdain , Rose-Marie Dubuisson , Xavier Maître 6, Luc Darrasse, Steven Le Feunteun Glycemic response, satiety, gastric secretions and emptying after bread consumption with water, tea or lemon juice: a randomized crossover intervention using MRIEur J Nutr. 2022/mfn]3Ayman M Mahmoud, Rene J Hernández Bautista, Mansur A Sandhu, Omnia E Hussein Name of studyOxid Med Cell Longev. 2019
That’s a nice tradeoff for a few grams of sugar.
Intermittent Fasting For Weight-loss
In the case of a special diet aimed purely at weight loss, it will not be a problem if you drink lemon water because these diets depend more on calorie intake.
The lion’s share of progress made in these diets is by avoiding problematic foods and getting enough exercise.
A low to no-calorie morning drink like lemon water, or even coffee and tea, won’t break this kind of fast.
Lemon water on its own contains very few calories and will not break a fast in a diet aimed at weight loss.4Nitika Singh , Nagendra Sastry Yarla, Nikhat Jamal Siddiqi , Maria de Lourdes Pereira , Bechan Sharma Features, Pharmacological Chemistry, Molecular Mechanism and Health Benefits of LemonMed Chem. 2021
If anything, the vitamin C and detox benefits may even help.
A recent paper published in the Journal Of Post Graduate Medicine encourages dieters to drink lemon water without added sugar to stave off the pitfalls of keto side effects. You can substitute green tea with lemon slices or just the juice, depending on your liking.5L Gupta, D Khandelwal, S Kalra,2 P Gupta, D Dutta, and S Aggarwal Ketogenic diet in endocrine disorders: Current perspectivesJ Postgrad Med. 2017
Lemon water can also help you substitute high-calorie drinks with almost zero calories while still drinking something flavored, albeit natural, keeping your fast intact.
A cup of Lemon water is a better potassium source for electrolyte balance than plain water during the fasting periods and, all the while, preventing dehydration.6Olga I. Ustinova and Yuri V. Ustinov Biological Activity of Fresh-Squeezed Lemon Juicebiotech-asia. 2016
Electrolyte balance is paramount when attempting to lose weight.
Lemon Water Fast To Burn Fat
This is a particular type of fast for a specified period where you do not eat or drink anything except for lemon juice and water.
According to research, a lemon detox diet can decrease body fat through caloric restriction without causing any harm to the body.
I will get to this fasting later in this article.
Basics of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting refers to an eating pattern of shorter periods of caloric intake, commonly referred to as an “eating window,” and longer fasting time.
You can establish this fasting pattern in two ways:
- Fasting for alternately chosen days, which are not necessarily simultaneous
- Adopting a time-restricted eating window every day.
Intermittent fasting, however, is not about counting calories and carbs in foods like usual diets; in fact, it is more about keeping an eye on the clock and consuming only in the feasting hours.
Recent clinical trials have proven that intermittent fasting has the potential to reduce weight by reducing oxidative stress and promoting autophagy. 7Mary Catherine Stockman , Dylan Thomas , Jacquelyn Burke , Caroline M Apovian Intermittent Fasting: Is the Wait Worth the Weight?Curr Obes Rep. 2018
While relatively safe for most people, it is not suited to patients with diabetes mellitus type 1, lactating or pregnant women, and people taking specific medicines.
Can Different Types of Lemon Juice Break Intermittent fasts?
While lemon juice from a regular lemon fruit may not break a fast, this doesn’t hold for the myriad of different types of lemony drinks. Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Lemon juice in plain water – Does not break a fast
- Lemon water with herbs – Can not break a fast as long as you are keeping an eye on the calories
- Artificial lemon-flavored drinks – Can break your fast
- Lemonade – Breaks the fast
- Zero sugar lemonade – May break a fast depending on extra ingredients.
Is Lime Ok When Fasting?
Limes are remarkably similar fruits to lemons and exhibit almost the same health benefits as lemons; in fact, distinguishing between the effects of the two is relatively insignificant.
Limes are also an acceptable choice since they share the same range of calories and sugar content per gram.
Incidentally, they are also associated with a significant decrease in lipid profile, body mass index, and fat mass.8Prashanth Shettya A. Mooventhan Hongasandra RamaraoNagendra Does short-term lemon honey juice fasting have effect on lipid profile and body composition in healthy individuals?Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. 2016
Does Ginger Affect Fasting?
Lemon and ginger go together like peas and carrots. Lemon ginger water is a top holistic immune-boosting go-to drink!
There is plenty of evidence proving its importance in the gastrointestinal tract and its benefits on the immune system.
But how does it affect your fast?
According to scientific evidence in a study, ginger does not affect blood sugar, blood pressure, or blood lipid levels, so it does not negatively affect your fasting period.9Muhammad S.MansouraYu-MingNiaAmy L.RobertsbMichaelKellemanbArindamRoyChoudhurycMarie-PierreSt-OngeGinger consumption enhances the thermic effect of food and promotes feelings of satiety without affecting metabolic and hormonal parameters in overweight men: A pilot studyMetabolism. October 2012
Benefits of Ginger
Ginger may be bitter-sweet in taste, but it has proved to help boost metabolism.
It is a digestive tract facilitator and causes a noteworthy increase in satiety feelings to decrease any further need for food intake.10Qian-Qian Mao , Xiao-Yu Xu , Shi-Yu Cao , Ren-You Gan, Harold Corke , Trust Beta , Hua-Bin Li Bioactive Compounds and Bioactivities of Ginger ( Zingiber officinale Roscoe)Foods. 2019
It is also a catalyst for increasing thermogenesis, i.e., increasing metabolic activities at a cellular level.11Muhammad S.MansouraYu-MingNiaAmy L.RobertsbMichaelKellemanbArindamRoyChoudhurycMarie-PierreSt-OngeGinger consumption enhances the thermic effect of food and promotes feelings of satiety without affecting metabolic and hormonal parameters in overweight men: A pilot studyMetabolism. October 2012
Other studies also prove that along with a 20 percent increase in metabolism, ginger also contributes to fat burning quite notably. 12 Najmeh Maharlouei,Reza Tabrizi,Kamran B. Lankarani,Abbas Rezaianzadeh,Maryam Akbari,Fariba Kolahdooz The effects of ginger intake on weight loss and metabolic profiles among overweight and obese subjects: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trialsCritical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2019
And add to that, the intake of ginger also proved to be a cause of increased blood HDL levels (good cholesterol) and reduced body weight.13 Najmeh Maharlouei,Reza Tabrizi,Kamran B. Lankarani,Abbas Rezaianzadeh,Maryam Akbari,Fariba Kolahdooz The effects of ginger intake on weight loss and metabolic profiles among overweight and obese subjects: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trialsCritical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2019
Thus, ginger consumption affects the fasting period positively and enhances your metabolism.
Lemon Juice vs. Apple Cider Vinegar: What’s Best For Intermittent Fasting?
In recent years apple cider vinegar has come onto the scene as the next fat-burning sensation.
Research shows that apple cider vinegar can work wonders for diabetic patients.
One study shows that ACV decreases fasting glucose levels and improves insulin sensitivity and insulin levels in those suffering from insulin resistance.14Tomoo Kondo , Mikiya Kishi, Takashi Fushimi, Shinobu Ugajin, Takayuki Kaga Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjectsBiosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2009
Another study concluded that vinegar-enhanced beverages aid massively in belly fat burning and reducing body mass.15Tomoo Kondo , Mikiya Kishi, Takashi Fushimi, Shinobu Ugajin, Takayuki Kaga Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjectsBiosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2009
Apple cider vinegar is also astonishingly amazing at decreasing the visceral adiposity index, which in itself is a piece of great news.16Solaleh SadatKhezriaAtoosaSaidpourbNimaHosseinzadehcZohrehAmiriBeneficial effects of Apple Cider Vinegar on weight management, Visceral Adiposity Index and lipid profile in overweight or obese subjects receiving restricted calorie diet: A randomized clinical trialJournal of Functional Foods. 2018
Apple cider vinegar does not break your intermittent fasting period since it is calorie-free and if anything, decreases the insulin response, which is crucial for IF benefits.
Due to the equally considerable contributions of both Lemon juice and Apple cider vinegar, either of the two is a great complement to your intermittent fast.
Some people believe in alternating between the two and even incorporating ACV into their meal plan for added efficacy.
The Master Cleanse – Lemon Water Fasting Miracle Or Pseudoscience?
One controversial aspect of this lemon water break a fast debate is the idea of a straight lemon water fasting regime, some know as the “Master Cleanse” or “Lemonade Diet”. 17wikipedia Master Cleansewikipedia. 2022
The Master Cleanse lemonade drink consists of lemon juice, honey, and cayenne pepper which is drunk in place of all food and other drinks fr 10-40 days.
Proponents swear that this drink aids detoxification and liver function, and there is evidence that it can help with weight loss, shedding fat, and overall body composition.18Prashanth Shetty, A. Mooventhan, and Hongasandra Ramarao Nagendra Does short-term lemon honey juice fasting have effect on lipid profile and body composition in healthy individuals?J Ayurveda Integr Med. 201619Prashanth Shettya A. Mooventhan Hongasandra Ramarao Nagendra Short communication Does short-term lemon honey juice fasting have effect on lipid profile and body composition in healthy individuals?Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. 2016
You’ll also be sure to get all the vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids lemons have to offer.20E González-Molina, R Domínguez-Perles, D A Moreno, C García-VigueraNatural bioactive compounds of Citrus limon for food and healthJ Pharm Biomed Anal. 2010
However, I would not recommend this kind of fasting protocol as it completely depletes you of adequate nutrition your body needs to properly detox and boosts cellular health
This inlcudes amino acid from lean proteins, fatty acids, fiber, and micronutrients that act as crucial detoxing cofactors.
While the ample amounts of vitamin C and citric acid come with plenty of health benefits, the added fructose from honey in the context of severe strict calorie restriction can spell disaster for your liver health and blood glucose.21Stanley Gordon Willimott and Frank WokesThe Vitamin C of Lemon RindBiochem J. 192622KRISTINA L. PENNISTON, M.D., STEPHEN Y. NAKADA, M.D. ROSS P. HOLMES, Ph.D.,3 and DEAN G. ASSIMOS, M.D Quantitative Assessment of Citric Acid in Lemon Juice, Lime Juice, and Commercially-Available Fruit Juice ProductsJ Endourol. 2009
Hopefully, you feel a little clearer on whether lemon juice will break your fast.
I know the feeling of being an intermittent fasting purist and wanting to do it right, but as the evidence shows, there is no harm done by consuming lemon juice during your fasting period.
If anything, lemon juice adds a dose of nutrition that helps control blood glucose, improve insulin markers, metabolize fat, and lower inflammatory markers.
You’ll stay better hydrated from the added minerals, which lowers your desire to eat.