Vinegar for weight loss? Well, spend a bit of time on social media, especially if you’re vegan or trying to lose weight, and you’re going to run across some interesting claims. I’ve seen a bunch lately (yep, I spend more time on social than I should), ranging from vegan keto to eating only raw fruit, the alkaline vegan diet, and apple cider vinegar for weight loss.
Most of this is garbage. Sorry, just being upfront and honest. I don’t recommend anything that isn’t tried and true, backed by research. I want to know what has actually been shown to work.
But there is some truth to vinegar helping your weight loss efforts! Let’s dive in and see what the research says and how you can easily add vinegar to help your weight loss efforts.
Vinegar and Acetic Acid
Acetic acid is the ingredient in vinegar that is thought to promote weight loss, along with a host of other health benefits. Vinegar is made by taking a fermented liquid (alcohol) and adding acetobacter and oxygen. Together, over time, they create acetic acid. The fermented liquid can be any carbohydrate, from gains to fruit, or even potatoes. This is how we get so many varieties of vinegar.
Interestingly, acetic acid is also produced by our own good gut bugs. When we eat fiber-rich foods our gut bacteria feed on the fiber and produce short-chain fatty acids, one of which is acetate. Not only are these short-chain fatty acids super healthy, we are also learning that they are essential.
We are still learning a lot about these short-chain fatty acids that are produced by gut bacteria, but some health benefits we are discovering include:
- blood pressure reduction
- antioxidant activity
- reduction in the effects of diabetes
- prevention of cardiovascular disease
And, as we’ll cover, consuming a small amount of vinegar each day has been shown to improve blood glucose response, which would be a huge benefit for those with diabetes.
Vinegar Reduces Body Fat
Japanese researchers conducted a double-blind trial to see if ingesting vinegar daily could help lower body fat. They chose a group of obese men that all had similar weights, body mass indexes (BMI), and waist circumference. Subjects were given either 15 ml of vinegar, 30 ml, or none, daily. Those in the 15 ml and 30 ml groups lost significantly more body fat, visceral fat, and lowered their BMI.
The biggest surprise Korean researchers found with weight loss attributed to drinking vinegar was that subjects lost visceral fat! Visceral fat is the fat that surrounds your abdominal organs, which is why belly fat is so dangerous. Unlike the fat that sits right beneath your skin, high percentages of visceral fat can cause heart disease, type two diabetes, and strokes l. In this study, the researchers used pomegranate vinegar.
Another study in the Journal of Functional Foods followed 39 people who were trying to lose weight. Each participant dropped their calorie intake by 250 calories a day. One group was given a spoonful of apple cider vinegar with lunch and dinner, the other wasn’t. Participants who drank the ACV lost 8.8 pounds in 12 weeks, while those who were not given vinegar lost only 5 pounds.
That’s not a huge difference, but almost 4 extra pounds lost in 12 weeks for doing nothing more than adding a bit of vinegar to your meals each day. I’ll take it!
Vinegar Can Help Regulate Blood Sugar
One of the huge benefits of adding vinegar to your meals is that it can lower your insulin response. Swedish researchers looked into this by feeding participants 50 grams worth of carbohydrates from white bread. Along with their meal, they were given either 18, 23, or 28 mmol of acetic acid.
Those who were given the highest amount of vinegar had significantly lower insulin responses and experienced increased satiety. So, not only did they have a lower insulin response, they stayed fuller for longer! That’s huge!
The researchers tried this again, but this time with different subjects and white potatoes instead of bread. Same result. Those who were given potatoes with vinegar (they used an olive oil and white vinegar dressing) had significantly lower insulin responses and increased feelings of satiety.
Why would vinegar help people stay fuller for longer? A lower insulin response may help reduce cravings caused by sugar spikes after meals.
Vinegar Helps Your Muscles Take Up Sugar
So this is pretty cool. We already know that vinegar lowers our insulin response, which is going to help us not get those insulin spikes that lead to highs and crashes. But we want the sugars we eat to get into our muscles. Insulin resistance, which is the inability of insulin to trigger our cells to let glucose in, is a worldwide problem and the first step toward prediabetes and diabetes.
It appears that vinegar actually increases the insulin action in our muscles. 11 subjects with type two diabetes were given either vinegar or a placebo before a meal, and their blood glucose, insulin, triglycerides, nonesterified fatty acids (NEFA), and glycerol were measured for the next 300 minutes. Researchers observed increased glucose uptake in the forearm muscles, as well as decreased levels of blood sugar, insulin, and triglycerides.
The same effect was noticed in another study of eight subjects with insulin resistance. Those who were given vinegar with meals as opposed to placebo had better blood flow to their muscles, as well as improved glucose uptake.
This may not sound like much, but this is a big deal. For those with type two diabetes, blood flow to skeletal muscle after eating is impaired, along with poor glucose uptake and decreased fat metabolism.
So we get fat burning, fewer crashes, and our muscles will resupply glycogen better and have better blood flow? Count me in!
How to Add Vinegar to Your Diet for Weight Loss
I’m not going to focus on apple cider vinegar, as the acetic acid in vinegar appears to be the component that gives us health benefits. Therefore, any vinegar meant for consumption should provide the same benefits.
According to the research (8, 9), 2 tablespoons a day should do the trick and is well within the realm of safe consumption.
Because vinegar lowers your insulin response, delays gastric emptying (the rate at which food leaves your stomach), and helps you feel fuller for longer, split your 2 tablespoons throughout the day, preferably with meals.
If you’re eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner, that’s three meals divided by two tablespoons. So roughly two teaspoons at each meal.
Do I Just Drink It?
Please avoid drinking apple cider vinegar, or any vinegar for that matter. That’s bad for the enamel on your teeth, can cause uncontrollable hiccups, and can damage your esophagus. Plus, it tastes horrible by itself!
Instead, try these tips:
- Dip your bread in balsamic vinegar. There’s a vegan restaurant near my house and they serve fresh-baked bread with rosemary-infused extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It’s ridiculously good.
- Add balsamic vinegar to cooked vegetables. Asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, any dark green leafies are amazing with some balsamic drizzled on them.
- Make a homemade oil and vinegar salad dressing. The best ratio for an oil and vinegar dressing is 3:1 (3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar). Here’s a bit more explanation and an awesome recipe for oil and vinegar dressing that I love.
- Make an apple cider vinegar (ACV) spritzer. Here’s what I do: fill a large cup with ice cubes, add 1 tablespoon ACV, 1/4 cup pomegranate juice (POM Juice), and fill the glass the rest of the way with seltzer water. My kids call this Vinegar Drink, and they love it (of course, I barely put any vinegar in it if they are going to have some). Play around with the measurements to find a version you like.
- Add balsamic vinegar to any grain you’re having with your meal. Tastes really good on white rice!
Try out some different kinds of vinegar (parsimony vinegar, pomegranate vinegar, etc.) and see if there are some you like. Add them to water, make a spritzer, or dip bread in them.
Vinegar Isn’t a Magic Bullet
Vinegar by itself isn’t going to be the magic bullet that helps you realize your goals. But it can help. Before you head out to pick up some ACV or balsamic, take a look at the rest of your weight loss or muscle gain habits. Always start with the basics.
- Eat a mostly whole-food, vegan diet
- Know how many calories you need to eat and do your best to hit your mark
- Don’t skimp on carb, fat, or protein. You need them all!
- Drink plenty of water
- Move! Every day you should be getting in movement. If you don’t hit the gym, go for a walk after dinner. Just get something in.
There is no one thing that’s going to get you to your goals. A combination of the above, along with consistent effort over a long period of time is what is going to get you where you want to be. Losing weight or gaining muscle takes time and effort. Simple as that.
But it’s nice to know that there are some little tweaks you can make to help keep your efforts on track. Add in the vinegar and see how it goes.
Let me know if you give this a shot and how it goes. Got any great vinegar recipes? Please add them to the comments! I’d love to try them out! Need help? check out my Nutrition Counseling Services and let’s work together. I’d love to help you reach your goals.
Plant-Based, Plant Built