Apple cider vinegar is a fermented liquid made from aged apple cider and has many uses. It’s a tasty ingredient for making salad dressings, but some people regard it as more. They believe that consuming apple cider vinegar makes it easier to lose weight, and may even improve their metabolic health. Is there any truth to this idea? Let’s look at what science has found so far about apple cider vinegar and its potential weight loss benefits.
How Apple Cider Vinegar Might Enhance Weight Loss
Studies show that apple cider vinegar modestly lowers the rise in glucose you get after eating a food. With apple cider vinegar on board, your glucose doesn’t rise as much after a meal, and your body doesn’t need to make as much insulin. When there’s less insulin around, your body can more easily break down fat and is less likely to store it, leading to weight gain. Another way to look at it is apple cider vinegar improves insulin sensitivity, which is good for your waistline and metabolic health. When you have better insulin sensitivity, you’re less likely to accumulate deep belly fat called visceral fat.
There’s another way apple cider vinegar may give you a weight-loss edge. It has a mild appetite-suppressing effect, meaning you may eat less when you add vinegar to a meal. One way it reduces appetite is by slowing the rate at which food exits your stomach. So, your stomach stays distended longer. A stretched stomach activates hormones that turn off your appetite.
The active ingredient responsible for the blood-sugar-lowering benefits of apple cider vinegar is acetic acid. Some sources also say that acetic acid modestly boosts resting metabolic rate, although there are few studies to support this statement. If it does, the benefits will likely be modest.
How Effective is Apple Cider Vinegar for Weight Loss?
It’s one thing to have theories and mechanisms by which apple cider vinegar helps with weight loss and weight control, but does it hold up under scientific scrutiny? There are several studies showing that apple cider vinegar helps with weight loss and weight control. One study of 39 people placed on a low-carb diet found that those who added apple cider vinegar to their diet lost more weight over 12 weeks than those who ate only a low-calorie diet without vinegar.
But as Mayo Clinic points out, apple cider vinegar is unlikely to be a magic bullet for weight loss. You’ll get better results if you eat an unprocessed diet, and limit sugar in your diet. However, apple cider vinegar may help with hunger control, and it’s a terrific way to top a salad.
Are There Drawbacks and Risks to Using Apple Cider Vinegar for Weight Loss?
Vinegar is a weak acid, but still has enough acidity to damage and wear away the enamel on your teeth. Some people drink undiluted apple cider vinegar, but don’t do it. It’s hard on your tooth enamel. Once the enamel on your teeth thins or wears away, there’s no way to replace it. There’s also some question about whether the acidity of apple cider vinegar can irritate or damage other delicate tissues, like the lining of your esophagus. If you drink apple cider vinegar, always dilute it to a concentration no higher than 1.5 teaspoons of vinegar in 8 ounces of water.
Another potential downside of apple cider vinegar is its ability to affect digestion. Since it slows the movement of food out of the stomach, it can cause bloating and flatulence. That’s not necessarily a good idea for people with diabetes. Some diabetics already have a condition called gastroparesis, where their stomach already empties too slowly. Apple cider vinegar could worsen this condition.
Another precaution is that apple cider vinegar can trigger a drop in potassium. Some people take diuretics that lower potassium for blood pressure control. The combination of these medications and apple cider vinegar could lead to a significant drop in potassium. Talk to your physician before adding apple cider vinegar to your diet, especially if you take medications.
The Bottom Line
Adding apple cider vinegar to your diet may offer some benefits, including reducing the post-meal rise in glucose and curbing your appetite, but it alone is unlikely to have a major impact on your body weight. However, in combination with a healthy diet low in refined carbohydrates and exercise, it could make losing weight a little easier. But remember, it’s about the totality of your diet and lifestyle. Apple cider vinegar isn’t a “miracle cure” for weight loss.
- “Apple cider vinegar diet: Does it really work? – Harvard ….” 25 Apr. 2018, health.harvard.edu/blog/apple-cider-vinegar-diet-does-it-really-work-2018042513703.
- Journal of Functional Foods. Volume 43, April 2018, Pages 95-102.
- “Apple cider vinegar for weight loss – Mayo Clinic.” 18 Apr. 2020, mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/expert-answers/apple-cider-vinegar-for-weight-loss/faq-20058394.
- Gambon DL, Brand HS, Veerman EC. Ongezond afslanken. Erosie door appelazijn [Unhealthy weight loss. Erosion by apple cider vinegar]. Ned Tijdschr Tandheelkd. 2012 Dec;119(12):589-91. Dutch. doi: 10.5177/ntvt.2012.12.12192. PMID: 23373303.