Apple cider vinegar has been used as a health tonic for thousands of years.

Research shows it has many health benefits, such as lowering blood sugar levels.

But can adding apple cider vinegar to your diet also help you lose weight?

This article explores the research behind apple cider vinegar and weight loss. It also provides tips on incorporating apple cider vinegar into your diet.

Apple cider vinegar is made in a two-step fermentation process (1).

First, apples are cut or crushed and combined with yeast to convert their sugar into alcohol. Second, bacteria is added to ferment the alcohol into acetic acid.

Traditional apple cider vinegar production takes about one month, though some manufacturers dramatically accelerate the process so that it takes only a day.

Acetic acid is the main active component of apple cider vinegar.

Also known as ethanoic acid, it is an organic compound with a sour taste and strong odor. The term “acetic” comes from “acetum,” the Latin word for vinegar.

Acetic acid is a short-chain fatty acid that dissolves into acetate and hydrogen in your body.

About 5–6% of apple cider vinegar consists of acetic acid. It also contains water and trace amounts of other acids, such as malic acid. One tablespoon (tbsp), or 15 milliliters (mL), contains about 3 calories and virtually no carbs (2).

Summary

Apple cider vinegar is made in a two-step fermentation process. Acetic acid is the vinegar’s main active component.

Apple cider vinegar may promote fullness, which can decrease calorie intake (3).

In addition to its appetite-suppressing effects, apple cider vinegar has also been shown to slow the rate at which food leaves your stomach (4).

However, some people may have a condition that makes this effect harmful.

Gastroparesis, or delayed stomach emptying, is a common complication of type 1 diabetes. Timing insulin with food intake becomes a challenge because it is difficult to predict how long it will take for blood sugar to rise after a meal (5).

Since apple cider vinegar has been shown to extend the time food stays in your stomach, taking it with meals could worsen gastroparesis (6).

Summary

Apple cider vinegar helps promote fullness, in part due to delayed stomach emptying. This may naturally lead to lower calorie intake. However, it could worsen gastroparesis for some.

Results from a small but widely cited 2009 study indicate that apple cider vinegar has impressive effects on weight and body fat (7).

In this 12-week study, 144 Japanese adults with obesity consumed either 1 tbsp (15 mL) of vinegar, 2 tbsp (30 mL) of vinegar, or a placebo drink every day.

They were told to restrict their alcohol intake but otherwise continue their usual diet and activity throughout the study.

Participants who consumed 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar per day had — on average — the following benefits:

  • Weight loss: 2.6 pounds (lb), or 1.2 kilograms (kg)
  • Decrease in body fat percentage: 18%
  • Decrease in waist circumference: 0.5 inches (in), or 1.4 centimeters (cm)
  • Decrease in triglycerides: 26%

This is what changed in participants who consumed 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar per day:

  • Weight loss: 4.2 lb, or 1.7 kg
  • Decrease in body fat percentage: 0.9%
  • Decrease in waist circumference: 0.75 in, or 1.9 cm
  • Decrease in triglycerides: 26%

The placebo group actually gained 0.9 lb (0.4 kg), and their waist circumference slightly increased.

In a 2018 clinical trial involving 39 participants on restricted calorie diets, those who consumed about 2 tbsp (30 mL) of apple cider vinegar daily over 12 weeks lost significantly more weight and body fat than the participants who did not consume apple cider vinegar (8).

According to this study, adding 1 or 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar to your diet may help you lose weight. It may also reduce your body fat percentage, help you lose belly fat, and decrease your blood triglycerides.

These are two of only a few human studies that have investigated apple cider vinegar’s effects on weight loss. Although the results are encouraging, additional studies are needed.

Summary

In two studies, people with obesity who took 1–2 tbsp (15–30 mL) of apple cider vinegar daily for 12 weeks lost weight and body fat.

In addition to promoting weight and fat loss, apple cider vinegar has several other benefits:

  • Lowers blood sugar and insulin: When consumed with a high carb meal, apple cider vinegar has been shown to significantly lower blood sugar and insulin levels after eating (4).
  • Improves insulin sensitivity: Studies suggest that consuming vinegar with a high carb meal may improve insulin sensitivity (9).
  • Lowers fasting blood sugar: Studies have found an association between consuming apple cider vinegar and a significant lowering of fasting blood glucose and glycated hemoglobin (10).
  • Improves polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) symptoms: In a small 2013 study of women with PCOS who took vinegar for 90–110 days, 57% resumed ovulation, likely due to improved insulin sensitivity (11).
  • Decreases cholesterol levels: A 2021 research review of nine clinical trials found that apple cider vinegar reduced total cholesterol and triglycerides (12).
  • Lowers blood pressure: Animal studies suggest that vinegar may decrease blood pressure by inhibiting the enzyme responsible for constricting blood vessels. However, human studies haven’t shown significant decreases in blood pressure (13, 14).
  • Kills harmful bacteria and viruses: Studies show that apple cider vinegar may be a powerful fighter against E. coli and S. aureus bacteria as well as resistant Escherichia coli (rE. coli) and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) (15, 16).
Summary

Adding apple cider vinegar to your diet may benefit blood sugar, insulin, PCOS symptoms, and cholesterol. Vinegar also fights bacteria and viruses.

There are a few ways to include apple cider vinegar in your diet.

An easy method is to use it with olive oil as a salad dressing. It is particularly tasty with leafy greens, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

It can also be used for pickling vegetables, or you can simply mix it into water and drink it.

The amount of apple cider vinegar used for weight loss is 1–2 tbsp (15-30 mL) per day, mixed with water.

It is best to spread this out into 2–3 doses throughout the day, and it may be best to drink it before meals.

Taking more than this isn’t recommended because of potentially harmful effects at higher dosages, such as drug interactions or the erosion of tooth enamel. It’s also best to start off with 1 teaspoon (5 mL) to see how you tolerate it (17).

Do not take more than 1 tbsp (15 mL) at a time, because taking too much at once may cause nausea (18).

It’s important to mix apple cider vinegar with water. Undiluted vinegar may burn the inside of your mouth and esophagus.

Although taking apple cider vinegar in tablet form may seem beneficial, it comes with potentially large risks. In a 2005 instance, a woman suffered throat burns after an apple cider vinegar tablet became lodged in her esophagus (19).

Summary

About 1–2 tbsp (15–30 mL) of apple cider vinegar per day is recommended to obtain full weight loss benefits. For best results, mix it with water and drink it.

Consuming a moderate amount of apple cider vinegar appears to promote weight loss and provide a number of other health benefits.

Other types of vinegar may provide similar benefits, although vinegar with lower acetic acid content might have less potent effects.