Using apple cider vinegar to lose weight probably sounds like a fad approach that’s too good to be true. Yet, some people swear by their daily vinegar shots. Could there really be something to it?
People have been using apple cider vinegar for weight loss since at least the 1700s
and are still using it for that purpose today. Slowly, the scientific research is catching up with consumer interest.
Apple cider vinegar won’t lead you to drop three dress sizes in a week. But preliminary studies suggest it could help curb your appetite and support your weight loss efforts.†
What is apple cider vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is a tangy condiment that is low in calories, providing only 3 calories per tablespoon
. It also contains trace amounts of minerals.
The vinegar comes from fermenting the juice
of crushed apples in a two-step process. First, yeast ferments the liquid and turns it into alcohol (ethanol). Then Acetobacter
bacteria convert the alcohol into vinegar. The action of these microbes produces acetic acid
(acetate), which gives the vinegar a sour taste.
Acetic acid is a short-chain fatty acid that is also produced by probiotic bacteria in your gut. This beneficial bacterial byproduct is considered a postbiotic
. Acetic acid
is the main component of vinegar thought to fight body fat.
Apple cider vinegar also contains natural plant compounds, particularly polyphenols
, that may support a healthy gut microbiome. Studies suggest our gut microbiome
could play a crucial role in weight control.†
Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar still contains the “mother
.” This cloudy, cobweb-like substance is a colony of microbes, some of which have probiotic benefits. Apple cider vinegar that has been pasteurized and filtered no longer has the mother in it.
ACV for weight loss and fat burning
A handful of animal and human studies suggest apple cider vinegar could support your weight loss efforts. It may help by blocking the synthesis of fat
and increasing fat burning
In a 12-week study
, 155 overweight but otherwise healthy adults were given an 8-ounce beverage containing either 1.5 teaspoons (low-dose) or 1 tablespoon (high-dose) of apple cider vinegar or a placebo beverage after breakfast and supper. They maintained their normal diet and lifestyle during the study.
The vinegar groups had significant improvements compared to the placebo group, including:
- Body weight decreased by 1.6% (about 2.5 pounds) in the low-dose group and by 2.6% (about 3.75 pounds) in the high-dose group.
- Belly fat decreased by 2.8% in the low-dose group and by 4.9% in the high-dose group. Subcutaneous fat, which is underneath the skin, was also significantly reduced by 2.8% in the high-dose group.
- Waistlines decreased by 1/2-inch in the low-dose group and by 3/4-inch in the high-dose group.
In comparison, the placebo group had a slight increase in their weight and waistlines.
Within four weeks after the vinegar-group participants stopped using vinegar, their weight and waistline measurements had returned to the levels they had before the study. This isn’t surprising since they didn’t make any other changes to support weight loss.
Reducing your calorie intake while taking apple cider vinegar could improve your weight loss success. That also sets you on the path to consuming fewer calories to maintain your new lower weight.†
In a small 12-week study
, 39 overweight or obese adults consumed 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar at lunch and supper while cutting 250 calories daily. That resulted in an average weight loss of about 8.5 pounds. The control group, which only reduced their calories, lost an average of 5.5 pounds.
The vinegar group also had greater reductions in their body fat and waistlines, compared to the control group. So, the vinegar gave their weight loss efforts a boost.†
Help for controlling appetite
Some people report using apple cider vinegar to curb their appetite when they’re fasting
. Others may use it to promote satiety (a feeling of fullness) and to curb their hunger between meals.
The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar helps slow down stomach emptying and may help with appetite control. Part of this effect may be due to slowing down carbohydrate digestion
and promoting steadier blood sugar levels
Some of vinegar’s influence on appetite may also come from its effects on leptin. That is a satiety hormone. Your body becomes less responsive to leptin’s appetite-suppressing effects if you’re obese, leading your body to release more leptin.†
When obese mice
were fed a high-fat diet, those given apple cider vinegar (equivalent to a human dose of 1 tablespoon daily) gained less weight and ate less than those not given vinegar. In addition, leptin levels decreased in the vinegar-fed mice. This suggests they had become more responsive to leptin’s signals to stop eating, so not as much leptin was released.
Though encouraging, more human studies would help confirm the benefits of apple cider vinegar for appetite control and weight loss.
Types of apple cider vinegar supplements
A variety of apple cider vinegar
products make it easier than ever to work it into your daily routine.
You can buy apple cider vinegar as:
- Undiluted liquid
- “Shots” and other diluted, flavored vinegar drinks
Check the package label or contact the manufacturer to find out what serving size is equivalent to the undiluted liquid form. In general, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar equates
to 750 mg of acetic acid. The typical amount used to support weight loss is 1–2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar daily.†
Liquid apple cider vinegar is the form generally tested in weight loss studies. That said, if you prefer a capsule, tablet or gummy, give it a try and monitor your results. The best forms are the ones you’ll take consistently.
Though apple cider vinegar is the vinegar type most tested for weight loss (and one of the more palatable options), other types of vinegar
may also help. For example, a small human study
found that white vinegar promoted satiety after meals, and an animal study
found that rice vinegar promoted weight loss.†
How to use apple cider vinegar for weight loss
Remember, apple cider vinegar isn’t a magic bullet for weight loss. You can’t eat whatever you want and still lose weight just because you’re supplementing with vinegar. Rather, studies suggest vinegar could be a helpful add-on to your other weight loss efforts.†
For weight loss, the best time to take apple cider vinegar may be shortly before
a meal or around mealtime. Researchers have typically given it twice a day, such as at breakfast and supper or at lunch and supper.†
An alternative to using apple cider vinegar in beverages is to use it in homemade salad dressing
. You can also make your own apple cider vinegar gummies by combining pureed fruit or juice, honey and grass-fed gelatin or agar
(vegan gelatin) with apple cider vinegar, then pour the mixture into a silicone mold.
Significant side effects of apple cider vinegar are rare. The authors of a review
of 13 human studies and 12 animal studies concluded that moderate consumption (such as 2 tablespoons daily) of apple cider vinegar is safe.
In general, it is recommended
- Dilute the apple cider vinegar in water or other liquids, such as 1 tablespoon vinegar per 8 ounces of water. This helps protect your tooth enamel and esophagus from the acidity of the vinegar. You can also drink it with a straw or rinse your mouth afterward to protect your teeth.
- Start slowly (such as with 1 teaspoon rather than 1 tablespoon) to test your digestive tolerance and see how the vinegar affects you.
- If the vinegar contains the mother, shake the vinegar gently to incorporate the probiotics into the liquid before dispensing the desired amount.
- Check with your doctor before supplementing with vinegar if you’re being treated for diabetes and are following a ketogenic diet. Vinegar can also be ketogenic. This combination of factors has the potential to upset the pH balance of your blood.
- Avoid supplementing with vinegar if you have gastroparesis, which causes delayed stomach emptying and potentially hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in those with diabetes.
- Skip vinegar if you have histamine intolerance, which can cause itching, headaches and gut distress. Because vinegar is a fermented product, it is naturally higher in histamine.
If you try apple cider vinegar, keep in mind it may have other benefits
. Studies suggest it promotes cardiovascular health (including healthier levels of blood lipids), blood sugar control and brain function.†
So, daily intake of apple cider vinegar can be a healthy habit, even if it doesn’t significantly move the dial on your bathroom scale.
†These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.