Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help You Lose Weight? An RD’s Take & How to Make It
When you look up all the various ways to lose weight, apple cider vinegar shows up, but the question is, would shooting back some apple cider vinegar actually help you shed a few pounds? The use of apple cider vinegar for health purposes dates back to 400 B.C. in ancient Greece, where Hippocrates, known as the “father of medicine,” prescribed it (along with honey) for its inherent immune benefits to treat ailments such as coughs and colds.
In recent times apple cider vinegar has risen the ranks of pantry staples to become a popular natural elixir, due to its health benefits and purported ability to promote weight loss. There is some evidence that if weight loss is your goal, ACV may help. The all-natural compound is easy to keep on hand, considering that you can make your own at home.
Does apple cider vinegar help you lose weight?
If you’re sick of flip-flopping between diets to try to lose stubborn belly fat, adding apple cider vinegar to your routine may be just the thing you need to kick-start your weight loss journey. One of the main components in apple cider vinegar, acetic acid, has been linked t weight loss due to its role in fat burning.
An oft-cited 2009 study done in Japan on 155 obese patients over a 12 week period looked at how vinegar impacts body fat. The patients were divided into three groups, one that drank beverages containing 750 mg of vinegar, the next drank 1,500 mg, and the third consumed none (and were given placebo). The results found that the groups in both the low and high intake of vinegar lost weight, lowered their percentage of body fat, and reduced their waist circumferences, compared to those in the placebo group. Those subjects who were in the 1,500 mg vinegar group (the stronger stuff) had the most improvement in all areas, including lowering their BMI. These results had researchers concluding that the higher the acetic acid content the more it can help burn fat effectively.
In a 2018 study of 39 subjects on a calorie-restricted diet, (sustaining a deficit of 250 calories a day), those who drank 30 ml of apple cider vinegar a day lost more weight than those who were on the calorie-restricted diet alone. While this is a small study, the highlights are that those given ACV and dieted decreased their body weight and lowered their BMI, decreased hip circumference, and reduced their triglyceride concentration, while increasing their HDL or good cholesterol levels. The study also found that giving the subjects apple cider vinegar helped suppress appetite, making it easier to stay on the restricted calorie diet.
More recent studies, like one from 2021 published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, have shown different outcomes. This systematic review of 16 studies found that there were no marked changes in weight, body fat percentage, or BMI with the consumption of 750 up to 3,600 mg of acetic acid a day.
More research needs to be conducted to determine if apple cider vinegar can actually help promote fat burning or weight loss over time. On the plus side, consuming apple cider vinegar has minimal adverse effects, if you wanted to test it out.
The health benefits of apple cider vinegar
Although it’s up in the air on whether or not apple cider vinegar can actually assist with weight loss, there are other benefits it may bring to your health.
- Contains probiotics: Because apple cider vinegar is a fermented product, it’s considered a probiotic food due to the bacteria. According to Harvard Health, probiotics are great for your gut and can prevent issues like diarrhea, IBS, and UTIs. When choosing an apple cider vinegar, go with one that contains “the mother.” This means the fermentation process has built up a desirable amount of nutrients to bring these benefits.
- May decrease blood sugar: It’s believed that the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar can help with the digestion process of starch, leaving you with less of a blood sugar spike after high carb meals. A 2017 review published in Diabetes Research & Clinical Practice determined this could be true, with many studies showing participants who consumed vinegar had a significant drop in their blood glucose and insulin levels after a meal compared to control groups.
- Can lower cholesterol: High LDL or so-called “bad” cholesterol and triglyceride levels can lead to serious complications and heart disease. The 2018 study published in the Journal of Functional Foods found that participants who ate a low-calorie diet and apple cider vinegar saw a decrease in their triglycerides and total cholesterol levels, compared to the placebo group. Not only that, but the apple cider vinegar group had a significant boost in their HDL “good” cholesterol levels.
How to make apple cider vinegar at home
If you’re interested in creating your own batch of apple cider vinegar, it’s simple, though not a fast process, taking 2 to 4 weeks. The first step is to make apple cider with fresh, washed apples. When in the cider-making process, you can stop the fermentation to determine whether you get sweet or dry cider. To form vinegar, keep going past the dry stage.
The remaining process requires you to store the juice in a cool, dry place and allow it to ferment (use a wide container to expose it to as much oxygen as possible and cover it with a cheesecloth to not allow particles or bugs to land in it). After that, strain the vinegar through the cheesecloth and heat it to 170 degrees for at least 10 minutes. After that point, seal your finished product in bottles for use in recipes or as a tonic.
You can find a step-by-step process and the tools you need here, thanks to the University of Georgia and Ft. Valley State University.
Bottom Line: Apple cider vinegar may help with weight loss and fat burning
Studies have shown the acid in apple cider vinegar appears to help burn fat, but more research needs to be done to confirm that. Fortunately, apple cider vinegar has been linked with other health benefits and has limited side effects so if you want to try it, go ahead.
Don’t feel like making your own apple cider vinegar at home? Check out this article for our favorite Apple Cider Vinegar Gummy and a list of other plant-based health-boosting products you should try today.