A few studies suggest that certain foods, such as apple cider vinegar and cinnamon, may help with weight loss. However, it's unlikely that adding them to your diet will make a significant difference in the quest to shed unwanted pounds.
To derive a possible benefit from these foods, you need to include them in a sensible weight-management plan that focuses on a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Studies provide little support for the use of apple cider vinegar for weight loss. Early research suggests cinnamon may help, but it's too soon to say it's effective.
Cider Vinegar for Weight Loss
While apple cider vinegar is touted for weight loss, evidence of its efficacy isn't compelling, according to Harvard Health Publishing. The institution says that the most widely quoted human study is an April 2009 clinical trial published in Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry.
Participants in the trial consumed a beverage containing 0, 1 or 2 tablespoons of vinegar daily. After three months, individuals who consumed the vinegar experienced a modest weight loss, as well as a reduction in belly fat and triglycerides. The amount of vinegar required to produce the benefits was 1 tablespoon.
A small study involving 16 men, published in the International Journal of Obesity in May 2014, compared the effects of drinking a vinegar-laced beverage with a placebo. Results showed those who drank the vinegar had less appetite than those in the control group. Because the appetite reduction was associated with feelings of nausea, the researchers concluded vinegar couldn't be viewed as a natural appetite suppressant.
Although a May 2016 study featured in the Annales de Cardiologie et d'Angeiologie dealt with rats, its findings are worth mentioning. It indicates that apple cider vinegar may promote weight loss by mitigating some of the adverse health effects of a high-fat diet such as abnormal blood lipid and sugar levels.
Research findings on the weight-loss benefit of apple cider vinegar aren't robust, but the results from studies that investigate other uses of the beverage are stronger. University of Chicago Medicine (UCM) notes that apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial properties and the capacity to help with blood sugar control. Some proponents claim it can reduce blood pressure, but this effect hasn't been studied in humans.
Cinnamon for Weight Loss
The health benefits of cinnamon might include weight loss. At this time, research is so limited that it isn't possible to draw definitive conclusions.
In a December 2017 study featured in Metabolism, scientists at the University of Michigan used mice to test the effects of cinnamaldehyde, the component of the spice that imparts its characteristic flavor. Despite humans not being involved, the results merit mentioning because they show the spice may help in weight loss. The research team said cinnamon enhances metabolic health by inducing fat cells to burn energy.
Any agent that has a remediation effect on metabolic syndrome might also be beneficial for reducing obesity. A December 2016 review in the Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences defined metabolic syndrome as a cluster of maladies that includes obesity, high blood sugar and insulin resistance, along with abnormal lipids and high blood pressure. After reviewing studies on cinnamon's effect on metabolic syndrome, the researchers said the spice holds therapeutic potential for the disorder.
Precautions for Apple Cider Vinegar
The University of Washington advises people not to ingest more than 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar per day. They warn that taking large amounts may reduce potassium levels, which could pose a serious threat to life. Vinegar also interacts with certain drugs, including laxatives, diuretics and medications for heart disease and diabetes.
Harvard Health Publishing warns that undiluted vinegar can erode tooth enamel. In addition, people with kidney disease may not be able to process the acid in the vinegar, states UCM, and scientific literature doesn't report liver damage associated with the vinegar.
You can add apple cider vinegar to your diet by mixing it with olive oil to use as a salad dressing. It also enhances the flavor of soups. If you wish to use more than a small amount with meals, check with your doctor first.
Precautions for Cinnamon Supplements
Cinnamon supplements are safe for most people, at least for short-term use, states the Mayo Clinic. In contrast, high doses may present a problem for those with liver disease. The University of Washington says that large amounts can increase pulse rate, an effect that could worsen heart conditions.
Cleveland Clinic warns that the Food and Drug Administration doesn't regulate supplements, so consumers have no way of being assured of their purity. Experts at the clinic advocate adding a half teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to the diet daily rather than taking it in supplement form.
Cinnamon is a versatile spice to use in cooking. Add it to hot drinks, baked goods and vegetable dishes involving sweet potatoes or varieties of winter squash. Cinnamon is also great in oatmeal and other hot cereals.
Recommendations for Weight Loss
Because apple cider vinegar and cinnamon aren't magic bullets for weight loss, you need a broad approach to weight management that relies mainly on nutritious eating practices and regular exercise, recommends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In other words, to lose weight sensibly, rather than dieting, simply adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Embarking on a journey to an optimal weight may seem daunting, but the CDC provides a guide to help you avoid weight-loss mistakes. First, make a commitment to do whatever it takes to reach your goals. Next, set an appointment with your health care practitioner to get weight recommendations tailored specifically for you. Keep a food diary of what you eat to develop awareness of unhealthy habits.
Set realistic goals to avoid getting discouraged, advises the CDC. Recognize that you can't do this alone, so enlist family and friends to support your efforts. Revisit your goals frequently, and celebrate small victories with nonfood rewards.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) provides the components of a healthy eating plan for weight loss. Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains such as brown rice, whole-grain bread and oats. Include protein foods like legumes, eggs, nuts, seeds, poultry and lean meats. Add low-fat dairy foods and sources of healthy fat like olive oil and avocados.
Knowing what foods to exclude is also important, notes the NIDDK. Limit your consumption of sugar, salt and refined carbohydrates. Avoid the intake of saturated and trans fat like those found in fried foods.
Watch the size of your portions. Set a goal of getting a minimum of 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, urges NIDDK. Finally, apple cider vinegar and cinnamon may not help appreciably with weight loss, but it won't hurt to include them in the diet.
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Apple Cider Vinegar Diet: Does It Really Work?"
- Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry: "Vinegar Intake Reduces Body Weight, Body Fat Mass, and Serum Triglyceride Levels in Obese Japanese Subjects"
- International Journal of Obesity: "Influence of the Tolerability of Vinegar as an Oral Source of Short-Chain Fatty Acids on Appetite Control and Food Intake"
- Annales de Cardiologie et d'Angéiologie: "Anti-Obesogenic Effect of Apple Cider Vinegar in Rats Subjected to a High Fat Diet"
- University of Chicago Medicine: "Debunking the Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar"
- Metabolism: "Cinnamaldehyde Induces Fat Cell-Autonomous Thermogenesis and Metabolic Reprogramming"
- Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences: "Cinnamon Effects on Metabolic Syndrome: A Review Based on Its Mechanisms"
- University of Washington: "Beyond the Hype: Apple Cider Vinegar as an Alternative Therapy"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Does Apple Cider Vinegar Have Any Proven Health Benefits?"
- Mayo Clinic: "Diabetes Treatment: Can Cinnamon Lower Blood Sugar?"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Can Taking Cinnamon Supplements Lower Your Blood Sugar?"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Healthy Eating for a Healthy Weight"
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease: "Eating & Physical Activity to Lose or Maintain Weight"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Losing Weight: Getting Started"
- University of Washington: "Is Cinnamon Good for You?"