Apple Cider Vinegar Daily Tied to Young Adult Weight Loss, Study

Apple Cider Vinegar Daily Tied to Young Adult Weight Loss, Study
28.03.2024
  • A recent study on Lebanese teens and young adults linked drinking apple cider vinegar with significant weight loss after 12 weeks
  • Despite its promising results, the study had some important limitations
  • While apple cider vinegar may impact weight loss, it’s not a substitute for healthy diet and regular exercise

Drinking apple cider vinegar has become a popular way to lose weight in recent years, but can it really help people slim down?

A new study found that Lebanese teenagers and young adults who drank up to one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar daily for 12 weeks dropped an average of 15 pounds.

The research, published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention, & Health, also found that participants had lower blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels at the end of the three-month period. 

Previous research has assessed the tangy drink’s ability to reduce weight in older adults, but this is the first study to test the strategy in younger people.

“This age group was selected to address the lack of research on ACV’s effects specifically in younger individuals, and to intervene early in life to potentially prevent long-term health complications associated with obesity,” study author Rony Abou-Khalil, PhD, head of the Department of Biology and Biochemistry at Holy Spirit University of Kaslik in Jounieh, Lebanon, told Health.

While the research may make it seem like a daily shot of apple cider vinegar could be an effective weight-loss tool, some experts caution against making too much of the study given its considerable limitations.

Here’s what you need to know about the study, the potential side effects of drinking too much apple cider vinegar and other expert-endorsed ways to lose weight.

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The Potential Link Between Apple Cider Vinegar and Weight Loss

Abou-Khalil said the researchers set out to assess a potential solution to obesity that would align with the growing interest in non-pharmaceuticals. “We were motivated to explore potential natural remedies for weight reduction that could offer safe and effective alternatives to traditional interventions,” he said. 

They decided to test apple cider vinegar, made from crushed and fermented apples and long used as a health tonic.

The team recruited 120 participants aged 12 to 25. They divided them into four groups and instructed people in three of the groups to drink either 5, 10, or 15 milliliters (ml) of apple cider vinegar in the morning. (For reference, 15 ml is equal to about one tablespoon.) The fourth group drank a placebo.

When the study began, the average weight of participants was about 173 pounds. After 12 weeks, researchers found that the apple cider vinegar groups shed weight overall. 

The group that drank 15 ml daily lost the most, dropping its average to about 155 pounds. Those who drank 10 ml reduced their average weight to 159 pounds, and the group that consumed 5 ml dropped to an average of 163 pounds. All three groups had a decline in waist and hip circumference and body mass index (BMI).

The team also discovered significant improvements in blood glucose, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels.

The study is the first to assess apple cider vinegar’s impact on health besides weight. It’s also the only one to examine how the drink affects younger people—though other research has tested whether it helps older adults shed pounds.

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A small (but often-cited) 2009 trial found that consuming 1 or 2 tablespoons of the tangy drink daily resulted in modest weight loss of 2 to 4 pounds after three months. In another small study, researchers gave apple cider vinegar to people on both calorie-restricted and regular diets. After 12 weeks, both groups had lost weight, but those who consumed ACV had lost more.

Why Might Apple Cider Vinegar Help People Shed Pounds?

Abou-Khalil said it’s unclear what’s behind apple cider vinegar’s potential effect on weight loss, but he has some theories.

“One proposed mechanism is that ACV may help to increase feelings of satiety, leading to reduced calorie intake,” he noted. “Additionally, ACV has been suggested to influence metabolism and insulin sensitivity, potentially contributing to fat oxidation and reduced fat storage.”

Approaching the Study’s Results With Caution

While it may seem exciting that something as simple as a daily dose of apple cider vinegar could lead to weight loss, Abou-Khalil acknowledged that the research has some limitations. 

For one, twelve weeks may not have been enough to pinpoint a firm association between apple cider vinegar and weight loss, Abou-Khalil said. “Longer-term studies may provide insights into the sustainability of the observed effects and whether any changes are maintained over time,” he added.

It’s also difficult to generalize the findings given the study’s small size, focus only on adolescents and young adults, and lack of diversity among participants. “Our study focused on the Lebanese population, and cultural and dietary practices may vary among different ethnic groups,” Abou-Khalil said.

Melissa Mitri, MS, RDN, a private practice dietitian and weight loss expert unaffiliated with the study, echoed that sentiment. “There is not enough evidence to date that apple cider vinegar will lead to weight loss in diverse groups of people,” she told Health.

Are There Downsides to Taking Apple Cider Vinegar Every Day?

Consuming apple cider vinegar on a daily basis can bring on some unpleasant side effects.

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Apple cider vinegar can “degrade tooth enamel and irritate the esophagus,” Mitri said, which is why she recommends diluting it in water if you decide to drink it.

A daily shot of ACV might also cause nausea and slow down digestion, which could pose a problem for people whose digestion is already slower due to gastroparesis or prescription weight loss medications like Ozempic and Mounjaro.

Apple cider vinegar could also interact with other medicines, such as insulin, diuretics, and laxatives, Mitri said. That’s why it’s important to consult a doctor before trying apple cider vinegar if you’re taking these or any other medications.

“Lastly, it is not advised for those with kidney disease, as its high acidity can strain the kidneys,” Mitri said.

Effective Weight-Loss Strategies

A daily dose of apple cider vinegar may help you lose weight, but other strategies are far more tried and true.

“To lose weight, you need to be in a calorie deficit, i.e., take in fewer calories than you burn,” Mitri explained. “You can do this by reducing your calorie intake in your diet, exercising more, or, ideally, combining both.”

Ultimately, these old standbys are probably a surer path to long-term weight loss than jumping on the apple cider vinegar trend.

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