Does Vinegar Burn and Reduce Body Fat?

The Metabolic Value of Acetic Acid

Vinegar has been used medicinally for thousands of years. The active ingredient was considered so potent that Hippocrates (c. 420 BC) used vinegar to heal 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. Vinegar appears to be a cure-all for almost everything from illness to enhancing emotional feelings. 

Vinegar continues to provide numerous health benefits according to chronic research. Independent studies are indicating it may be helpful to manage blood sugar levels and even suppress body fat. Vinegar is said to also stimulate more effective fat burning as part of a weight loss program.

Is there enough evidence to prove vinegar reduces body fat? How does it work in the body to accomplish this process?  

Vinegar and Acetic Acid

Cider Vinegar
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Vinegar contains acetic acid which is 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. Vinegar used for consumption is approximately three to nine percent by volume and really just diluted acetic acid. 

Acetic acid is a short-chain fatty acid, occurs naturally in body fluids, and produced by the good bacteria in your gut. When you eat fiber-rich foods, your gut ferments the fiber in your colon and produces acetic acid. Increasing the amount of short-chain fatty acids like acetic acid is said to play an important role in body fat reduction. It can also help with the following body functions:

  • Increase metabolism
  • Improve how the body burns carbohydrates and fats.
  • Improve colon health
  • Natural appetite suppressant 

An animal study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found vinegar to suppress body fat accumulation. Researchers concluded vinegar would have a similar effect on humans. These findings stimulated further research to examine if vinegar would help individuals reduce body fat. 

 

Vinegar Helps Burn and Suppress Body Fat

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 volunteers drank a 500ml beverage containing vinegar doses of 750mg, 1500mg or 0mg placebo. Apple cider vinegar (ACV) was selected because of it being more palatable. Food intake and exercise were strictly monitored and accurately recorded during the study.      

Participants drinking the low and high dose vinegar began showing positive results. During week four, test subjects 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. It appears drinking more could be better. The findings indicate higher acetic acid values favorable to burning fat more effectively and suppressing fat stores.

Acetic acid seems to help the body 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. Evidently, when you consume vinegar, it acts as a mediator to control chemical processes that would otherwise create fat. 

The study also indicated vinegar stimulates fatty acid oxidation (burning). This occurs as a response to improved gut bacteria influencing how your body burns and stores fat. According to research, acetic acid regulates fat metabolism by increasing the rate your body burns fat while decreasing fat storage. 

The conclusions lean toward vinegar being a fat suppressor and burner. Who needs expensive, ineffective fat burning supplements when the best and safest remedy is probably in your pantry? Vinegar was also shown to provide numerous other health benefits. 

Vinegar Reduces Belly Fat

In addition to helping with fat loss, other health benefits were discovered during the study. There were significant decreases in visceral fat for participants drinking both low and high vinegar doses.

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

Research findings show 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.

It appears vinegar is beneficial for reduced weight, decreased visceral and subcutaneous fat, and lowered triglyceride levels without adverse effects. 

Vinegar Improves Glucose Response

A small study published in 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. Participants who ate lettuce with vinegar alone and followed up with white bread showed a 31 percent decreased glucose response compared to the placebo group. 

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 also helps you maintain healthy blood sugar levels. 

The Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism published a similar study. The research was specific to vinegar ingestion during mealtime but also five hours before. Researchers were looking for any differences in glycemic (sugar) response based on when the vinegar was consumed. 

Nutrient timing has become an important variable in scientific discussion and research. Four randomized studies dedicating one trial to participants with type 2 diabetes was conducted. 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. Other results showed consuming vinegar with simple sugars like fruit did not change the glycemic response. Overall, glycemic response improved by 20 percent for participants who consumed vinegar with a complex carbohydrate meal. 

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) published a study showing 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 for those suffering from type 2 diabetes.

The study participants were non-insulin dependent and included four men and seven women aged 40-72. 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, volunteers were given either two tablespoons of vinegar or water along with one ounce of cheese at bedtime.

Those taking vinegar before bed had a six percent reduction in fasting glucose compared to the water drinkers. Researchers indicate the acetic acid in vinegar helped decrease the sugar load from consuming starchy foods. Although more studies are required, it appears vinegar at bedtime has a positive effect on waking glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

Is All Vinegar the Same?

Vinegar is shown to help you lose body fat but there are varieties preferred because of palatability. Downing a shot glass of vinegar can be a very unpleasant experience because of the strong flavor. Even if you held your nose to get it down, many individuals still rush to the bathroom with a gag reflex. 

Vinegar means ‘sour wine’ and depending on the acetic acid content (3-9% by volume) will taste stronger. The following are popular vinegar varieties typically consumed for health benefits:

  • Apple cider vinegar (ACV) – most popular and widely researched for health benefits and fat oxidation. ACV is shown to prevent weight gain by regulating fat and sugar metabolism. 
  • Pomegranate vinegar – rich in antioxidants and flavonoids. Research suggests it stimulates enzymes that help break down and burn body fat.
  • Ginseng persimmon vinegar – indicated to influence genes involved in glucose and fat metabolism and having a positive effect on weight loss. 

Typical vinegar doses can range from a teaspoon to a tablespoon taken with a full glass of water up to three times per day. Vinegar can also be enjoyed and most often consumed mixed with olive oil and drizzled on salad greens. 

Possible adverse effects from drinking diluted vinegar may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach upset
  • Throat irritation
  • Tooth enamel erosion (higher doses)
  • Lowered potassium levels
  • Interfere with certain medication (insulin, blood thinners, diuretics)
  • Damage to esophagus (if drinking straight vinegar)

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 subjects. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1995.

Johnston CS, Steplewska I, Long CA, et al. Examination of the antiglycemic properties of vinegar in healthy adults. Annals 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 subjects. Bioscience, 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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