Viral TikTok health trends can go one way or another — some are actually effective, while others have been downright dangerous. But anyway, one that's clogged many TikTok users' feeds is the trend of drinking lemon coffee for weight loss, and we can't help but wonder if it actually works — and if it's safe.
That why we spoke to nutrition experts to see what the trend is all about.
The concoction consists of instant coffee, hot water, and fresh squeezed lemon juice. And based on the facial expressions from those who've tried it, the drink tastes just as bad as it sounds.
Many celebrate the nasty concoction for its ability to "burn belly fat" and speed up the metabolism. Eye roll. However, since we're skeptical and quite frankly uninformed, we're leaving it to the experts.
Does drinking lemon coffee results in weight loss?
Even though lemon coffee is new to the world of "health Tok," New York-based Longevity & Regenerative Medicine Doctor, Dr. Neil Paulvin, tells us via email that adding lemon juice to your beverage in the name of weight loss is nothing new.
"I assume this trend originated from the idea of drinking lemon water in the morning to help flush the system and getting your morning caffeine intake," he ponders.
But R.D. Melissa Gingold, who works for the private practice Nutrition by R.D., doesn't think adding lemon to coffee specifically will necessarily result in weight loss.
"Incorporating fruits into your day is of course a healthy and hydrating habit," she explains, "but research has not shown there is a particular reason to focus on lemons, as opposed to consuming a variety of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables."
"Although there are some studies that suggest coffee can aid in weight loss, these studies also had participants following a healthy diet and exercise plan, and even though coffee may speed up metabolic rate, there is no evidence that shows this alone causes weight loss," she says.
So, why would this trend have any ounce of merit in the first place?
These lemon coffee videos seem to be misleading, to say the least.
Weight loss drinks like these are often praised for "flushing toxins from your body." However, that isn't the case for lemon coffee or other any drinks of the like, Wallace says, because your body does that naturally.
"If your liver and kidneys are functioning properly, your body is already working around the clock to flush out toxins," she explains. "So while drinking lemon coffee may increase urine production between the caffeine and water, it’s not necessarily 'flushing out toxins.'”
And what's more, the TikTok videos surrounding the trend don't take diet changes or exercise into account. Many who take to TikTok in light of the trend trend are also simultaneously upping their workout routines, or are partaking in other weight loss fads, such as intermittent fasting.
Ultimately, it's kind of unclear based on the videos if these alleged results are based on the coffee or external factors. So yeah, there seems to be a plot hole or two in these "magical weight loss vids."
Is the lemon coffee trend even safe?
Most experts are not fans of the lemon trend because of the drink's high levels of acidity, as well as the message behind it.
"It's a no for me. This is another 'quick fix' weight loss hack that not only tastes as bad as it sounds, but can also cause heartburn due to the acidity of the coffee combined with the acidity of lemon," Dr. Paulvin explains. "I don't see this trend lasting very long and would recommend steering clear of this acidic combo."
With that, Gingold adds that forcing oneself to drink something so disgusting and painful to choke down creates a bad mindset for getting healthy.
"These TikTok weight loss trends are reductive and certainly not promoting of wellness, as they glorify weight loss even at the cost of health and well-being," she says. "Lemon coffee is a contrived combination whose flavor many would probably find unenjoyable — we deserve to find satisfaction in the foods and beverages we consume. To say otherwise is to promote a disordered and unsustainable mindset around health and nutrition."
Instead, Wallace encourages those looking to shed a few pounds to reach for a glass of water. It tastes better, and water helps "move things along," internally.
"Overall, adding lemon into your water (or coffee) will not cause weight loss, but if it helps you drink more water, that's great," she tells us. "Improving hydration is one piece of the whole puzzle when it comes to weight loss."
This article has been updated.