How Apple Cider Vinegar Can Help with Intermittent Fasting

August 04, 2020 6 min read

A cup of apple cider vinegar on a white backdrop

At a glance

Intermittent fasting is a lifestyle approach that some people use to lose weight. Rather than a typical diet that restricts what foods or the number of calories you can eat, intermittent fasting describes a pattern of eating and fasting that restricts the time you're allowed to eat. But as anyone who’s dieted before knows, successful weight loss can be a challenge, so a supplement that could speed and support your efforts may be beneficial. There is some evidence that apple cider vinegar can be helpful for weight loss, so if that’s your goal you may want to incorporate it as part of your fasting regimen.

What is intermittent fasting?

When people hear the term intermittent fasting they often think of a diet; intermittent fasting isn’t a diet. The term really describes a pattern of fasting and eating. It doesn’t prescribe the kind of food you should eat, but if your goal is weight loss, a healthy, balanced diet on the days you are not fasting will get the best results. Studies have shown that restricting the hours when you can eat while maintaining a reasonable diet can be as effective for losing weight as restricting your daily calories(1). Some people prefer it to approaches like counting calories and measuring or weighing food, which can be tedious and time-consuming. There are various approaches to intermittent fasting. A few of the more popular are:

  • Time-restricted fasting. This form of fasting limits eating to certain time windows — usually within 8 or 10 hours — fasting the rest of the time. For example, nothing to eat before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. This type of fast is most similar to the way people normally eat and is a good method to try if you’ve never fasted before.
  • The 5:2 method. This version of intermittent fasting means two days a week you significantly restrict your calories to about 25% of your daily needs — roughly 500 calories for women and 600 for men. On the other five days, you eat a normal healthy diet.
  • Alternate day fasting. This method of fasting can be done a couple of ways, alternating a normal healthy diet one day with either a complete fast or a modified fast every other day, restricting your calories to about 25 percent of your daily caloric needs on fast days.

Whether you choose one of these methods or a variation, this pattern of eating means you’ll go for long stretches of time without consuming calories. The result of this food deprivation is that your body burns through any available energy from the food you’ve eaten, called glycogen. Once that’s gone, your body switches over to using your body fat for fuel. That’s where the magic happens. Except it’s not magic. This shift in energy sources means you’ve entered a state called ketosis, where your body is burning fat-derived ketones for energy. Ketones are the primary source of energy used by our brain, and many people report feeling a heightened state of mental clarity when they are fasting(1). This is also what makes fasting effective for weight loss and why it has gained such interest from people who want to lose weight.

Fruits and vegetables in a circle

Strategies for success during fasting

Although much of the time you are fasting is when you’re sleeping, until your body is used to it, the transition can be challenging. Just as with any diet, you might experience hunger pangs, have low energy, and you may be a little moody. It’s good to have a strategy to deal with these potential stumbling blocks if they come up(2,3).

  • Drink plenty of water. Dehydration is a known cause of hunger, so when hunger pangs strike, a first-line strategy should be to reach for a glass of water. Although other fluids are also filling, many, such as juices and sports drinks contain unwanted calories.
  • Eat foods with lots of fiber. When you are not fasting, make sure the foods you eat have plenty of fiber from things like whole fruits and vegetables, beans, and whole-grain bread and pasta. These foods will keep you full longer and provide essential nutrients that are even more important when you’re eating a restricted diet.
  • Get plenty of rest. One of the things that can easily sabotage your weight-loss efforts is not getting enough sleep. It’s well-known that people who are sleep deprived make poor choices around food(4,5).
  • Modify your exercise routine. If you have a regular exercise practice, you may want to do a shorter or less strenuous routine on fasting days because you’re likely to have less energy. That’s normal and may lessen over time.
  • Consider a natural, high-quality supplement to maximize your weight-loss efforts and help minimize the potential side effects of fasting. Supplements with fat-burning ingredients likeapple cider vinegar, capsaicin, and ginger root can support weight loss by improving your body’s fat-burning ability, manage hunger by helping regulate blood sugar levels, and serve as a powerful detoxifier(5,6,7,8).

Can apple cider vinegar help with intermittent fasting?

Apple cider vinegar has been used as a folk remedy for centuries, but it has enjoyed a somewhat recent renewed attention as a weight loss aid. There are many articles and websites extolling the virtues of fermented apple juice. Some insist that the best is the kind that contains the “mother” — the cloudy sediment that can be seen in some kinds of unfiltered apple cider vinegar. And while the effects of apple cider vinegar have been widely studied in animals, human research has been less robust, primarily just small-scale studies. Although more research is needed, some results show promise that apple cider vinegar can be an effective aid for modest weight loss.

Other studies show that apple cider vinegar can help regulate your blood sugar. One study found that when two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar were consumed with a meal containing complex carbohydrates (a bagel and juice), it reduced the circulating blood sugar in study subjects immediately following the meal(9). Another small study by the American Diabetes Association showed that apple cider vinegar improved insulin sensitivity and may be beneficial for people with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes(10).

There are many kinds of vinegar, but apple cider vinegar is arguably one of the most common. The effective ingredient in apple cider vinegar is acetic acid, and while it has benefits, drinking apple cider vinegar has been shown to cause irritation on the esophagus, and some people complain of an upset stomach. If you frequently suffer from heartburn or acid reflux, apple cider vinegar can aggravate those conditions. Because vinegar is so acidic, drinking it can also erode your tooth enamel, and if you have kidney disease, the extra acid may worsen your condition.

Apple cider vinegar on a table surrounded by apples

A better alternative

The good news is you can get all of the benefits of apple cider vinegar in a high-quality supplement, while eliminating the drawbacks of consuming liquid apple cider vinegar. Plus, taking a supplement won’t break your fast. Taken right before eating,Physician’s Choice apple cider vinegar capsules will help regulate your blood sugar after the meal, and have the added benefits of capsaicin, which has been shown to have thermogenic, or fat burning, properties. Capsaicin is the component in red peppers that makes them hot(11,12). The addition of ginger root provides further thermogenic effects, in addition to anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties(13).

One of the challenges of intermittent fasting can be low energy levels. This can be a dilemma if you’re trying to lose weight and maintain a regular workout schedule. It’s important to time your workouts according to when you’ll have adequate energy. If you want to lift weights, you may want to save those workouts for a right before or after you have a meal. That may also mean that on the days you are fasting, you do a more gentle form of exercise like walking or yoga. On fasting days, it may be helpful to have the added benefit of a supplement that will help you burn some extra calories.

In summary

Weight loss isn’t easy. If it was, there wouldn’t be an obesity pandemic in the United States. Intermittent fasting is an approach to weight loss that can be as effective as calorie restriction (dieting) for weight loss, as long as you are eating a balanced diet when you’re not fasting. Some people prefer this approach for its relative simplicity because there’s no counting and measuring associated with so many other kinds of diets.

If weight loss is your goal and intermittent fasting sounds like an approach that may work for you, be sure to talk to your doctor or dietitian before you start to make sure you’re a good candidate and to set yourself up for success. For pregnant or nursing mothers and people with eating problems and for those who have an underlying health condition, such as diabetes or kidney stones, fasting is best avoided. If you do decide to try fasting, don’t be afraid to allow for some trial and error. Everybody responds differently to intermittent fasting and a bit of trial and error may be required before you find the timing and pattern that works best for you.

Laura High - Contributing Writer, Physician’s Choice