A recent new trend focusses on the potential health benefits of drinking coffee with lemon.
Proponents claim that the mix helps melt off fat and relieves headaches and diarrhea.
Since coffee and lemon each have multiple proven health effects, you may wonder whether drinking the two together offers any additional benefits.
This article reviews the evidence on coffee with lemon to either validate or debunk the claims.
A drink with two common ingredients
Coffee and lemons are two common ingredients found in almost every kitchen.
In fact, about 75% of Americans report drinking it daily, and it’s sought after mainly due to its caffeine content, which stimulates the central nervous system and increases alertness and mood (
They’re a great source of vitamin C and antioxidants — along with many other beneficial plant compounds — which is why they have been used for centuries for their medicinal properties (
The coffee with lemon trend suggests mixing 1 cup (240 mL) of coffee with the juice of 1 lemon.
While some may think that it’s an unusual combination, others believe that the benefits outweigh the odd flavor — although science may disagree.
Coffee and lemon are two common ingredients with beneficial effects on your health. While some believe that mixing the two offers impressive benefits, science may disagree.
Coffee and lemons pack multiple health benefits
Both coffee and lemons have many proven health benefits, which are predominantly associated with their high content of antioxidants. These are molecules that protect your body from the harmful effects of excessive amounts of free radicals (
Here’s an overview of the benefits that each has to offer.
Evidence-based benefits of coffee
The two have been shown to activate pathways that protect against cancer growth, linking coffee to a reduced risk of several types of cancer, including liver, prostate, endometrial, breast, gastrointestinal, and colorectal cancer (
Lastly, its caffeine content is responsible for the drink’s energy-boosting effect, positive influence on endurance exercise performance, and ability to increase the number of calories you burn, resulting in weight loss (
Evidence-based benefits of lemon juice
As you can see, coffee and lemons offer a wide range of benefits that protect your body from chronic ailments. Still, mixing the two doesn’t necessarily translate to a more potent drink.
Coffee and lemons contain plant beneficial compounds with cancer-fighting properties. They may also protect you against chronic conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Popular claims about drinking coffee with lemon
There are four main claims about the benefits of drinking coffee with lemon.
This is what science has to say about them.
Claim 1. It helps melt off fat
This notion is prevalent among various trends that involve the use of lemon, but ultimately, neither lemon nor coffee can melt off fat.
The only way to get rid of unwanted fat is either by consuming fewer calories or burning more of them. Thus, this claim is false.
However, studies show that coffee may help you lose some weight, which is why some people may experience a slight weight reduction upon consuming the drink.
Recent research has found that caffeine may stimulate brown adipose tissue (BAT), a type of metabolically active fatty tissue that decreases with age and can metabolize carbs and fats (
One test-tube and human study determined that caffeine from a standard 8-ounce (240-mL) cup of coffee can boost BAT activity, causing an increase in metabolic rate that leads to weight loss (
Similarly, older studies from the 1980s and 1990s explain that caffeine may increase your metabolic rate during the 3 hours after ingesting it, upping your burned calories up to 8–11% — meaning that you may burn an extra 79–150 calories a day (
That said, the potential weight loss effect may be due to the caffeine in coffee, not the mixture of coffee with lemon.
Claim 2. It eases headaches
Hence, it’s common to find multiple home remedies for their treatment. Still, research is very divided when it comes to the use of coffee for this purpose.
One hypothesis suggests that the caffeine in coffee has a vasoconstrictor effect — meaning that it tightens your blood vessels — which reduces blood flow toward your head and relieves the pain (26).
Therefore, drinking coffee with lemon may either relieve or worsen a headache. And if it does help reduce pain, it would be again due to the caffeine in coffee, not the coffee and lemon drink itself.
Claim 3. It relieves diarrhea
This remedy calls for eating ground coffee with lemon instead of drinking it.
Claim 4. It offers skin care benefits
Research suggests that both coffee and lemon’s antioxidant content may provide skin benefits, so there seems to be a shred of truth behind this claim.
On one hand, coffee’s CGA content is believed to improve blood flow and hydration in the skin.
On the other hand, lemon’s vitamin C content may stimulate the production of collagen — a protein that provides your skin with strength and elasticity — and reduce skin damage caused by free radicals that originate from sun exposure (
However, you may still take advantage of these benefits by consuming coffee and lemons separately, as no evidence suggests that the effect is only exerted when the two are mixed.
Coffee seems to be responsible for most of the purported benefits of drinking coffee with lemon, though lemons also play an important role in the skin care claims. Yet, no evidence suggests that they should be consumed together for greater benefits.
Coffee with lemon downsides
As is the case with their benefits, the downsides of drinking coffee with lemon are due to the drawbacks of each ingredient.
As for lemons, while generally uncommon, some people may be allergic to citrus fruits’ juice, seeds, or peels (39).
While coffee and lemon are two highly consumed ingredients, coffee may impair sleep, cause caffeine addiction, and increase the risk of pregnancy loss. Meanwhile, lemons may cause allergies in rare cases.
The bottom line
Coffee and lemons offer a wide range of health benefits, mostly due to their antioxidant contents.
However, there’s no evidence to support the claim that drinking coffee with lemon relieves diarrhea or causes fat to melt away.
As for the rest of the mixture’s proclaimed benefits, they can be obtained by consuming coffee or lemon juice separately. Thus, there’s no need to mix the two if you don’t feel like it.