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Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help Weight Loss?

Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help Weight Loss?

Few foods are as storied as the apple. Thanks to its widespread availability, it may not seem like a very exotic fruit, but it’s still significant to people and cultures all around the world — not just as a healthy staple, but as a mythological symbol (and an icon of science, as well).[1][2]

Part of the fruit’s fame lies in its versatility. From its sweet derivatives (like applesauce and apple juice) to the tangy (like apple cider vinegar), this gem of nature has a lot to offer in terms of health benefits. As for that vinegar? It might just be a little-known but vital way of peeling off the pounds.

Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help Weight Loss?

A lot of people want to know whether apple cider vinegar actually helps with weight loss. In a word, yes. Scientists have more than one theory about the underlying biological mechanisms, but the short answer is that it does make a difference. The knowledge we’ve gained from scientific inquiry goes a long way toward helping explain a part of apple history — the fact that vinegar from apples has been used as a medicinal tonic across many cultures, dating back centuries.

Studies using human subjects have shown that not only does apple cider vinegar help reduce weight, it also lowers body fat and serum triglyceride levels (triglycerides are the main constituent of the body’s fat cells).[3]

The research in question comes from a study of 144 Japanese adults suffering from obesity. They were split into three separate groups — one group added a single tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to their daily intake; one added two tablespoons, and the third group consumed a daily placebo.

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The treatment took place over a 12-week period. Other than limiting how much alcohol they drank, participants were not asked to change anything else about their diet or exercise routines.

The results were striking. On average, members of the group that drank one tablespoon of vinegar every day lost 2.6 pounds, experienced a 0.7 percent decrease in body fat, and dropped triglyceride levels by 26 percent — no small feat.

The group that consumed double the vinegar, however, saw even more impressive results — in addition to the same 26 percent drop in triglycerides, those participants lost an average of 3.7 pounds and 0.9 percent of their body fat.

As for those who only had a placebo, no weight loss occurred. In fact, those participants gained weight — 0.9 pounds on average.

One study is good, but science demands replication. Was the weight loss benefit from the Japanese study on obesity just a fluke? Not at all, based in part on the following:

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In terms of metabolism, humans and mice are quite similar, which is why the furry little guys play a big role in lots of nutritional studies. A separate, six-week-long experiment (also in Japan) showed that mice, too, experience weight-loss effects from adding apple cider vinegar to their diets.

Actually, the results were remarkably similar to the human trial; mice who took a high dose of vinegar gained less weight than those who took a lower dose, and both groups gained less than those who took none at all. This is despite each group being fed the same high-fat, high-calorie diet.[4]

How Does This Happen?

Again, there’s some debate about this. In at least one study, researchers were able to demonstrate that acetic acid (apple cider vinegar’s main ingredient) may lower blood sugar levels by aiding the liver and muscles in absorbing glucose from the bloodstream. The lowered blood sugar and insulin reduction that goes along with it, may promote the body’s ability to burn fat. And the more fat you’re able to burn at rest, the better everything goes.[5]

Acetic acid intake also correlates with levels of AMPK, an enzyme that contributes to cell homeostasis. The higher the AMPK availability, the greater the body’s fat-burning ability — and the less sugar produced by the liver, two things that can contribute to the kinds of results seen in the apple cider vinegar studies.[6]

Apparently, consuming extra acetic acid like that found in apple cider vinegar has an effect even on a genetic level — an additional study that treated obese, diabetic rats with acetic acid heightened the expression of certain genes that govern the body’s likelihood of retaining belly and liver fat. In other words, when you’ve got extra acetic acid, your genes are likely to tell your body not to add belly fat to your body — a welcome message.[7]

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Yet another study suggests that the whole thing could be as simple as the fact that acetate consumption reduces appetite. And when you eat less (even if it’s just a little bit less), you give your body a chance to adjust to a lower percentage body fat, etc. [8]

Does Apple Cider Vinegar Alone Work for Weight Loss?

It’s easy to get caught up in the headlines and the idea that something as simple as tossing a bit of vinegar down the hatch can help us accomplish our biggest health goals, but we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves.

Apple cider vinegar can help with weight loss, but that doesn’t mean any of us should go out and stop exercising. Regular exercise, proper hydration, plenty of sleep, and a balanced diet are still crucial factors in both body mass measurements and overall wellbeing (which is something I can personally vouch for).[9]

Additional Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar isn’t just good for knocking inches off your waist, either; it’s got loads of other upsides for your health. For instance, it’s a probiotic, meaning it contains friendly bacteria that help support a healthy digestive ecosystem.

On top of that, it’s got a decent amount of antioxidants, those helpful little molecules that negate free radical damage. And those lowered triglyceride levels do more than just help you retain a pretty shape — they reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes, too.

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How to Reap Its Benefits

If you’re worried about the taste, it’s not as bad as you think. A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed with water actually goes down quite nicely, especially when you add in a dash of honey. There are also plenty of other ways to incorporate it into your food, such as in a salad dressing, deviled eggs, or creamy vegan queso dip.[10]

Be mindful, though — you can get too much of a good thing. Too large a dose of the tonic can burn your throat (ouch!) or give you a stomach ache, not to mention interfere with your bowel regularity. Also, be sure to brush your teeth shortly after drinking it. The primary ingredient is acid, which can wreak havoc on your tooth enamel. To be on the safe side, you can use a straw as an easy workaround for this.

Safe consumption practices include splitting the dose into portions rather than swigging it all at once, and heavily diluting it no matter how much you take. This also helps prevent your throat from feeling raw afterwards.

As far as the “right” dose, a review of apple cider vinegar’s therapeutic benefits found that 15 mL a day was enough to confer most of those. That’s about one tablespoon, or half of what was taken by the biggest losers in the Japanese weight-loss study.[11]

Bottom Line

The bottom line is that apple cider vinegar is probably the least expensive yet most effective health supplement you can pick up from any basic grocery store. There’s plenty of reason to believe that it can help you shave off — or keep off — the pounds.

An apple a day might not keep the doctor away, but based on all this evidence, a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar just might.

More About Healthy Weight Loss

Featured photo credit: Bárbara Montavon via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Dr. David Minkoff

Health Expert | CEO BodyHealth | Co-Owner and Medical Director at Lifeworks Wellness Center | Author

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Last Updated on October 6, 2020

6 Signs It’s Time to Change Your Life

6 Signs It’s Time to Change Your Life

Is it time to make some changes in your life? It just might be. Life is too short to not live it to the fullest.

Here are some signs it’s time to change your life.

1. Every week, you cannot wait for Friday.

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Lifehack_Quotes_579f8e157b18a6ba61516259c5c7d191

    Fridays are fun, but one thing I’ve discovered in my quest to find and do work I absolutely love is that almost every day can be really fun. If you’re saving all your living for the weekends, it’s time to truly think about your lifestyle and consider making some changes. Don’t get me wrong; it’s great to have plans you look forward to on the weekends, but what if you could have that excited Friday feeling most, if not all, days of the week? It takes a lot of self-discovery and work, but it’s truly possible to live a life you love—even on Mondays.

    2. You live for your vacations.

    Vacations are great, but what’s even better is building a life you don’t need to take a vacation from. As Seth Godin said, “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.” Vacations are fun and exciting, but even better is building a life where you have the potential to do what lights you up many weeks of the year, not just your two allotted vacation weeks.

    3. When you stop and think about it, you’re really not focusing your life on your priorities.

    Write down your 3 top priorities. Then write down the 3 things you focus most of your life on. Are you spending your time living your top priorities? Consistently spending time doing what matters most to you is one of the keys to feeling fulfilled in your life. If you’re not focusing your life on what’s important to you, it’s time to make some changes.

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    4. You have no idea what lights you up, and you don’t have the space in your life to discover it.

    If you haven’t found your passion in your current life, you’re not going to find it if you continue to do your same routine, over and over, year after year. In order to discover what lights you up, start by creating the space in your life to seek it. Give yourself time to figure out who you are, what your strengths are, and what picques your interest. Experiment with learning new things, spending time with inspiring people, and doing more of what excites you and less of the things that suck your energy.

    5. You’re frequently jealous.

    If you find yourself frequently feeling jealous of someone, there are 3 changes to consider making:

    1. Make a point to focus on your path instead of his or her journey. Sometimes this involves taking a break from social media.
    2. Get inspired from the person you’re jealous of, and work toward a similar goal in your life.
    3. Decide what the other person has is not something you are willing to put in the effort to achieve, so you’ll cheer him or her on but choose to not be jealous.

    When you are feeling jealous, consider why you want what the other person has, and what your motives are. Living a life on your terms, focused on your priorities, passions, and strengths, will provide you with much more fulfillment than trying to be somebody else.

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    6. You can’t remember the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone.

    According to Neale Donald Walsch, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Your life can become even more amazing if you stretch beyond your comfort zone. If you’re not sure where to start, try the tips in this article about small ways to step out of your comfort zone.

    Life is too short to spend your years not living to your full potential. If you decide you’re ready to change your life, I encourage you to start taking small action steps toward the life you want to live. Keep moving forward.

    Check out this video if you’re ready to make a change in life:

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    Featured photo credit: Lauren McKinnon/https://flickr.com via flickr.com

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