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Does Vinegar Help Curb Appetite?
February 11, 2008
Obesity has become one of the leading health problems in America, and as a result multiple fad diets have become a popular way to attempt to lose weight. Accompanying a diet with a few tablespoons of vinegar (specifically apple-cider vinegar) before meals has been thought to curb the appetite, thus promoting weight loss. My goal is to attempt to separate “fad” from fact and conclude whether vinegar is a viable aid to weight loss.
The Obesity Epidemic
Obesity is determined by body weight relative to height. A Body Mass Index (BMI) over 25 kg/m^2 is considered overweight, and over 30 kg/m^2 is considered obese. (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/overwt.htm) It is estimated that 142 million Americans 20 years and older are overweight (25 kg/m^2 or greater). Of those, 67.3 million are obese (BMI 30kg/m^2 or greater). (http://www.americanheart.org/downloadable/heart/1197994908531FS16OVR08.pdf).
Contributors to Obesity
A modern trend of increased accessibility to high-energy foods and low-energy expenditure has contributed to the epidemic. The prevalence of fast food restaurants, machines that dispense snacks, and ready-made meals have helped to convenience consumers. Of these foods, many are high in energy and low in nutrition, aiming to satisfy taste rather than nutritional needs. (Schlundt, Class Notes 2/8/08). Portions in restaurants are often double to triple the recommended serving size. The “quick-fix” foods also serve to facilitate the decrease in physical activity in America. Drive-through, delivery, remote controls, and elevators have become a common staple.
There have been efforts to try to reverse these trends, which may explain why there is a four billion dollar diet industry. However, most diets ultimately result in weight gain back of the original amount, and often times more. The current environment facilitates energy-dense foods, social and emotional eating, overeating, large portion sizes, and low energy expenditure.
How to Physiologically Lose Weight
The basis determining weight is the balance of energy intake and output. When equal, the body neither gains nor loses weight. The body has a natural appetite that is regulated by the amount of energy it needs, which is marked by hunger. The hunger subsides and satiety stops the feeding process when the amount of energy needed has been consumed. The body has an extraordinary process of regulating these signals in order to maintain weight. It is when a person ignores these signals that result in weight gain or loss.
Energy is spent through Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR), physical activity, and thermogenesis. Increasing physical activity will not only increase your energy expenditure, but also build lean muscle mass that will raise RMR. The basic, proven way to lose weight is to burn more energy than one intakes. One can do so with a combination of decreased caloric-intake and increased physical activity. (Schlundt, Class Notes 2/8/08).
Fad Diets: Is Apple Cider Vinegar Among them?
Throughout history, people have sought ways to make the weight loss process easier. When it comes down to it, the only way to lose weight is to burn more energy than one consumes. Diets claiming to make one lose twenty pounds in one week, or some other excessive claim are often deceitful, yet have a huge market.
The poet Lord Byron first made the vinegar and water diet popular in 1820. (http://www.eatright.org/cps/rde/xchg/ada/hs.xsl/media_11092_ENU_HTML.htm). The person was supposed to take three tablespoons of vinegar with water before every meal. The same diet practice exists today, except people specifically use apple cider vinegar.
Chemistry and Claims of Vinegar
Vinegar is made when yeast and bacteria break down a fruit, grain, or vegetable. Apple cider vinegar comes specifically from fermented apples. It mostly contains acetic acid, which is not a proven weight loss aid. Too much acetic acid can be somewhat harmful to a person. (http://www.webmd.com/diet/apple-cider-vinegar).
Many people claim that apple cider vinegar increases satiety with less food (Ostman E, Granfeldt Y, Persson L et al. 2005), burns calories instead of storing them, oxygenates the blood, decreases the amount of fat absorbed, and helps maintain blood glucose levels.
While it has been noted to potentially help maintain blood glucose level in diabetics, it is unlikely that taking doses of vinegar with each meal alone will result in weight loss. Any weight loss will likely be due to extra attention paid to one’s diet when practicing this method, or a temporary decrease in hunger due to the consumption of water and liquid in general.
Ostman E, Granfeldt Y, Persson L, et al.: Vinegar supplementationlowers glucose and insulin responses and increases satiety after a bread meal in healthy subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr 59: 983–988, 2005.
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