Reality check: Will apple cider vinegar shots help you lose weight?
The health claims of apple cider vinegar (ACV) are nothing new — it isn’t hard to find people who take a shot (or two) to start their day.
And with a long list of potential benefits including everything from weight loss to lowering blood sugar to reducing bloating, will daily consumption of this vinegar benefit your health in the long run? Most experts say absolutely not.
Abbey Sharp, a registered dietitian based in Toronto, says it’s fine if you have ACV on your salad from time-to-time, but you should not be taking daily shots. At one point, she even tested the shot theory herself.
“Like anything, ACV can be enjoyed in moderation and may have some minor benefits but ultimately, it’s not going to help you drop 10 pounds when you’re not watching your diet or exercising,” she tells Global News. “One of the big downsides of ACV is that it may cause nausea and other gastrointestinal symptoms, so if you already have [a] sensitive tummy, it may not be for you.”
‘It’s not going to work’
Registered dietitian Jessica Tong of Calgary is also against daily shots of ACV, adding it can burn worse than a vodka shot.
“Consuming straight apple cider vinegar can erode tooth enamel and damage the esophagus,” she tells Global News. “Excessive amounts can even reduce your body’s potassium levels.”
And Vancouver-based registered dietitian Desiree Nielsen says if you’re only taking these shots to lose weight, it’s not going to work.
“There are literally zero studies that show simply adding ACV to the diet will induce weight loss,” she tells Global News. “When you see over a half million hits on the benefits of apple cider vinegar [on an article], you assume it has to be a thing. But it’s just people recycling information, without bothering to check for science.”
People who have done shots of ACV
On Tuesday, Well+Good associate editor Rachel Lapidos challenged herself to have a shot of ACV every morning for a week. But taking it straight without a chaser is something she would not recommend.
“I immediately feel like it’s killing everything bad inside of my body (much like ginger shots do for Selena Gomez) because of the burning sensation going through my throat and stomach — which, [to be honest], has me worried about how stable my insides are,” she wrote.
However, after a week, she did notice she felt less bloated, went to the bathroom more regularly and her skin seemed to be extra luminous.
“Another perk? Even though I religiously drink an a.m. almond milk latte (and still do throughout the week), the addition of the vinegar fix gives me an added energy boost that helps me power through my to-do list,” she continued.
Nielsen adds in practice, adding a little ACV in water can help settle the stomach on a needed basis, especially for people who have low levels of stomach acid.
“Taking a bit of acid with a meal will help acidify the stomach and give digestion a little kick.”
What the research says
A 2007 study published in the Diabetes Care journal found when men and women with Type 2 diabetes drank two tablespoons of ACV before bed with a snack, they had lower blood sugar levels the next morning.
CNN reports in the same journal, another study was also conducted on healthy adults, adults with pre-diabetes and people with Type 2 diabetes, and found all three groups had better blood sugar readings when they had less than an once of ACV with a high-carb meal.
And when it came to weight loss, one 2009 Japan-based study published in Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry, found participants who swallowed two tablespoons of diluted apple cider vinegar twice a day with meals lost about four pounds in 12 weeks, Time reports.
But Sharp adds there isn’t strong enough research for experts to recommend ACV on the regular, and with weight loss in particular, she says sometimes these recommendations can be dangerous.
“Studies suggest that participants taking ACV reported pretty bad nausea which is a pretty sure way to turn you off food,” she says. “A lot studies [including ones used on animals] also have used very high amounts to see results [like one cup] which is much more than most people would — or should ever — ever consume.”
Tong adds when it comes to blood sugar, you should never depend on ACV for a quick-fix.
“The promise of blood sugar control with ACV can actually be extremely dangerous to diabetics if they decide to try to treat their diabetes with ACV instead of a healthy diet, exercise, and prescribed medications.”
Other things to look out for
Sharp says if you are taking daily doses of ACV you may want to talk to your doctor if you are taking other medications.
“Vinegar may interact with medicines like diuretics, laxatives, and other medicines for diabetes and heart disease,” she explains.
And if you are still convinced shots will work, make sure you take them with water.
“Dilute one to two tablespoons of ACV in water or use it is as the main ingredient in a salad dressing,” Tong says. But always keep in mind, a healthy diet has to be healthy overall.
“The key is to remember that there is no magic elixir that can cure everything if your diet and lifestyle remain unhealthy.”
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