March 27, 2024/Weight Loss

Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help You Lose Weight?

The science on ACV isn’t very promising for weight loss or appetite suppression

Spoonful of apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar, or ACV, is good for you — and it’s a great thing to have around the house. You can kill weeds with it, use it to wash your freshly harvested fruits and veggies and add it to a dressing to give your garden-to-table salad some extra oomph!


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But while some might tell you otherwise, apple cider vinegar isn’t a miracle elixir. It doesn’t cure acne, ringworm or warts of any kind. (Including the genital variety — please don’t try that.) In fact, you probably shouldn’t use it on your skin at all unless it’s part of a skin care product — or you’re risking a chemical burn. Most of its purported benefits are just that: purported. Not proven.

But what about its purported weight loss benefits? Is there any truth to that claim? We asked registered dietitian Beth Czerwony, RD, LD.

What is apple cider vinegar and what are some of its health benefits?

Before we jump into the research on apple cider vinegar and weight loss, let’s talk a bit about what apple cider vinegar is and why so many people are fans of the stuff.

Basically, it’s twice-fermented apple juice. The fermentation process creates acetic acid — which is the chemical that gives vinegar its characteristic smell. Some researchers believe acetic acid also has health benefits. While there are plenty of debunkable claims associated with apple cider vinegar, there are also multiple scientific studies (of varying size and quality) that suggest it may:

  • Help lower cholesterol. Research, including a 2021 review of nine different studies, suggests that apple cider vinegar decreases total cholesterol and triglycerides (a fat found in your blood) while raising “good” cholesterol (HDL).
  • Helps manage blood sugar. The same 2021 article that found evidence of apple cider vinegar improving cholesterol also found that it decreased fasting plasma glucose levels when taken with a meal full of complex carbohydrates. It does that by slowing down food’s journey from your stomach to your small intestine (gastric emptying) and the absorption of glucose molecules. To be clear: It’s no replacement for diabetes treatment and can cause serious complications — more on that later.
  • Boost your immune system. Because it’s fermented, ACV is chock full of natural probiotics, which Czerwony says can balance gut microbiota and improve immune health.
  • Prevent cell damage. Apple cider vinegar contains naturally occurring chemicals called antioxidants that protect your cells against free radicals, which are atoms, molecules and ions that can alter your cellular DNA.

The science is far from definitive. Still, there’s much better evidence for these health benefits than there is evidence it can influence your weight.

Does apple cider vinegar aid in weight loss?

A 2007 study raised hope that apple cider vinegar may be beneficial for weight loss. The research suggested that consuming 1 to 2 ounces of the stuff first thing in the morning over 12 weeks resulted in modest weight loss of 2 to 4 pounds and reduced triglyceride levels.

Hope climbed still higher when a 2018 study reported that participants who consumed 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar a day significantly decreased their body weight, body mass index (BMI), hip circumference and visceral adiposity index (VAI).

But the study design didn’t inspire much confidence in those results.

“The 2018 study only had 39 participants,” Czerwony notes, “and the study focused on adding apple cider vinegar to a reduced-calorie diet. So, we don’t know if the weight loss was due to the calorie reduction, the apple cider vinegar, or both.”

They also didn’t require participants to report what they were eating as part of their reduced-calorie diet, or what (if any) exercise they were doing.

Those aren’t the study’s only drawbacks. The participants weren’t blinded, which means the people taking apple cider vinegar knew they were doing it.


“There may be a psychological effect — people think it’s working, so they unknowingly make other changes that result in weight loss,” Czerwony explains.

Based on the information we have right now, Czerwony doubts apple cider vinegar can help with weight loss.

What role does apple cider vinegar play in appetite control

OK, so maybe there’s no direct link between apple cider vinegar and weight loss, but what about appetite suppression? Can it do that?

The very scientific answer to that question is “meh.”

A 2013 study found that people felt fuller after consuming apple cider vinegar. There was just one little problem.

“They concluded that the acetic acid just made people feel nauseous and not want to eat as much,” says Czerwony. That’s not a weight loss strategy anybody — including the study authors themselves — is prepared to support.

In a 2022 meta-analysis, researchers found that the results of studies regarding apple cider vinegar and short-term appetite suppression were mixed at best. And they found no evidence of a long-term impact on appetite at all. So, while we can’t rule out the chance that apple cider vinegar can make you feel fuller for longer, there’s nowhere near enough evidence to suggest it belongs in a weight loss or weight management plan.

What role does apple cider vinegar play in digestion?

When it comes to digestion, there are two reasons people turn to apple cider vinegar. The first is that it’s a probiotic. As we mentioned, that means it introduces good bacteria into your gut, which Czerwony says may reduce inflammation and keep you regular.

Some people also believe that apple cider vinegar can help reduce acid reflux, but the science is as shaky on that front as it is for weight loss.

There are also plenty of people who find ACV upsets their stomach, so people struggling with heartburn, acid reflux or GERD are better off getting a clinically proven treatment through their provider.

Safety precautions and potential side effects of ACV consumption

Apple cider vinegar isn’t off-limits unless you have an allergy or an intolerance, but people with certain conditions need to be cautious about how much they consume. They include:

  • People with diabetes. There’s convincing evidence that apple cider vinegar can impact blood sugar and insulin levels and may cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) when used alongside insulin. Always talk with your doctor before making big adjustments to the amount you consume in your daily life.
  • People with low potassium levels (hypokalemia). There’s a chance that you could make the condition worse. Talk to your provider before adding apple cider vinegar to your eating plan.
  • People taking diuretics (water pills). If you take medications to increase your urine output like Lasix® (furosemide), steer clear of apple cider vinegar. It can cause frequent urination, and you don’t want to risk dehydration.
  • People taking laxatives. In addition to acetic acid, apple cider vinegar may contain magnesium, a mineral you’ll see in many over-the-counter laxatives. Enough people report that it has a laxative effect that you should talk to your provider before using it alongside another treatment for constipation.
  • People with gastroparesis. Whether you have gastroparesis (a disorder that makes it hard for food to move through your digestive tract) as a result of diabetes or another medical condition, it’s important to be mindful that apple cider vinegar slows down gastric emptying. The last thing a person with a motility issue wants is for things to move through their system even slower, so be sure to check with your doctor before attempting weight loss of any kind — and apple cider vinegar therapy specifically.
  • People taking medication for high blood pressure (antihypertensives). These medications can reduce your potassium levels, so be sure to talk to your provider before you consider starting or increasing your apple cider vinegar consumption.

For people who don’t have those conditions, Czerwony’s biggest concerns are tummy and tooth trouble.

Tangy and acidic as it is, not everybody can tolerate even diluted apple cider vinegar. If it makes you feel sick or you can’t stand the taste, just stop using it: The potential benefits aren’t worth the harmful side effects.

Czerwony’s other note of caution: Acetic acid can erode tooth enamel or burn your throat if you take it straight. That’s why she recommends you always dilute ACV by adding two or three teaspoons to a drink. You can also take it in pill or gummy form.

“It’s fine to include apple cider vinegar in a healthy, balanced diet,” says Czerwony. “If you’re safe about how you use it, it won’t hurt you. But it probably isn’t going to impact your weight either.”

It’s not a weight loss magic bullet

Apple cider vinegar isn’t a cure-all and — like every other fad diet — is highly unlikely to create lasting weight loss. That’s because, as Czerwony quips, our bodies aren’t programmed to give up weight willingly. It’s called set point theory.

“Your body thinks, ‘If I lose weight, I’ll die,’” says Czerwony. “So, when you start losing weight, it responds by sending out chemical signals that increase cravings and hunger.” Essentially, your body tries to sabotage weight loss. It’s an act of self-preservation that’s as brilliant as it is annoying.

“Because of this biological drive, there’s likely never going to be a magic bullet for weight loss,” Czerwony adds. Even weight loss drugs like Semaglutide (Ozempic®) and Tirzepatide (Mounjaro®) only suppress your appetite while you’re on them — the biological drive to make up those lost pounds comes back once you stop treatment.

Apple cider vinegar may be nifty stuff, but it’s no match for Mother Nature.

Learn more about our editorial process.

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