What are the benefits of apple cider vinegar? This is one of the most common questions I get from people when we talk about food-based supplements.
There are actually a lot of benefits of apple cider vinegar (including weight loss) that have less to do with the apple cider and more to do with the vinegar. So if you're not a superfan of ACV - good news! You can probably achieve many of these benefits with plain old white vinegar.
Here's the scoop on apple cider vinegar, with a side view of vinegar in general.
Full disclosure - I'm a big fan of apple cider vinegar. Not so much for weight loss, but because of a few other reasons I'll get to in just a minute. I actually incorporate apple cider vinegar into my almost-famous 3-Day Cleanse dressing in my book, The Belly Burn Plan and recommend people supplement with it everyday. It's really popular and wouldn't have been nearly as loved if it didn't have ACV in it. I'm happy I included it!
Despite its popularity, apple cider vinegar and its effects on weight loss haven't been studied as much as other foods. In fact, weighing at 3 calories per tablespoon, ACV has negligible nutrition. So how can it be so beneficial?
Let's start looking into that now.
Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar helps to improve blood sugar and insulin levels
Don't breeze over this benefit! If you can control your blood sugar and insulin, you not only help protect yourself from disease and inflammation, but you'll probably end up with less belly fat!
Many of the studies that have been done have included diabetics and apple cider vinegar's role in improving blood sugar and insulin levels. Whether you’re a diabetic or not, this is one way ACV can help manage weight loss.
When our blood sugar levels are out of control, even in non-diabetic people, we're always hungry and have more cravings for food - especially sugar.
The participants of the studies who improved their blood sugar levels all consumed vinegar just before they ate something. After they did this, their blood sugar levels were more stable than the people who didn’t consume vinegar.
But wait! It turns out the real benefits in these studies is something called acetic acid, which is a property of all vinegar - not just our beloved ACV.
That’s right! You could get the same benefit of improving cravings and hunger from balsamic or white vinegar. Nonetheless, consuming apple cider vinegar can help with weight loss through managing blood sugar levels.
A 2005 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that the greater the amount of vinegar supplementation, the better the blood sugar and insulin response (1). An equally compelling study showed that ACV specifically helped to improve high blood sugar levels in people who ate a high carbohydrate and high glycemic meals (2). Of course, the participants in the study consumed vinegar around the time they ate their meals, which is an important consideration.
So what does this mean?
Well, at least in these studies, diabetic people who consumed vinegar had better overall blood sugar and insulin levels than their those who did not. If you're a diabetic or think you have a problem managing blood sugar or insulin levels, consult a physician before supplementing with vinegar.
But there's more to this story! It has to do with the acetic acid in vinegar.
Apple Cider Vinegar, Cravings and Fat Loss
A close cousins to blood sugar management and insulin regulation is weight loss, which comes in as one of the best benefits of apple cider vinegar supplementation.
Apple cider vinegar makes you feel more full, cutting out your cravings for more food. Not a bad deal.
Usually, when people crave food because their blood sugar levels are thrown off, they’re reaching for something sweet or refined - like cookies, soda or pretzels. If adding vinegar to your diet could help reduce your cravings for foods like these, it could be worth it!
How much vinegar should you drink?
One Japanese study (3) revealed that people who drank vinegar got rid of more belly fat than their counterparts who didn’t consume any. The study gave their participants between one and two tablespoons of vinegar daily for 12 weeks.
All the research I looked at gave has people drinking vinegar either once daily or before every meal. In The Belly Burn Plan, I simply recommend people start their day with a “shot” of ACV, which is somewhere between one and two tablespoons.
Apple Cider Vinegar Kills Bad Bacteria
All of us have what’s known as a microbiome in and on our body. That is, all the good and bad bacteria that in our small and large intestines, and even on our skin is a part of our own little ecosystem.
The goal of any healthy person is to make sure we have enough good bacteria to offset the bad bacteria that could otherwise get us sick.
When we have too much bad bacteria, we end up running into a bunch of problems, including:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) + other digestive disorders
- Cognitive dysfunctions, like Parkinson’s
- Depression and anxiety
- Heart disease
- Obesity and weight gain
This list goes on and on. You can read more about the benefits of good bacteria and probiotics here.
Good bacteria is good! We just don’t get enough of it. Did you notice that one of the negative implications of not enough good bacteria is obesity and weight again. You might see weight loss with apple cider vinegar by replenishing beneficial bacteria that, by association, help to lose weight!
Apple cider vinegar is a good way to increase helpful bacteria!
You can buy two types of apple cider vinegar: filtered and unfiltered.
Always buy the unfiltered because it contains a very helpful but murky mass floating around the bottom of the bottle. This is called the “mother” and it’s important.
The mother contains greater amounts of beneficial bacteria that result from the fermentation process in making the apple cider vinegar. The greater the amount of beneficial bacteria in our gut, the better our overall health.
These are the brands of apple cider vinegar I’ve used and trust:
You can still get the benefit of good bacteria from acetic acid in a filtered apple cider vinegar, but you get the added benefit of the extra boost of beneficial bacteria from the mother of unfiltered.
Apple Cider Vinegar vs Other Vinegars
Regardless of the type of vinegar you consume, provided it has no sugar added to it, like rice wine vinegar, then you could see weight loss with apple cider vinegar purely from the acetic acid.
A lot of things can throw off our blood sugar levels, including:
- Eating too much sugar
- Eating too much food in general
- Not eating the right foods for your body type
- Too little sleep
- Too much stress
The list could go on. But add these all up along with out-of-control blood sugar levels and you're usually left with insulin trying to give your body a hand to level things off. Insulin, when out of whack, serves as our "fat storage hormone."
Apple Cider Vinegar Detox Drink
If you’re interested in incorporating ACV into your diet, you can start by making this simple ACV Cleanse Drink.
I’ll be honest, a lot of people struggle with the taste of ACV, but this drink helps to buffer it. Regardless, if you're looking to get the benefits of balancing blood sugar levels along with good bacteria, then you might be able to see weight loss with apple cider vinegar. Give it a shot and let me know what you think.
I drink this because it helps me to:
- Balance my blood pH, keeping me more alkaline
- Increase the amount of good bacteria in my gut (think probiotic drink)
- Helps me manage my blood sugar levels, maintaining a normal appetite
ACV Detox Drink
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (I like Bragg’s and Spectrum)
- 1 tbsp honey
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
Mix together and enjoy!
Apple Cider Vinegar for Cooking
As much as I love ACV for its nutrition benefits, I get the most out of this vinegar when I cook with it. In fact, I use a half cup of ACV in my Cleanse Dressing, which can be found in my One Day Cleanse (free download).
I highly recommend you give it a try. It’s delicious on salads or as a vegetable dip. It’s loaded with lots of incredibly healthy ingredients and can be stored in your refrigerator for months.
Beyond dressings, you can add apple cider vinegar to:
- Substitute for buttermilk in recipes
- Wash produce (dilute with water and spray on)
Apple Cider Vinegar for Skin and Hair
Of course, there are always the anecdotal stories that you hear of people swearing that ACV has worked wonders for their skin or hair. There just might be some truth to those claims,
Soft, Manageable Hair
Many people use apple cider vinegar as a hair rinse to help make hair softer and smoother, getting rid of all that frizz.
- Simply mix together a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with warm water. After shampooing, pour the ACV mixture over your hair and massage in. No need to rinse or use conditioner.
People with eczema say that a little apple cider vinegar helps to give their skin some relief when used as a tonic added to bathwater.
- Add about ½ cup apple cider vinegar to warm bathwater and soak up the soothing benefits.
Other people use apple cider vinegar as a gentle exfoliant. Apple cider vinegar can help to get rid of dead skin cells, turning them over, making way for new ones - improving skin tone,
- Dilute a teaspoon of ACV with water, then gently dab over skin using a cotton ball. Follow with a good moisturizer.
If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy:
- Is A Keto Diet Really Safe and Healthy for Everyone?
- More on The Belly Burn Weight Loss Program
- 3 Simple Ways to Control Your Appetite and Hunger
Note: this website contains affiliate links, which means if you click on some links, I may make a commission.
- Östman, E., Granfeldt, Y., Persson, L., & Björck, I. (2005). Vinegar supplementation lowers glucose and insulin responses and increases satiety after a bread meal in healthy subjects. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition,59(9), 983-988. doi:10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602197
- Liatis, S., Grammatikou, S., Poulia, K., Perrea, D., Makrilakis, K., Diakoumopoulou, E., & Katsilambros, N. (2010). Vinegar reduces postprandial hyperglycaemia in patients with type II diabetes when added to a high, but not to a low, glycaemic index meal. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 64(7), 727-732. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2010.89
- Kondo, T., Kishi, M., Fushimi, T., Ugajin, S., & Kaga, T. (2009). Vinegar Intake Reduces Body Weight, Body Fat Mass, and Serum Triglyceride Levels in Obese Japanese Subjects. Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry,73(8), 1837-1843. doi:10.1271/bbb.90231
- Yagnik, D., Serafin, V., & Shah, A. J. (2018). Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression. Scientific Reports, 8(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-017-18618-x