Apple Cider Vinegar for Weight Loss? The Facts

Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition
Apple cider vinegar and apples over white wooden background

Over the years, there have been many lofty claims about the power of apple cider vinegar. Whether it’s healing arthritis, topically blasting Plantar’s warts, or even far-reaching assertions that it can cure cancer, the fact is that most claims about what this fermented liquid can do are purely anecdotal. There has been surprisingly little research performed on the subject to back up many of these uses. However, there is some scientific exploration into whether apple cider vinegar for weight loss is a real, substantiated concept.

Derived from the French words vin (wine) and aigre (sour), vinegar can be produced from a multitude of fermented carbohydrate sources, including, of course, cider. In the vinegar making process, the alcohol is converted to acetic acid with the use of acetic acid bacteria. The idea that apple cider vinegar can assist with weight loss is largely based on the belief that vinegar’s primary ingredient—acetic acid—will interfere with the body’s ability to digest starch.

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A 2013 study, published in the Journal of Functional Foods, does support the claim that drinking apple cider vinegar before a meal can help lower blood sugar. Study participants who drank a tablespoon of cider vinegar diluted with water prior to eating experienced antiglycaemic effects, possibly related to carbohydrate maldigestion. Experts suggest enjoying a green salad with a cider vinegar-based dressing prior to a starchy meal like a pasta dinner to reap the blood sugar benefits without having to take a straight swig of the bitter stuff.

Other research points to the perks of vinegar on blood sugar. A 2010 study, published in the Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism, found that two teaspoons of vinegar effectively reduced blood sugar spikes after a meal containing complex carbohydrates (in the study, a bagel was used). The Arizona State University researchers also found that vinegar’s power was most potent when ingested right at mealtime, as opposed to several hours prior.

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Vinegar has also been studied as a potential appetite suppressor. A study, published in the International Journal of Obesity in 2014, found that while drinking vinegar prior to a meal does appear to promote fullness, this may be largely due to the fact that it induces nausea. In other words, study participants ate less because they didn’t feel well—obviously not an ideal way to suppress one’s appetite.

While the power of apple cider vinegar to block starch digestion could help with weight loss, even the researchers say that additional research is needed to truly understand how vinegar works to assist in losing weight. Still, unless you have bad reflux and can’t tolerate the acid, it doesn’t hurt to add it to your regimen. Just make sure you dilute any vinegar you drink with water. Consuming it straight could actually burn your esophagus, and if even a tiny bit is inhaled, could burn your lungs. A tablespoon of cider vinegar should be diluted with eight ounces of water for the safest consumption. It’s also important to mention that although these studies primarily looked at apple cider vinegar, other vinegars could also do the trick, but may not be as palatable.

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The bottom line is that although some research has shown a glimmer of hope for using apple cider vinegar as a weight loss tool, it’s certainly no magic bullet. The attempt to find a replacement for healthy eating and exercise is far from anything new but the fact is, those remain the two most important factors in weight loss or healthy weight maintenance. Apple cider vinegar may potentially provide you some assistance in meeting your goals, but it’s certainly not the be-all-and-end-all solution.