Peep into your cabinet and you’ll probably see a bottle of apple cider vinegar hiding somewhere, right? Having that bottle of golden liquid around is convenient for making salad dressings and for adding flavor to foods.
Plus, you can put that bottle of vinegar to work as an inexpensive, toxin-free way to clean surfaces by diluting it with water. However, apple cider vinegar may have other benefits that you might not be aware of. If you’re trying to control your weight, a little of this acidic condiment might give you some help.
Be aware that apple cider vinegar sometimes gets overhyped. I’ve seen sites that say that it cures everything from hangnails to cancer. So, we’re sticking to what’s backed, at least preliminarily, by science. Here’s the question:
Is apple cider vinegar an appetite suppressant – and can it help you lose weight?
Of course, vinegar isn’t a magic weight loss potion and it won’t cure everything from the common cold to obesity. In fact, it probably won’t cure anything. (Let’s be realistic here.) There are too many false claims about foods and supplements and it’s almost never that simple.
Can you think of one food or supplement that has withstood scrutiny when it comes to weight loss? Still, apple cider vinegar may, in conjunction with healthy lifestyle changes, be a good addition to your diet
Apple Cider Vinegar: Can It Help You Control Your Appetite?
It’s never a good idea to draw conclusions based on a single study but here’s one you might find interesting.
Researchers in Japan asked 50 overweight people to drink a beverage made with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar diluted in water. Another 50 guys and gals drank a more dilute apple cider vinegar drink made of 1 tablespoon of vinegar in water.
Yet a third group of 50 drank a placebo that tasted a bit like vinegar but was vinegar-free. No restrictions were placed on their diet. However, the researchers closely monitored how much each participant ate and how active they were.
The outcome? Interestingly, after a month, both groups who drank the vinegar drinks lost weight and those that drank the more concentrated drink lost more. In contrast, at the end of three months, the placebo group had GAINED weight while the vinegar-sipping groups continued to lose. Remember, none of the participants were under calorie restriction and were free what eat as they wanted.
Plus, when they measured body fat via imaging studies, the vinegar participants had lost a significant amount of deep abdominal fat.
That’s a positive since visceral fat is linked with metabolic issues, like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The participants who drank the more concentrated vinegar drink lost more abdominal fat.
Is Apple Cider Vinegar an Appetite Suppressant?
Vinegar may help with weight loss in several ways. The most compelling one is that vinegar suppresses appetite. I don’t know about you, but when I add vinegar to a salad, it seems to fill me up quickly. Some studies show that vinegar does, indeed, increase satiety.
One way in which vinegar make reign in appetite is by reducing the blood sugar response to a meal. When you eat something, especially processed carbs, your blood sugar rises quickly and the falls. Three to four hours later you’re starving! A number of studies show that adding vinegar to meals stymies the rise in blood sugar you get when you eat that meal.
How does it do this? It seems to block certain enzymes that break down carbohydrates. When you don’t break the carbohydrates down that you eat, you don’t absorb the calories.
Vinegar may be good for your blood sugar period. In one study, participants who diluted 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in water and drank it at bedtime experienced a 5% drop in blood sugar. That’s a benefit if you have pre-diabetes or diabetes!
However, talk to your doctor before using apple cider vinegar, especially if you’re taking diabetes medications. Adding the vinegar could cause too much of a blood sugar drop.
Other Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
You can find dozens of websites that extol the virtues of apple cider vinegar and some lack scientific evidence. However, there are some reasons to get that bottle of apple cider vinegar out of the cabinet, beyond simply using it to suppress your appetite. These are apple cider vinegar benefits that are supported by one or more studies:
- The acidity fights bacteria. Sometimes used as a natural food preservative.
- May modestly reduce LDL-cholesterol
- May modestly reduce triglycerides
- May boost your energy level by preventing rapid fluctuations in blood sugar
We also know that apple cider vinegar is safe since it’s been around for a while. In fact, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, used it more than 2,000 years to treat a variety of ailments. While it’s not a cure-all as some sites would have you believe, it likely does have the modest health benefits discussed above.
The Bottom Line
Yes, apple cider vinegar MAY help with appetite control and weight loss, although it’s not a magical weight loss aid. If you drink dilute vinegar in water and don’t move your body or make healthy food choices, you’ll probably be disappointed. However, it could give you a little extra help in the appetite and weight loss department.
The question is whether other types of vinegar have the same benefits. Most of the studies were done with apple cider vinegar, although I did see one that used balsamic vinegar. It, too, helped with blood sugar control after a meal.
The active ingredient in vinegar is acetic acid and it appears to be the component that suppresses appetite and helps control blood sugar. So, if you don’t like apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar is an option. On the other hand, stay away from balsamic vinegar with added sugar. Some of the flavored ones are fairly sweet.
Aside: If you have the chance, visit one of the growing numbers of vinegar and olive oil stores that are out there. We have one in our area that has balsamic vinegar in a dizzying array of flavors. Love the espresso vinegar and chocolate vinegar. Unfortunately, they don’t list the sugar content.
If you’re diabetic, a tablespoon or two of vinegar with meals may help you avoid the postprandial rise in blood sugar when you eat a carbohydrate meal. Use it to make salad dressings and to season vegetables.
Another warning: Vinegar is acidic and it can damage the enamel on your teeth. Always dilute it to a concentration of no more than 1 to 2 tablespoons per cup of water and sip it with a straw. I prefer to use it on salads and on vegetables rather than drinking it.
What Kind of Vinegar Should You Use?
Since most of the studies have focused on apple cider vinegar, I would focus primarily on it for appetite suppression as well as the other health benefits. I like Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar since it’s raw, unfiltered, and certified organic.
Apples are one of the most heavily sprayed crops, so organic is best. You can also buy apple cider vinegar capsules. In our opinion, it’s best to use the food form of vinegar rather than a capsule since supplements don’t always contain what they say on the label.
What’s your experience with vinegar? Do you love it or hate it? Feel free to share your experiences. 🙂
Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005 Sep;59(9):983-8.
J Am Diet Assoc. 2005 Dec;105(12):1939-42.
J Agric Food Chem. 2010 May 12;58(9):5828-33. doi: 10.1021/jf100106e.