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With intermittent fasting becoming increasingly popular, many are wondering what beverages will and won’t break their fast. Historically, water, coffee, tea, and other calorie-free beverages have been deemed OK to consume during the fasting period.
With the rising popularity of apple cider vinegar (ACV), many of us are now curious as to whether or not this supplement will break a fast. In order to determine this, it’s important to understand the nutritional value of ACV.
A serving of apple cider vinegar (1 tablespoon) contains 0-3 calories and no macronutrients. It’s important to note that the nutritional content may vary based on the manufacturer, so be sure to read nutrition labels when purchasing.
One of the primary goals during intermittent fasting is regulating the secretion of insulin, a hormone that helps facilitate sugar storage in the body.
During periods of fasting, there are no sugar or calories ingested to stimulate the release of insulin. This is why calorie-free beverages, such as water and tea, are OK to consume during the fasting period.
DOES APPLE CIDER VINEGAR BREAK A FAST?
Because of its minimal energy and carbohydrate content, apple cider vinegar will not stimulate the release of insulin. As a result, ACV will not break your fast if you are practicing intermittent fasting as a means of losing weight and burning fat. However, if you’re fasting for religious reasons or for gut rest, apple cider vinegar will break your fast.
What is apple cider vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting apple juice, thus turning the sugar from the juice into alcohol.
It is a kitchen staple with a variety of uses, ranging from cooking to cleaning to even medicinal uses. With research supporting several health benefits resulting from ACV consumption, many have started incorporating it as a supplement.
Acetic acid, which gives ACV its strong smell and flavor, is the primary active ingredient and is considered to be responsible for these health benefits.
Why you should (or shouldn’t) use apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar offers a host of health benefits, several of which are particularly helpful for those seeking to lose weight or with weight-associated diseases. Some of these benefits include:
Vinegar has historically been used for cleaning, disinfecting, and treating human infections. So it should come as no surprise that it has antimicrobial properties, effectively killing certain pathogens such as Escherichia Coli.
Helps lower blood sugars
Another impressive health benefit, apple cider vinegar has demonstrated the ability to help lower blood glucose levels in diabetics and non-diabetics alike.
One small study conducted in patients with well-controlled type 2 diabetes identified an improvement in fasting blood sugar levels with supplementation of 2 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar at bedtime. Another study, conducted in healthy individuals, demonstrated the same effect in non-diabetics.
Intermittent fasting in itself has also been touted for its positive impact on insulin resistance and fasting blood sugar levels. Supplementing apple cider vinegar during one’s fast may further enhance this health benefit, a particularly beneficial advantage for those with type 2 diabetes.
It is important to note that intermittent fasting and ACV supplementation should not be used as a replacement for medications when it comes to blood sugar control, but rather utilized as a supplement to further improve one’s levels in conjunction with meds.
Additionally, it is recommended that those taking insulin or other diabetes medications consult with their physician before incorporating vinegar into their daily routine.
Helps promote weight loss
Research has also suggested that supplementing your diet with apple cider vinegar may be effective in promoting weight loss.
One study, conducted in obese Japanese individuals, observed weight loss and reduced belly fat with apple cider vinegar supplementation. Those subjects receiving 1 Tbsp of ACV daily experienced a 2.6-pound weight loss over the 3-month study period, while those receiving 2 Tbsp daily lost 3.7 pounds.
While the overall loss is small given the long study period, ACV supplementation may be more beneficial for use in combination with other weight-loss strategies, such as intermittent fasting, which will increase the total amount of weight lost.
Research has shown that ACV supplementation alongside a high-carbohydrate meal may increase satiety. In one study, this increased fullness resulted in a 200-275 calories per day reduction in intake over the course of the day.
Increased feelings of fullness and the resultant calorie reduction will ultimately help promote weight loss.
It is worth mentioning that quick modifications to one’s diet, such as adding or removing single foods or food items, are unlikely to yield a noticeable, long-term effect on weight.
The best way to promote healthy and sustainable weight loss is by modifying long-term habits related to food and exercise.
May help promote heart health
Heart disease is a prevalent issue in the US; in fact, it is considered one of the top causes of death. There are several risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol and/or triglyceride levels.
Research has demonstrated vinegar as having a positive impact on these cardiac risk factors. In animal studies, vinegar supplementation has been associated with lower levels of total cholesterol, LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol, and triglycerides.
Similarly, intermittent fasting is also thought to improve heart health. Research has suggested this practice as being effective in reducing weight and improving blood pressure and blood lipid levels.
It stands to reason that combining ACV supplementation and intermittent fasting may have an even more pronounced impact on heart health.
Who should avoid apple cider vinegar?
Although apple cider vinegar is considered safe for consumption in moderate amounts, there are a few things that should be taken into consideration if you’re thinking about incorporating it into your regimen:
- Consuming ACV in large doses may result in side effects. Potential side effects include delayed gastric emptying, nausea, heartburn, electrolyte abnormalities, erosion of tooth enamel, and bone loss (when consumed in excess over a long period of time).
- Because high doses can cause delayed gastric emptying, it is recommended that those with a history of gastroparesis use caution when incorporating ACV.
- Apple cider vinegar may interact with certain medications, resulting in electrolyte abnormalities and potentially dangerous drops in blood sugar. If you are taking the following medications, consult with your physician before adding ACV to your routine: insulin or other diabetes medications, Digoxin, & diuretics.
Ways to consume apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is most commonly diluted in water or tea and consumed as a beverage. Generally, 1-2 tablespoons are mixed in a large glass of water or cup of tea. Other ways to consume apple cider vinegar include:
Benefits and risks of using apple cider vinegar during intermittent fasting
As you can see, there are certainly benefits to using apple cider vinegar during intermittent fasting. Potential benefits may include increased weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels, and improved heart health.
While it certainly has benefits when used in conjunction with intermittent fasting, there are also risks and side effects that should be considered.
The most notable side effects include irritation of the esophagus, heartburn, and upset stomach.
If you experience these, you can consider reducing your dose, changing to another form of ACV, or further diluting your ACV.
Other long-term side effects include delayed gastric emptying, erosion of tooth enamel, electrolyte abnormalities, and bone loss.
Side effects, such as the erosion of tooth enamel, is likely to be worse when consuming apple cider vinegar shots. Diluting the ACV or even utilizing capsules or gummies as opposed to drinking ACV may help negate some of these unpleasant side effects while still offering the same benefits.
If you are practicing intermittent fasting, you may benefit from incorporating apple cider vinegar into your routine. Studies have shown this supplement to have several desirable health benefits, including weight loss and blood sugar control.
And the best part – it won’t break your fast!
However, there are potential side effects that should be considered prior to adding ACV to your routine. Additionally, if you are taking one of the medications listed above, you should consult with your physician before adding ACV to your diet.
Keep in mind – more is not always better. It’s best to start small and advance as tolerated, keeping in mind that the maximum recommended dose is 2 Tbsp per day.
Kristin is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Nutrition Support Clinician based in Virginia Beach, VA. She received her Bachelor of Science from Ball State University, followed by the completion of a clinically-focused dietetic internship at West Virginia University. She has also recently completed her Master’s Degree in Human Nutrition from Eastern Michigan University, further expanding her knowledge and skills in the field of nutrition and health. She is currently practicing full time as a Nutrition Support Dietitian for Option Care Health, a lead home infusion provider across the United States, and an advisor for Exercise With Style.