The 10-Second Trick to Avoiding Glucose Spikes

Written by Krista Bugden
Medically Reviewed by Felicia Newell, M.S., RDN

September 27, 2023

Mixing a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (ACV) into a glass of water and drinking it 10 minutes before a meal could help balance your blood sugar. Read on to discover the science behind how this simple technique works.

Learning to properly balance your blood sugar can play a huge role in maintaining your energy and mood throughout the day. In this article, we look at the history and science behind using apple cider vinegar to help manage blood sugar spikes.

Blood Sugar Management: Why Bother?

If you’ve ever felt cranky, agitated, or exhausted after eating a meal, you’ve likely experienced a blood sugar spike—and the inevitable crash that comes with it. This is a rollercoaster that millions ride every single day.

When glucose is consistently high, your risk of insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease, and nerve damage all increase.

When glucose is low, dizziness, fatigue, and even unconsciousness (at the extreme end of things) can set in.

Both low and high levels of glucose can alter your quality of life. But what if you could step off this glucose rollercoaster—for good?

Luckily, there’s an age-old way to effectively and affordably manage blood sugar: just add a few splashes of apple cider vinegar (ACV) to your water before meals. Do this and you’ll have a higher chance of steady energy, a clear mind, a stable mood, and less intense cravings throughout the day.

Can Apple Cider Vinegar Reduce Glucose Levels?

The battle against fluctuating blood sugar levels is a daily challenge for millions of people worldwide (2). While lifestyle changes—and at times, medication—remain foundational in managing blood sugar, every little bit of extra help counts. 

Enter: the 10-second apple cider vinegar trick. 

This simple technique can help you avoid glucose spikes by drinking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (ACV) with a glass of water 10 minutes before eating a meal.

But does this actually work? Let’s take a look at the medicinal use of vinegar then vs. now…

The word vinegar comes from the Latin word for “sour wine.” Its history dates back to 5,000 B.C. when the Babylonians used the fruit of a date palm to make vinegar, which was then used as a food source or as a preserving or pickling agent.

Fast forward to 400 B.C. in ancient Greece and you’ll see Hippocrates (the father of modern medicine) use vinegar to heal wounds. He also prescribed ACV mixed with honey for a variety of ills, including coughs and colds (1).

Then, during the 18th century, medical practitioners in the United States believed ACV to have several health benefits—from treating stomachaches, insect bites, and minor infections to promoting a healthy weight and overall vitality. And before the production and marketing of hypoglycemic agents, vinegar “teas” were commonly consumed by diabetics to help manage their chronic ailment (1).

That was then…so what does ACV’s usage and benefits look like now?

A 2004 study confirmed that taking 20 mL of ACV did, in fact, lower blood sugar after eating (3). And yet another study revealed that drinking ACV before bed may help regulate waking glucose levels (4). Then, in 2010, researchers indicated ACV’s beneficial effects for those with type I diabetes (5).

Jessie Hulsey, an Atlanta-based registered dietitian and the creator of Health Down South, chimes in on the topic, saying, “Apple cider vinegar has garnered attention in recent years for its potential impact on blood sugar levels, and while some studies do show promising evidence of its effectiveness, it's essential to approach it with caution.”

“While there may be some benefits to incorporating apple cider vinegar into your diet,” she continues, “it's not a magic solution for managing blood sugar. A balanced diet, regular exercise, and consulting with a healthcare professional remain the cornerstones of blood sugar management. It's crucial to remember that individual responses to dietary changes can vary, so it's always wise to consult with a registered dietitian or healthcare provider to create a personalized plan that works best for you.”

How Does Apple Cider Vinegar Regulate Blood Sugar?

Taking a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (ACV) daily has a handful of blood sugar benefits (7)...

  • Improved Insulin Sensitivity: Some studies suggest that ACV may improve insulin sensitivity, which is crucial for regulating blood sugar. When cells respond better to insulin, they allow glucose in more efficiently. This means the pancreas doesn't have to produce as much insulin, which may decrease one’s risk of insulin resistance.
  • Slower Carbohydrate Digestion: ACV may slow down the digestion of carbohydrates. When consumed with a carb-heavy meal, it can potentially reduce the rate at which glucose is released into the bloodstream. This slower absorption may help prevent rapid spikes in blood sugar levels after eating.
  • Enhanced Glycogen Storage: Glycogen is a form of glucose stored in the liver and muscles for energy. ACV may promote the storage of glucose in the muscles (in the form of glycogen), which can help stabilize blood sugar levels during fasting or between meals.
  • Reduced Post-Meal Blood Sugar Spikes: Some studies have shown that consuming ACV before a high-carb meal can lead to a 30% reduction in post-meal blood sugar levels. (This effect may be attributed to its impact on carbohydrate digestion and insulin sensitivity.)
  • Appetite and Weight Management: The organic compound in ACV—called acetic acid—can flip the body into fat-burning mode. This may promote appetite control, weight management, and a reduced risk of insulin resistance.

To further support healthy blood sugar levels, add fiber, protein, and healthy fats to your meals and snacks, and aim to increase your daily activity. 

How Much Apple Cider Vinegar Should I Drink for Blood Glucose?

It is generally recommended that you start by taking one tablespoon of ACV with a glass of water before eating. Studies also claim that two to six tablespoons could be beneficial (6). But there are a few things to be cautious about…

Due to ACV’s high acidity levels, drinking large amounts of it could lead to tooth enamel decay and/or an upset stomach (7). That said, it’s highly recommended to mix the tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with a glass of water in order to make it safer to drink and result in fewer (or zero) side effects.

Here’s a quick step-by-step breakdown of how to take apple cider vinegar:

  • Before eating something sweet or starchy, dilute one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water.
  • Drink the mixture through a straw to protect your teeth.
  • You can consume this 10 minutes before your meal, first thing in the morning, or before bed.
  • If the taste is a bit much, you can also reduce the amount to one teaspoon. From there, as you get used to it, you can gradually increase it each day or each serving.
  • Adding a few ice cubes, a squeeze of lemon, or sparkling water can also make this a little more appetizing. 

Jessie Hulsey adds, “There are several creative ways to incorporate apple cider vinegar into your diet beyond simply taking a shot of it. One popular option is to use it as a salad dressing. Mixing apple cider vinegar with olive oil, a hint of honey, and your preferred herbs and spices can create a delicious and tangy vinaigrette that adds a burst of flavor to your greens. Additionally, you can experiment with it in marinades for meat, tofu, or vegetables. The acidity in the vinegar not only adds a zesty kick but also helps tenderize your dishes, making them even more delicious!”

Frequently Asked Questions

You can take your vinegar at any time of day. However, if one of your meals is particularly carb-heavy, take it 10 minutes beforehand to dampen the glucose spike. The key is to have at least one tablespoon per day.

Krista Bugden
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Krista Bugden

Krista Bugden is a freelance writer with a BS in Human Kinetics from the University of Ottawa. She spent 5 years working as a kinesiologist, giving her the first-hand experience she needed to write well-researched, scientific, and informative blogs.

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    Medical Disclaimer

    This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.

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