Apple cider vinegar has become a buzzword in the health and weight loss community, but what’s all the hype about?
Apple cider vinegar is jam packed with health and weight loss benefits. The advantages range from reducing appetite, to lowering blood sugar levels, improving symptoms of diabetes, effectively aiding in weight loss, and calorie burning. Vinegar also fights viruses and bacteria.
It’s also a powerful natural medicine that can be used to help cure sore throats, ease heartburn, eliminate indigestion, and relieve itching from topical rashes and bug bites. It can also be used for cooking and household purposes.
How is apple cider vinegar made?
Apple cider vinegar is first made by crushing apples and extracting the liquid. Then it undergoes a two-step fermentation process during which the natural sugars from the apples are fermented by yeast or bacteria which is added to the liquid, which turns it into alcohol, and eventually into vinegar. The entire process takes about one month from start to finish.
Essentially apple cider vinegar is comprised of 6% acetic acid and 94% water. Most vinegar is comprised of acetic acid, but apple cider vinegar also contains other acidic compounds, such as lactic, citric, malic acids, and beneficial bacteria.
What makes apple cider vinegar healthier than other types of vinegar?
A “mother,” which is essentially a live culture made of bacteria and yeasts, is added to the vinegar during the fermentation process. The mother contains high levels of enzymes, friendly bacteria, and strands of proteins, which all contribute to the healthy benefits that apple cider vinegar offers.
In most commercially sold apple cider vinegar though, the mother is eventually killed off through the pasteurization process which heats the vinegar to a high temperature for manufacturing and sterilization purposes. For this reason, it is important to double check that the apple cider vinegar you purchase is “raw” or “with the mother” to ensure that you are getting the full optimized health benefits.
How does apple cider vinegar work to aid in weight loss?
There are several different ways apple cider vinegar works to promote weight loss. The main acidic compound in apple cider vinegar, acetic acid, is a short-chain fatty acid that offers a slew of weight loss benefits, including:
- Increased metabolism: Apple cider vinegar is known for its ability to speed up the metabolism by increasing the levels of an enzyme called AMPK (activated protein kinase), which decreases fat and sugar production in the liver, as well as boosting overall fat burning capabilities.
- Regulates blood sugar: Apple cider vinegar is known to block enzymes that help to digest starch. This action results in decreased insulin spikes and lowered blood sugar levels after meals, helping to promote healthy weight loss by preventing the body from storing excess glucose as fat.
- Reduces fat storage: Obese, diabetic rats who were treated with acetic acid showed that the acid prevented them from gaining any extra weight. Over longer exposure to acetic acid there was an increase to genes which are responsible for reducing belly fat storage.
- Fat burning: A study where mice were fed a high-fat diet supplemented with acetic acid resulted in a measurably high increase in the genes which stimulate fat burning, resulting in lowered rates of body fat buildup. A 12-week study involving 144 obese Japanese adults had the participants consume either one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar per day, two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar per day, or a placebo. Those who consumed two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar per day lost a significant amount of weight, nearly twice that of the other control groups, and decreased their body fat percentage more than the others. The placebo group actually gained weight. This study concludes that adding one or two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to your daily routine over at least a three month period (ideally longer) can result in weight loss, fat burning, belly fat reduction, and decreased blood triglycerides.
- Suppressed appetite: Acetate has been found to suppress the area of the brain which is responsible for controlling appetite, thus resulting in lesser food intake. This also decreases the amount of daily calories taken. Acetic acid has also been shown to slow down the rate at which food leaves your stomach, making that “full” feeling last for longer. A study involving 11 people who took vinegar before a high-carb meal had a 55% decrease in their blood sugar response just one hour after they were finished eating. As a result of the appetite suppressing effects of acetate, these participants also ultimately consumed 200-275 less daily total calories.
How to integrate apple cider vinegar into your diet to support a weight loss program
It is simple and cheap to integrate apple cider vinegar into your diet, but the best way to see results is to take it consistently and to not skip any days. Additionally, apple cider vinegar won’t add much to your calorie intake, as a tablespoon only contains three calories and basically no carbs at all. It is best taken before meals to avoid nausea, and should always be diluted or eaten in combination with something else, as the acid compounds in the vinegar are strong and can burn the esophagus.
So what’s the best way to take apple cider vinegar to see weight loss results:
- Take one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (with the mother!) diluted in a cup of water. Drink 20 minutes before a meal. Do this twice daily.
- Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to smoothies or juices. Do this twice daily to get the recommended two tablespoon dosage.
- Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a green salad. Apple cider vinegar makes a delicious and nutritious dressing, especially when combined with a little bit of olive oil. Apple cider vinegar can be massaged into kale leaves to soften the leaves for a kale salad.
- Make dressings or sauces to be eaten on top of foods using apple cider vinegar.
- Apple cider vinegar can also be taken in supplement form rather than as a liquid. It is available in tablets and chewables.
NCBI. “The short-chain fatty acid acetate reduces appetite via a central homeostatic mechanism” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24781306
NCBI. “Acetic acid upregulates the expression of genes for fatty acid oxidation enzymes in liver to suppress body fat accumulation.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19469536