Welp, TikTok is here with yet another problematic challenge. And, like the 75 Hard Challenge, this one involves a very specific assignment for a very specific amount of time in the hopes of changing the way your body looks. How fun for us!?
Enter the coffee and lemon challenge, which calls for drinking instant coffee with a squeeze of lemon every morning for 28 to 30 days in order to lose weight.
To date, the hashtag #lemonandcoffee has more than 8 million views from curious people. And while no one is pretending this lemon coffee stuff is tasty, many claim that they lost a significant amount of weight over the course of a month.
Can drinking coffee with lemon juice help you lose weight?
Basically, no, says registered dietitian nutritionist Christyna Johnson of EncouragingDietitian.com. “If someone were to see results from this particular trend, it is likely from a calorie deficit.” In other words, there’s no evidence that a coffee and lemon regimen without any other changes to your diet will result in weight loss, adds Philadelphia-based weight-loss physician Dr. Charlie Seltzer, MD.
Can coffee alone help you lose weight?
Perhaps one of the reasons this trend took off is because some (sorta outdated) research suggests that caffeine can serve as an appetite suppressant by increasing levels of the hormones serotonin, epinephrine, and norepinephrine circulating through your bod, says Dr. Seltzer.
Also, it’s possible that “the caffeine in coffee can help increase your metabolism a little,” says Dr. Seltzer. Thing is, “a little” translates to roughly 1/4 of a calorie per day. Thus, it won’t make much of a difference in your weight.
I’m no math genius, but Johnson confirms that in order to lose weight based on caffeine alone, you’d have to down way more coffee than what’s considered safe. “And the effects of caffeine abuse are not desirable nor fun.” Just FYI, those could include insomnia, anxiety, stomach issues, nausea, and/or straight-up nervousness.
Can lemon juice help you lose weight?
You’ve probably read or heard someplace that sipping hot water with lemon leads to weight loss or that downing the cayenne pepper, water, lemon, maple syrup mixture (which made its rounds as a “cleanse” years ago) is weight loss fuel. But the hype is, um, just hype.
Though proponents of lemons for weight loss claim that it delays gastric emptying to help you feel fuller longer, even if that was true, it wouldn’t impact your weight, says Dr. Seltzer.
Is drinking coffee with lemon juice dangerous?
There are no further perks to destroying a perfectly good cup of coffee. And, bonus, if you have preexisting sensitivities (as in you already get frequent heartburn or have a sensitive tummy), the extra acid won’t do your digestive system any favors, says Dr. Seltzer. Also also, all that exposure to acidic coffee and super acidic lemon juice can erode your tooth enamel. Uh, yeah, that is bad.
The Bottom Line
Unfortch, the only way to lose weight is to consume fewer calories than your body burns. “Lemon in coffee sounds like a rough way to start the morning, and a rude way to ease into the afternoon,” Johnson says. “Using [lemon coffee as a meal replacement] to avoid eating or ‘speed up your metabolism’ is not sustainable in the long term, so 10 out of 10 would not recommend it for weight loss.”
A final word to the wise: “Don’t believe everything you see on TikTok,” Dr. Seltzer says. “If anyone is claiming to have lost 60 pounds by drinking lemon coffee, they didn’t do it just by drinking lemon coffee.”
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