Losing weight isn’t easy, as anyone who’s tried it will attest. We’re facing a dangerous obesity epidemic in North America, with the number of people overweight or obese increasing steadily during the past several years. That’s not good for our health, so we’re all looking for things that can help us keep the pounds off.
Fad diets and questionable supplements aren’t the answer. These can cause uncomfortable side effects and don’t usually create lasting weight loss. Instead, we need tools that we can incorporate into the everyday lives that will help us chip away at the pounds while maintaining a healthy diet.
Apple cider vinegar is one of those tools. Below are seven reasons why you may want to consider adding it to your weight-loss plans.
Apple cider is a fermented product made from apples. It’s made by crushing apples, squeezing out the juice, then adding bacteria and yeast to stimulate the fermentation process. That process converts the sugars in the juice to alcohol. Adding acid-forming bacteria to that alcohol is later converts it into vinegar.
The end product is mostly water, with a very small amount of carbohydrates. It contains no fat or protein and negligible calories but is a good source of manganese and also contains healthy amino acids and antioxidants.
It is important to understand that apple cider vinegar is acidic, so drinking it straight can upset your stomach and damage tissues in the throat and esophagus. The best approach when consuming it is to either consume small amounts or dilute it in a glass of water — 2 tablespoons per glass is advised.
6 Ways Apple Cider Vinegar Can Help in Your Weight-loss Efforts
Although apple cider vinegar isn’t a weight-loss miracle, when incorporated as part of your daily diet, it may help you reach your weight-loss goals.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar Can Help You Burn More Fat
Researchers theorize that the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar may help encourage the breakdown of fats. In a 2009 study, researchers separated obese participants into the following groups during a 12-week period:
- One group ingested 500 milliliters daily of a beverage containing 15 milliliters of vinegar
- A second group ingested 500 milliliters daily of a beverage containing 30 milliliters of vinegar
- A third group ingested 500 milliliters daily of a beverage containing no vinegar
At the end of the test period, both groups consuming the liquid containing vinegar experienced significant reductions in body weight, body mass index (BMI), visceral fat (fat accumulated around organs), and waist circumference. They also had lower triglyceride levels.
The acetic acid in vinegar may also slow the accumulation of fat in the body. We need more studies to be sure, but it may be that consuming some apple cider vinegar each day could help slow down the conversion of fuel into fat.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar Helps Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
The amount of sugar (glucose) in your bloodstream can encourage fat buildup. Anytime you eat something, the body breaks it down into glucose, the main fuel for the body’s cells. Everything works optimally when there is a healthy balance of blood sugar in the system.
If blood sugar levels go too high, however, the pancreas produces more of the hormone insulin to process it. Insulin is the key that unlocks the cells to receive glucose fuel. When you eat too much food at one sitting or eat a lot of simple carbohydrates or sugary treats, the pancreas goes into overdrive producing insulin. That insulin surge tells the body that you have excess energy available, so it’s best to store that excess as fat.
Weight loss, on the other hand, occurs between meals when we’re feeling satisfied, and there is no excess insulin in the bloodstream. Therefore, regulating blood sugar levels so that they stay balanced is a good way to avoid fat storage.
Apple cider vinegar can help us achieve this balance. One way is by helping control insulin production and sensitivity to insulin during a meal. Add some apple cider vinegar to your dinner, and it can help improve insulin regulation, which is helpful for weight management, particularly in those with diabetes or prediabetes.
In one study, researchers found that in patients who were insulin resistant or who already had diabetes were able to increase insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels when consuming a beverage containing apple cider vinegar with a high-carbohydrate meal. Another study showed that participants drinking an apple cider beverage before bed experienced improve blood sugar levels when they woke up the next morning.
It’s unclear whether the results would be the same in people without insulin sensitivity, insulin resistance, prediabetes or diabetes. We need more studies to find out.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar May Help Boost Metabolism
Metabolism is your “resting energy,” or how many calories your body burns just keeping you alive from day to day. Apple cider vinegar may be able to boost that rate slightly so that you burn more.
We have only small studies so far indicating this may be possible. However, in one published in 2006, researchers found that after eight weeks of a diet that included acetic acid ― the same acid as that in apple cider vinegar ― not only were blood sugar levels lower, but levels of an enzyme responsible for fat burning were higher. This same enzyme also helps decrease fat and sugar production in the liver.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar Helps Keep You Full
One of the reasons that weight loss is so difficult is that we tend to feel hungry between meals. Apple cider vinegar, when added to a meal, can help increase feelings of satiety so that it’s easier to resist between-meal snacks.
Researchers tested it out in a small study in Sweden. After an overnight fast, participants consumed varying amounts of vinegar, containing 18, 23, and 28 millimoles of acetic acid, with white bread at breakfast. Scientists then took blood tests to measure blood sugar levels.
Results showed that the vinegar helped normalize blood sugar levels after the meal and also helped participants feel fuller. The higher the amount of vinegar they consumed, the better the insulin response, and the higher the satiety score too.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar Helps Suppress Appetite
Feeling satisfied after a meal can help you avoid snacks in between, but what about your appetite as a whole?
Curbing appetite during meals and in between can be a big help when you’re trying to lose weight. There is some evidence that apple cider vinegar can help in this way too and may even help you reduce your cravings for sweet, salty and junky foods that are bad for you.
In a 2014 study, researchers showed that when we consume acetic acid, it breaks down to acetate ― a salt or ester of acetic acid ― and moves from the stomach to the brain, crossing the blood-brain barrier.
There, it works with the neurons in the brain to help suppress appetite so that you’re not thinking about food. Scientists also found in that study that the acetic acid activated changes in the neuropeptides in the brain that favored appetite suppression.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar Reduces Belly Fat
Belly fat not only looks unsightly, but it is also the most dangerous fat we can accumulate. It surrounds our vital organs and has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, and some forms of cancer, including breast and colon cancers.
It seems all too easy to accumulate fat around the belly, and so difficult to lose it. Apple cider vinegar may help. Acetic acid suppresses fat accumulation and consuming a daily dose may help to trim your waist circumference while reducing abdominal fat mass. Because it balances blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity, it can also make your body less likely to store fat after a meal.
As noted in the 2009 study mentioned above, those who regularly consumed an apple cider vinegar beverage experienced decreases not only in overall weight but in visceral fat as well, such as the kind usually found in the belly.
How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar in Your Weight-loss Efforts
The best way to gain potential weight-loss benefits from apple cider vinegar is to incorporate it into an overall weight-loss plan that includes increased exercise, a lower-calorie diet, and reduced stress as stress contributes to weight gain.
Below are some tips for how to do that:
- Use apple cider vinegar more often in your cooking.
- Mix a couple of tablespoons with fresh juice or a glass of water in the morning. You can also add it to sparkling water.
- Add a tablespoon to your morning cup of tea, along with a little honey.
- Make your own salad dressing by replacing red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar with apple cider vinegar, then add in a little honey or mustard to mask the taste.
- Make a marinade that includes apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and herbs.
- Mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and pour over grilled or roasted vegetables.
- Fill a spray bottle with apple cider vinegar and spray lightly over popcorn, then top with a little salt or black pepper.
- Add a tablespoon of vinegar to any smoothie.
- Add a tablespoon of vinegar to a can of beans.
Johnston, C. S., Kim, C. M., & Buller, A. J. (2003). Vinegar Improves Insulin Sensitivity to a High-Carbohydrate Meal in Subjects With Insulin Resistance or Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care, 27(1), 281-282. doi:10.2337/diacare.27.1.281
Johnston, C. S., Steplewska, I., Long, C. A., Harris, L. N., & Ryals, R. H. (2010). Examination of the Antiglycemic Properties of Vinegar in Healthy Adults. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 56(1), 74-79. doi:10.1159/000272133
Kondo, T., Kishi, M., Fushimi, T., Ugajin, S., & Kaga, T. (2009). Vinegar Intake Reduces Body Weight, Body Fat Mass, and Serum Triglyceride Levels in Obese Japanese Subjects. Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, 73(8), 1837-1843. doi:10.1271/bbb.90231
Sakakibara, S., Yamauchi, T., Oshima, Y., Tsukamoto, Y., & Kadowaki, T. (2006). Acetic acid activates hepatic AMPK and reduces hyperglycemia in diabetic KK-A(y) mice. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 344(2), 597-604. doi:10.1016/j.bbrc.2006.03.176
White, A. M., & Johnston, C. S. (2007). Vinegar Ingestion at Bedtime Moderates Waking Glucose Concentrations in Adults With Well-Controlled Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care, 30(11), 2814-2815. doi:10.2337/dc07-1062
Östman, E., Granfeldt, Y., Persson, L., & Björck, I. (2005). Vinegar supplementation lowers glucose and insulin responses and increases satiety after a bread meal in healthy subjects. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 59(9), 983-988. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602197