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Vinegar has been used as part of human diets for many centuries. Several cultures have reported its use for various conditions.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV), in particular, has gained a lot of limelight recently and is being discussed for its use in managing a variety of chronic health ailments, such as heart diseases, insulin resistance, and diabetes, and in achieving weight loss.
What Exactly Is Apple Cider Vinegar?
ACV is produced through a two-step fermentation process of apples. First, the simple sugars in apples are converted into alcohol by the yeast in the starter. Second, fermentation bacteria act upon the alcohol to produce acetic acid. (1)
ACV, like other vinegars, usually has a strong sour taste and odor. In addition to having acetic acid, ACV also contains malic acid, catechins, epicatechins, caffeic acid, and other biologically active compounds. (2)
Apple Cider Vinegar and Belly Fat
Generally, it is not possible to lose fat in just one specific area of the body. However, ACV exerts some beneficial effects on fat loss and can be used to aid the weight loss process.
This article looks at some of the ways ACV can help reduce fat.
1. ACV reduces cholesterol
In people with type 2 diabetes where abdominal obesity is commonly observed, drinking ACV at doses of less than or equal to 15 ml each day reduced both total cholesterol and total triglyceride levels. (3)
Therefore, consumption of ACV can help balance cholesterol levels in the body, leading to reduced fat around the belly.
2. ACV improves insulin sensitivity
In a study done on rats, daily consumption of ACV improved the insulin sensitivity of the cells and contributed to better control of blood sugar levels. (4)
Since insulin resistance is a major cause of fat around the abdomen, especially in people with type 2 diabetes or other hormonal imbalances such as PCOS, consuming ACV as an adjunct to a weight loss plan may be beneficial. (5)
3. ACV helps in the metabolism of fat
The food you consume is broken down to produce energy. When you do not use all of the energy, it is converted into fat for storage. The liver and fat cells of the body including those in the abdomen are the main sites for fat storage. (6)
4. ACV helps in reducing appetite
The acetic acid in ACV has been found to influence appetite. (7) In short-term studies done on humans, consuming ACV along with a meal reduced food consumption for up to 3 hours following the meal. (7)
This is particularly beneficial in reducing overall food intake and preventing overeating, which is one of the main reasons for overweight and obesity. (7)
How to Consume Apple Cider Vinegar
One to two tablespoons of ACV can be diluted in a glass of water and consumed as a drink. You can also use it in salad dressings, soups, sauces, or gravies.
Recently, ACV gummies have been available and can be taken. However, these may contain added sugars, which are not recommended to be consumed as part of a weight loss diet.
Other Changes to Help With Belly Fat Loss
While ACV offers a variety of health benefits, it is also important to incorporate other changes that are effective in belly fat loss.
1. Dietary changes
Including low-density foods that are high in fiber and water and low in calories helps achieve satiety and prevent overeating while also maintaining a caloric deficit, which is necessary for losing abdominal fat. (8)
2. Increased exercise
Exercise plays a major role in increasing overall energy expenditure by the body.
In a study that included postmenopausal women, the group who exercised and made dietary changes lost almost 7% more weight than the group without exercise or dietary changes. The former also experienced 12% fat loss from the abdomen. (9)
3. Managing stress
Mental stress can often overwhelm a person trying to lose weight, and body image and self-esteem issues can contribute greatly to stress. (10)
A hormone called cortisol, which is associated with the accumulation of abdominal fat, is released when a body is undergoing stress. It is therefore important to manage stress levels to curb the release of cortisol and prevent the accumulation of fat around the abdomen. (10)
Spending time with family and friends, spending time in nature or doing outdoor activities, and indulging in hobbies or crafts can all help you manage your stress levels.
Precautions to Consider
Since most of the studies done on ACV involved only 15 ml, it is recommended to not exceed this amount. (3)
Overconsumption of ACV can cause:
- Corrosion of tooth enamel
- Burning sensation in the mouth and esophagus
- Disruption of stomach acid levels
- Nausea and possible indigestion
- Possible interactions with medication
Can I have apple cider vinegar with each meal?
You can split your daily dose of 15 ml throughout the day to be taken with or before meals. However, it is not advisable to have more than 15 ml each day.
Can I add apple cider vinegar to warm water?
There is no known benefit of ACV in warm water; it may even sharpen its taste and odor, making it difficult to drink.
Can I give apple cider vinegar to my child?
The efficacy of ACV in children has not been studied. It is advisable to consult a doctor before doing so.
Losing belly fat occurs naturally when overall body weight is lost. The main way to achieve overall weight loss is through a calorie-restricted diet and exercise. However, certain adjuncts can be used to aid in the process of healthy weight loss. ACV is one of them.
Studies have found ACV to be effective at doses of 15 ml each day to improve the metabolism of fat, reduce insulin sensitivity, reduce fat storage, and increase satiety to prevent overeating.
Including ACV may therefore be beneficial in bringing about weight loss as part of a healthy weight reduction plan.