According to some keto experts, drinking apple cider vinegar (ACV) can increase ketosis and help to lose more weight on the keto diet. But can it? Is it worth trying out?
In this article, we’ll dig deep into the available evidence and reveal whether or not apple cider vinegar helps with losing weight on keto, how exactly to use it, and what makes it different from other common kinds of vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar could help lose weight on keto, but the added benefit would be minimal at best. Animal studies reported that ACV works by activating genes that promote the activity of fat-burning enzymes in the liver. As a result, less fat is stored.1 On keto, this could mean burning more fat for energy.
Another study reported that obese Japanese adults who drank 0.5 to 1 oz (15 to 30 ml) of apple cider vinegar for 12 weeks lost more weight, burned more visceral fat (around the organs) and subcutaneous fat (under the skin), reached a lower waist circumference, and achieved better blood lipid levels than those participants who didn’t take vinegar. Individual results varied greatly in this study, but in general, the people who consumed 0.5 oz of ACV daily weighed about 2 lb (0.9 kg) less, and those who drank 1 oz daily weighed 7.5 lb (3.4 kg) less after 12 weeks of the study.2
In other words, ACV does seem to help a bit with weight loss in general, and lab studies suggest it could support ketosis by boosting fat metabolism in the liver. Still, no matter how you look, it’s not some powerful weight loss aid. There are more effective and well-studied approaches.
Weight loss on keto is a natural effect of being in confirmed, manageable, and sustainable ketosis. Studies report that keto leads to weight loss through many effects:3
- Appetite reduction
- Burning of stored fat
- Suppression of fat accumulation
- Improved metabolism in general
Then, the question is: how do you reach ketosis (and stay in it) to lose weight?
Here are the five most effective tips, in our opinion:
- Stay alert for hidden carbs. Most fruits, berries, dairy, pastries, and vegetables are jam-packed with carbs. Make sure you know exactly how much you’re getting with each bite.
- Avoid too much stress. The stress hormone cortisol increases blood glucose levels, and that’s incompatible with ketosis.
- Exercise. Your body won’t enter ketosis before it depletes most of its glycogen reserves, a form of stored glucose. One of the most effective ways to burn glycogen is to engage in intense exercise, even for a minute or two.4 Intensity trumps duration when it comes to glycogen use.
- Drink more coffee. Studies reported that having coffee for breakfast boosts the production of ketones in the body. In fact, the more caffeine you get, the better (At least for keto).5
- Eat enough fat, but watch out for the calories. Dietary fat is the core of the keto diet, and getting 55 to 70% of your daily calorie intake from fats is essential to reach ketosis. However, total calorie intake still matters, and going over your daily calorie goal is never a good idea regarding weight loss.
Even though apple cider vinegar isn’t a game-changer regarding weight loss or keto, it still has a few other potential health benefits to remember.
- Strong antimicrobial properties
ACV is an affordable and effective remedy against bacteria and fungi, including such bothersome as E. coli, S. aureus, and C. albicans.6 This feature makes apple cider vinegar a great natural approach to helping with intestinal infections and inflammation of any sort.
- Potential heart health support
Animal studies reported that ACV effectively reduces oxidative stress and improves blood lipid levels, and both parameters are significant risk factors for cardiovascular disease.7-9
- Helps stabilize blood glucose levels
One great thing about ACV (and other kinds of vinegar) is that it can help reduce significant fluctuations in insulin and blood glucose levels. Besides being great for the keto diet, this feature will be useful for people with insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes.10
So, what is it about apple cider vinegar that makes it unique?
Not much, to be honest. Compared to many other types of vinegar, ACV has a somewhat milder, round, and balanced flavor. Also, it’s much more affordable than other options like balsamic vinegar or wine vinegar.
Last but not least, taking apple cider vinegar has a somewhat more natural feel than, let’s say, using rice vinegar or the usual white vinegar. Basically, that’s it.
Some sources claim that ACV is produced through a “healthier” process than other kinds of vinegar, but that’s not exactly true. Besides some types of white vinegar, all vinegar is made by adding special bacteria to a base with alcohol—wine, cider, beer, or anything else. These bacteria process the alcohol to form acetic acid, and that’s how vinegar is produced. There is really no reason to say that apple cider vinegar, in this case, is healthier than any other vinegar out there.
The only vinegar option to avoid whenever possible is the kind of white vinegar created by mixing water with acetic acid directly, without any fermentation involved. This is the only “non-natural” vinegar.
As you see, even though apple cider vinegar has no mind-blowing benefits for weight loss on the keto diet, it’s still a great food with a wide range of uses! Here are some of our favorite ideas on how to enjoy more of it in your diet:
- Use it as a salad dressing
- Try quick pickling! Put some cucumbers, onions, ginger, or any other vegetable in a bowl, top it with vinegar, and let sit for a few hours
- Try it as a dipping sauce. Works best with Japanese meals
- One tablespoon of baking soda mixed with one tablespoon of white vinegar is a perfect replacement for one egg in baking. Works best with fluffy recipes like cakes and cupcakes
- Kondo T, Kishi M, Fushimi T, Kaga T. Acetic acid upregulates the expression of genes for fatty acid oxidation enzymes in the liver to suppress body fat accumulation. J Agric Food Chem. 2009;57(13):5982-6.
- Kondo T, Kishi M, Fushimi T, Ugajin S, Kaga T. Vinegar Intake Reduces Body Weight, Body Fat Mass, and Serum Triglyceride Levels in Obese Japanese Subjects. Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry. 2009;73(8):1837-43.
- Paoli A. Ketogenic diet for obesity: friend or foe. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014;11(2):2092-107.
- Murray B, Rosenbloom C. Fundamentals of glycogen metabolism for coaches and athletes. Nutr Rev. 2018;76(4):243-59.
- Vandenberghe C, St-Pierre V, Courchesne-Loyer A, Hennebelle M, Castellano CA, Cunnane SC. Caffeine intake increases plasma ketones: an acute metabolic study in humans. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2017;95(4):455-8.
- Yagnik D, Serafin V, J Shah A. Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression. Sci Rep. 2018;8(1):1732.
- Nazıroğlu M, Güler M, Özgül C, Saydam G, Küçükayaz M, Sözbir E. Apple cider vinegar modulates serum lipid profile, erythrocyte, kidney, and liver membrane oxidative stress in ovariectomized mice fed high cholesterol. J Membr Biol. 2014;247(8):667-73.
- Senoner T, Dichtl W. Oxidative Stress in Cardiovascular Diseases: Still a Therapeutic Target. Nutrients. 2019;11(9):E2090.
- Ference BA, Graham I, Tokgozoglu L, Catapano AL. Impact of Lipids on Cardiovascular Health. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2018;72(10):1141-56.
- Shishehbor F, Mansoori A, Shirani F. Vinegar consumption can attenuate postprandial glucose and insulin responses; a systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice. 2017;127:1-9.