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Nutribollocks: What’s the Deal With Apple Cider Vinegar and Weight Loss?

Written By: Amanda Oliver

Amanda Oliver has more than a decade of experience in commerce and media, specifically in product testing and service journalism in the lifestyle, health and wellness, and outdoor space. Amanda is currently the Executive Editor of Commerce at Field & Stream. She is also an RYT-200 yoga teacher and NASM CPT personal trainer.

Expert Reviewed By: Stephanie Nelson, RD

Stephanie Nelson (MS, RD) is a Registered Dietitian and is MyFitnessPal’s in-house nutrition expert and nutrition scientist. Passionate for promoting healthy lifestyles, Stephanie graduated from San Diego State University with a focus on research and disease prevention.

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If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the conflicting nutritional advice out there, you’re not alone. In this Nutribollocks series, our registered dietitians and scientific advisory board members take a hard look at scientific studies and claims, separating fact from fiction so you don’t have to.

Over the last few years, apple cider vinegar has blossomed into a trendy weight loss supplement, with plenty of celebrities and health and wellness influencers touting its fat-burning benefits. From daily ACV shots to vinegar-filled gummies, the pantry staple became a much-talked-about topic.

And now, there may be science behind the ACV obsession. A recent study published in the BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health journal claims that daily consumption of apple cider vinegar could be linked to significant weight loss.

Because we’re dedicated to ensuring the nutrition information we share is backed by credible science, we did a little investigating. We asked Dr. Nicola Guess, nutrition scientist and member of the MyFitnessPal Scientific Advisory Board, to dig into the research and tell us: is this fact? Or is it nutribollocks?

Summary of the Study

  • The double-blind study included 120 Lebanese adolescents and young adults between the ages of 12 and 25 who were either obese or overweight.
  • Each participant was assigned a specific amount of apple cider vinegar—5, 10, or 15 milliliters—or lactic acid to drink mixed with a cup of water every day, three times per day for 12 weeks. They drank their first cup first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
  • After the 12 weeks were up, researchers analyzed each participants’ weight, body fat, waist circumference, and blood samples.
  • While all of the people who drank apple cider vinegar daily lost weight, those who drank 10 or 15 milliliters every day experienced the most weight loss.
  • They also saw the most improvement in measures like blood glucose and cholesterol levels.

Apple Cider Vinegar and Weight Loss: Fact or Nutribollocks?

The verdict: Likely Nutribollocks.

Think something as simple as drinking apple cider vinegar to achieve your weight loss goals sounds too good to be true? Well, you might be right. Dr. Guess describes this specific study as unreliable, pointing out a few major flaws.

“The degree of weight loss is extremely unusual,” she says, comparing it to other trials. “Even in trials where they do see an impact of ACV on weight, it’s typically a difference of 1.0-1.5k g compared to the close to 7 kg weight loss they see here.” This means people were losing about a pound per week with the ACV and no reported caloric deficit, which Dr. Guess notes isn’t in line with any research she’s seen.

Here’s another thing to think about. Sometimes when a research study shows really surprising results like this one, we need to consider if the design of the study and the data collected are reliable enough to make strong conclusions. After looking at the study, Dr. Guess didn’t think it was good enough to prove that ACV could actually significantly help with weight loss as suggested.

That’s not to say that apple cider vinegar has zero effect on weight loss—just that more research needs to be done for any conclusive evidence. “There are other studies that show a minor benefit to consuming ACV, but there aren’t many studies in humans demonstrating this,” Dr. Guess explains. “Because consuming ACV in small doses (1-2 tbsp/day) is low-risk, we don’t recommend against it, but don’t depend on it for weight loss.”

Can Any Drinks Help With Weight Loss?

Apple cider vinegar may not be the cure-all that the study claims it to be. Fortunately, there are other drinks that might help speed up your weight loss, according to MFP lead scientist Stephanie Nelson. The key is to stop drinking your calories. Caloric beverages are typically high in sugar but they don’t fill you up the way food would..

“I’d recommend beverages that are easy swaps for sugary drinks. This includes flavored sparkling waters or diet soda for regular soda and coffee with sugar-free flavored creamer instead of flavored lattes,” MFP lead scientist Stephanie Nelson says.

However, at the end of the day, weight loss is less about what you drink or what trendy supplements you take and more about what you eat. “It’s still most effective to lose weight through tracking and eating a high-quality diet,” Dr. Guess explains.

You can do both of those things through the MyFitnessPal app—which is a great place to start if your goal is sustainable weight loss. No shots of vinegar necessary.

About the Authors

Meet the people behind the post

Written By: Amanda Oliver

Amanda Oliver has more than a decade of experience in commerce and media, specifically in product testing and service journalism in the lifestyle, health and wellness, and outdoor space. Amanda is currently the Executive Editor of Commerce at Field & Stream. She is also an RYT-200 yoga teacher and NASM CPT personal trainer.

Expert Reviewed By: Stephanie Nelson, RD

Stephanie Nelson (MS, RD) is a Registered Dietitian and is MyFitnessPal’s in-house nutrition expert and nutrition scientist. Passionate for promoting healthy lifestyles, Stephanie graduated from San Diego State University with a focus on research and disease prevention.

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