We all know the basic principles that guide weight loss: you need to eat well and you need to move your body. But, sometimes, we want to see results more quickly and will resort to just about anything that will offer us a fast fix. Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has been touted as one of those fixes. It is believed that drinking apple cider vinegar can help you detox, lose weight and boost your overall health.
Drinking ACV involves mixing anywhere between one teaspoon and two tablespoons in eight ounces of water and downing it first thing in the morning. But does it actually work? Well, we've got answers for you!
Here is what the experts say you need to know before jumping on this bandwagon:
“There are many mostly unfounded claims about apple cider vinegar,” says Scott Kahan, M.D., M.P.H., Director of National Center for Weight and Wellness. Kahan specializes in obesity management and frequently fields questions on this very subject. To put it plainly, there is no rigorous science to back up the claims that ACV boosts metabolic processes. “Like with most supplements, people make a lot of claims based on absent or extremely poor data,” says Kahan. “Virtually no [scientific literature] comes up for this, and what does is usually tiny, not well-done studies in obscure journals.” Because of these facts, Kahan says these examples are useless when it comes to supporting weight loss claims. Registered dietitian, Abby Langer, agrees, saying, “apple cider vinegar doesn’t have any physiological properties that speed up your metabolism or melt fat."
BUT, none of this means that it doesn't offer some health benefits.
ACV is derived from fermented apple juice, and like other fermented foods, it can contain bacteria that will help keep your gut healthy. “If you get raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, it contains the ‘mother,'... that consists of enzymes, proteins, and probiotics which leach into the liquid,” says Langer, referencing the strands that make the vinegar appear cloudy. Pasteurization removes this mother, meaning any probiotic benefit is lost. Even if you are drinking raw ACV, you should be consuming no more than a few tablespoons a day which is not enough to see major health benefits.
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The thing is, your body already does a bang up job of detoxing itself. This is why you have a liver, kidneys, and intestines. These vital organs help your body absorb nutrients while eliminating waste in the form of urine and feces. “Despite what you may read, there’s nothing magical about apple cider vinegar,” says Langer.
It has been rumored that apple cider vinegar can reduce your calorie intake by suppressing appetite. But what you are actually experiencing is likely inflammation of the stomach lining. “If your stomach is empty and you’re introducing an acid, it’s going to cause irritation, which can make you feel full and not want to eat,” says Langer. If you are looking to feel fuller and not experience possible damaging side effects, Langer recommends eating a protein rich breakfast. “Not only does it help with satiety, but a high-protein breakfast will deliver nutrients well beyond what a glass of water with apple cider vinegar could,” she says. Try some eggs or Greek yogurt. If you'd like to keep your diet balanced and your appetite under control, why not check out the BodyRock Meal Plan? The BodyRock Meal Plan offers you 30 days worth of healthy, balanced, delicious, easy to prepare, meals and snacks. Each week we will give you a detailed grocery list so all you have to do is buy the ingredients and follow along. It really is that simple. Get your meal plan here!
A 2013 study in the Journal of Functional Foods, noted that participants who ate apple cider vinegar each day for 12 weeks had lower blood sugar. The problem is that the study contained only 14 people and they were all predisposed to type 2 diabetes. “Because studies are typically done on certain subsets of people, you can usually only make very specific conclusions based on the population that’s actually studied,” says Kahan. Basically, studies are a great way to learn about certain groups of people, but unless the research is large scale and designed to apply to many groups, it doesn't really tell you anything about how the results apply to the general population.
While the health claims are a little suspect, that doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't drink ACV. “Lack of scientific evidence doesn’t mean that it’s dangerous or won’t make you feel healthier,” says Langer. If you are going to add it into your diet, keep it below two tablespoons a day. Not only can too much acid irritate the stomach, it can also eat away your tooth enamel and damage your esophagus. Kahan suggests eating before you drink ACV so you are less likely to irritate the stomach.
Using ACV in a homemade dressing on your salad is the best way to go, says Kahan. The vegetables in the salad will serve as a vehicle for the vinegar and you'll be avoiding the extra calories, fat, salt, and sugar hidden away in traditional salad dressings. “In that way, it can be helpful and indirectly lead to weight loss by displacing other unhealthier foods,” says Kahan.
Just remember that there are no quick fixes when it comes to losing weight. In order to achieve improved health and sustained weight loss, you need to adopt a balanced, healthy lifestyle. “Don’t let any unfounded claims get in the way of a long-term healthy lifestyle,” says Kahan. “If you want a little apple cider vinegar to be part of it, that’s OK, as long it’s reasonable.”
Do you drink apple cider vinegar? How do you work it into your diet?
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