Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is not a new creation. It’s been around for ages, and has been used as a home remedy for just about everything from skin care, to flu symptoms, to warts. People swear by its seemingly magical powers to help many different body systems.
One of the most popular uses of ACV is as a digestive booster and weight loss aid. Many diet fads have come and gone, but ACV remains a tried and true favorite. There is a growing body of evidence that explains why ACV can help support your weight loss goals.
Read on to learn more about how ACV can help support your weight loss goals, and important considerations to take before adding it to your daily routine.
How Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help You Lose Weight?
While the body of research surrounding ACV continues to grow, it’s still not certain exactly how regular consumption of ACV helps weight loss. There are several plausible explanations that have been proposed, and each one merits consideration. As with most health issues, the answer is likely a complex combination of many of these different mechanisms.
- Appetite Suppression: Regularly drinking ACV can make you feel satiated sooner. Apples and ACV contain a lot of pectin, a nutrient that has been proven to make you feel fuller. A particularly helpful 2005 study showed that those who drank ACV along with bread felt significantly more full than those who simply ate bread. While studies such as these seem quite promising, it must be noted that they were fairly small, and the integrity of the study protocols and quality of the results have been questioned. Some nutritionists suspect that ACV causes delayed gastric emptying, leading to this feeling of fullness.
- Blood Sugar Control: ACV has been demonstrated to have an anti-glycemic effect. Acetic acid, the key acid at work in ACV, has been proven to block some of the absorption of starch, which in turn blocks insulin production. By slowing your body’s production of insulin, ACV prevents the spikes and crashes of blood sugar that naturally lead to cravings. If you can maintain more regular glucose levels, you can avoid sudden hunger pains and better stick to your diet.
- Growth Hormone Regulation: Human growth hormone (HGH) plays a critical role in breaking down stored fat cells for energy. Our bodies require protein for the production of HGH. Because stomach acid helps digest protein, supplementation of ACV before a meal further supports the availability of fully digested protein. This increased availability of fully digested protein helps in the production of growth hormone to optimum levels, keeping the metabolism up even while the body is at rest, leading to increased calorie burning.
- Fighting Candida: Candida is a particularly notorious flora of the gut. People with excess Candida in the gut tend to experience more cravings for sugary and other carbohydrate loaded foods, leading to increased weight gain. The anti-fungal properties of ACV can help destroy excess Candida in the gut.
- Effects on Fat: Another theory postulates that ACV stimulates digestion and causes fat to be cleared from the digestive tract more quickly thereby preventing of fat absorption.
- Cravings for Healthy foods: When it comes to healthy eating, ACV can enhance your desire for healthy whole foods. As it adds distinct flavor to nutrient rich salads, veggies and other food items, it makes various foods appealing to your taste buds. With this enhanced taste you can better appreciate the wide-ranging flavors of vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains. As it happens, these are all foods that improve metabolism and keep your blood sugar more constant. Vinegar can help lead you away from salt and fat, which don’t help your diet efforts.
- Detoxing the Body: Because ACV is derived from fermented apples, it’s high in fiber – which is what your body needs to absorb toxins and clear out your bowels.
- Iron Utilization: Iron plays an important role in blood production which carries oxygen through your body. When oxygen is readily available, your body can burn fuel far more efficiently. ACV helps to release iron in the food you consume. This makes it more readily available to produce oxygen-carrying red blood cells (hemoglobin) and muscle cells (myoglobin), thereby helping burn more calories.
What Kind of Apple Cider Vinegar Should You Buy?
There are several brands of ACV to be found in your local grocery or health foods store. While brand name is not necessarily important, there is one thing that you should definitely consider when it comes to your ACV selection: always choose organic, raw, or unpasteurized ACV.
You’ll probably notice right away that the “conventional” ACV has a clear appearance similar to apple juice. On the other hand, the organic ACV will appear cloudy, with solid material floating around.
The material swirling around your organic ACV is referred to as the “mother.” Because the “mother” is the catalyst for fermentation, it contains all the great nutrients, probiotics, and enzymes that give ACV most of its powers. If you don’t see any of these specific ACV types in your grocery store, be sure to look for one that says 5% acidity on the label.
How Much Apple Cider Vinegar should I Drink and How?
Apple cider vinegar is definitely an acquired taste. Thankfully, you don’t need to chug gallons of ACV to reap its benefits! A little goes a long way, and you don’t need to drink it straight out of the bottle.
Most health experts recommend:
- to start with just one teaspoon at a time mixed with 100ml of plain water.
- Gradually increase the “dose” to two teaspoons of ACV, taken up to two times per day.
- Once you’ve gotten used to the above, you can increase intake to multiple times per day.
Because the acidity of the ACV can be hard to get accustomed to, it’s recommended you gradually work up to that level.
The high acidity of ACV has the potential to harm the enamel of your teeth as well as your delicate esophageal and tissue of the stomach lining. As such, you should not drink ACV “straight,” but mix it into a cup of warm lemon water, tea, or pretty much any other beverage. Add some honey to sweeten the deal. Keep in mind, though, that coffee, citrus juices, and many other beverages are acidic already, so if you’ve got a stomach that’s sensitive to acid, you shouldn’t overdo it. Also keep in mind that caffeine may affect the absorption of ACV in your system, so avoid mixing it into caffeinated drinks.
When Should You Drink ACV for Best Results?
Given what we know about ACV’s effects on digestion and weight loss, it’s best to drink ACV before a meal. Several studies have supported this. In a 2009 study published in the Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism, it was shown that consuming two teaspoons of ACV before eating a bagel or juice led to a reduction in blood sugar spikes. A study in Japan found links between ACV and lower body weight, BMI, waistline circumference reduction (belly fat), and lower triglyceride levels in the study participants.
Many people also recommend drinking it first thing in the morning to give your metabolism a kick-start for the day. The short answer is: drink ACV whenever it’s best for you! Experiment with different routines to find what makes you feel good.
Are there People Who shouldn’t Drink Apple Cider Vinegar?
Being a natural byproduct of apples and fermentation, ACV is generally very safe for most people. The most obvious thing to note is that ACV is quite acidic, so those who have a problem tolerating highly acidic foods may experience discomfort. People with GERD, acid reflux, or indigestion should consult with their doctor.
Similarly, those who suffer from gastroparesis should take caution before starting an ACV regimen. This is a condition that slows down the rate of emptying of the stomach, and is common with diabetes. Some research suggests that ACV could potentially worsen the symptoms.
Almost any medication you take has the potential to interact not just with other medications, but with different foods and drinks. ACV may affect your body’s response to other medications you take. If you’re taking prescription medications, it’s always best to consult with your doctor before starting a new wellness routine.
Similarly, pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers should consult with their doctor before starting an ACV routine. Most doctors recommend that these patients stay away from unpasteurized foods, to reduce the risk of ingesting any potentially harmful bacteria.
Some studies have indicated that ACV may lower potassium levels. Consider adding potassium supplements to your diet when you start drinking ACV. Other studies have showed that drinking ACV over time could deplete iodine levels in the body. Again, consider taking iodine supplements to counteract this.
Complement Apple Cider Vinegar with Lifestyle Changes
A Japanese study that found ACV to be helpful in weight loss also found that those who lost weight with the help of ACV ended up gaining it all back after the study was over. As mentioned earlier, ACV is not a “miracle drug” or quick fix for weight loss. It’s a tool in your wellness toolbox, but it won’t help you shed pounds alone. Just like any other healthy habit, it’s important to incorporate many different lifestyle changes to support your weight loss goals.
- More Exercise:If you’re not already, it’s time to get moving! Incorporating regular exercise should be the first step of any weight loss program. Try going for a walk every day. Start with just a ten-minute walk, and try to gradually work up to walking 30 to 40 minutes daily. Even an exercise habit as simple as walking every day will increase your metabolism, supporting your weight loss goals.
- Eat Clean: This one’s a no-brainer. Eat a balanced diet including raw vegetables, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates. Avoid foods that are high in sugar, fat, and salt.
- More Potassium:Potassium has been shown to not only lower blood pressure, but reduce your stress levels, too. Find high levels of potassium in bananas, sweet potatoes, spinach, and avocadoes.
Other Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
It’s worthwhile to note that ACV can help more than just your figure. It’s not often that a weight loss supplement or strategy will actually help you in other aspects of your health and wellness, so let’s celebrate ACV for its many uses!
- Constipation and Heartburn: The acidity of the vinegar will stimulate digestive juices, leading to more thorough breakdown of food and less constipation. Apple cider vinegar can help with heartburn in some people for the same reason, as many theories suggest that the heartburn sensation occurs because the stomach is too basic.
- Heart Health: Apple cider vinegar contains one particular type of acid called malic acid. Malic acid has been shown to help cleanse and clear clogged arteries, lymph nodes, and other organ tissue.
- Skin Care: The numerous skin benefits of ACV likely stem from its high antioxidant concentration. Antioxidants have many protective benefits to the skin, including protection against degenerative UV rays and encouraging skin cell regrowth.
- Diabetes: Studies are just beginning to explore the numerous benefits of ACV for those suffering from diabetes. It’s understood that ACV can stabilize blood sugar levels by blocking some of the digestion of starch, which would otherwise cause a spike in blood sugar.
- Cold Season: Try reaching for the ACV instead of the cough syrup. The ACV’s powerful antimicrobial properties will help bust germs, break up mucous, and alleviate sinus congestion.
- Hair Care: There are many people who swear by washing their hair with ACV, claiming that it leaves hair soft and shiny. It can also help with your dandruff problems. It’s believed that the acidic vinegar makes it harder for the fungus that contributes to dandruff to grow on your scalp.
- Stinky Smells: The antimicrobial properties of ACV make it a great deodorizer. You can make your own deodorizing wipes by soaking thick paper towels or baby wipes in ACV and then storing them in a sealed container. A quick wipe of your feet or underarms will go a long way!