October 7, 2021
Clinical Contributors to this Story
Carla Rodriguez, M.D. contributes to topics such as Internal Medicine.
Elliot Rudnitzky, M.D. contributes to topics such as Cardiology.
Have you been looking for creative ways to lose weight? Some people have read online that taking apple cider vinegar may help with weight loss, and they may commit to taking a shot of the sour stuff every day, sometimes at bedtime. But experts recommend against this practice for several reasons.
“Apple cider vinegar hasn’t been shown to aid with weight loss in humans, despite the things you may have read on social media, and it may be harmful if people ingest it the wrong way or at the wrong time of day,” says Elliot Rudnitzky, M.D., cardiologist at JFK University Medical Center.
Here’s what you should know about apple cider vinegar:
Apple cider hasn’t been proven to help with weight loss
Some research has shown that obese rats who consumed apple cider vinegar consumed less food and lost weight, but similar results have not been proven in humans. Little research has been done to study the effects of apple cider vinegar on appetite and weight loss in humans, and the handful of studies have been inconclusive. In studies where people did curb their appetite or lose weight with the help of apple cider vinegar, the weight loss was modest, not dramatic. People shouldn’t expect life-altering, shocking-before-and-after-pictures weight loss from apple cider vinegar consumption.
You may know someone who swears that apple cider vinegar has helped them curb their appetite or lose weight, but that information is anecdotal, not research-proven. Just because a weight-loss tactic has worked for your friend doesn’t mean that it will work for you.
Bedtime isn’t an ideal time to take apple cider vinegar
“Because apple cider vinegar is highly acidic, some people experience acid reflux after consuming the liquid (or foods containing the vinegar),” says Carla Rodriguez, M.D., internal medicine specialist at Palisades Medical Center.
People who are prone to heartburn, acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) would want to avoid consuming anything acidic at least 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime to minimize the chances of experiencing burning and discomfort.
If you’re prone to reflux, the sphincter between your stomach and esophagus may relax when you lie down in bed at night, allowing anything that’s still in your stomach to flow upward into your esophagus. Apple cider vinegar rising into your esophagus may lead to uncomfortable burning in your chest.
Taking apple cider vinegar earlier in the day may be a better option.
Apple cider vinegar may hurt you more than it helps
People who are hoping to glean the possible benefits of apple cider vinegar may assume that taking it straight – swallowing a shot of vinegar – may be the best way to get the substance into their system. However, apple cider vinegar is very acidic. Swallowing it undiluted may irritate the esophagus, leading to heartburn-like symptoms. It may also gradually wear down the enamel coating on your teeth, if you consistently drink the vinegar plain, which may cause permanent dental problems. In some people, too much vinegar may alter potassium levels, and certain people with diabetes may unknowingly alter their insulin levels by consuming apple cider vinegar.
Better ways to consume apple cider vinegar
If you choose to ingest apple cider vinegar regularly for the possible health benefits, dilute it to minimize its potential harm. Safer ways to consume apple cider vinegar include:
- Combined with equal parts apple cider vinegar and cold-pressed olive or avocado oil to make a nice salad dressing (a little bit of honey can keep it emulsified)
- Mixing 1 or 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar into a tall glass of water, which dilutes the acidity
- Within an apple cider tonic or beverage containing other ingredients, preferably with little to no added sugar
- Apple cider vinegar supplements, although some of these products (including gummies) contain sugar, which may counteract any possible advantage of taking them
Consuming apple cider vinegar alone won’t help with weight loss. You’ll have a greater chance of succeeding if you eat healthy and exercise more while you take the vinegar.
“There is no ‘magic bullet’ that will promote sustainable weight loss,” says Marissa Winters, integrative nutritionist. “It really is about taking care of yourself with lifestyle choices that contribute to health overall.”
Next Steps & Resources:
- To make an appointment with a doctor near you, call 800-822-8905 or visit our website.
- Is a plant-based diet right for you?
- 4 healthy tips for vegan kids
- Are cleanses safe?
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.