Written By: Autumn Enloe, MS, RD, LD, CLT
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has been used for thousands of years for both health and medicinal purposes (1).
In fact, some claim that Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used it to help with coughs and colds.
ACV is a vinegar that's widely known for its antimicrobial & antioxidant properties, and some claim it’s also beneficial for weight loss.
So, can apple cider vinegar help promote weight loss? This article will look into this claim.
Apple cider vinegar is a type of vinegar made from apple cider through a fermentation process.
During this process, yeast is added to the apple cider to break down the sugar and convert it to alcohol. After that, bacteria is added, which converts the alcohol into a compound called acetic acid.
The bacteria is referred to as the “mother” since it plays a key role in the fermentation process. Many store-bought varieties of ACV will have the “mother” removed, but it’s actually one of the healthiest parts of the bottle.
After bacteria is added, the alcohol goes through a second fermentation process to make the “vinegar”.
Acetic acid is the most important component of ACV; it makes up about 5-6% of apple cider vinegar. This acid gives ACV its characteristic strong, sour flavor, and provides a variety of health benefits.
Additionally, ACV also contains water and other acids, vitamins and minerals (3).
Note: Although ACV is produced in a similar way to other vinegars, the main difference is that it’s made from apples (versus grapes or rice).
How can apple cider vinegar help with weight loss?Here’s what the research says.
Insulin sensitivity is a term used to describe how sensitive the body’s cells are to insulin. Ideally, our cells have a high sensitivity to insulin; meaning that our body can use glucose effectively and support stable blood sugar.
A low sensitivity (or insulin resistance) means the body’s cells, muscles and liver don’t respond well to insulin, and aren’t able to use glucose for energy as effectively. This results in a buildup of glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream, and may lead to conditions like type 2 diabetes or weight gain.
One small study found ACV to significantly improve post-meal insulin sensitivity in those with insulin resistance. Acetic acid found in apple cider vinegar was thought to be the reason behind this (4).
Another study found vinegar to reduce postprandial blood sugar, as well as lower elevated insulin and triglyceride levels (5).
Overeating is often a roadblock for weight loss, so incorporating foods that help support a feeling of fullness is key for weight management.
One study looked at the impact of ACV when taken with a high carbohydrate food. Glucose and insulin levels were measured, and results found the higher the acetic acid level, the lower the metabolic responses.
Not only did the acetic acid in ACV help reduce post-meal blood glucose and insulin levels, but it also increased the participants’ satiety (6).
Another study found a significantly higher satiety score for participants who incorporated a combination of cinnamon with acetic acid at a meal compared to the placebo group (7).
Additionally, a randomized study found that those who were given apple cider vinegar along with a restricted calorie diet reduced weight, hip circumference, and appetite score (8).
Antioxidants play a key role in reducing stress and inflammation in the body, and incorporating foods high in antioxidants can be beneficial for weight loss (9).
One animal study found that apple cider vinegar helps increase antioxidant activity in the body; specifically Vitamin E (a key antioxidant). Researchers also found an increase in levels of magnesium, calcium, copper after apple cider vinegar consumption (10).
Another animal study found that a daily intake of apple cider vinegar helped improve cholesterol levels and triglycerides, and reduced oxidative stress significantly (11).
When it comes to incorporating apple cider vinegar into your day, there’s several things to keep in mind.
Although apple cider vinegar provides several health benefits, it’s definitely not the cure-all for weight loss. Plus, most research on the benefits of apple cider vinegar are small or animal studies.
What it really comes down to is taking a look at your eating habits as a whole, vs. focusing on just one food item or beverage.
The best recipe for weight loss involves things like focusing on eating whole foods, incorporating daily exercise, managing stress, getting enough sleep at night, reducing toxin exposure, and having accountability.
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