Dear Curtis: Do you recommend taking Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) to help lose weight? I’ve been reading more and more that they’ve got actual human studies showing that it can be helpful.
Answer: I’m a little surprise I haven’t seen more experts pointing this out.
Yes, there are ‘studies’ showing that ACV might be able to contribute to weight loss. But, once you read the fine print and understand how your body really works you’ll understand why it really makes no sense and is a waste of your time and money.
Problem 1: Studies Looked At Acetic Acid – Not ACV
ACV has been in the press a lot over the last few years for a couple of studies that came out supposedly showing it can help patients lose weight.
The first one was in 2009 in the Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism. It showed that consuming vinegar before eating a bagel and juice was shown the huge blood sugar spikes that you would expect to get after eating something like that.
A second study in the Journal of Functional Foods drank a tablespoon of vinegar mixed with 8 ounces of water right before eating. They found that the patients consuming the vinegar solution had lower blood glucose levels.
Something I want to point out right away is that the studies looked at acetic acid which is the main component of ALL vinegars. So to say they were looking specifically at ACV is more of a marketing ploy.
Problem 2: Only Looked At Affects From High Carbohydrate Meals
Pay close attention to the section from the Journal of Functional Foods study that I called out in the picture below:
As you can see the acetic acid (vinegar) does lower blood glucose levels but does so ONLY when the foods you are eating are high in carbs that tend to spike blood sugar.
If you’ve been reading my material on weight loss for any length of time you know you should never be eating these foods in the first place.
Essentially, taking ACV to lose weight is like trying to avoid injury by only jumping off a 100 foot cliff instead of 200 foot cliff.
Bottom Line: if you truly want to lose weight you shouldn’t be eating high carbohydrate meals in the first place.
The other thing the study goes onto say is that if you aren’t eating foods that cause blood sugar spikes then vinegar doesn’t have any effect on blood sugars.
To Lose Weight Keep Insulin Low
If you can take anything away from this article remember a the cornerstone of weight loss: keep your insulin levels low. If you live that rule you’ll see weight loss.
But foods like bagels and juice cause your pancreas to release insulin. Insulin’s job is to get that glucose into your cells to be used for energy. But, you don’t need THAT much energy – so it is generally stored as fat.
Continue to eat this way for an extended period of time and you see two things happen (which are actually interrelated):
- You get fatter
- Your cells get more and more resistant to insulin which requires your pancreas to secrete more insulin which compounds the weight gain
People Want Quick Fixes – Not The Truth
This whole ACV situation is a lot like the popularity of the stomach stapling surgeries. Essentially, you’re forcing people to eat much, much less by radically reducing the size of their stomachs. The same effect could be gained by people simply making the conscious choice to eat less – without all the cost and side effects.
The same thing with ACV: yes, it can blunt the spike in insulin you get from eating high carb meals. But how about we just avoid the high carb meals in the first place? Not to mention you’d avoid some of the other side effects that come along with it – like inflammation.
No matter what companies selling ACV want to tell you the only long term effective way to lose weight is to change how you eat. If you do that you don’t need ACV or any other crazy supplements.