Are Lemons Keto-Friendly? - Nutrition & Benefits

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Yes, lemons are keto-friendly citrus fruits. They’re also highly nutritious and promote a healthy body!

Regularly consuming lemon juice supports liver function and skin health, helps weight loss, and may prevent kidney stones and cancer. 

Let's look at the health benefits of lemons and how you can incorporate this health-promoting citrus fruit into your keto diet. 

 Fresh lemons

Lemon nutrition facts

Lemons are highly nutritious low-carb fruits that should regularly feature in your healthy keto diet plan. 

One medium-sized lemon contains the following:


  • 17 calories 

  • 0 g total fat

  • 0 g protein

  • 5 g total carbs

    • 2 g dietary fiber

    • 3 g net carbs

Lemons are also a rich source of essential nutrients and beneficial plant compounds, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals such as:

  • Vitamin C

  • Potassium

  • Folate

  • Citric Acid 

  • Citrus flavonoids

  • Limonoids 

Watch the video below to learn why lemons are essential on a ketogenic diet.

Five health benefits of lemon

Lemons are keto-friendly and rich in essential nutrients and phytochemicals with several health-promoting properties.  

Lemon has been used as a natural remedy for centuries, and a study published in the Journal of Medical Chemistry summarizes, “Lemons have shown immense therapeutic potential because of their anti-cancer, anti-tumor, and anti-inflammatory nature.” 

Here are five reasons why you should eat lemons regularly. 

1. Promote weight loss

Lemons contain citrus flavonoids that have been found to promote metabolic health and support weight loss.

Research published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition suggests that these flavonoids increase the cellular response to insulin, thereby reducing the risk of insulin resistance, a metabolic imbalance that is linked to weight gain and difficulty losing weight.  

2. Support skin health 

Lemons are incredibly rich sources of vitamin C, an essential vitamin needed for collagen production.

Collagen is a protein that provides elasticity and structural integrity for skin, hair, and muscles. Vitamin C deficiency can lead to low collagen formation, which is linked to saggy skin that’s prone to wrinkles. A lack of adequate collagen also slows down wound healing and muscle recovery.  

In addition, skin is constantly exposed to sun radiation, environmental pollutants, and other chemicals which can trigger the production of free radicals. 

These volatile compounds are linked to cellular damage, skin inflammation, and premature aging. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and protects the skin from harmful oxidation.  

3. Prevent kidney stones 

Citric acid is naturally found in lemons and is responsible for their tart and sour taste.

Citric acid has been found beneficial in reducing the formation of kidney stones by stimulating urine output and increasing the pH of urine. This prevents urine from becoming too concentrated, which can cause urine crystallization and kidney stone development. 

4. May lower cancer risk 

Although more research is needed to fully confirm the anti-cancer effects of lemons, a study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology found that flavonoids in lemons can interfere with carcinogenesis. 

Lemons inhibit the proliferation of cancerous cells and stimulate the immune system to detect and destroy cells that show abnormal growth behavior. 

5. Promote a healthy liver  

Regularly consuming lemon juice can support a healthy liver. Vitamin C has been found to improve alcohol-induced liver injury and reduce liver fat accumulations. 

In addition, lemon polyphenols are potent antioxidants that protect liver cells from the harmful effects of free radicals generated during the detoxification of metabolic by-products, hormones, and environmental toxins. 

Woman selecting a lemon

Can lemon kick you out of ketosis?

Lemons are low in carbs, and consuming lemon juice in moderation won’t raise your blood sugar or impact your insulin levels, which maintains ketosis and keeps your metabolism in fat-burning mode.

In addition, lemons are high in fiber and a rich source of health-promoting nutrients, which makes them an excellent ingredient for a nutritious low-carb diet such as Healthy Keto®

Will lemon break your fast?

Lemon juice provides only around 2 grams of carbs per ounce, which isn’t enough to raise your blood sugar and will keep insulin levels low. 

Because lemon contains only a few calories and doesn’t spike insulin, drinking lemon water during your fasting window is safe. 

While moderate amounts of lemon won’t break a fast, it’s important to remember that lemons contain some carbs, and consuming excessive amounts can push you out of ketosis. 

However, lemons tend to be very tart and sour, and most people naturally don’t consume enough lemon to significantly impact blood sugar and insulin levels.   

 Fresh lemons on wooden table

Best ways to enjoy lemon on keto

Lemons are a versatile ingredient, and you can use just about every part of a lemon—including lemon zest, juice, and the flesh—for your keto recipes. Even the pips of lemons are edible, but most people avoid them due to their slightly bitter taste.  

Lemon’s acidity makes them an excellent addition to dressings, sauces, and marinades. They also work well with seafood and fish dishes like this delicious Keto White Fish in Lemon Sauce.

Because of their aromatic flavor, lemons are an excellent ingredient for keto-desserts such as Lemon Cream and Blackberry Fat Bombs and can be used to make refreshing Summer Thyme Lemonade

In addition, lemon juice is a natural preservative that helps prevent the browning of cut vegetables such as sliced avocado, eggplant, and cauliflower.

Lemon water

Key takeaways

Lemons are keto-friendly fruits that won’t break your fast. In fact, drinking lemon water during your fasting window is an excellent way to promote a healthy body.

Lemons are a rich source of essential nutrients, and regularly consuming this low-carb citrus fruit promotes normal liver function and healthy skin and may lower your risk of kidney stones and cancer. 


1. How much lemon can you have on keto?

Lemons are low-carb citrus fruits, and eating lemons or drinking lemon water in moderation won’t kick you out of ketosis. 

However, it’s important to remember that lemons contain some carbs, and excessive intake could raise your blood sugar levels and push you out of ketosis. 

2. Can I drink lemon water during ketosis?

Yes, lemons are low in carbs, and drinking lemon water won’t impact your blood sugar levels or raise insulin. This keeps your metabolism in ketosis, and your liver continues to burn stored body fat as a primary fuel source. 

3. Are there carbs in lemons?

Yes, there are carbs in lemons. However, compared to most other fruits, lemons contain only a small amount of carbs, and consuming lemons in moderation is safe on keto. 

4. How many net carbs are in a lemon?

A medium-sized fresh lemon typically contains around 5 grams of carbs and 2 grams of dietary fiber, leaving 3 grams of net carbohydrates.

5. Will lemon break my fast?

No, drinking lemon water won’t break your fast. Lemon juice is low in carbs and doesn't impact your blood sugar or insulin levels, making it an excellent drink for intermittent fasting and keto. 

6. Can you have lemon and lime on keto?

Yes, lemon and lime are low-carb fruits on the keto-approved food list.  

7. What are the best ways to have lemon on keto?

Lemons are an excellent keto-friendly ingredient for sauces and dressing. They add acidity and flavor to seafood and fish dishes and are perfect for keto-friendly baking and dessert recipes.

8. What are the benefits of having lemon on keto?

Regularly consuming lemons on keto is a great way to support healthy vitamin C and folate levels. Lemons can also lower your risk of kidney stones, promote weight loss, boost liver function, and support healthy skin.

9. Are lemons a good source of vitamin C?

Yes, lemons are a particularly rich source of vitamin C. One medium-sized lemon contains between 30 to 40 mg of vitamin C, providing almost half the daily recommended vitamin C intake for adults.

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