Can Apple Cider Vinegar help you lose Weight?
19 June 2021
by Dr Paul Barrington Chell and Dr Monique Hope-Ross
Apple cider vinegar has a long pedigree, shrouded in mystery; a folklore remedy found in many cultures from the Babylonians to the Aryans to Samurai warriors, who used it for strength and power.
More than 2,000 years ago, Hippocrates recognised its value as an antiseptic, and latterly, apple cider vinegar was used to treat wounds in the battle fields of WW1 and the US civil war. In recent years, people have explored its use in heart health, weight loss and diabetes.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is apple juice, which has been fermented by yeast, the sugar in the fruit is converted into acetic acid. Acetic acid gives the vinegar its strong taste and smell. You will notice that some apple cider vinegar is dark with wispy bits floating and some is clear. These are some of the good bits; probiotic bacteria and protein, called ‘the mother’ but sometimes manufacturers filter these out out to give a clear vinegar.
Can I lose Weight if I take Apple Cider Vinegar?
It has been suggested that apple cider vinegar may suppresses your appetite and make you feel fuller, hence the link to weight loss. Animal studies show weight loss benefits, but there is a paucity of studies in humans proving weight loss benefits. 1, 2 A detailed review of these studies was undertaken by Launholt. 3 Their conclusion was that there is currently insufficient evidence to support the use of apple cider vinegar as a weight loss treatment. This does not mean that apple cider vinegar is of no value in weight loss, it means that there is no proof and more research is needed. But all is not lost-apple cider vinegar may be a useful food to improve your metabolism.
The Effect of Apple Cider Vinegar on Insulin and Metabolism
After a sugary meal, sugar rushes into the circulation, resulting in very high blood sugar levels. High blood sugar then causes a large insulin release. If this scenario is repeated constantly over prolonged periods of time, an ever-increasing amount of insulin is needed to do the same job. This is called insulin resistance. The problem persists, until eventually, there is insufficient insulin to reduce blood sugar and diabetes is not far away. This is where vinegar may help.
Vinegar reduces the speed of sugar absorption, the rise of blood sugar is slowed after a meal, meaning that less insulin is needed. If you need less insulin, the chance of insulin resistance diminishes and you reduce your chance of developing diabetes. So that is a winner! The effect of apple cider vinegar on blood sugar is seen particularly after a sugary meal.
The mechanism of the vinegar action in reducing blood sugar, following a meal is still unknown. A theory related to gastric emptying has been discounted. 4 It may be the effect on digestive enzymes or an effect on the muscles by increasing their sugar uptake from the blood.
In a trial, subjects were given 20g of apple cider vinegar, or a placebo drink. Immediately after, they were given a sugary meal, a buttered bagel, and orange juice, containing 87g of carbs. Insulin release and blood sugar were compared between the group who had had the apple cider vinegar and those who had not. The rise in sugar was less in the group who had the apple cider vinegar compared to the placebo. 5
This type of study has been replicated by other scientists and a recent review confirmed that there is considerable support for the positive role of vinegar in this reducing blood sugar after a meal. 6 Apple cider vinegar has been suggested in people with diabetes to help to control blood sugar, but further research is needed. 7, 8
If you do not develop insulin resistance, your metabolism will reward you. A healthier metabolism is a healthier you and while it won’t help you to lose weight directly, it may help to make weight loss much easier.
Other Health Benefits
Other potential health benefits of apple cider vinegar include its probiotic properties, and its antioxidant properties from polyphenols. Probiotics support healthy gut bugs, which are critical for good health. Polyphenols, natural antioxidants contribute to the control of inflammation, with a reduced risk of long-term conditions such as heart disease, cancer and stokes.
How do I take it?
If apple cider vinegar is taken in moderate amounts, it is regarded as safe. Larger amounts may be associated with tooth erosion and potassium has been reported to fall to dangerously low levels, although this is rare. 9 There may be stomach upsets, throat problems and interactions with medications.
The commonest way to incorporate apple cider vinegar into your diet is to add one or two tablespoons (10-30ml) per day to water or tea. Apple cider vinegar is among the most acidic foods taken and it isn’t a good idea to drink straight vinegar, as it may damage your tooth enamel. Apple cider vinegar can also be used in foods such as salad dressings, sauces, or soups. Take the vinegar before a meal to reduce your blood sugar after the meal.
- Apple cider vinegar, a ubiquitous remedy, has been taken for centuries - ‘The mother’ is the clumped bacteria and protein
- Live apple cider vinegar with ‘mother’ is a probiotic
- Apple cider vinegar contains polyphenols - Apple cider vinegar has been used as an antiseptic
- Apple cider vinegar reduces the spike in blood sugar after sugary meals
- This effect reduces insulin resistance, a major factor in the development of diabetes
- Your metabolism may benefit from reduction in blood sugar
- Take apple cider vinegar with other fluids-tea or water to avoid tooth erosion
- In low doses, it is regarded as safe, but it may interact with other medications, cause low potassium and tooth erosion
- Current scientific evidence does not support the benefit of apple cider vinegar in weight loss