Drinking apple cider (ACV) vinegar has been a weight loss tactic for centuries. However, there is little, if any, scientific evidence suggesting ACV can help with weight loss long term. In fact, long term use of drinking apple cider vinegar may be harmful in some instances.
As with any supplement or diet fad, be wary of anyone promising weight loss without changing diet and exercise habits.
The acetic acid found in ACV (and other vinegars) is what is thought to provide some potential health benefits. Here are some proposed weight loss benefits with ACV and other health consequences it may cause.
Curbing appetite and lowering blood sugar
One of the claims for how ACV works is that drinking it before a meal can help lower appetite which will naturally decrease food intake. Some research studies also suggest research participants feel more satisfied after a meal with vinegar compared to eating a meal with no vinegar.
According to a 2006 review article, some research studies have shown a benefit of drinking vinegar before eating a meal for lowering the glycemic response. Type 2 diabetes subjects who drank a mix of vinegar and water (20 g vinegar, 40 g water, 1 tsp saccharine) before a test meal had a lower postprandial (after a meal) glycemic response to a meal compared to drinking a placebo solution before a meal.
However, not all research studies have shown a benefit with drinking vinegar before a meal and lowering a glucose response. Researchers concluded that using a vinegar as a treatment for lowering postprandial glucose levels cannot be determined yet, and more research is needed to further understand the benefit between vinegar, blood sugar levels and increasing satiety.
Harmful side effects
Some research, but not all, suggests acetic acid, found in ACV, may be helpful for increasing short term satiety, curbing appetite and may help lower postprandial glucose levels.
Does this mean everyone should start drinking it at every meal?
Maybe not according to other research studies with ACV. Any vinegar is made of acid, which is highly acidic. Over dosing on vinegar could harm other parts of your body. For example, a 2012 study from the Netherlands documented a 15 year old girl who had severe tooth erosion from drinking ACV for weight loss.
Drinking ACV can also irritate the esophagus, leading to erosion that could cause an ulcer. Some people who have sensitive stomachs or intestinal problems may also experience digestive issues from drinking ACV, especially on a consistent basis.
If you are taking any medication or other supplements, consult a health professional before starting to drink ACV. Apple cider vinegar has the possibility to interfere with certain medications, especially diuretics and insulin which could be dangerous.
Apple cider vinegar pills
Some people balk at the thought of drinking apple cider vinegar, even if it’s just a little mixed with water. Companies offer ACV in pill form for people who don’t want to drink it, but are these pills safe? However, some people can have negative side effects from taking ACV pills.
A 2005 study from the Journal of the American Dietetic Association reported on eight different ACV pills that were tested for pH values and acid content. Researchers found significant variability in acid content, pH levels and considerable question if ACV was even an ingredient in some supplements.
As with any supplement, there can always be variability from what the product label claims and what is exactly in the pill. Use caution when considering supplements, and remember ACV pills are probably not what they’re hyped up to be.
Does it counteract the calories you eat?
If you drink ACV (or take a supplement) will it help with weight loss? Possibly. Will it be significant for dramatic weight loss? It depends what else you are changing with your lifestyle. Some research does suggest vinegar may help with increasing satiety, curbing appetite or possibly lowering postprandial blood sugar (although more research is needed).
However, drinking ACV, even diluted with water, is very acidic. Constantly exposing your body to that acidity can erode your esophagus, teeth and possibly cause digestive issues with your stomach or intestines.
You can naturally get acetic acid in your diet from any vinegars. Making your own oil and vinegar dressings is an easy, natural way to get more vinegar in the diet without drinking a disgusting vinegar drink. Eating pickled foods may also have the same effect of lowering appetite and increasing satiety.
Drinking ACV will not magically make you lose 10 pounds or counteract your food intake. Even if this helps appetite and satiety, you still need to focus on eating healthy foods. Also, is this sustainable and healthy long term? If not, what are you going to do after you stop drinking ACV or take vinegar supplements?
References used in this article