Most of us struggle with our weight at some point in our lives – for me it was the time between finishing college and marrying my husband. I gained quickly but it took much longer to lose. We all know by now (hopefully!) that there is no quick fix or magic pill to dissolve the fat, but anything that can make the journey easier is worth looking into.
Have you heard of apple cider vinegar? Perhaps you have a bottle in the back of the cupboard. Apple cider vinegar has a long history of use in traditional remedies but has become fashionable recently due to the numerous health care benefits it claims to bring – including weight loss. I was very intrigued by this and wanted to separate the facts from the hype.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar, as the name implies, is a specific type of vinegar derived from the juice of the whole fruit. Like all vinegars, it has a sharp, sour taste and is extremely acidic so should not be consumed undiluted.
How Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help With Weight Loss?
Numerous claims have been made connecting apple cider vinegar with weight loss. The exact mechanism hasn’t been pinned down yet but there are several theories which I’ve explored below.
Scientific evidence is limited but anecdotal success stories are plentiful when it comes to this traditional remedy. Here are some of the suggested mechanisms for apple cider vinegar’s weight loss effects:
1) It Suppresses Your Appetite
Now, I’m not a scientist but you don’t have to tell me that downing a glass full of diluted vinegar before you chow down is going to dull your appetite – it’s obvious. Even a solution of one tablespoon in a glass of water is going to taste pretty astringent, although higher quality brands will be more palatable.
Research published in the “International Journal of Obesity” showed that masking the taste of the vinegar cancelled out any weight loss results in the study group. They theorised that reduced consumption was due to nausea from the taste of the vinegar.
2) It May Slow Digestion
Although apple cider vinegar’s taste undoubtedly helps us resist bigger portions, there may be more complex factors at play. A study in “BMC Gastroenterology” suggested that apple cider vinegar slows transit of food through your digestive system – making you feel fuller for longer after meals.
This has its downsides too – if you have any digestive issues such as IBS, it’s most likely not suitable for you. Make sure to talk to a healthcare professional before making apple cider vinegar a regular part of your diet if this is the case.
3) It Helps You Shed Water
The high potassium content in apple cider vinegar means it acts as a diuretic. This means that it helps eliminate excess water from your body, which can show a difference of as much as 5lbs on the scale for women (less for men). Okay so you’re not losing fat from this effect but it will reduce bloating and it’s always nice to see the number on the scale go down, even if it’s just temporary.
This diuretic effect means that it will also lower your blood pressure – even if only slightly. If you are taking medication for blood pressure or suffer from symptoms of low blood pressure, consult your doctor before trying this method for weight loss.
4) It Contains Almost Zero Calories
Salad dressing can be a surprising culprit when it comes to calorie bombs. The best-intentioned dieters eating salads on a daily basis may find their weight loss results are less impressive than expected as one tablespoon can pack up to 100kcal. And who actually uses just one tablespoon of dressing?
It’s simple to create your “zero calorie” salad dressings using apple cider vinegar. You can even use it on its own with a dash of salt and pepper.
5) It May Boost Metabolism
These are the words we all want to hear when it comes to weight loss supplements. Your metabolism determines how many calories your burn on a daily basis, so anything that will increase this number will make it easier to lose weight.
What’s the link between metabolism and apple cider vinegar? Unfortunately the evidence is extremely limited – it’s not been tested in humans yet, only rats. However, results are promising. An article in “Metabolism – Clinical and Experimental” suggested a genetic-level change in metabolism leading to weight loss.
6) It Helps Control Your Blood Sugar
Studies have shown a solid link between blood sugar and apple cider vinegar consumption. It has a similar effect to anti-diabetic medicines – enhancing the effect of your natural insulin to decrease sugar levels both after meals and fasting levels. Stabilising your blood sugar levels helps prevent cravings.
It goes without saying that if you are also taking a medicine for diabetes or have problems with your blood sugar levels, consult your doctor before adding apple cider vinegar to your diet.
7) It Stimulates Your Taste Buds
Vinegar is a component of many commercial condiments such as ketchup and salad dressing – this is due to its taste bud-stimulating effects. If you are transitioning to a healthier diet, apple cider vinegar will help bring out the flavour in low-calorie whole foods such as vegetables and legumes. You will be able to eat more of them and fill up, avoiding the need for snacking later on.
I’ve mentioned a few conditions above where apple cider vinegar may not be suitable. Another very important one is GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease) or heartburn.
Taking any kind of vinegar if you suffer from heartburn is a bad (and painful) idea. To avoid this, make sure the solution is diluted with water and stay upright for half an hour or so after consuming it so it doesn’t aggravate your gullet.
How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar For Weight Loss
Have I convinced you to give apple cider vinegar a try yet? If so, you have lots of options for introducing it into your diet. Personally, I like to add a tablespoon of vinegar with a large glass of water and drink it before meals. You can also find it in tablet form or add it to your salads or other meals.
This video has some great recipes
Final Thoughts on Apple Cider Vinegar For Weight Loss
Apple cider vinegar is definitely not a quick fix for shedding pounds. You still need to control your portions and get some exercise – there’s no getting around it. However, I do think it can be helpful as part of your overall weight loss technique.
If you can tolerate the taste and don’t suffer from heartburn, the appetite suppressant effect can make it a lot easier to reduce your calorie intake. The other benefits are numerous and unless you have some of the specific conditions listed above, there are no side effects, so why not give it a try?