Apple cider vinegar is a type of vinegar made from crushed apples. The fermentation process of converting the apples into vinegar produces bacteria that many holistic health experts claim have a variety of health benefits. The most common claim is that apple cider vinegar helps with weight loss. However, there is no scientific evidence that proves this claim.

The Science Behind Apple Cider Vinegar for Weight Loss

There is not a lot of evidence that suggests that ACV helps with weight loss in humans. In one study, 39 adults were followed and the ones who consumed ACV while cutting 250 calories per day, lost 8.8 pounds in 12 weeks. The ones who just cut calories without ACV only lost 5 pounds.

Several studies have been conducted observing the effects of apple cider vinegar on weight loss. In one study, 144 adults with obesity were randomly assigned to drink either a placebo or one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar daily for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, those who drank two tablespoons had lost close to 4 pounds, while those who drank one tablespoon lost 2.5 pounds. (Those who drank the placebo gained a little bit of weight.) However, those findings alone don’t prove that ACV is a magic fat melter. “These studies were done on very small populations,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, R.D., C.D.E., L.D.N. “But the consistent results indicate that ACV may be a beneficial tool in reducing body weight.”

As well as having potential weight-loss benefits, ACV also appears to be able to regulate blood sugar levels. A study from 2013 suggests that drinking ACV before a meal can lead to smaller blood sugar spikes. Another study from 2010 showed that having two teaspoons of ACV during a meal can help to reduce sugar crashes and keep blood sugar levels more stable. It is not clear why this happens, but it is thought that compounds in the vinegar interfere with the absorption of some starches.

Craving sugary snacks is often a result of having high or low blood sugar levels. If apple cider vinegar can help to regulate blood sugar, it may also help with controlling cravings and managing portion sizes – which could lead to eating fewer calories overall.

A study published in the Journal of Food Science in 2014 suggests thatapple cider vinegar can help reduce the effects of diabetes and prevent cardiovascular disease due to its antioxidant activity. Chlorogenic acid, a polyphenol present in high levels in apple cider vinegar, could help improve heart health by inhibiting the oxidation of bad LDL cholesterol.

It is possible that apple cider vinegar makes people want to eat less. One study found that participants who drank the liquid before a meal ate up to 275 fewer calories during the day. The reasons behind this are not clear. Apple cider vinegar could have compounds that suppress appetite. Or, drinking it might be so unpleasant that people don’t want to eat anything else during the day.

What’s the Research on Apple Cider Vinegar?

A lot of the research on vinegar’s relationship with weight loss is in animals, mainly mice and rats. Studies show that acetic acid, the main component of apple cider vinegar, can suppress body fat accumulation and metabolic disorders in obese rats. But of course, mice are not men, and rats are not women, so these findings don’t necessarily mean that vinegar can help people lose weight.

Studies involving humans have been small in size, which limits how accurate they are.

According to Drayer, some research suggests that protein shakes may promote satiety and make someone consume fewer calories throughout the day; however, the research is very limited with small sample sizes and is far from conclusive.

A 2005 study found that participants felt fuller when vinegar was consumed with a meal that included bread. However, a 2013 study found that the only reason the vinegar caused the participants to feel fuller was because it caused nausea when ingested.

In 2009, a study was conducted with 175 Japanese subjects aged 25 to 60 who were considered “obese” by Japanese standards. The subjects were split into three groups and their body mass index (BMI) was between 25 and 30. In the United States, people aren’t considered obese until their BMI exceeds 30. The study excluded anyone who had high cholesterol or diabetes or was using medications.

Over the course of 12 weeks, different groups consumed either one tablespoon of vinegar, two tablespoons of vinegar, or no vinegar every day. Those who consumed any amount of vinegar ended up with lower body weight, body mass index, and levels of visceral fat, as well as a smaller waist size, than the group that didn’t consume any vinegar.

The weight loss sounds great, but when you look at how much weight was lost, it’s not as impressive.

“The average weight loss is only 2 to 4 pounds in three months when taking this medication,” Drayer explained. “That’s only a third of a pound a week. Most diets have a much bigger result. So you would have to do many other things in addition to taking the medication to lose a significant amount of weight.”

Carol Johnston, a registered dietitian, has been studying the effects of acetic acid on diabetic blood glucose levels since 2004. She believes that the Japanese study’s findings make sense because they are in line with animal research. However, she also points out that the weight loss in humans was “very, very modest.”

As someone who has worked in the field of health and dieting, Johnston believes that most people who go on a diet for 12 weeks and only see a small change in their weight are going to be unhappy with the results.

Regulating Blood Sugar

Johnston’s research indicates that vinegar may help to control blood sugar spikes for people with Type 2 diabetes and those who are prediabetic. She has also seen a slight benefit for healthy control subjects.

The researcher stated that vinegar had some effect on all the groups tested, but the most notable improvements were seen in the prediabetic group. She was surprised to find that blood sugar levels fell significantly and then remained lowered in this group specifically. She believes that this group could potentially benefit the most from continued vinegar consumption.

Johnston argues that acetic acid prevents enzymes from breaking down starch molecules. Any type of vinegar, including red and white wine vinegar, pomegranate vinegar, or white distilled vinegar, can produce this effect because of the acetic acid it contains.

Johnston said that acetic acid prevents the absorption of starch. If someone eats starch with vinegar, their blood sugar will go down, but if they drink sugar water with vinegar, nothing happens. Therefore, vinegar only helps if you are eating starch.

Blocking starch absorption may help with weight loss, Drayer said.

If acetic acid prevents starch from being broken down, that means it’s not being digested. Without digestion, starch can’t be absorbed into the bloodstream and turned into calories.

The Jury Is Still Out

There is promising research on the benefits of acetic acid, but it is not definitive. It is possible that other elements in apple cider vinegar and other types of vinegar also play a role. For example, the trace chemicals in vinegar that vary based on where each brand was fermented.

According to Johnson, the ingredients in vinegar might have an effect on weight loss, although this has not been proven yet. She states that large-scale scientific trials will be necessary to determine whether there is a cause-and-effect relationship between vinegar and weight loss, as well as between vinegar and diabetes or cardiovascular risks.

Johnston believes that vinegar could potentially make a difference for people at risk for diabetes and metabolic disorders, but more research needs to be done in order to confirm this. This research would require a significant amount of funding and manpower.

Johnston does not see any negative consequences of using vinegar to regulate blood sugar after consuming carbohydrates. He notes that types of vinegar like balsamic and wine vinegar are commonplace in the Mediterranean diet, which has been linked to positive health outcomes like heart health.

Johnston said that even in healthy people, the post-meal surge in blood sugar is a risk factor for heart disease and that vinegar may provide a benefit. He said that people should add vinegar to their food, as people have done for centuries.

Dr. Dreyer suggests using vinegar as a calorie-free condiment and mixing it with oil in a 3:1 or 1:3 ratio to create a dressing.

You can also use Drayer’s method with food preparation.

The speaker suggests dipping chicken in a mixture of egg whites, bread crumbs, and balsamic vinegar, as an alternative to plain breading. They also suggest drinking balsamic vinegar in water as a way to feel fuller.

Vinegar is acidic and can harm your teeth, throat, and stomach if you drink it straight.

To get the maximum benefits from vinegar, dilute it in water and drink it before you eat or with the first bites of your meal, Johnston said. The acetic acid in vinegar is more effective in the stomach before a meal, she explained. In the Mediterranean, people would eat a vinegar-based salad first, then move on to the pasta course.

So Should You Try Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar?

Drinking ACV won’t magically help you lose weight, but it can help with other weight loss efforts like eating healthier and exercising more. It’s also not harmful, as long as you don’t overdo it.

Despite the benefits of ACV, it is important to be aware of the potential risks. ACV is high in acidity, which can irritate your throat and strip tooth enamel. Additionally, the acidity can cause problems for people who experience reflux. To avoid these problems, ACV should be diluted in water and consumed no more than twice daily.

How to Add Apple Cider Vinegar to Your Diet

When is the best time to take apple cider vinegar? You can drink a tablespoon of ACV diluted in eight ounces of water up to twice a day—ideally, before or with a meal. This will increase the chances that the ACV will boost your satiety and help keep your blood sugar steady, Palinski-Wade says.

If you dislike the thought of drinking vinegar, consider adding it to your meals instead. Try ACV and olive oil on a salad or steamed veggies, Palinski-Wade suggests. Another option is to add a tablespoon of ACV to a smoothie.

Choose an ACV that is labeled raw and unfiltered to maximize the health benefits. Palinski-Wade says that unfiltered versions of ACV contain proteins, enzymes, and healthy bacteria from the vinegar starter or mother.

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About Rhoda ...

Rhoda is an award-winning dietitian, mature age model, and CEO of Sayvana Women.  

She is the creator of the Elegant Eating Solution, an affordable program that helps women avoid weight regain and feel great about themselves, without restrictive eating.

Elegant Eating is based on the science of protein leverage and follows the unique R.E.M.A.P approach to successful aging.

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