Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has been credited as a superfood for many reasons. It has incredible health benefits.
Not to mention, it’s tasty and easy to add to your diet. It’s a great alternative to sugar in your favorite recipes.
But can it help you lose weight? That’s the question we address in this article.
ACV contains several key ingredients that help you lose weight by influencing metabolic pathways, but you’ll want to make sure you buy the kind with the “mother.”
Although the research supporting these claims isn’t overwhelming, it’s enough to consider adding apple cider vinegar to your daily diet if you don’t already.
Here’s everything you need to know about ACV and how it may help you lose weight.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Vinegar is easy to find in most grocery stores, but not everyone knows what it is. Apple cider vinegar is fermented apple juice.
It’s made by crushing apples to squeeze the juice out of them and then fermenting the juice. Research shows that making apple cider vinegar requires a two-step process.
First, yeast is added to the apple juice and it turns the natural sugars into alcohol.
Next, acetic acid bacteria converts the alcohol into acetic acid. Acetic acid is what gives vinegar its pungent smell and flavor (1).
What is “Mother” in ACV?
The “mother” in vinegar is the substance that gives it the murky and cloudy appearance, usually found in unfiltered and organic apple cider vinegar.
Vinegar products sold in the United States must contain a minimum of 4% acidity. Commercial vinegars are processed either by fast or slow fermentation processes.
For fast fermentation processes, the apple juice liquid is oxygenated and the bacteria is submerged, which creates fast fermentation.
Slow methods are used for the production of wine vinegar. They require the acetic acid to grow on the surface of the liquid and fermentation happens slowly over the course of several weeks or months.
The longer the juice is fermented, the more yeast and acetic acid bacteria are produced. This combination of yeast and acetic acid are known as the “mother.”
Most food manufacturers pasteurize and filter their vinegar before selling it to prevent organisms from forming.
However, this may kill off the mother bacteria, which is where the majority of the health benefits reside.
The “mother” may develop in stored vinegar after being opened, but it’s a good idea to buy raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to get the most health benefits.
Apple Cider Vinegar Nutrition
You would never be able to tell that apple cider vinegar has numerous health benefits by looking at the nutrition label on the back of the bottle.
This is because you can’t always detect a food’s nutritional value by numbers alone. Nutrients that don’t make the cut on the nutrition label are extremely important when it comes to determining a food’s nutritional value. These include antioxidants, amino acids, and other polyphenolic compounds.
Here is the nutritional breakdown of a 100 gram serving of apple cider vinegar (ACV) (2):
- 21 calories
- 0 grams of fat
- 0.9 grams of carbs
- 0 grams of fiber
- 0 grams of protein
- 7 mg of calcium
- 0.2 mg of iron
- 5 mg of magnesium
- 8 mg of phosphorus
- 73 mg of potassium
- 0.2 mg of manganese
As you can see, ACV is a good source of minerals but it is lacking in the vitamin department.
ACV is also a good source of the following nutrients: vitamins, mineral salts, amino acids, and polyphenolic compounds such as galic acid, caffeic acid, ferulic acid, catechin, and nonvolatile organic acids including tartaric, malic, citric, and lactic.
These properties are responsible for producing antioxidative, antidiabetic, antihypertensive, antitumor, antimicrobial, antiobesity, and cholesterol-lowering responses within the body (3).
It’s also important to know that ACV is a fermented food, which is good for your gut because it contributes to the healthy digestive bacteria you already have.
This is important because your digestive status is the key to long-term weight maintenance.
How Does ACV Help with Weight Loss?
There are several ways in which apple cider vinegar can help you lose your unwanted body fat directly and indirectly.
First, it improves digestion, which some health experts argue is the key to overall health. It also contains acetic acid, which has been shown to reduce fat storage and improve blood sugar levels.
Here are some proven ways apple cider vinegar can help keep you thin:
#1. It Reduces Inflammation And Improves Digestive Health
As we mentioned above, apple cider vinegar is a fermented food as long as you get the kind with the “mother” in it.
Buying a highly processed apple cider vinegar means that all the good bacteria has likely been heated and killed off.
So how do fermented foods help you burn fat? The answer has to do with your microbiome, which is otherwise known as the group of bacteria that your body is comprised of.
In other words, fermented foods can help contribute to the overall health of the bacteria in your gut, which is responsible for reducing obesity-related inflammation.
Having a healthy digestive system also means that you are better able to break down and absorb the nutrients in your food.
You are more likely to feel satisfied and have fewer cravings when your body is getting the nutrients it needs from the food you eat.
When your gut is chronically inflamed, your digestive system cannot properly metabolize nutrients.
This causes an avalanche effect on your metabolism because your body sends signals to your brain to eat more food in order to obtain the nutrients it needs but is not getting due to your inability to absorb proper amounts of nutrients.
#2. It Improves Blood Sugar Markers
Apple cider vinegar also helps you lose weight because it is high in acetic acid.
Several studies have shown that acetic acid helps decrease risk factors associated with obesity, such as lowering your blood sugar levels and decreasing insulin levels (7).
Think of insulin as a fat-storing hormone. It’s released from your pancreas when you eat foods that contain carbohydrates.
Insulin’s job is to transfer the carbohydrates in your bloodstream to cells where they can be used as fuel. The problem is that any unused carbohydrates are stored in your fatty tissues as access fat (8).
Furthermore, eating too many carbohydrates can spike your blood sugar levels and lead to insulin resistance.
This occurs when your body stops responding to insulin and no longer has a way to transport carbohydrates from your bloodstream to your cells.
#3. It Reduces Fat Storage
Acetic acid also appears to directly improve your metabolism and reduce fat storage.
According to one animal study, rats who were given acetic acid increased a fat-burning enzyme known as AMPK, which helps reduce sugar production and fat storage in the liver (9).
Another animal study found that rats who were fed acetic acid were better protected against obesity and obesity-linked type 2 diabetes due to improved lipid metabolism functioning (10).
Research shows that acetate is effective against obesity because it has an inhibitory effect on the activity of carbohydrate-responsive element-binding protein (ChREBP), which is responsible for converting glucose to fatty acids within the liver (11).
Acetate also appears to suppress body fat by upregulating certain genes produced in the liver that are responsible for fat storage both within the body and the liver (12).
Even human studies show that apple cider vinegar may help you lose weight.
According to one study, obese Japanese adults were given 500 ml of a beverage that contains 15-30 ml of vinegar daily for 12 weeks (13).
At the end of the 12 weeks, body weight, visceral fat (stomach fat), waist circumference, BMI and serum triglyceride levels were much lower in the vinegar group than the control group.
The researchers determined that the intake of vinegar may be beneficial for preventing metabolic syndrome due to its ability to reduce the risk of obesity.
#4. It Makes You Feel Full
Apple cider vinegar isn’t very filling, but it can make you feel full, which leads to fewer calories consumed throughout the day.
According to one small study, ten people who were given vinegar lowered their postprandial glucose and insulin responses when eaten with a starchy meal.
This resulted in a delayed gastric emptying rate, which means that food takes longer to digest and helps keep you full. On the other hand, food that is digested quickly makes you feel hungry again sooner (14).
Another study found that people who ate vinegar reduced their 60-minute glucose response by 55%.
Researchers concluded that eating vinegar with a high-glycemic meal can help you control your blood sugar levels, which helps keep you feeling stable and full (15).
Additionally, acetate may play a role in reducing your appetite by controlling a central homeostatic mechanism.
One study found that acetate crosses the blood-brain barrier and is taken up by the brain where it helps suppress appetite by activating certain neuropeptides that favor appetite suppression (16).
Researchers also found that acetate increases the GABA and glutamate-glutamine cycles in the brain, which has a direct role in regulating appetite.
#5. It Works Well With A High-fat Diet To Reduce Food Intake And Body Weight
According to one animal study, rats who were fed a high-fat diet for 33 weeks reduced their body weight as well as their overall food intake (17).
This data suggests that you can use apple cider vinegar along with a high-fat ketogenic diet to further enhance your weight loss efforts.
How To Drink Apple Cider Vinegar For Weight Loss
If you’re new to using fermented foods, then it’s a good idea to start slow with apple cider vinegar.
Taking too much at one time may cause gastrointestinal upset, such as diarrhea, intestinal gas, or bloating.
We recommend adding a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar to an eight-ounce glass of water and drinking it once per day until you are comfortable with ingesting it. Then try adding two tablespoons to your glass of water.
Some people find that ingesting apple cider vinegar is easier on an empty stomach. If so, try taking it first thing in the morning when you wake up about 30 minutes before a meal. This will allow your body to fully digest it before adding food to your system.
Some studies show that apple cider vinegar has positive effects on your blood sugar when taken at night, so you may want to take before climbing into bed if you can remember (18).
Other people like to drink their apple cider vinegar in the form of tea. Remember that heating raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar may kill off the “mother,” so keep this in mind when adding to hot beverages like tea or hot water.
ACV on a Low Carb and Keto Diet
Because of its naturally sweet taste, you can add apple cider vinegar to your keto smoothies as a sweetener in place of other forms of sugar.
It goes great on salads when combined with olive oil as a keto-friendly dressing. It also goes great in your baked goods.
Here are some recipes you can try it in:
- Keto Homemade Mayonnaise
- Best Low Carb Bread Recipe for Buns and Rolls
- Keto Grilled Steak Rolls with Vinegar Glaze
What To Do If I Can’t Drink ACV?
Because ACV has a very strong taste, some people just can’t handle it.
To make it easier to consume, you can simply add more flavors such as some ginger, tea, lemon, and honey (if you’re on a regular diet) or some keto-friendly sweeteners (if you’re doing strict keto) in a glass of warm water and drink.
An easier way to get all the benefits of ACV without drinking it is to take apple cider vinegar pills. It’s more convenient and easier to consume. However, actual ACV liquid is still the best.
When combined with any diet, especially the ketogenic diet, raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar can help you keep weight off.
ACV has been shown to help you decrease fat storage, improve your metabolism, and help keep you feeling full.
It regulates areas in the brain that are directly related to appetite. It also has been shown to help you eat fewer calories throughout the day, especially when eaten with a high-glycemic meal.
Because it is a fermented food, ACV aids in the health of your microbiome, which is the bacteria in your gut that is responsible for numerous areas of your health.
It reduces obesity-related inflammation and improves blood sugar markers so that you feel full and stable for longer periods of time without needing to eat again.
Be sure to buy the kind of apple cider vinegar that is raw and unfiltered so that it contains the “mother.” The “mother” contains the good bacteria that gives apple cider vinegar its weight-loss benefits, including acetic acid.
Cheaper forms of vinegar have been heated to high temperatures and the good bacteria is killed off. This means the product won’t do much for your waistline!
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