Lemon water is a huge trend within the health and wellness space and promoted by many as the silver bullet to weight loss, but does that mean bodybuilders would benefit from consuming it too?
Here’s my quick answer…
Is lemon water good or bad for bodybuilding?
Lemon water is good for bodybuilding because it is a calorie-free way to flavor water and improve hydration. Also, it provides antioxidants to promote post-workout recovery. Since lemon water has no macronutrients it’s important that it’s not a substitute for food and instead consumed along with a complete meal.
In this article, I will provide:
- The general health benefits of lemon water
- 3 pros and cons of drinking lemon water for bodybuilding
- Whether lemon water is a good choice pre-and post-workout
- A lemon water recipe for bodybuilders perfect for pre-and post-workout
Drinking Lemon Water for Bodybuilding: Overview
Right off the bat, it’s important to note that lemon water does not provide any calories or macronutrients.
It does however provide water, which is hydrating, in particular for bodybuilders before their workout.
It also provides Vitamin C which research has shown to be a powerful antioxidant that is beneficial for helping bodybuilders recover post-workout.
Let’s dive further into these benefits.
3 Pros of Drinking Lemon Water For Bodybuilding
The pros of drinking lemon water for bodybuilders are:
- Lemon water can help you drink more water
- Lemon water is a calorie-free drink option
- Lemon water is high in vitamin C
1. Lemon Water Can Help You Drink More Water
Drinking enough water is important for bodybuilders as dehydration can negatively impact your performance during your workout.
Many of my bodybuilding clients struggle to get enough water throughout the day, simply because it isn’t that interesting to just drink water. When they tell me this, I always recommend adding a flavour to their water, such as lemon, fruit or herbs (like mint).
Other store-bought water flavourings include added sugar, which are just empty calories that can negatively affect a bodybuilder’s weight. Therefore, adding lemon water is beneficial for bodybuilders to improve the water’s flavour without adding any calories.
2. Lemon Water Is a Calorie-Free Drink Option
Lemon water has no calories, which are especially helpful for bodybuilders that are cutting.
When you are cutting, the calories you are eating are lower than what you are burning, which can lead to hunger. If you are drinking calories by consuming something like soda or juice, you are likely to find that hunger is even worse as these liquids do nothing to fill you up.
By opting for a calorie-free drink like lemon water, you can use all your calories on food that will physically fill you up so you are more satisfied.
Lemon water can also be a great option to add in when you are craving sugar, add a bit of stevia to your lemon water for a calorie-free lemonade substitute. I also like to blend this mix with ice, which feels a bit more “filling” if you are in a cutting phase.
3. Lemon Water Is High in Vitamin C
Lemon water is high in vitamin C which has been shown to help boost immune function.
Lemon water typically has about 2 tbsp of lemon juice which provides approximately 21% of the daily recommended dosage.
For bodybuilder’s, getting sick can be a major hurdle, especially if they are prepping for a competition or show.
Not only can it cause you to miss workouts, but it can also impact your diet and therefore nutrition. Consuming sufficient vitamin C can play a role in supporting your body’s natural immune function, keeping you healthier and able to fight off sickness.
3 Cons of Drinking Lemon Water For Bodybuilding
The drawbacks of drinking lemon water for bodybuilders are:
- Lemon water provides no macronutrients
- Lemon water can cause digestive discomfort
- Lemon water can cause migraines
1. Lemon Water Provides No Macronutrients
Lemon water provides no macronutrients, which for bodybuilders, means it’s important to always consume it with a full meal.
Bodybuilders need to consume carbs, protein and fat throughout the day so they have enough energy and their body can function at its best. Since lemon water provides none of these, it mustn’t be a substitute for food, particularly around a workout.
If you do try and substitute lemon water for a snack or meal, you are likely to find your energy crashes quickly and you’re reaching for a snack as a pick me up. When our body is looking for quick energy in a situation like this, you’re likely to opt for a sugary snack adding empty calories to your day.
It’s important when drinking lemon water to add it in as a substitute for water and continue to consume your normal food.
Want to learn more about other foods for bodybuilding, check out the following articles:
- Are Eggs Good or Bad For Bodybuilding?
- Are Avocados Good or Bad For Bodybuilding?
- Are Potatoes Good or Bad For Bodybuilding?
- Is Gatorade Good or Bad For Bodybuilding?
2. Lemon Water Can Cause Digestive Discomfort
Lemon water is quite acidic which can lead to digestive discomforts, such as heartburn, nausea or vomiting, which can impact a bodybuilder’s ability to perform well during a workout.
As you can imagine, if you experience these symptoms before or during a workout, you are not likely to perform at your best. In addition, it may make consuming food, especially protein, during the remainder of the day difficult.
To reduce the risk of digestive issues, limit the lemon juice to 2 tbsp and ensure you are not drinking it on an empty stomach.
3. Lemon Water Can Cause Migraines
Citrus fruit, like lemon, is a common trigger for migraines in those that regularly suffer from them. For bodybuilders, this can negatively impact your ability to perform at the gym as well as prioritize your nutrition.
Those that suffer from migraines know how difficult it is to function when you are experiencing one. You are unlikely to be able to complete your workout or eat the nutrition required to build muscle.
If you are a common migraine sufferer, very slowly add lemon water into your diet and pay attention to any change in migraine frequency.
Can You Drink Lemon Water Before Workouts?
Yes, you can drink lemon water before a workout as it can help you stay hydrated and perform well during your workout. Since lemon water doesn’t contain any macronutrients, it’s important to pair it with a full meal. Lemon water alone won’t be an adequate pre-workout meal.
Before a workout, it is best to eat a meal high in carbs to provide the best energy source for your body during a workout. Additionally, ensuring you are hydrated is important to ensure you are alert, aware and performing at your best.
Lemon water will improve the flavour of the water, making it easier to drink and helping you to stay hydrated. It does not provide any carbs though so it’s important to pair it with a food high in carbs such as toast or oats to give you plenty of energy.
We asked Registered Dietician, Breda Paralta, her thoughts on drinking almond milk before a workout. She said:
“Lemon water doesn’t contain a lot of calories or carbs. It is a great way to add some flavour to water and keep yourself hydrated before an exercise”.
Therefore, lemon water makes a great pre-workout choice but as an addition to a meal and not as a replacement.
Can You Drink Lemon Water After Workouts?
Yes, lemon water is a good option to drink after a workout as it provides vitamin C which promotes recovery post-workout. It’s important to ensure you are consuming it along with a lean protein and carb source to maximize recovery. Lemon water alone won’t be an adequate post-workout meal.
After a workout, it’s important to consume carbs and protein to restore energy and encourage muscle strength and growth. Lemon water does not provide either carbs or protein so alone it does not make a sufficient post-workout meal.
However, we also want to consider the other benefits lemon water provides to our bodies post-workout. Paralta, noted that:
“Due to its high vitamin C content is also an excellent choice to include after a workout. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps diminish the stressful effects exercise can produce on the body”.
When we work out, we create stress within our bodies. This type of stress is not a problem, so long as we are giving our body what it needs to recover from the stress. Consuming an antioxidant, like vitamin C, can help reduce this inflammation from stress helping our body to rebuild and recover.
Therefore, lemon water is beneficial post-workout so long as it’s paired with a meal high in carbs and protein to promote recovery.
Does Lemon Water Help Muscle Growth?
Lemon water can help with muscle growth as adequate hydration is required to perform well at the gym and provide adequate training stimulus.
Providing your muscles with an adequate training stimulus is the most important factor in muscle building. Dehydration can have a significant negative effect on your workout, leading to performance that won’t provide the stimulus with your muscle needs. Lemon water is a great way to add flavour to your water, helping you to drink enough and perform at your best.
Lemon water and adequate training are not enough on their own to build muscles. Our body also needs sufficient protein to repair the muscles as well as enough excess calories to expend the energy required to build muscle mass.
Therefore, lemon water can help with one aspect of muscle growth; however to build muscle you need to combine the adequate training stimulus with sufficient protein and calories.
Lemon Water Recipe for Bodybuilders
This easy lemonade is the perfect addition to your pre or post-workout meal as it provides hydration, vitamin c and some quick digesting carbs from the honey.
- Juice from 5 lemons
- ⅓ cup of honey
- 4 cups cold water
- Ice when serving
- Add the lemon juice and honey to a blender and blend well.
- Add in the cold water and mix to combine. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.
- Pour over ice when ready to enjoy.
Per 1 cup serving this recipe has 144 calories, 0g protein (0%), 36g carbs (100%), 0g fat (0%).
- Want to know whether other liquids are good for bodybuilding? Check out: Is Almond Milk Good or Bad For Bodybuilding? and Is Diet Soda Good or Bad For Bodybuilding? (Pros & Cons)
Lemon water can be beneficial for bodybuilding by helping with hydration and providing antioxidants to support muscle recovery. It’s important to remember it is not a substitute for food and should be consumed along with full meals.
About The Author
Laura Semotiuk is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified nutrition coach. She works with athletes and active individuals looking to improve performance and develop healthy nutritional habits and behaviors. She has a passion for cooking, meal prepping, and creating simple and healthy recipes.