Apple cider vinegar is often hyped for its numerous health benefits in people. The benefits seem endless. ACV can be used topically or ingested...the benefits range anywhere from a skin astringent to reducing heartburn. But how do these health benefits apply to people on the ketogenic diet? Can apple cider vinegar help people on the keto diet? Read on to find out!
ACV Health Benefits
ACV Health Benefit #1: Lowers Blood Insulin/Glucose Levels
The making of ketones in the body is largely dependent on the amount of insulin in the blood. (Insulin increases in response to increases in blood glucose.) Which is why carbohydrates are super restricted at the beginning of the keto diet. Any increases in blood glucose cause insulin to increase, thereby preventing your body from making the switch to using producing and using ketones as energy.
Vinegar has been found to lower blood insulin and glucose levels following a meal.[i] The theory is that vinegar, when ingested with food, does this by delaying gastric emptying.[ii] This means it takes longer for the food to digest and leave the stomach, thereby regulating the amount of glucose that goes immediately into the blood. This response causes a gradual, delayed release of glucose into the blood, which in turns causes less of an insulin spike.
This is particularly helpful for people with type-2 diabetes. For those with type-1 diabetes, who should not be on the ketogenic diet anyways, it can be harmful.
If you're reading this, you're probably on the keto diet. If you're on keto you wouldn't eat a high carb meal- but what about one with moderate carbs? Or if you're on a cyclical keto diet you may be having a carb up day. What if you could lower the affects of your carbs on your insulin response, just by drinking a cup of apple cider vinegar with your meal? This may make it easier when you try to get back into ketosis the next day.
Keep in mind that ACV does not necessarily show any affects on long term fasting glucose or insulin levels, this is just for blood glucose and insulin levels immediately following a carb meal.
ACV Health Benefit #2: Reductions in Body Weight and Body Fat
The majority of people on the keto diet are using it for weight loss. So if apple cider vinegar can help with that, why not use it?!
Drinking two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar has been shown to reduce body weight and body fat mass in one study.[iii] This study only looked at the affects of apple cider vinegar over a 12 week period. By the end of the study, there was a 3% decrease in body fat and on average, 4.2 lb were lost with no change in diet.
If you can only drink 1 tbsp of ACV a day, you can still see benefits, they will just be reduced. People drinking 1 tablespoon of ACV a day saw a 2.5% decrease in body fat. The researchers postulate that the decrease in body fat is caused by inhibition of lipogenesis by acetic acid and stimulation of fatty acid oxidation.
ACV Health Benefit #3: Reductions in Cardiovascular Disease Risk
A lot of keto dieters are overweight and at risk for cardiovascular disease. Weight loss has been shown to be beneficial for reducing your heart disease risk. But as noted above, apple cider vinegar with no dietary changes can also aid in weight loss, and therefore decrease your cardiovascular disease risk.
The same study with results for apple cider vinegar having reductions in body weight also showed the benefits of apple cider vinegar on cardiovascular disease. Two tablespoons of ACV a day for 12 weeks showed reductions in triglyceride levels from 1.71 mmol/liter to 1.31 mmol/liter, a 16% reduction in triglycerides. This reduction is associated with up to a 10% decrease in cardiovascular disease risk.
ACV Health Benefit #4: Neutralizes Acidity
One side effect of the ketogenic diet in some people may be an acidic stomach, heart burn or even low-grade metabolic acidosis. This is due to reductions in green vegetables and alkaline foods in the diet, as well as increases in higher acidic foods like cheese and red meats.
ACV can help here by neutralizing the acidity in the stomach. Acetic acid, the main component of apple cider vinegar, may have acid in the name, but when it's metabolized it is alkaline. Metabolic acidosis is known to have harmful symptoms like fatigue and shortness of breath. In contrast, an alkaline diet has been associated with many health benefits.[iv]
What type of Vinegar
It's recommended to drink an apple cider vinegar with the mother liquor. The mother liquor itself is not necessarily healthy, but it means the ACV has not been processed. Processing of the ACV will remove the healthy minerals, acids and vitamins from the ACV. You may still get some of the benefits of apple cider vinegar drinking a processed kind, but it's not guaranteed. We notice decreased benefits when we change to a brand with the mother.
We recommend Braggs ACV. They guarantee a lot of benefits with their ACV. This is what we use:
How do you drink it?
You can drink ACV in a water solution. You'll taste the full vinegar this way. Some people like it and some people hate it. Our favorite way to drink apple cider vinegar is 1 tablespoon in a cup of cold herbal raspberry tea. The raspberry tea hides the vinegar taste. Here's our ACV recipe!
You can also experience a lot of the above benefits with regular white vinegar. You can use regular vinegar in sauces and you'll notice it in quite a few recipes. Use vinegars with added sugar, like balsamic vinegar, sparingly. The added sugar is not only bad for keto, but negates some of the positive effects of vinegar.
[i] "Vinegar supplementation lowers glucose and insulin responses and increases satiety after a bread meal in healthy subjects." Ostman E1, Granfeldt Y, Persson L, Björck I.
[ii] "Effect of apple cider vinegar on delayed gastric emptying in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus: a pilot study". Joanna Hlebowicz, Gassan Darwiche, Ola Björgell and Lars-Olof Almér
[iii] "Vinegar Intake Reduces Body Weight, Body Fat Mass, and Serum Triglyceride Levels in Obese Japanese Subjects" Tomoo KONDO, Mikiya KISHI, Takashi FUSHIMI, Shinobu UGAJIN, Takayuki KAGA
[iv] "The Alkaline Diet: Is There Evidence That an Alkaline pH Diet Benefits Health?". Gerry K. Schwalfenberg