One of the biggest questions we get from readers is in regards to apple cider vinegar: Does it really help you lose weight? The research at this time is mixed. When it comes to juice diets, there is a plethora of fads that are advertised each season.
While there are some pros and cons to taking apple cider vinegar, overall, there is not substantial evidence to support that it is helpful in weight loss. In fact, it may cause some harmful effects if taken in excess.
What Do People Claim About Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar has had been touted as a miracle supplement with claims that it cures hiccups and sore throats, relieves nasal congestion, clears acne, boosts energy, reduces muscle cramps at night, removes bad breath, and whitens teeth.
However, most concerning to me is the claims that apple cider vinegar helps lower cholesterol, reduce sugar in diabetes and leads to weight loss. The supplement market makes these claims, but there is limited research showing that these claims are true.
For detailed descriptions of several of these studies, you can read them at the end of this article.
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Can Apple Cider Vinegar Hurt You?
Overall, apple cider vinegar is relatively safe with few side effects. However, apple cider vinegar consists of 5-20% of acetic acid.
Acids can cause erosion of tissue. If you have heart burn, which is due to the increased gastric acid in your stomach, you can worsen your heart burn by drinking more of the acidic apple cider vinegar.
Drinking in excess may cause erosion along your esophagus. If feel that you have worsening heart burn, stop taking apple cider vinegar, sooth your throat with some tea and honey, or use some chloraseptic throat spray. And go see your doctor to see if you need further medical treatment.
The acidic apple cider vinegar can also erode the enamel that protects your teeth from cavities, and turn your teeth yellow.
If you do take apple cider vinegar rinse your mouth out with water to decrease risk of dental problems. Be sure to follow up with your dentist for biannual dental checkups.
Also be aware that apple cider vinegar is low in potassium. If you drink too much of it instead of potassium rich foods, like bananas and other fruits, you increase your risk of cramps.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that needs compliance of your medications and diet, and must be treated with your doctor. Apple cider vinegar has not been shown to treat your diabetes.
Do not use apple cider vinegar as a replacement for the medication and diet that you have been prescribed by your doctor. If you would like to discuss using apple cider vinegar, by all means, consult with your physician first.
What’s The Bottom Line? Apple Cider Vinegar Will Not Help You Lose Weight
At this point in time, there is no evidence that shows conclusively that apple cider vinegar will cause weight loss in humans in the long run. Researchers are unable to make a causality relationship that apple cider vinegar does indeed cause weight loss, decrease in glucose, or decrease cardiovascular risk.
More randomized clinical trials with more detailed methodology must be performed with larger populations that follow patients over a longer period of time before these claims can be deemed true.
If you do decide to use apple cider vinegar, use it in moderation. Dilute it with water to decrease the acidity so it does not erode your teeth or worsen your heart burn. Use it as salad dressing to add taste. But be mindful that it is not a miracle weight loss supplement.
So What’s The Best Weight Loss Plan?
The best thing you can do for your weight loss is to continue to decrease your calories, increase your exercise, and stay consistent! Weight loss is a goal; but maintaining your healthy weight is a lifestyle.
Do not tell yourself, “I need to lose 20lbs in 6 months.” You should be telling yourself, “My healthy weight is 20lbs less, and I will get to that goal in 6 months and keep it there.”
Try mixing up your cardio from jogging to Tabata Interval Training. Start your breakfast off right with whole oats for more long lasting energy and fiber. Continue to eat smaller more frequent meals throughout the day.
Nothing is more inspiring to stay consistent with your new healthy habits than the way you feel when you look at yourself in the mirror!
What Are The Studies That Have Been Done On Apple Cider Vinegar?
An early study showed that vinegar can help reduce both cholesterol and triglyceride fats – in rats! Just because something works in animals does not mean it can work effectively in humans.
A study in 2009 in Japan divided obese patient into three groups: each group ingested 500 ml daily of a beverage containing either 15 ml of vinegar (750 mg Ac oh), 30 ml of vinegar (1,500 mg Ac oh), or 0 ml of vinegar (0 mg Ac oh, placebo). After 12 weeks there was a modest reduction in weight loss for the 15mL group (2.6lbs) and 30mL (3.7lbs) compared to the placebo group.
However, a reduction of only 2 to 4lbs over 12 weeks is clinically insignificant, and the study failed to show a correlation that apple cider vinegar alone leads to the weight loss. These research subjects failed to combine diet, exercise and lifestyle changes during those 12 weeks.
A study in France showed that apple cider vinegar had a satiating effect leading to decreases in hyperlipidemia and blood sugar – in rats (again!). Another trial showed that in human type 2 diabetics, drinking vinegar at bedtime reduced the next-morning fasting glucose concentration.
However, this study was done with only 11 people and did not take into account differences in medications and renal function which have impacts on outcomes of morning glucose levels. While there are some studies showing reduction of blood sugars in rats, there needs to be more trials done in humans to better understand the efficacy.
In 2014 there was a landmark review the assessed all the trials done in regards to the multiple claims regarding apple cider vinegar for weight loss. The authors concluded that although there are some trials which show in animal models that apple cider vinegar may help reduce hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, hyperlipidemia, and obesity, there are a numerous studies showing no beneficial effect. Several mechanisms for these claims have been suggested, however, there is no clear evidence supporting a cause-effect relationship that apple cider vinegar can cause weight loss.
The authors of the review believe that while there is some evidence which supports the use of apple cider vinegar to complement in weight loss and glucose and lipid control, it is imperative that further large-scale long term randomized control trials in humans be conducted with flawless methodology to definitely prove that apple cider vinegar holds up to the alleged health claims.That being said, I would not hold out waiting for more studies to be done at this time, since research on natural health products is rarely done on a grand scale with precise methodology compared to those done in pharmaceutical medications.
Rajiv M Mallipudi, md, mhs is an internal medicine resident physician, personal trainer, athlete and author. He has over a decade of personal training experience and helped hundreds of clients of all levels achieve their weight loss and fitness goals. This inspired him to work as a clinical researcher at the nationally recognized, Johns Hopkins Hospital Weight Management Center.During medical school he and his classmates created the health and wellness organization, med fit, which provided personal training and nutrition counseling to the medical student body. In his spare time, Dr. Mallipudi enjoys playing ice hockey, dancing, and training for his next bodybuilding and powerlifting competitions. Dr. Mallipudi serves as a contributing writer for the Diet and Fitness sections.
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