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Can Apple Cider Vinegar Help You Lose Weight?

Written by Emily Hirsch, MS, RD

Reviewed by Anthony Dugarte, MD 

Last Updated on May 31, 2021

Many health gurus claim that apple cider vinegar can help you lose weight. But is there any validity to these claims?

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Can Apple Cider Vinegar Help You Lose Weight?
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For thousands of years, apple cider vinegar, also known as ACV, has been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments.

From coughs to wound healing, ACV has managed to persevere as a steadfast tonic in the medicinal world.

In recent years, apple cider vinegar has gained popularity as a beverage that may carry a host of health benefits with it.

Some people believe ACV can lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, improve skin health, along other health claims.

In addition to these purported benefits, many people are turning to apple cider vinegar to help with their weight loss efforts.

But can apple cider help you lose weight?

What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar is made from apples and water that have fermented over time.

During this two-step process, yeast is added to apple juice which ferments the sugar and turns it into alcohol.

In the second step, bacteria are added to convert the alcohol to acetic acid, turning the liquid into vinegar.

Approximately 5–6% of ACV consists of acetic acid, which is the main active component.

It also contains water and trace amounts of other acids, like malic acid, citric acid, and lactic acid.

Research on Apple Cider Vinegar and Weight Loss

If you’re wondering if apple cider vinegar can help you lose weight, you are not alone. In fact, the apple cider vinegar diet is one of the fastest-growing weight loss trends.

But before you dive in, it’s prudent to explore the research surrounding the use of ACV for weight loss.

A 2018 randomized, controlled trial with 39 participants looked at apple cider vinegar and its effect on weight loss.

All of the study participants were placed on a calorie-restricted diet for 12 weeks.

One group was given 30 mL/day of apple cider vinegar, while the other group was given a placebo.

The apple cider vinegar group lost more weight (ACV group lost an average of 4 kg versus 2.3 kg in the control group) and body fat and had reduced levels of triglycerides and total cholesterol compared to the control group.

It is important to note that this study was quite small and short term.

One older study looked at the effects of apple cider vinegar intake on the reduction of body fat mass.

In the study, 144 people with obesity were assigned to drink either 1 to 2 tablespoons of ACV daily for 12 weeks or a placebo.

At the end of the 12 weeks, body weight, BMI, visceral fat area, waist circumference, and triglyceride levels were significantly lower in the vinegar group than in the placebo group.

Again, while this research appears encouraging, this study is also small and does not address the use of ACV for longer-term or sustainable weight loss.

Another older study showed that taking apple cider vinegar may suppress your appetite.

In the study, researchers found that participants who drank vinegar before a meal consumed up to 275 fewer calories throughout the rest of the day.

Researchers theorize that the acetic acid found in ACV slows stomach emptying, which may prolong the sense of fullness after a meal.

However, larger-scale studies are needed to confirm the link between apple cider vinegar and weight loss.

Apple Cider Vinegar and Blood Sugar

Some research suggests that drinking apple cider vinegar may potentially support your weight loss efforts by helping to stabilize your blood sugars.

Blood sugar highs and lows tend to increase your cravings for sugary snacks.

Taking ACV to stabilize your blood sugar may help manage cravings and portion control, which could lead to a reduction in calories consumed.

For example, one 2013 study found that drinking apple cider vinegar before eating was linked to smaller blood sugar spikes.

A reduction in blood sugar spikes may help curb cravings for empty-calorie foods.

The study was short-term and only had 14 participants. Therefore, larger-scale studies would be needed to assess whether apple cider vinegar can help with blood sugar control.

Another older study showed that having 2 teaspoons of ACV during mealtime may help reduce sugar crashes and keep blood sugar levels stable.

It is unclear as to why, but researchers theorize that there are compounds in apple cider vinegar that may interfere with the absorption of some starches.

What Is the Apple Cider Vinegar Diet?

The apple cider vinegar diet isn’t a diet in the traditional sense. There isn’t a list of food restrictions, calorie counting, or meal plans that accompany the diet.

Instead, the ACV diet entails having 1–2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar before each meal.

Many people opt to dilute the vinegar with a combination of various ingredients, including water, lemon juice, or seltzer.

There are many different recipes for ACV drinks that can be found online.

Additionally, you may come across ACV pills and gummies, as these supplements are increasing in popularity.

How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar to Lose Weight

If you’re thinking about drinking apple cider vinegar to lose weight, you may want to consider the following tips:

  • Start by taking 1 teaspoon (5 ml) at a time to gauge your tolerance level. Taking too much at one time may cause nausea.
  • Try slowly building up to drinking 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 ml) of ACV before meals. This will increase the chances that the vinegar will help you feel fuller for longer and help stabilize your blood sugars after a meal.
  • Choose an apple cider vinegar that is labeled “raw” and “unfiltered.” This higher-quality vinegar contains protein, enzymes, and healthy bacteria.
  • Rather than drinking it, try mixing apple cider vinegar with olive oil as a salad dressing.

  • Don’t take more than the recommended dose. Doing so could result in tooth erosion, burning of the mouth and throat, burning of the stomach, and increased nausea.

Other Possible Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

There is some research to suggest that taking apple cider vinegar may offer other health benefits:

Diabetes Management

One recent review of the research suggests that vinegar may help in diabetes management as it may play an important role in carbohydrate management.

Scientists also pointed out that the quantity and quality of evidence are lacking.

Therefore, it’s difficult to provide definitive information regarding the effectiveness and safety of vinegar for all individuals with diabetes.

Reducing Cholesterol

One study looked at the consumption of ACV over an 8 week period. The study found that apple cider vinegar significantly reduced LDL cholesterol levels and triglycerides.

Researchers suggested that ACV may be used as a simple and cost-effective treatment for high cholesterol.

Safety

Apple cider vinegar is generally safe to take. Still, it is best to speak with your healthcare provider before taking ACV or any other nutritional supplement to ensure its safety for you.

Studies indicate that taking ACV at 90 mL (4500 mg) was safe over the course of 4 weeks.

One 2014 study found that taking 25 grams of vinegar increased nausea in healthy subjects.

The Bottom Line

The scientific evidence that taking apple cider vinegar can help with weight loss is not all that compelling.

While some studies suggest that ACV may help in your weight loss efforts, the studies are quite small, and they are all lacking in long-term evidence.

A Word from Our RD

Drinking apple cider vinegar for weight loss without addressing other lifestyle factors will likely not help you shed pounds.

While some of the research is encouraging, the studies surrounding apple cider vinegar for weight loss are small and short-term.

Sustainable weight loss isn’t found in a pill or at the bottom of your vinegar bottle.

Sustainable weight loss involves making lifestyle changes that address your daily habits.

Increasing your physical activity, drinking more water, increasing your fruit and vegetable consumption, and limiting your intake of processed foods will help your weight loss efforts.

If you are trying to lose weight, adding apple cider vinegar to your diet likely won’t hurt as it is generally safe with limited side effects.

However, without making other lifestyle changes, it will fall short of the miracle elixir you may have been hoping for.

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