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Apple Cider Vinegar for Weight Loss: What is it and what benefits can provide?

by Maria Kirmanidou, Dietitian & Sport Nutritionist

05 Jul 2024 • 0 min read

What is apple cider vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar is one of the most well-known beverages and widely used supplements in weight loss. It is a completely natural product, which is produced by the fermentation of the naturally occuring sugars contained in apple juice. The friendly bacteria added ferment the sugars inside the juice, which are converted into ethanol, which is subsequently converted into acetic acid, one of the active components of apple cider vinegar, which gives it its characteristic organoleptic features, namely its strong taste and smell. In addition to acetic acid, apple cider vinegar is rich in malic, caffeic and chlorogenic acids, as well as enzymes, vitamins and minerals, and a number of antioxidants (the different varieties of apple used to make apple cider vinegar also provide different phenolic compounds). Finally, the addition of friendly bacteria further increases its nutritional value, making it a food rich in probiotics (for which we have previously talked about on how hard they are to be found in foods, as well as their beneficial properties...!).

Does apple cider vinegar help in slimming? What does the scientific data show us?

Apple cider vinegar is not a new ingredient in health and wellness industry, but its use dates back 10,000 years ago. Yes, you read that right. The multiple benefits of raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar (the one with the 'sediment' at the bottom of the bottle, which indicates that the fermentation process has left the nutrients intact) have been recognized since ancient times. According to recent research, the potential benefits of apple cider vinegar apply on:

  • Improved postprandial blood sugar.
  • Improved insulin resistance.
  • Antimicrobial and antifungal activity.
  • Anti-acne action.
  • Anti-cancer action.
  • Neuromodulatory action, with recent studies in people suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
However, despite the versatility of apple cider vinegar, most studies have been conducted to understand whether and with which mechanisms apple cider vinegar can be a valuable tool in weight loss. The majority of the information we have available comes from research protocols that have used rodent models as well as obese individuals or individuals with type II diabetes mellitus or individuals with an increased likelihood of developing type II diabetes mellitus. It therefore appears that acetic acid, the most popular component of apple cider vinegar, is likely to act beneficially in weight loss by the following indirect mechanisms:

  • By delaying gastric emptying, i.e. increasing the time it takes for food to pass from the stomach to the small intestine, and as a consequence that we feel fuller more quickly, and can effectively control our portion size.
  • Acting beneficially on carbohydrate metabolism, through delayed gastric emptying, increasing glucose use peripherally by skeletal muscle and thus improving postprandial glucose. This may be helpful in people with dysregulated glucose or insulin resistance, where the body finds it "difficult" to use glucose efficiently and convert it into energy. Imagine that if the tissues of the body are not supplied with sufficient glucose (which requires insulin to function properly) and there is more glucose in the blood than inside the tissue can "receive", then the body will "ask" for energy over and over again, triggering the feeling of hunger.
In addition to the candidate mechanisms of apple cider vinegar in carbohydrate metabolism, it also appears to enhance endothelial function, resulting in more blood circulating more easily in the body and "distributing" nutrients to the tissues. Insulin resistance has been associated with an increased tendency to vasoconstriction, resulting in long-term deterioration of endothelial function. Finally, the regular use of apple cider vinegar also appears to have a positive impact to the lipid profile, as it has been associated with reduced total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and an increase in HDL-cholesterol.
However, the scientific data have not yet been confirmed and more well-designed human studies are needed in order to draw clear and valid conclusions.

So does it help with weight loss?

We already have discussed in a previous article about what we need to do to lose weight effectively. Effective weight loss is a multifactorial process, with the main foundation being a hypocaloric sustainable diet plan, aligned with our needs. Although the data is not conclusive, there is considerable evidence that apple cider vinegar, either in liquid food or in supplement form, can be used, along with a hypocaloric diet and exercise, to help manage our appetite effectively. A greater benefit is likely to be received by people who are overweight or obese, with co-existing insulin resistance and dysregulated blood sugar, or women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). It is important to note that safe use of the supplement is always required in accordance with the instructions of the supplement. If you wish to consume it as a food, it is recommended to consume 1-2 tablespoons per day, always diluted in water, just before a meal or alongside your meal.

Can anyone try apple cider vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar, either as a liquid food or supplement, needs specific caution in people with a history of esophageal and stomach sensitivity, such as in the case of existing gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), gastritis, esophagitis or Helicobacter pylori infection. Furthermore, in the case of medication (especially antidiabetic medication), the approval of your GP is required.

In conclusion

Apple cider vinegar is a food with multiple benefits for the body, with hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic and antibacterial action. It can be used in weight loss, always in combination with exercise and a balanced sustainable diet. Holland & Barrett provides a variety of unfiltered apple cider vinegar products, as well as a wide range of apple cider vinegar supplements in tablet, effervescent tablet and chewable lozenge form so you can choose the one that suits you best. And don't forget...
Knowledge is power! Holland & Barrett is here for you, providing valid information on health and wellness issues.

Scientific References

Hadi, A., Pourmasoumi, M., Najafgholizadeh, A., Clark, C. C., & Esmaillzadeh, A. (2021). The effect of apple cider vinegar on lipid profiles and glycemic parameters: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. BMC complementary medicine and therapies, 21(1), 179.

Kausar, S., Humayun, A., Ahmed, Z., Abbas, M. A., & Tahir, A. (2019). Effect of apple cider vinegar on glycemic control, hyperlipidemia and control on body weight in type 2 diabetes patients. Health Sciences, 8(5), 59-74.4

Launholt, T. L., Kristiansen, C. B., & Hjorth, P. (2020). Safety and side effects of apple vinegar intake and its effect on metabolic parameters and body weight: a systematic review. European journal of nutrition, 59, 2273-2289.

Morgan, J., & Mosawy, S. (2016). The potential of apple cider vinegar in the management of type 2 diabetes. International Journal of Diabetes Research, 5(6), 129-34.

Petsiou, E. I., Mitrou, P. I., Raptis, S. A., & Dimitriadis, G. D. (2014). Effect and mechanisms of action of vinegar on glucose metabolism, lipid profile, and body weight. Nutrition reviews, 72(10), 651-661.