Vinegar has evidently been used as a weight loss aid for nearly 200 years, but does it work? Well, like hot sauce, it can be a nearly calorie-free way to flavor foods, and there are all sorts of tasty exotic vinegar out there now like fig, peach, and pomegranate to choose from.
But the question is: is there something special about vinegar that helps with weight loss? Vinegar is defined as simply a dilute solution of acetic acid, which takes energy for our body to metabolize, activating an enzyme called AMPK, which is like our body’s fuel gauge.
If it senses that we’re low, it amps up energy production and tells the body to stop storing fat and start burning fat. And so given our obesity epidemic, it is crucial that oral compounds with high bioavailability are developed to safely induce chronic AMPK enzyme activation, which would potentially be beneficial for long-term weight loss.
No need to develop such a compound, though, if you can buy it at any grocery store. We understand vinegar can activate AMPK in human cells, yet is the dosage one might obtain spraying it on a salad enough? If you take endothelial cells, blood-vessel-lining cells, from umbilical cords after babies are born and expose them to various levels of acetate.
Which is what the acetic acid in vinegar turns into in our stomach, it appears to take a concentration of at least 100 to really get a significant boost in AMPK. So how much acetate do you get in your bloodstream sprinkling about a tablespoon of vinegar on your salad? You do hit 100, however just for around 15 mins.
And also at that focus, 10 or 20 mins, direct exposure doesn’t seem to do much. Now provided this is in a Petri dish, but we really did not have any type of clinical research studies up until … we did! A double-blind trial exploring the impacts of vinegar intake on the reduction of body fat in overweight men and women. Now they call them obese, but they were actually slimmer than your average American.
In Japan, they call anything over a BMI of 25 obese, whereas the average American adult is about 28.6. Anyhow, they took around 150 overweight individuals, as well as randomly divided them up right into one of three groups: a high dosage vinegar group, where they drank a drink containing 2 tbsps of apple cider vinegar a day.
A low dose group, where they drank a beverage containing only 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar a day; and a placebo control group where they had them drink an acidic beverage they developed to taste the very same as the vinegar drink yet making use of a different sort of acid, so there was no acetic acid.
No other changes in their diet or exercise. In fact, they monitored their diets and gave them all pedometers so they could make sure that the only significant difference between the three groups was the amount of vinegar they were getting every day. This is where they started out.
And within just one month, statistically considerable decreases in weight in both vinegar teams compared to placebo, with greater dosage doing better than low dosage, which just obtained far better and better, month after month. By month 3, the do-nothing sugar pill team really got weight.
As overweight people tend to do, whereas the vinegar groups significantly dropped their weight. Now, was the weight loss actually significant or just kind of statistically significant? Well, that’s for you to decide.
This is in kilograms, so compared to placebo, the 2 tablespoons of vinegar a day group dropped five pounds by the end of the 12 weeks. That might not seem like a lot, yet they got that for just cents a day, without eliminating anything from their diet plan.
And also they got slimmer, up to almost an inch off their waistline, suggesting they were shedding stomach fat, but the researchers went above and beyond and also placed it to the test. They put the research subjects through abdominal CT scans to actually directly measure the amount of fat before and after in their bodies.
They measured the amount of superficial fat, visceral fat, and total body fat. Superficial fat is the fat under your skin that makes for flabby arms and contributes to cellulite. But visceral fat is the killer.
That’s the fat, shown here in white, building up around your internal organs that bulges out the belly. As well as that’s the type of fat the placebo team was putting on when they were gaining weight.
Not good. But both the low dose and high dose vinegar groups were able to remove about a square inch of visceral fat off that CAT scan slice. Now like any weight loss strategy, it only works if you do it. A month after they stopped the vinegar, the weight crept back up, but that’s just additional evidence that the vinegar was working.
But how? A group of researchers in the UK suggested an explanation: vinegar beverages are gross. They made a so-called palatable beverage by mixing a fruity syrup and vinegar in water and then went out of their way to make a really nasty unpalatable vinegar beverage.
Both with white wine vinegar, which was so unpleasant the study subjects actually felt nauseous after drinking them, so ate less of the meal they gave it with. So there you go — vinegar helps with both appetite control and food intake, though these effects were largely due to the fruity vinegar concoctions invoking feelings of nausea.
So is that what was going on here? Were the vinegar groups just eating less? No, the vinegar teams were consuming regarding the exact same compared to placebo. Exact same diet plan, even more, weight loss, thanks probably, to the acetic acid’s influence on AMPK. Currently, the CT scans make this a very pricey research.
I was not surprised it was funded by a company that sells vinegar, which is good since otherwise, we wouldn’t have these amazing data. But is also bad because it always leaves you wondering if the funding source somehow manipulated the results.
But the nice thing about companies funding studies about healthy foods, whether it’s some kiwifruit company, or the National Watermelon Promotion Board — watermelon.org check it out — is that what’s the worst that can happen? Here, for example. If the findings turned out to be bogus, worse comes to worst, your salad would just be tastier.
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