Vinegar has numerous health benefits.2,3 One claim is that it promotes weight loss through the effects of acetic acid. Studies have been done on rats and mice, and most show an effect on weight loss – although several studies do not find any effects.
The most recent review on the subject concludes that, “Based on the data available from several animal studies, and 1 double-blind, placebo-controlled human trial, there is scarce evidence for a beneficial action of vinegar on body weight.”2
That’s right, one human trial. The great Dr. Michael Greger at NutritionFacts.org has already provided a great review, and I definitely recommend you check it out.
The 1 Human Trial
In summary, however, the one study that all of these ads and articles are hanging their claims on had 155 Japanese adults classified as obese take a little over 2 cups (500 ml) of a beverage containing different daily doses of vinegar, a placebo with no 0 tablespoons, a low-dose with 1 tablespoon, and a high-dose of 2 tablespoons.1
The change in body weight over the 12-weeks was around:
- Placebo = +0.88 pounds
- Low Dose = –2.64 pounds
- High dose = –4.18 pounds
I do want to point out that there was quite a bit of variation in the weight loss. In other words, not everyone lost 2.64 pounds in the low dose group and 4.18 pounds in the high-dose group. Weight loss was actually around 5 pounds above or below, on average.
So, some could have gained weight, while others lost weight to varying amounts. It is possible that a person in each group could have lost a lot of weight, bringing the average down to where it is.
Unfortunately, we do not have that information.
So, at this point we should concur with the research that it is unknown if vinegar leads to weight loss. To date, we only have one good study in humans, which we cannot hang our hope on. This caution is important, because we are seeing so many advertisements and articles claiming vinegar is the next weight loss miracle.
For now, add a tablespoon or so of vinegar to your drink for its health benefits, but don’t hold your breath quite yet (which is never good when drinking) that it will actually lead to sustainable weight loss.
- Kondo, T., Kishi, M., Fushimi, T., Ugajin, S., & Kaga, T. (2009). Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects. Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, 73(8), 1837-1843.
- Petsiou, E. I., Mitrou, P. I., Raptis, S. A., & Dimitriadis, G. D. (2014). Effect and mechanisms of action of vinegar on glucose metabolism, lipid profile, and body weight. Nutrition Reviews, 72(10), 651-661.
- Shishehbor, F., Mansoori, A., & Shirani, F. (2017). Vinegar consumption can attenuate postprandial glucose and insulin responses; a systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials. Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice.