Something as simple as a couple of tablespoons can of vinegar a day can significantly benefit our health and wellbeing. This is never told to us though because unfortunately no pharmaceutical or medical companies can profit from telling us that a bit of vinegar can naturally help us lose weight and boost our energy levels!
Let’s dive through the current research together in a way everyone can understand.
The Fat-Guzzling, Energy-Boosting Enzyme
We may remember from our high school biology classes (or not!) that Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) is our energy fuel.
When we burn energy throughout the day from any of our usual activities, ATP is broken down into Adenosine Monophosphate (AMP).
As we burn a lot of energy, our AMP levels will rise. This signals to our bodies that our energy (ATP) is running low and that it’s time to bring in AMP-activated Protein Kinase (AMPK) to work.
What does AMPK do?
AMPK tells our bodies to change from storing fat to burning fat as an energy source! Essentially, by elevating our AMPK activity, we burn more fat as energy.
Additionally, AMPK stimulates mitochondria biogenesis (increased levels) in our muscles. Mitochondria is necessary for energy production – so basically more mitochondria means more energy can be produced. So, not only does it improve our fat burning abilities, it also increases our energy levels.
The best way to boost our AMPK levels is actually through exercising. Exercising burns up our energy fuel ATP quickly, bringing up our AMP levels which then elevates our AMPK. A study of a group of people with Type 2 Diabetes actually found that exercising for only 20 minutes raised AMPK levels by 2.7 fold.
The markedly elevated AMPK levels from exercise not only helps target excess stored fats but is one of the reasons why we improve our exercise capacity with repeated efforts as there is an increase in mitochondria.
So the first goal, of course, is to include regular exercise into our daily lives!
What about the best way of increasing our AMPK naturally through our diets?
Vinegar Amps Up AMPK
No special fat-loss drug or medicine are needed here everyone, something so simple as a bit of vinegar (via it’s high acetic acid levels) everyday has been found to significantly boost AMPK levels!
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial study in Japan compared daily low and high dose apple cider vinegar groups to placebo for 3 months. The vinegar group lost significant weight in both dose ranges whereas the placebo group actually gained weight! The low dose group lost about 1 lb per month and the high dose group lost ~1.7 lbs per month.
This may not seem like a lot of weight but we have to consider that there was no other changes apart from adding vinegar to the participants diets. There was no calorie restriction or any increased exercise demands.
The vinegar group also reduced their cholesterol levels, lost an average of an inch off of their waist and had CT scans performed at the start and end of the study which showed significant reductions in their total fat areas compared to placebo. The results were graphed here:
- SFA: Superficial fat area (what we see)
- VFA: Visceral fat area (surrounds our internal organs – strongly associated with metabolic syndromes and bad for our health)
- TFA: Total fat area (SFA + VFA)
The study concluded that “daily intake of vinegar might be useful in the prevention of metabolic syndrome by reducing obesity”.
Wait guys, where’s the AMPK in all of this?
Another similarly performed, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in Korea used pomegranate vinegar to find out. Over 8 weeks, their study subjects also lost weight as well as total fat mass (confirmed on CT scans) as the Japanese study subjects did.
The difference was that they truly went the extra mile and performed fat tissue biopsies to see how vinegar affected AMPK levels. Amazingly, they found that AMPK in the vinegar group increased by a factor of 2.7 fold compared to placebo!
Here are the graphed results of the findings in the Korean study. Note that PV: Pomegranate Vinegar and VAT: Visceral Adipose (fat) Tissue.
- Demonstrating the AMPK levels in the fat tissues of both groups:
- Demonstrating the change in visceral adipose (fat) tissue (VAT) in both groups. The black bar represents the drop in VAT in the vinegar group.
Just Two Spoonfuls A Day
So how much vinegar should we consume per day for the benefits discussed?
No studies has been performed to find out the optimal dosing for boosting AMPK so we simply do not know. However, the studies found excellent benefits with a total of just two tablespoons a day which is regarded as a safe amount. So until further studies are performed, we recommend a dosage of two tablespoons per day.
The amount can of course be split into multiple smaller doses throughout the day to keep AMPK activated consistently. For example, a bit can be used in our salads or added into our vegetables, beans or grains. Or we can even add it into our teas. A common method is adding apple cider vinegar in water as a morning pick-me-up (next to a black coffee, of course!).
There’s now a huge selection of different flavoured vinegars available on the market so it can be quite fun (and tasty) to get creative with how we can implement our daily dose!
Keep In Mind
As always, we should keep in mind that a whole food plant-based lifestyle with regular exercise and mindfulness is the first priority in achieving our health and wellness goals. Adding or excluding specific foods may help us achieve our goals sooner but they should not be the focus of our approach!
- López M. EJE PRIZE 2017: Hypothalamic AMPK: a golden target against obesity?. Eur J Endocrinol. 2017;176(5):R235‐R246. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28232370/
- Kola B, Grossman AB, Korbonits M. The role of AMP-activated protein kinase in obesity. Front Horm Res. 2008;36:198‐211. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18230904/
- Musi N, Fujii N, Hirshman MF, et al. AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is activated in muscle of subjects with type 2 diabetes during exercise. Diabetes. 2001;50(5):921‐927. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11334434/
- Kondo T, Kishi M, Fushimi T, Ugajin S, Kaga T. Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2009;73(8):1837‐1843. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19661687/
- Park J, Kim J, Kim J, et al. Pomegranate vinegar beverage reduces visceral fat accumulation in association with AMPK activation in overweight women: a double-blind, randomized, and placebo-controlled trial. J Funct Foods. 2014;8:274–81. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1756464614001273