How Does Vinegar Reduce Body Fat?

Benefits of Acetic Acid

Vinegar has been used medicinally for thousands of years. In fact, Hippocrates (c. 420 BC) used vinegar medicinally to manage wounds. Military strategist, Hannibal of Carthage (c. 200 BC) dissolved boulders, and Cleopatra (c. 50 BC) liquefied pearls to create a love potion with vinegar. 

How in the world does vinegar break down rocks, heal wounds, melt pearls, and now burn body fat? The amazing qualities of vinegar have been under the microscope for decades. Current day, a wide spectrum of health studies are being conducted on vinegar. We will focus on one of the most popular questions: How does it reduce body fat?  

Acetic Acid

bottles of vinegar
ralucahphotography.ro/Getty Images

Vinegar contains acetic acid. It’s made by fermenting any carbohydrate source from grains to apples. Acetic acid gives vinegar a sour flavor and is the active ingredient linked to numerous health benefits.

A recent study by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry on rats found vinegar to suppress body fat accumulation. These findings stimulated more research on how vinegar may help with fat loss. 

The Research

Vinegar Research
Vinegar Research Proves Health Benefits. Hideki Yoshihara/Aflo / Getty Images

A study was conducted in Japan on 155 obese subjects and for a 12-week treatment period. The participants were separated into three groups based on similar weight, BMI (Body Mass Index), and waist measurement.

During the test trial, the subjects drank a 500ml beverage containing vinegar doses of 750mg, 1500mg, or 0mg placebo. Food intake and exercise were strictly monitored and accurately recorded during the study.    

What Did They Find?

Mid section of man measuring his waist with measuring tape
Vinegar Showed Reduced Waist Measurement. Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Getty Images

Test subjects drinking the low- and high-dose vinegar began showing positive results. During week four, participants decreased in weight, body fat percentage, and BMI compared to the placebo group. Waist measurements also decreased beginning week four and continued throughout the study period.

Those drinking the highest vinegar dose showed the greatest improvement, “indicating dose dependency.” This finding indicates higher acetic acid values favorable to burning fat more effectively. Great news, but what is happening to make this possible? 

How Does Vinegar Burn Fat?

Getting her abs nice and trim
Vinegar Blocks Fat Storage. Peopleimages / Getty Images

Other research reports acetic acid to suppress body fat through a process called inhibition of lipogenesis (fat storage). This simply means vinegar (acetic acid) blocks the ability of certain enzymes to create fatty acids in the body.

It appears consuming vinegar acts as a mediator to control chemical processes that would otherwise create fat. The study also indicates acetate in vinegar stimulates fatty acid oxidation (burning).

The conclusions lean toward vinegar being a fat suppressor and burner. Who needs expensive fat burners when the best and the safest remedy is probably in your pantry? 

Tell Me More

Visceral fat
Vinegar Reduces Visceral Fat. Peter Hince / Getty Images

In addition to helping with fat loss, other health benefits were discovered during the study. Kondo et al. also reported significant decreases in visceral fat for subjects drinking the low and high vinegar beverage.

Visceral fat is located within the abdominal cavity and surrounds vital organs like our pancreas, liver, and intestines. It’s also referred to as “active fat,” playing a role in our metabolic processes and hormone function.

Research findings indicate reduced visceral fat has a positive effect on metabolic risk factors like hypertension and impaired glucose tolerance. Also noted were reduced triglyceride levels (fat in the bloodstream) lowering risk of heart disease.

This particular study concluded vinegar as beneficial for reduced weight, visceral and subcutaneous fat, and triglyceride levels without adverse effects.  

What other research has been conducted on vinegar and what did they find?

Helps Maintain Blood Sugar Levels

Bottles of Vinegars
Vinegar Research Positive for Health Benefits. Alexandra Grablewski / Getty Images

The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined how vinegar would affect blood glucose (sugar) during a mixed meal in healthy adults. Five healthy adults were randomly selected and given six test meals.

The meals consisted of lettuce with olive oil only, olive oil with 1g acetic acid vinegar, or neutralized vinegar containing sodium bicarbonate, the active ingredient in baking soda. On three occasions, the test meals were followed up with 50g of white bread carbohydrate.

Blood samples were taken before and up to 95-minutes after eating the meals. Those who ate lettuce with vinegar alone and followed up with white bread showed a 31 percent decreased glucose response compared to those ingesting the placebo. 

The results suggest a mixed meal containing acetic acid in the form of vinegar reduces the glycemic response in the bloodstream. It appears vinegar is not only great for a tasty salad, but it also helps us maintain healthy blood sugar levels. 

Improves Glycemic Response

olive oil, balsamic vinegar and bread
Vinegar with Complex Carbs Slows Glycemic Response. Stuart Ashley / Getty Images

The Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism conducted a similar study. Their research was specific to vinegar ingestion during mealtime but also five hours before.

They were looking for any differences in glycemic (sugar) response based on when the vinegar was consumed. Nutrient timing has become an important variable in science discussion and research. They conducted four randomized studies dedicating one trial to participants with type 2 diabetes. The remaining three trials included healthy adults. Strict meal and fasting protocols were followed for each testing cycle.

Research findings indicated taking two teaspoons of vinegar with a complex carbohydrate meal reduced glycemic response better than consuming vinegar alone. Also observed consuming vinegar with simple sugars like fruit did not change the glycemic response.  

This study reveals a 20 percent improved glycemic response with vinegar during a complex carbohydrate meal. Good to know information if you’ve been considering vinegar to help with your blood sugar!

Improves Fasting Glucose

Balsamic vinegar in glass bowl with spoon
Vinegar Before Bed Improves Fasting Glucose. Foodcollection RF / Getty Images

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) conducted a study using vinegar as a way to help people with type 2 diabetes. The purpose of the research was to determine if vinegar taken at bedtime would reduce fasting glucose the following morning for those with type 2 diabetes.

The study participants were non-insulin dependent and included four men and seven women aged 40 to 72. They were instructed to follow a strict preparation protocol and fasting glucose was measured for three consecutive days prior to testing.

Participants consumed identical meals with specific quantities of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. During the two-day trial period, subjects were given either two tablespoons of vinegar or water along with 1 ounce of cheese at bedtime.

Those taking vinegar before bed had a 6 percent reduction in fasting glucose compared to the water drinkers. Researchers indicate the acetic acid in vinegar “has been attributed to reduced starch digestion.” Although more studies are required, it appears vinegar at bedtime has a positive effect on waking glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes. 

Sources:

Brighenti F, Castellani G, Benini L, et al. Effect of neutralized and native vinegar on blood glucose and acetate responses to a mixed meal in healthy subjectsEuropean Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1995.

Johnston CS, Steplewska I, Long CA, et al. Examination of the antiglycemic properties of vinegar in healthy adultsAnnals of Nutrition and Metabolism. 2010.

Kondo T, Kishi M, Fushimi T, et al. Acetic acid upregulates the expression of genes for fatty acid oxidation enzymes in liver to suppress body fat accumulation. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2009.

Kondo T, Kishi M, Fushimi T, et al. Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjectsBioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry. 2009.

White AM, Johnston CS. Vinegar Ingestion at Bedtime Moderates Waking Glucose Concentrations in Adults With Well-Controlled Type 2 Diabetes. American Diabetes Association. 2007.

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