In our endless quest for quick-fix health solutions, we’re always surprised to see what the Next Big Thing™ is that will pop up.
Despite the proven science and research showing what really works, all too often we see people endlessly hopping from one diet fad to another to another, all in an effort to lose weight or get healthy fast. This has made the weight loss supplement and diet book category literally explode with growth year over year.
We get fascinated when the next big thing comes in the form of “magical elixirs”, because it’s exactly where the hype begins and the research-backed science tends to stop. The latest craze to be sweeping through the diet hoppers and shoppers is drinking vinegar.
It may seem like an odd way to lose weight, so let’s dig a little deeper and see what’s really behind this craze.
Why Drink Vinegar?
No doubt you’ve heard of the “Apple Cider Vinegar Diet” on the news or blogosphere. Typically the Apple Cider Vinegar Diet revolves around a person drinking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed into an 8 oz glass of water first thing in the morning to help “cleanse their body” and lose weight. Now, this may seem strange, but this whole diet got started based off a study that showed that 14 people who drank this mixture before a meal had lower blood glucose levels.
So of course, people took one point from a single study and extrapolate it out into an entire diet craze!
Drinking vinegar benefits: lower blood sugar levels
OK, so one study showed that drinking vinegar helped diabetics lower their blood sugars, but does it have any other effects?
As it turns out, yes, drinking vinegar may have some benefits for the body, as it has been shown to reduce glucose levels and improve insulin sensitivity.[2,3,4] Additionally, consuming vinegar along with a high carb meal improves satiety and feelings of fullness, which may help you to eat less and ultimately lose weight. Although eating high-carb meals may not exactly coincide with general weight loss if you’re doing it too frequently…
However, most of these studies were done on Type 2 Diabetics, so whether or not cider vinegar will have the same effects on a healthy person remains to be seen.
How drinking vinegar has been adapted
So you think there’s some magic to drinking vinegar and want to give it a test for yourself, but not quite sure how to employ it. Reviewing a few of the various vinegar consumption methods, they all seem to revolve around the same idea:
Take a tablespoon or two of vinegar and mix it into a glass of warm water. Drink it 20-30 minutes before a meal and it should help you consume less food.
If that doesn’t sound quite so appealing, several bloggers have suggested mixing in a glug of maple syrup into the mixture to make it more palatable. This is where things get a bit laughable, though. Adding dense sugar to vinegar is, well, not exactly how you lose weight.
The extra 100-200 calories you’ll ingest from the maple syrup will likely offset any potential “fat burning” benefit the measly tablespoon of vinegar would have on your body as well as neutralize any blood sugar lowering properties as well. Isn’t it amazing the lengths people will go to for a quick fix?!
This is why companies such as Suja are starting to come out with Drinking Vinegars that are sweetened naturally with stevia.
Is this enough?
Let’s say you forego the dash of maple syrup and just go the au natural way with the vinegar. Is it good then?
In our opinions, the benefits of dropping your blood sugar levels are fine, but they’re not enough to base an entire diet or “cleanse” around.
Put simply, if you’re still eating too much on a day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, and even year-to-year basis, you’re going to gain weight.[6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13] That weight gain will almost definitely come in the form of fat, unless you’re working out extremely hard.
Meanwhile, if you’re not taking in enough protein, you’re not going to build as attractive of a body as you possibly can.[12,14,15] And if you don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, you’re going to put yourself at greater risk for cardiovascular disease.
These “vinegar diets” are getting stupid and avoid the real truth
Point being, don’t get sucked into the philosophy of putting “lipstick on a pig”. If your diet is weak, deficient, or over-caloric, you’re missing the forest for the trees if you think a temporary shot of vinegar is going to do much. These Apple Cider Vinegar diets and fads essentially just kick the can down the road, until the point where you realize you need a legitimate diet and lifestyle overhaul.
So why waste your time now when you might as well get started on real changes, and not nit-picking at small changes in blood sugar levels and other minutiae? We just don’t get the pushback from real, wholesale lifestyle change. We only have so much time to improve our health, and if doing this alone, drinking vinegars seem to be a waste of it.
We live in a fast paced era, with everything from news headlines to food accessible at the touch of a finger. One thing that’s grown even more out of control in the era of technology dominance is the instant gratification and “quick fix” mentality for the majority of the population. When a person has a problem, they want it solved immediately, not over time.
Is drinking vinegar “The Next Big Thing” probably not, it will cycle through the diet world as do all fad diets and cleanses.
In the end, sustainable and healthy weight loss is about consistently eating well and exercising regularly, not some magical elixir, pill, or diet. A lifetime of smart choices leads to better end results that last for the long haul. Drinking vinegar can be added to the list to avoid if you know what you’re doing.
Sure, go give a try — there may be some weak benefits — but if anything, it’s just a minor supplemental change to something in the far greater picture.
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- Swinburn, B., G. Sacks, and E. Ravussin; “Increased Food Energy Supply Is More Than Sufficient To Explain The US Epidemic Of Obesity”; American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 90.6 (2009): 1453-1456; Retrieved from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/90/6/1453.long
- Golay, A, et al; “Similar weight loss with low- or high-carbohydrate diets”; The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 1996 Feb; 63(2):174-8; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8561057
- Leibel, R; “Energy intake required to maintain body weight is not affected by wide variation in diet composition”; American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 1992 Feb; 55(2):350-5;https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1734671
- Golay, et al; “Weight-loss with low or high carbohydrate diet?”; International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders; 1996 Dec; 20(12):1067-72;https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8968851
- Sargrad, K; “Effect of high protein vs high carbohydrate intake on insulin sensitivity, body weight, hemoglobin A1c, and blood pressure in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus”; Journal of the American Dietetic Association; 2005 Apr; 105(4):573-80; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15800559
- Heilbronn, L; “Effect of energy restriction, weight loss, and diet composition on plasma lipids and glucose in patients with type 2 diabetes”; Diabetes Care; 1999 Jun; 22(6):889-95;https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10372237
- Parker, B. et al; “Effect Of A High-Protein, High-Monounsaturated Fat Weight Loss Diet On Glycemic Control And Lipid Levels In Type 2 Diabetes”; Diabetes Care; 25.3 (2002): 425-430;http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/25/3/425.long
- Noakes, Manny, et al; “Effect Of An Energy-Restricted, High-Protein, Low-Fat Diet Relative To A Conventional High-Carbohydrate, Low-Fat Diet On Weight Loss, Body Composition, Nutritional Status, And Markers Of Cardiovascular Health In Obese Women”; The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 81.6 (2005): 1298-1306; http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/81/6/1298.long
- Evans, Ellen M, et al; “Effects of Protein Intake and Gender on Body Composition Changes: A Randomized Clinical Weight Loss Trial”; Nutrition & Metabolism 9 (2012): 55;https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3407769/
- Leidy, H. J. et al; “The Role Of Protein In Weight Loss And Maintenance”. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 101.6 (2015): 1320S-1329S; http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/101/6/1320S.long