Chances are you have a bottle of apple cider vinegar (ACV) in your kitchen right now. For centuries people have been using apple cider vinegar for different purposes. The versatility of ACV is truly outstanding; ranging from cleaning to culinary uses and skincare. Health benefits are also numerous and many people use it to slim down. But, does ACV really promote weight loss? If so, how to use it? Scroll down to learn more.
Can You Lose Weight with Apple Cider Vinegar?
If you have been looking for weight loss tips, you probably came across claims apple cider vinegar could help. Are those claims true? Several studies have been carried out on this subject. One of those studies was published in the Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry journal.
In the study, participants were randomized into three groups. One group received 15ml of vinegar, the second group received 30ml of vinegar, and the third was the placebo group. After the 12-week treatment period, body weight, BMI, visceral fat area, waist circumference, and triglyceride levels were lower in both vinegar groups compared to placebo. Scientists concluded daily intake of vinegar could prevent metabolic syndrome through the reduction of obesity (1). In other words, the study confirmed the weight loss benefits of ACV.
A paper from the Scientific Reports also reported the benefits of ACV for weight loss. The main active compound in apple cider vinegar, acetic acid, has the potential to reduce food intake associated with a high-fat diet. Additionally, acetic acid can alter gut microbiota and contribute to significant weight loss (2).
The Journal of Medicinal Food also published a study with similar findings. The study found that apple cider vinegar can be beneficial for the suppression of obesity-induced oxidative stress in a high-fat diet by modulating an antioxidant defense system and reducing the risk of obesity-associated diseases through the prevention of atherogenic risk (3).
How Does Apple Cider Vinegar Promote Weight Loss?
Okay, now that we have established apple cider vinegar could promote weight loss it’s impossible not to wonder how it happens.
Energy boost and fat burning
The benefits of ACV for weight loss are primarily down to acetic acid. You see, acetic acid is a short-chain fatty acid that dissolves into acetate and hydrogen in the body. Acetic acid supports weight loss through several mechanisms of action. One of those mechanisms is lowering blood sugar levels. Studies show acetic acid has the potential to improve the ability of the liver and muscles to take up sugar from food (4). That sugar serves as a fuel i.e. source of energy that fuels your workouts. It’s also useful to mention that acetic acid can reduce the ratio of insulin to glucagon, which may promote fat burning.
Acetic acid from apple cider vinegar can increase the levels of an enzyme AMPK (5). This enzyme increases fat burning and lowers the production of fat and sugar in the liver. Faster metabolism allows you to burn more calories even when resting. Many people have a slow metabolism and are prone to weight gain or it’s difficult for them to slim down. Apple cider vinegar could accelerate your metabolism and thereby help you lose more weight.
Overeating is a common problem for many people. The constant feeling of hunger even shortly after a meal leads to excessive intake of calories. What happens next is weight gain. While diet is an obvious solution it’s easier said than done. Your appetite is still big and you tend to eat a lot during meals. For this reason, you need to adjust your diet so that it contains appetite suppressing ingredients. Fiber is always a good choice. Apple cider vinegar can be helpful too. Evidence shows acetate may suppress centers in the brain that control appetite, which may lead to lower food intake (6).
In addition to appetite suppressing effects, ACV can also slow the rate at which food leaves the stomach. This also increases fullness and helps you avoid overeating.
When we’re talking about ACV and increased feeling of fullness it’s important to mention some people may not benefit from this. Persons with gastroparesis or delayed stomach emptying (a common complication of type 1 diabetes) could make it difficult to time insulin.
Apple cider vinegar is low in calories
Thanks to acetic acid, apple cider vinegar can support effective weight loss. What makes it a useful addition to a weight loss strategy is its low caloric nature. About 100g (about ½ cup) of apple cider vinegar has only around 22 calories. Therefore, adding ACV to your daily routine could be a low caloric method to slim down with something you can make in your kitchen.
How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Weight Loss?
At this point, you know ACV could benefit weight loss and how it works. But, how to use it? When it comes to the usage of apple cider vinegar the first thing you need to know is the dosage i.e. how much to take to experience desired effects.
While some studies have confirmed the beneficial impact of ACV on weight loss, a lot more research on this subject is necessary. Further studies could elucidate all the mechanisms of action and find the best doses.
At the moment, the amount of apple cider vinegar for weight loss is one to two tablespoons (15-30ml) a day. The safest way to use ACV, however, is to start small. If you plan to use apple cider vinegar for weight loss, you may want to start with a small dose of 5ml first. Do so for a while to see how your body will react and whether you tolerate it. That will help you determine whether it’s safe for you to take the average dose of apple cider vinegar.
You should never use apple cider vinegar on its own. Don’t pour it into a glass or on a teaspoon and drink. Instead, you need to dilute ACV in water to avoid ingesting too much acid (7). Doing so could burn the inside of the mouth and your esophagus.
For that reason, the most practical thing you can do is to spread the daily dose (15-30ml) into two to three smaller doses throughout the day. The reason is simple, smaller amounts are easier on your oral cavity, esophagus, and digestive system. But if you take one tablespoon (15ml) of apple cider vinegar immediately, you could experience nausea. Long-term effects of taking too much ACV may include erosion of tooth enamel (8) and drug interactions.
It could be best to drink apple cider vinegar before meals. Here are a few suggestions on how to do so.
Besides drinking ACV diluted in water, the easiest way to consume it is to use it with olive oil as a salad dressing. Apple cider vinegar is the perfect match for cucumbers, tomatoes, and leafy green vegetables. You can also use it to pickle vegetables.
Apple cider vinegar is also used for marinades. While marinades usually tenderize and flavor meat, they can also work well in vegan cooking for tofu and tempeh. Since it’s acidic, apple cider vinegar breaks down the food’s surface and allows the flavor to get inside. It works well in combination with sugar and salt.
You can also use apple cider vinegar when cooking. For example, you can braise dark leafy greens like kale and spinach in oil or water and spices, then add ACV and let everything cook down. This trick also works on braised and baked beans. In these combinations, apple cider vinegar balances out the saltiness.
Buttermilk is fermented dairy milk used in baking. A combination of acidic milk and baking soda gives a softer texture to the dough. You can use apple cider vinegar to make a vegan alternative for buttermilk. What you need to do here is to combine one cup of soy milk with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Vegan buttermilk typically lasts three days. Make sure to store it in an airtight container and keep buttermilk in a fridge (9).
Some people use apple cider vinegar to make a wellness tonic. They do so in several ways. One option is to combine apple cider vinegar with hot water and lemon every morning. Another option is to combine ACV with pineapple juice or orange juice every morning as well.
Word of Caution
Even though ACV could be helpful for weight loss and you can use it in different ways, you still need to be careful. You should not drink apple cider vinegar solution or use it for weight loss before consulting your doctor first. The healthcare provider will explain whether it’s safe for you to use ACV for this purpose or not. You may also want to consult a reputable and knowledgeable nutritionist on the matter.
When consumed too frequently and in large doses, apple cider vinegar could cause the following adverse reactions:
- Delayed stomach emptying: While this effect may be useful for weight loss, in persons with type 1 diabetes and its complication called gastroparesis delayed stomach emptying can aggravate the condition. Drinking water with 30ml of apple cider vinegar immediately increases the amount of food that stays in the stomach compared to drinking water alone (10). This can make it difficult to time your insulin administration. Generally speaking, to avoid this problem and to still obtain ACV benefits it’s useful to avoid drinking more than 30ml, start small, and spread out an average dose into several smaller doses throughout the day
- Digestive side effects: In some persons taking too much ACV can cause nausea and indigestion due to unpleasant taste (11)
- Low potassium levels and bone loss: Even though there are no controlled studies on the effects of ACV on blood potassium levels and bone health, some case studies confirm the connection. One case report of low blood potassium and bone loss was attributed to excessive intake of apple cider vinegar over a longer period of time. The 28-year-old woman was admitted to the hospital with low potassium levels and blood abnormalities. She was also diagnosed with osteoporosis, a condition that rarely affects the young population. Doctors found that abnormally high doses of ACV could be the culprit (12). The point here is that taking too much ACV doesn’t equal better results. Instead, it may cause side effects (like with everything else – the more isn’t always the better)
- Erosion of tooth enamel: As mentioned above, taking too much apple cider vinegar can contribute to the erosion of tooth enamel and it’s all because of the acetic acid. Erosion of tooth enamel is accompanied by the loss of minerals and tooth decay. These effects are particularly pronounced in persons who drink too much ACV undiluted
- Throat burns: ACV can cause throat or esophageal burns. Just like with tooth erosion, the main culprit here is acetic acid which may be too strong for delicate and smooth surfaces such as the esophagus. This effect is more severe in cases when apple cider vinegar is consumed undiluted and in abnormal quantities
- Drug interactions: Apple cider vinegar may interact with diabetes medications, Digoxin (Lanoxin), and some diuretic drugs. In persons who take diabetes medications, ACV may contribute to dangerously low blood sugar and potassium levels. Digoxin is generally taken to lower potassium levels so when combined with ACV it could dramatically decrease the concentration of this mineral. Some diuretics promote the excretion of potassium out of the body. So, when you combine these drugs with apple cider vinegar, the body may excrete more potassium than normal (13).
Not every person who consumes apple cider vinegar will experience side effects. The above-mentioned adverse reactions may be present in excessive intake of apple cider vinegar, especially when it’s undiluted. To stay safe you need to avoid taking too much apple cider vinegar, always dilute it, and consult your doctor. Consulting a healthcare provider is particularly important if you’re taking medications.
Your Weight Loss Strategy Should Include More Than ACV
While apple cider vinegar has been proven to help with weight loss in some studies, you shouldn’t rely on its intake only. Weight loss is a proper journey that requires lifestyle modification, a well-balanced diet, and regular exercise. You also need to set realistic goals and expectations (14) and strive to achieve them.
When it comes to diet, well-balanced consumption yields the most benefits. Fad dieting isn’t healthy due to restrictive nature that may help a person shed a few pounds which tend to come back later. The most robust effects occur in diets that combine high-protein with anti-inflammatory and anti-insulinemic diets (15).
In other words, apple cider vinegar should be an adjunct to a healthy lifestyle and a well-structured weight loss plan. It is not a replacement for healthy eating and an active lifestyle.
Several studies have shown apple cider vinegar could help with weight loss. The easiest way to take ACV is to dilute it in water, but there are other options too. You may want to start small. When taking the average dosage it’s more practical to spread it into two to three smaller doses. Consult your doctor before you start using ACV for weight loss.