Apple cider vinegar has been around for a long time. Its use dates back thousands of years. It’s been used for detoxification, treating pneumonia, and weight loss. Some claim that the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates used it to cure a host of ailments.
When it comes to weight loss, the apple cider vinegar diet isn’t like a lot of the others on the market. All it requires is adding a little bit of apple cider vinegar to your (hopefully already) sensible diet.
“Recommendations vary, but sensible approaches involve either drinking several teaspoons of apple cider vinegar before meals and/or adding apple cider vinegar to meals,” explains Jaimi Jansen (formerly Jaime Ellison), personal trainer and president of Santa Cruz CORE Fitness + Rehab in California. “Apple cider vinegar can be incorporated into the diet in a balanced and sustainable way, integrating this valuable substance into your nutrition.”
So how does apple cider vinegar help people lose weight?
“Apple cider vinegar accelerates the body’s ability to break down and derive nutrients from fats and protein efficiently and quickly from the digestive system, which means a faster metabolism and more vitality,” says Jansen.
Both apple cider vinegar and raw apples contain the fiber pectin. There is evidence to suggest that fibers like pectin can increase a person’s sense of fullness after they eat it, which lowers their desire to overeat or compulsively snack.
Not all experts are convinced. There is very little evidence to prove the claims that apple cider vinegar actually helps to burn fat and increase weight loss. Katherine Zeratsky, RD, LD, health expert at the Mayo Clinic, says losing weight on the apple cider vinegar diet “isn’t likely.”
In a 2014 review, researchers found that while there is some evidence that vinegars can help with hyperglycemia and obesity, there is no evidence that it positively affects metabolism. However, one 2016 study done on rats showed an improvement in satiation (fullness), cholesterol, and blood sugar after taking apple cider vinegar. This preliminary study indicated that “metabolic disorders caused by a high fat diet are thwarted by taking apple cider vinegar.”
While vinegar seems to have an acidic quality to it, it actually does just the opposite in your body. “Apple cider vinegar helps the body maintain an alkaline pH, which is widely regarded as anti-cancer and promotes general vitality and wellbeing,” says Jansen.
Your body’s pH is a measure of your body’s acidity and alkalinity. Severe acidity can lead to a number of health problems, like acidosis — which affects the kidneys and lungs — and kidney stones. Recent studies support the observation that apple cider vinegar is beneficial for managing post-meal blood sugar levels. This can be very helpful for people with diabetes. Keeping your alkaline pH balanced is essential for maintaining good health. Severe acidity can lead to a number of health problems, like acidosis and kidney stones.
Apple cider vinegar — as a supplement or applied topically — can also be good for the skin.
“When applied topically, it regulates the pH of the skin and has a great effect fighting age spots, acne, and even warts,” says Jansen. “It has a detoxifying effect on the liver which will show up in a glowing healthy complexion. Its beneficial bacteria will contribute to healthy skin as well, because our skin is a reflection of what is inside us as well as what is outside us.”
People who intend to use apple cider vinegar should ensure that it is heavily diluted. Jansen suggests 10 parts water to 1 part vinegar as a safe mixture.
In more concentrated doses, apple cider vinegar can erode tooth enamel or burn your mouth and throat. A 2012 study found that drinking one glass of apple cider vinegar each day caused significant tooth erosion. “Make sure you rinse your mouth with water afterwards,” says Jansen.
You can find plenty of positive testimonials on the effects of the apple cider vinegar diet, even if there is little scientific evidence to support these claims.