Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help with Weight Loss and Health Benefits?

Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help with Weight Loss
Amy20MD 1

Medical reviewed by Amy Rogers, MD MPH FACPM

Preventive Medicine, Public Health, Lifestyle Medicine, Pandemic Response, Global Health

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has recently gained popularity as many believe it’s good for weight loss. Some experts suggest it can keep you full longer and help reduce body fat. They also studied ACV for many other health benefits. We will dive into the science behind ACV and its proven benefits. We’ll also share some potential downsides you must consider before using.

Get ready to discover the truth about this trendy health hack, and check out our tips on drinking apple cider vinegar for weight loss.

How does apple cider vinegar help with weight loss?

Some health experts and influencers mention the benefits of apple cider vinegar for weight loss. Let’s see what science says about them.

What is apple cider vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar is made through a fascinating double fermentation process. First, yeast is added to crushed apples or apple juice to convert sugar into alcohol. Added bacteria will then ferment it into acetic acid (1).

The acetic acid gives apple cider vinegar its pungent smell and sour flavor with a hint of apples. ACV typically contains about 5-6% acetic acid (2).

Cider vinegar is classified into two categories: high-strength cider vinegar contains 9-13% of acid and alcohol, while low-strength products have an amount of 8-9% (3).

Some brands will pasteurize or filter the apple cider vinegar to remove live bacteria. This process will make the product clearer. One tablespoon (15 ml) of ACV contains only about three calories and virtually no carbs or fats (2).

But what makes apple cider vinegar so special? It has been used for generations in North African culture as a weight loss aid (4). In fact, there are reports of vinegar being used for weight loss as early as the 1820s (5).

However, completing the apple cider vinegar’s fermentation process can take some months. The yields can also be low, resulting in poor-quality ACV (3).

Apple cider vinegar keeps you full longer

Consuming apple cider vinegar may help control blood sugar levels during meals (6, 7). This is important because high blood sugar can cause sugar cravings and disrupt your weight loss efforts (8).

Moreover, taking vinegar with meals can lower your blood glucose and insulin levels after eating. The same study found it can help raise feelings of fullness (9).

In Type I diabetic people, drinking apple cider vinegar can cause delayed gastric emptying. It means the stomach takes longer to digest food. Some may think this effect may also help them feel fuller for longer (10). 

However, delaying gastric emptying in persons with Type 1 diabetes may adversely impact their ability to control their sugar levels (10). Delayed gastric emptying can also cause discomfort like bloating and nausea. Plus, it can cause malnutrition and deficiencies. So, using ACV may not be a healthy approach to losing weight in Type I diabetic patients (10).

However, these studies were limited to a small population, so we need further evidence for this promising effect.

ACV may help reduce body fat mass and weight

Many animal studies suggested that the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar may suppress fat build-up (11).

Two studies also examined the weight-loss effect on obese people taking apple cider vinegar daily. After three months, they observed a loss of up to 1.7 kg of weight and a decrease in belly fat (11, 12). Yet this amount is not too high compared to many other weight-loss methods.

Certain components in apple cider vinegar may activate specific genes that help break down fats (13). Unfortunately, studies are very few, limiting their validity.

Apple cider vinegar is made from fermentation and is packed with acids that are associated with weight loss. It may keep you fuller for longer, promote fat burning, and suppress fat build-up. A few studies have shown promising results, so further research is needed to confirm these effects.

Other health benefits of apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has been used for centuries in folk medicine to treat and prevent various ailments. It was once a popular remedy for coughs and infections as far back as 3300 B.C. (14, 15).

Traditionally, people use apple cider vinegar as a remedy for various diseases, from joint pain to diarrhea, colitis, and many other conditions (3).

Studies have shown that apple cider vinegar can provide several health benefits, such as:

  • Balance your cholesterol: ACV is high in chlorogenic acid, which can help inhibit the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol (16). Also, drinking ACV daily may cause an increase in HDL (good) cholesterol in obese people (12, 17).
  • Fight bad germs: ACV has been shown to have antibacterial properties in laboratory studies, but it is uncertain how ACV supplementation could help humans. A study providing a diet with vinegar in patients infected with Helicobacter pylori (HP) found it could eliminate HP (18, 19).
  • Improve insulin sensitivity: For those having insulin resistance, consuming vinegar can improve the body’s ability to use insulin after meals (20).

While there are many claims about the benefits of ACV, not all of them are well-proven. For example, some people consider ACV a ‘probiotic’ if the bacteria are not filtered, even though no study has provided evidence of this claim.

Therefore, it is important to be clear about what is fact and what is a mere promotion in order to protect yourself from exaggerated claims.

How to drink apple cider vinegar for weight loss in your daily diet?

To get the most out of your apple cider vinegar, choose a high-quality and organic brand. The good thing is that even the best apple cider vinegar won’t cost too much!

Here are some creative ways to twist your diet with apple cider vinegar to help you lose weight safely:

  • Morning elixir: Mix ACV with fresh lemon juice and honey in warm water. Sip it slowly and start your day with a refreshing and metabolism-boosting tonic.
  • Pre-meal shot: Mix ACV with water and gulp it before your main meals to curb your appetite and eat less. 
  • Salad dressing: Upgrade your salads by mixing ACV with olive oil and your favorite herbs and spices. Pour it over your veggies and enjoy a tangy and low-carb delight!
  • Easy smoothie: Add a small ACV spoon before you blend a smoothie with your favorite fruits. Now, no more worry about the sugar content in your sweet fruit! 
  • Pickle veggies: Get creative in the kitchen by soaking your favorite veggies in ACV and water. They’re crunchy and flavorful without added sugars or fats.

These apple cider vinegar recipes are a fun and delicious way to support your weight loss journey.

Adverse effects

While the idea of using apple cider vinegar for weight loss may seem tempting, there are potential risks to be cautious. 

Apple cider vinegar is highly acidic, and excess consumption can cause digestive issues and wear away at your tooth enamel. To prevent this, use a straw, rinse your mouth with water afterward, and never drink apple cider vinegar on an empty stomach (4, 21).

Apple cider vinegar can lower blood sugar and insulin levels. So those who take diabetes medications and consume vinegar may experience dangerously low blood glucose levels (6, 22).

In some cases, reports of decreased potassium and calcium levels have been linked to excessive apple cider vinegar intake (5, 23). So you should avoid apple cider vinegar if you are taking any diuretics.

Moreover, there have been cases of suffering from chemical burns after applying apple cider vinegar to their skin (24, 25).

The recommended ACV amount for weight loss is 1-2 tablespoons (15-30 ml) a day (26). It’s best to spread this out throughout the day. Starting with a small amount is a good idea to see how your body tolerates it.

Drinking undiluted vinegar or taking it in pill form can be harmful to the inside of your mouth and esophagus (27). So it’s crucial to dilute ACV with water or other liquid. A pro tip is to use them in your salad dressings, soups, and marinades.

It’s important to pay attention to the right dose and how your body reacts. Always consult your doctor or pharmacist to ensure your safety and well-being when in doubt.

Excess apple cider vinegar can cause digestive issues, tooth enamel erosion, lower blood sugar and insulin levels, and decreased potassium and calcium levels. It’s important to dilute ACV and pay attention to the right dose before use. Always consult a doctor or pharmacist for safety.

Summary

Apple cider vinegar has been praised for its potential weight loss effects. Before you reach for that bottle of apple cider vinegar in your kitchen pantry, let’s recap what you need to know:

  • Apple cider vinegar may keep you fuller for longer and promote fat burning while suppressing fat build-up. However, the research is still limited, and more solid scientific evidence is needed to understand its benefits fully.
  • Apple cider vinegar is a generally safe supplement to consume in moderation. A suggested dose is 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 ml), and avoid drinking it undiluted.
  • Taking apple cider vinegar may help you keep blood sugar and cholesterol at bay and combat germs. Yet some of the claimed health benefits have just been exaggerated.
  • Drinking too much apple cider vinegar can cause tooth enamel erosion, nausea, and interactions with diuretic or diabetes medications.

Remember, there’s no magic solution for weight loss, and a healthy lifestyle is still key. So, before jumping on using ACV, consider its potential pros and cons, and always consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice. Stay informed, make wise choices, and take good care of your health!

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Amy20MD 1

Medical reviewed by Amy Rogers, MD MPH FACPM

Preventive Medicine, Public Health, Lifestyle Medicine, Pandemic Response, Global Health

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