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  • Taylor Richter, RDN, LD

The Truth About Apple Cider Vinegar

Have your deep dives on the internet lead you to apple cider vinegar (ACV)? I’m not surprised! There is a lot of buzz around ACV and how it can magically help you lose weight. While it does have a lot of health benefits, it is not a catch all for weight loss. It helps balance blood sugar, optimize stomach acid and increase satiety - which can help lead to weight loss. Keep reading to hear why ACV works and how you can use it safely!


The Science Behind Apple Cider Vinegar and Weight Loss


Balancing Blood Sugar Levels

ACV owes much of its weight loss benefits to its acetic acid content. Acetic acid has been shown to inhibit the activity of several carbohydrate-digesting enzymes, thereby slowing the breakdown of starches into sugars. This leads to a slower release of sugar into the bloodstream after meals, preventing spikes in blood glucose levels. Stable blood sugar levels are crucial for weight management, because the body will prioritize balancing blood sugar over fat loss. So, if you can balance your blood sugar with diet or ACV, then your body can concentrate on weight management.


Furthermore, studies have demonstrated that acetic acid can improve insulin sensitivity in insulin-resistant individuals. Insulin is the hormone responsible for transporting glucose from the bloodstream into cells to be used for energy. When cells become resistant to the effects of insulin, blood sugar levels rise, leading to weight gain and other metabolic issues. By enhancing insulin sensitivity, ACV helps ensure that glucose is efficiently transported into cells, reducing the need for excess insulin secretion and promoting weight loss.


Optimizing Stomach Acid Production

Contrary to popular belief, a lot of people suffer from low stomach acid (hypochlorhydria) rather than high stomach acid. Low stomach acid can impair digestion, leading to symptoms such as bloating, gas, and nutrient deficiencies. ACV is acidic in nature and can help stimulate the production of stomach acid when consumed before meals. Adequate stomach acid is essential for breaking down food, particularly proteins, and facilitating the absorption of nutrients like calcium, iron, and vitamin B12. By optimizing stomach acid production, ACV promotes better digestion and nutrient absorption, which are vital for overall health and weight management.


Increasing Satiety

ACV's ability to increase feelings of fullness is thought to be attributed to its effects on satiety hormones and gastric emptying. Studies have shown that acetic acid can suppress the appetite-regulating hormone ghrelin, which signals hunger to the brain. Additionally, ACV has been found to delay gastric emptying, meaning food stays in the stomach longer, leading to increased feelings of fullness and reduced calorie intake. By promoting satiety, ACV can help individuals consume fewer calories throughout the day, ultimately aiding in weight loss.


How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar Safely for Weight Loss


  • Dilute it: ACV is highly acidic and can cause damage to tooth enamel and the esophagus if not diluted. Mix 1 tablespoon in at least 8 oz of water before consuming.

  • Use a straw: To further protect your teeth, consider using a straw to drink the diluted ACV, minimizing its contact with your teeth.

  • Avoid gummies: ACV gummies tend to have added sugar, which will not help you lower blood sugar to lose weight. Try to use plain ACV, when possible.

  • Avoid on an empty stomach if you have stomach ulcers or a history of stomach ulcers: If you have a history of ulcers or stomach issues, it's best to avoid consuming ACV on an empty stomach, as it may worsen symptoms.

  • Monitor for acid reflux: While some people find relief from acid reflux symptoms with ACV, others may experience worsened symptoms. If you notice increased heartburn or reflux, discontinue use.


Conditions and Medications to Consider


Before incorporating apple cider vinegar or any new supplement into your routine, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking medications. While ACV can offer health benefits for some individuals, it may not be suitable for everyone and could potentially interact with certain medications or exacerbate existing health issues. Your healthcare provider can provide personalized advice based on your medical history and current health status.


  • Diabetes medications: If you're taking medications to lower blood sugar, it may interact with these medications.

  • Potassium levels: ACV can lower potassium levels in the body. If you have a condition that affects potassium levels, such as kidney disease, consult your doctor before using ACV regularly.

  • Gastroparesis: Gastroparesis is a condition where you have slow gastric emptying. ACV can further slow down gastric emptying.

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding: While small amounts of ACV are generally considered safe, it's best to consult your healthcare provider before using it regularly during pregnancy or breastfeeding.


Maximizing the Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar with a Healthy Lifestyle


While apple cider vinegar (ACV) can be a helpful addition to your weight loss regimen, it's essential to remember that it's not a standalone solution. To truly reap the full benefits of ACV and achieve your weight loss goals, it should be used in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle. By consistently eating an anti-inflammatory diet, hydrating your body, getting 8 hours of sleep and getting daily activity, you can maximize the impacts of ACV.


The Bottom Line


Apple cider vinegar can be a valuable tool in supporting weight loss, thanks to its ability to balance blood sugar levels, optimize stomach acid, and increase feelings of fullness. However, it's important to use it safely and be mindful of any potential interactions or side effects, especially if you have certain medical conditions or are taking medications. As with any dietary supplement, it's best to consult with your healthcare provider before adding ACV to your routine. With proper use and moderation, ACV can be a beneficial addition to your weight loss journey.


Resources:


Jafarirad S, Elahi MR, Mansoori A, Khanzadeh A, Haghighizadeh MH. (2023). The improvement effect of apple cider vinegar as a functional food on anthropometric indices, blood glucose and lipid profile in diabetic patients: a randomized controlled clinical trial. Frontiers in clinical diabetes and healthcare4, 1288786. https://doi.org/10.3389/fcdhc.2023.1288786


Solaleh Sadat Khezri a, et al. (2018). “Beneficial Effects of Apple Cider Vinegar on Weight Management, Visceral Adiposity Index and Lipid Profile in Overweight or Obese Subjects Receiving Restricted Calorie Diet: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” Journal of Functional Foods, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1756464618300483.


Kondo, Tomoo, et al. (2009). “Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects.” Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, vol. 73, no. 8, pp. 1837–1843, https://doi.org/10.1271/bbb.90231.

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