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Can Apple Cider Vinegar Boost Fat Loss?

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When you are trying to cut weight or drop body fat, diet is an important part of your overall lifestyle plan.

There aren’t any more popular foods around at the minute than apple cider vinegar. A quick flick through any health magazine and you’ll see an article reporting it’s health benefits.

But does research back up the claims or is it just another example of food industry dogmatism? In this article we’ll take a look.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • What is apple cider vinegar?
  • What are the health benefits?
  • Does it help you burn more fat?
  • What else burns fat?

What is Apple Cider Vinegar?

Otherwise known as cider vinegar or sometimes just ABV, this fermented vinegar is made from apple must – whole, pressed apples including skin and juice. It is crushed and then both yeast and bacteria are added to form alcohol fermentation. Once this has occurred, the alcohol is converted into ABV by acetobacter – a type of acetic acid-forming bacteria.

The result is a milky, cloudy, amber-colored liquid that is used in chutneys, condiments and dressings. Some even choose to drink it on its own – although as you can imagine, that takes some doing due to its strong taste.

The main bioactive ingredient in ABV is acetic acid. White distilled vinegars are generally 4% to 7% acetic acid whereas cider and wine vinegars are 5% to 6% acetic acid [1].

This acid both provides the distinct sour taste of the food. Apple cider vinegar also contains vitamin C, and B vitamins, as well as sodium, calcium and phosphorous. Other constituents include amino acids, and polyphenolic compounds such as catechin and caffeic acid.


The Health Benefits of Cider Vinegar

There is a big bacteria-killing benefit to this food – not only is it used as a food, but vinegar is often used as an ingredient in antibacterial cleaning product for this very reason.

Traditionally, ABV is used for treating fungal infections that thrive in alkaline conditions. It can also be used to treat candida and other bacterial conditions such as athlete’s foot. It has been claimed that this food can also help with warts, gout urinary tract infections and even head lice – although evidence of this is limited..

Whilst many of these benefits are anecdotal and no doubt exaggerated by sellers of the product, there are a number of animal studies showing some more clinical benefits though.

Firstly, research suggests that ACV can lower blood sugar and decrease insulin levels. In one animal study [2], acetic acid was given to a group of rats over a 10 day period. They showed significantly better glycogen repletion as well as improved ability of the liver and muscle to take up sugar from the blood.

Similar results were also seen in a study by Ostan et al [3] who found that high concentrations of acetic acid helped rats better manage blood sugar and insulin responses.

This can help to improve overall health and reduce risk of both diabetes and cardiovascular disease.


Does Apple Cider Vinegar Boost Fat Loss?

The power in this food really lies in its acetic acid content, with studies showing how this short-chain fatty acid can help improve body composition in a few different ways.

Firstly, it may help to reduce fat storage potential. In an animal study published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition [4] researchers found that when obese rats were given daily acetic acid, they were protected from the accumulation of lipid in the liver, as well as abdominal fat. 

Adding vinegar to food has been found to increase satiety too [3]. Adding either 18, 23 or 28 mmol acetic acid to white bread was found to increase feelings of fullness in a group of 12 volunteers. It appeared that the higher the acetic acid content the lower the lower blood sugar and insulin responses were. The acetic acid content helped to reduce the glycemic index of the meal. 

The satiating effect of acetic acid was also seen in human studies too [5]. In a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, 16 healthy adults were instructed to ingest a vinegar-based drink alongside a mixed breakfast.

The researchers reported that acetic acid suppressed appetite in the group, however they suggested that as the drink made some volunteers feel nauseous it might not have been an appropriate intervention on appetite – some people just don’t like the taste of it.

Lastly, in probably the most relevant human study to date [6], obese Japanese volunteers were given a 500ml beverage containing either 0ml, 15ml or 30ml of vinegar over a 12 week period. Both vinegar groups reported lower body weight, body mass index, visceral fat area, waist circumference, and blood lipid levels that were significantly lower than in the placebo group. 

Summary – Can Apple Cider Vinegar Help You Lose Fat?

Apple cider vinegar is made from pressed apples that are fermented to make a sour, cloudy liquid. It can be used to make condiments and dressings, as well as an additive in a number of different foods.

Acetic acid, the main active ingredient of ACV has been shown to have a number of health benefits. In reality, many manufacturers and proponents of alternative medicine claim benefits where research is limited. However there are a number of studies that show its benefits on blood sugar and insulin levels.

Research suggests that it can have a positive impact on fat loss – it can boost satiety and feelings of fullness, whilst helping you reduce belly fat and weight.

We suggest you include this food in moderation in your diet as long as you like it. It has a strong taste that isn’t for everyone, but the benefits are clear for those that choose to include it.

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  1. Johnston, CS et al. Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect. MedGenMed. 2006; 8(2): 61.
  2. Fushimi, T et al. Effect of acetic acid feeding on the circadian changes in glycogen and metabolites of glucose and lipid in liver and skeletal muscle of rats. Br J Nutr. 2005; 94(5): 714-9
  3. Ostman, E et al. Vinegar supplementation lowers glucose and insulin responses and increases satiety after a bread meal in healthy subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005; 59(9): 983-8.
  4. Yamashita, H et al. Biological Function of Acetic Acid-Improvement in Obesity and Glucose Tolerance by Acetic Acid in Type 2 Diabetic Rats. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2016; 56(Suppl 1): S171-5
  5. Darzi, J et al. Influence of the tolerability of vinegar as an oral source of short-chain fatty acids on appetite control and food intake. Int J Obes (Lond). 2014; 38(5): 675-81
  6. Kondo, T et al. Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2009; 73(8): 1837-43