Over the years, I have heard many of my patients and friends rave on about using apple cider vinegar (ACV) for weight loss. Some even use it for stomach problems.
But does it really work? Is apple cider vinegar really the ‘bees knees’?
I thought I would look at apple cider vinegar’s effects in lowering body weight.
But first, let’s take a look at what apple cider vinegar is.
What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?
The word ‘vinegar’ is derived from the French phrase ‘vin aigre’, which translates to ‘sour wine’.
Basically, apple cider vinegar is the fermented juice of apples that have been crushed. It mostly contains acetic acid, along with other vitamins and minerals.
The basic components that make apple cider vinegar are apples, sugar, and yeast.
When apples are crushed, the juice that is obtained is mixed with yeast, allowing it to undergo ‘alcohol fermentation’. The sugars in the apple juice are converted into alcohol.
A second fermentation process is then conducted using a bacteria called Acetobacter. This generates acetic acid, which forms most of apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid along with minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and calcium in it.
During the manufacturing process, a layer called ‘mother of vinegar’ is produced as a part of the fermentation process. This is rich in good bacteria and enzymes. Unfortunately, many companies that make ACV take off this later as it makes the end-product look murky and unpleasant.
If you are looking to buy ACV, then choose the ‘mother of vinegar’ variant to reap more benefits of apple cider vinegar. This is a more natural choice.
Benefits Of Apple Cider Vinegar
There are a plethora of possible health benefits of consuming apple cider vinegar every day. I have listed them in the table below.
Apple Cider Vinegar For Weight Loss
This article mainly explores whether consuming apple cider vinegar can help you lose weight.
While there are articles that have looked at this aspect of its health benefits, in particular, they are mostly animal studies, with limited human trials.
Here is what I found.
Acetic Acid Is A Short-Chain Fatty Acid
I have previously made mention of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in my article about the health benefits of oats.
SCFAs are of prime importance in keeping your gut healthy. They also help you boost your immunity. Within our body, SCFAs are produced when the non-digestible carbohydrates we consume are fermented within the gut.
ACV contains acetic acid as its main component. Research shows that SCFAs can improve satiety, reducing your hunger, and binge eating.
This would suggest that over time, there could be a degree of weight loss observed.
Apple Cider Vinegar As A Weight Loss Supplement
If you search on the internet, you will find thousands of articles that claim ACV intake can lower your body weight. This has made apple cider vinegar a popular weight loss supplement.
Well, that is true to an extent, but the reduction may not be that significant.
Most of the studies that have looked at the loss of fat and body weight are conducted in animals. Human studies are only a few.
If you combine ACV intake with a good diet and exercise regime, you may see some additional benefits. Apple cider vinegar only contains 3 calories per tablespoon.
So don’t fire your gym trainer yet, because by itself it is unlikely to make that much of a difference.
In one study that looked at 39 subjects who were given apple cider vinegar along with a calorie-restricted diet for a period of 12 weeks, there was a significant reduction in body mass index, hip circumference, and appetite, compared to those just on the diet.
In addition to this, there was also a reduction in cholesterol levels and triglyceride values as well. Good cholesterol i.e. HDL values also increased.
As you can see, there is certainly a benefit, but the study size was only just 39 people, which is really too small a size.
A similar study conducted in Japanese subjects looked at 12 weeks of 500 ml of a beverage along with either 0 ml, 15 ml, and 30 ml of acetic acid. Weight loss, reduction in body mass index, and cholesterol values were seen in both vinegar groups compared to the one where no vinegar was administered.
The overall reduction was greater in those consuming 30 ml compared to the other groups.
A small study looking at 10 obese subjects consuming 20 ml of apple cider vinegar at bed-time, there was a lowering of their body mass index seen over a 30 day period.
In a study that looked at obese, high fat diet-fed mice, regular administration of apple cider vinegar lowered their overall fat content in them.
As you can see, there is a mix of studies available. However, it took me forever to find these. There is not much in terms of human studies that stand out robustly declaring apple cider vinegar as an effective weight loss strategy.
Are There Any Side Effects Of Apple Cider Vinegar?
In one case report that looked at a 15-year-old Moroccan girl, tooth enamel erosion, which was inexplicable at first, was found to be due to regular consumption of apple cider vinegar.
Bear in mind that you are consuming vinegar – a mild acid. If you have an undiluted drink of ACV, damage to your tooth enamel should not surprise you.
Individuals taking medication to get rid of extra fluid from their body (diuretics) are at risk of lowering their potassium levels. Low potassium in the blood can affect cardiac function.
As ACV has glucose-lowering properties, bear this in mind if you have diabetes and are taking medication. You may want to consult with your doctor about that, as drug dosages may need to be altered.
My Personal Opinion
If you are looking for a natural weight loss supplement, I am afraid apple cider vinegar is not one of them.
Even if you used it regularly, you might reap some of the benefits that I have listed in the table earlier, but the weight loss you experience will be insignificant.
Try a more proven approach – intermittent fasting, regular moderate-intensity cardio, and yoga instead.
Apple Cider Vinegar has some health benefits, but it appears to be a little hyped up when it comes to weight loss. You may want to steer clear if you are using it for that purpose.
Dr Vivek Baliga is a medical practitioner and the director of a diagnostic center – Baliga Diagnostics – in Bangalore. He specializes in diabetes and heart disease, and is a visiting consultant in Internal Medicine at corporate hospitals. He is married and has one son.