I’m not a big believer in “super foods,” cleanses, or other weight loss gimmicks. Most of it is either marketing hype by food companies or quacks peddling their latest book. However it looks like drinking 2 teaspoons of diluted vinegar before meals improves insulin sensitivity for the overweight, obese and type 2 diabetics.
As Dr. Jason Fung explains diluted vinegar is a traditional weight loss tonic. The ancients used vinegar for cleaning wounds. It was a tool healers used to cure many ills.
Thankfully researchers are now taking a hard look at vinegar and the recent miracle weight loss claims. Are they just old wives’ tales or is there something more to drinking “sour wine” diluted in water?
In one study, diluted vinegar was given to insulin resistant and normal test subjects before a meal high in carbohydrates. The normal insulin spike from eating orange juice and a bagel were significantly reduced, especially for those who were pre-diabetic. Blood sugar dropped by nearly 35%.
Why is that important? Carbs more than other foods spike blood sugar, which triggers the pancreas to release insulin (the fat storing hormone) to move the excess blood sugar in the cells. Insulin resistance is when you have too much insulin in your system and the cells stop responding to the hormone’s signals. So the pancreas just releases more insulin.
This study shows that vinegar reduces the blood sugar spike of the carbs (which triggers insulin’s release), which means less insulin is needed.
But don’t try chugging a whole bottle before a carb-heavy meal. First, you should always dilute it in water (see note below). Second, 2 teaspoons before a meal were just as effective as 4 teaspoons. Third, while vinegar does show to improve insulin sensitivity, the sugar and insulin spikes are still happening, just not as great as before. You’re better off without the OJ and bagel or any processed carbs.
Another benefit of drinking diluted vinegar is it makes us feel more satiated and can reduce how much we eat during the day, by up to 300 calories a day. Not too shabby.
There are no long-term studies on the benefits of vinegar, but it does look like the benefits are promising. I typically use apple cider vinegar as part of my oil and vinegar salad dressing. When I’m not using the dressing, I’ll add a teaspoon of vinegar to my water before a meal. I’m also adding 1 tablespoon to my water before bed.
Since I don’t eat carb-rich meals, I’m not sure if I’ve noticed any major differences in my appetite. However my annual blood work is coming up. It will be interesting if the vinegar is effecting my fasting blood sugar levels.
Just understand that adding vinegar to your water before a meal won’t melt away the pounds. You still have to do the hard work. Mainly:
- Eating when hungry AND only when hungry,
- Eating real, single ingredient foods,
- Reduce blood sugar and insulin-spiking carbohydrates from your plate.
Diluted vinegar is just another tool, like my food tracker and my resistance bands, in my continuing efforts to become and stay healthy.
NOTE: Always Dilute Vinegar In Water When Drinking!
In the above paragraph, I put the emphasis on “diluted vinegar.” Vinegar isn’t something you want to drink straight. It should be diluted in water. And the quantities we’re talking about are in the range of 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon in 8 ounces of water before a meal.
And while no one knows how much you should have in a day, I tend to limit myself to 3 servings a day: 1 teaspoon in a glass of water before both of my meals (I only eat twice a day) and 1 tablespoon in 24 ounces (see photo for cup size) of water before bedtime. If I’m using oil & vinegar salad dressing during a meal, I’ll skip the diluted vinegar.
Why am I being careful here? When it comes to weight loss, many of us (past self included) can get really desperate and tend to overdue it or take short cuts because we think it will work faster. There are no short cuts to health and weight loss!
Diluting vinegar in water is important to your health. Vinegar is an acid and can play havoc with you if you look for the short cut.
As the New York Times’ Well blog states: “Straight vinegar can be hard to swallow and may cause you to gasp and aspirate vinegar into the lung, which could potentially lead to pneumonia. Published case reports have linked vinegar consumption to vocal cord spasms, fainting and injury to the esophagus. And Dutch physicians reported on a case of a 15-year-old whose teeth eroded because she had been drinking a glass of apple cider vinegar every day for weight loss.”
There are no studies on the effects of long-term use of vinegar. But you should talk with your doctor, especially if you are taking laxatives, diuretics or medications for heart disease or diabetes.
Safety message over. Carry on.