Have you ever thought of mixing water, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice to create a natural weight loss drink? This combo might be exactly what you need to give your metabolism a boost — or at least, this is what some dieters claim. While this beverage won't melt away fat, it may benefit your health. In fact, drinking as little as 0.5 ounces of apple cider vinegar (ACV) may aid in obesity treatment, improve blood lipids and reduce blood pressure.
Drinking apple cider vinegar and lemon juice is not a quick fix for weight loss. This concoction offers some benefits to your health, but only when used as part of a balanced diet.
What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?
A growing number of health stores are offering apple cider vinegar shots and diet pills containing ACV. It's not uncommon to see dieters who add this ingredient to every glass of water they drink. Some mix it with fresh lemon juice, which is said to promote weight loss.
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This type of vinegar comes from fermented apples. According to an April 2016 report in Current Opinion in Food Science, its potential health benefits are attributed to acetic acid, an organic compound that gives vinegar its pungent smell and sour taste. ACV also contains phenolic compounds like caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid, gallic acid and catechins, as reported in a May 2014 review published in the Journal of Food Science.
The bioactive compounds in vinegar exhibit anti-obesity, antioxidant, antidiabetic and cholesterol-lowering properties. They also have beneficial effects on blood pressure and cardiovascular health. In ancient times, this product was used to treat wounds.
Several studies cited in the Journal of Food Science review suggest that acetic acid may enhance cognition and suppress appetite. Furthermore, the polyphenols in vinegar may inhibit cholesterol oxidation. This functional food also exhibits strong antimicrobial effects and may suppress the growth of E. Coli, Candida Albicans, S. aureus and other microbes. However, most studies have been conducted on mice, so these findings may not apply to humans.
Does ACV Burn Fat?
Combining apple cider vinegar and lemon juice is just one way to incorporate ACV into your diet. If you Google "detox tea recipe," "apple detox," "apple cider vinegar lemon water recipe," or "ACV for weight loss," you'll get thousands of results. Most weight loss blogs and online magazines have at least a few pages dedicated to ACV and its fat burning action.
Read more: 7 Unexpected Reasons Why You're Not Losing Weight
However, according to Harvard Health Publishing, there is little research to show conclusively that apple cider vinegar aids in weight loss. One of the few studies available, published in the online edition of the journal Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry in May 2014, suggests that vinegar intake may reduce fat mass, body weight and triglyceride levels.
During the study, 175 subjects with obesity were split into three groups:
- A placebo group
- A group who consumed 500 ml (16.9 oz) of a beverage containing 15 ml (0.5 oz) of ACV
- A group who consumed 500 ml (16.9 oz) of a beverage containing 30 ml (1 oz) of ACV
The subjects were not allowed to take diet pills, drink other vinegar beverages or eat functional foods that promote weight loss during the study. Their diet was closely monitored.
Three months later, both the low- and high-dose groups experienced a greater reduction in body weight, body mass index, visceral fat and waist circumference than the placebo group. Their triglyceride levels decreased, too. The differences between ACV consumers and non-consumers were negligible, though.
The study participants who consumed ACV only lost two to four pounds more compared to the placebo group. That's about a third of a pound per week. What's interesting is that ACV usage decreased visceral fat mass.
Visceral fat has been linked to a greater risk of diabetes, heart disease, metabolic disorders and even breast cancer.
Unlike subcutaneous fat, which is found under the skin, visceral fat wraps around your internal organs and releases inflammatory cytokines. This type of adipose tissue is metabolically active and affects your health on every level.
As the researchers point out, apple cider vinegar may help in weight loss, but the results don't last. Therefore, continuous administration of vinegar is necessary to keep the pounds off.
A smaller study, but one of the few available on this topic, published in the Journal of Functional Foods in April 2018, reports similar findings. The scientists suggest that ACV may help reduce hip circumference, body mass index and body weight while improving blood lipids when used as part of a calorie-controlled diet. Furthermore, this functional food may reduce hunger and improve appetite control.
It's clear that apple cider vinegar is by no means a magic bullet to weight loss. However, if you mix it with lemon juice, you might get better results.
Naringin, a flavonoid in lemon, may reduce body weight and fat mass, visceral fat, liver weight and waist circumference, according to a February 2019 review published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. As promising as it sounds, these findings may not be relevant, since most studies have been conducted on mice.
Read more: Drinking Lemon Juice Is Healthy, But Don't Overdo It
Potential Side Effects of ACV
Both apple cider vinegar and lemon juice are likely safe for healthy individuals. Note, though, that both products are highly acidic and may cause adverse reactions in certain people. The Harvard Medical Health recommends diluting vinegar before consumption as it can damage the enamel on teeth.
As the American Dental Association points out, high-acidic foods and beverages may cause tooth erosion, leading to cavities, bacteria buildup, tooth loss, discoloration and other dental problems. Surprisingly, lemon juice is more erosive than soda, powdered fruit drinks, sports drinks and flavored tea.
Read more: 12 Foods That Are Ruining Your Smile
Due to its acidic nature, apple cider vinegar can irritate the throat when consumed in large amounts. It may also reduce potassium levels in the bloodstream and affect bone health. According to the National Institutes of Health, low potassium levels can increase the risk of kidney stones, hypertension, constipation and calcium loss.
If you have diabetes, stick to low doses of apple cider vinegar. When consumed in excess, this functional food may affect insulin levels, according to Harvard Health Publishing. In general, it's recommended to use no more than one or tablespoons of ACV per day.
Depending on your preferences, you may add apple cider vinegar and lemon juice to salads, marinades or fish dishes. Another option is to use these ingredients in fresh fruit juices, smoothies or unsweetened ice tea. You can also alternate between lemon juice and apple cider vinegar, depending on the recipe. Both apple cider vinegar and lemon juice are low in calories and full of flavor, which may benefit your weight-loss efforts.
Dieters typically mix one or two tablespoons of ACV with water and drink it before meals. This concoction is supposed to curb hunger and increase fullness. However, there is little evidence to support these claims. A balanced diet combined with regular exercise will do more for your health than any pill, beverage or food ingredient.
- Science Direct — Current Opinion in Food Science: "Therapeutic Effects of Vinegar: A Review"
- Journal of Food Science: "Functional Properties of Vinegar"
- NCBI: "Antimicrobial Activity of Apple Cider Vinegar Against Escherichia Coli, Staphylococcus Aureus and Candida Albicans; Downregulating Cytokine and Microbial Protein Expression"
- 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"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Abdominal Fat and What to Do About It"
- Science Direct — Journal of Functional Foods: "Beneficial Effects of Apple Cider Vinegar on Weight Management, Visceral Adiposity Index and Lipid Profile in Overweight or Obese Subjects Receiving Restricted Calorie Diet: A Randomized Clinical Trial"
- Hindawi: "Preventive Effect of Naringin on Metabolic Syndrome and Its Mechanism of Action: A Systematic Review"
- American Dental Association: "Erosion: What You Eat and Drink Can Impact Teeth"
- Mayo Clinic: "Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar for Weight Loss Seems Far-Fetched. Does It Work?"
- National Institutes of Health: "Potassium"
- University of Washington: "Beyond the Hype: Apple Cider Vinegar as an Alternative Therapy"