Apple cider vinegar is often touted as a natural weight loss aid. Produced during the fermentation of apple cider, the vinegar contains acetic acid (a substance found in many other types of vinegar). Although there's limited evidence that acetic acid may have some effect on body weight, research is currently lacking.
What are the Claims?
Proponents claim that consuming apple cider vinegar before a meal can help suppress your appetite, speed up your metabolism, prevent bloating and keep your blood sugar in check. However, there's no evidence to support these claims.
To date, there is a lack of studies testing the effects of apple cider vinegar on weight loss. While preliminary research indicates that consumption of vinegar may offer some protection against obesity, little is known about the potential weight-loss benefits of apple cider vinegar in particular.
The available research on vinegar and weight loss includes a 2009 study from Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry. Every day for 12 weeks, 175 obese adults consumed 500 ml of a beverage containing 15 ml of vinegar or 30 ml of vinegar or no vinegar. By the end of the study, members of the vinegar-drinking groups had a significantly greater decrease in body weight, body mass index, abdominal fat and blood fat levels compared to those in the placebo group.
In addition, a 2009 study from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that mice fed a high-fat diet and given acetic acid developed up to 10 percent less body fat (compared to mice not given acetic acid). The study's authors suggest that acetic acid may prevent the buildup of body fat by activating genes involved in breaking down fats. However, it's too soon to tell whether acetic acid might provide similar weight loss benefits in humans.
It's unknown whether either of these studies tested the use of acetic acid derived from apple cider vinegar or from other vinegar types. Given that there are no available studies testing the effects of apple cider vinegar on weight loss, no conclusions can be drawn about the product's effectiveness as a weight loss aid.
Using Apple Cider Vinegar For Weight Loss
Due to the lack of supporting research, apple cider vinegar cannot be recommended as a treatment for weight loss. If you're looking to lose weight, the National Institutes of Health recommends following a weight-management plan that pairs healthy eating with regular exercise. Keeping a food diary, getting eight hours of sleep each night, and keeping your stress in check may also help you reach and maintain a healthy weight.
There's some concern that undiluted apple cider vinegar (in liquid or pill form) may harm the esophagus and other parts of the digestive tract. What's more, apple cider vinegar may damage tooth enamel if sipped. There's also some evidence that excessive apple cider vinegar consumption may lower your blood potassium levels and bone mineral density. Given these safety concerns, it's important to talk to your doctor before using apple cider vinegar for weight loss.
Kondo T, Kishi M, Fushimi T, Kaga T. "Acetic acid upregulates the expression of genes for fatty acid oxidation enzymes in liver to suppress body fat accumulation." J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Jul 8;57(13):5982-6.
Kondo T, Kishi M, Fushimi T, Ugajin S, Kaga T. "Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects." Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2009 Aug;73(8):1837-43.
National Institutes of Health. "Weight-Control Information Network – Dieting and Gallstones". NIH Publication No. 02-3677. August 2008.
National Institutes of Health. "Weight-Control Information Network - Weight Loss for Life". NIH Publication No. 04–3700. January 2009.