You know how much Americans love the refreshing tang of lemonade? That’s how folks in Korea feel about a sweet-and-sour drink made with pomegranate juice and vinegar. But theirs is actually a lot more beneficial for your health than our classic lemon concoction — and can even help you lose weight.
Here’s why you may want to give this beverage a try: When Korean researchers recently asked overweight women to sip two pomegranate-vinegar cocktails daily, volunteers saw a significant amount of belly fat dissolve — even though they didn’t diet at all. The scientists note that previous pomegranate-vinegar studies have produced similar findings, and now the evidence is strong. “Pomegranate-vinegar reduces belly fat accumulation,” they say, even suggesting that it has an “anti-obesity effect.”
Readers who’ve tried pomegranate-vinegar back them up. Even if you’re only half-heartedly trying to eat better, “You can drop a pound a day,” says Chicago mom Heidi Hedstrom, 41, who tested the tonic recipe. “It got me back in my skinny jeans!”
What makes a pomegranate-vinegar drink — which is typically made with about a tablespoon of vinegar, a shot of pomegranate juice, 8 to 12 ounces of water or sparkling water, and a little sweetener — so special? Separate research has identified compounds in both vinegar and pomegranate that help speed off excess flab. Combined, “They seem to enhance each other’s benefits, particularly in terms of abdominal fat,” notes Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, author of 60 Seconds to Slim: Balance Your Body Chemistry to Burn Fat Fast! (Buy on Amazon, $12.44). Here’s what you can expect if you enjoy two pomegranate-vinegar tonics a day.
Pomegranate-Vinegar Diet for Belly Fat
When researchers began looking for reasons pomegranate-vinegar firms our bellies, they discovered that it activates an enzyme called AMPK. “AMPK activation is like flipping the switch to start burning fat for energy inside individual cells,” explains Arizona State vinegar researcher Carol Johnston, PhD. And while we benefit anywhere we have flab, the high concentration of fat cells in our midsections means this area tends to shrink most.
Having vinegar with meals can reduce blood-sugar spikes up to 54 percent, per Arizona State findings. And steady blood sugar means we make far less insulin — a hormone that stores excess calories as belly fat. Pomegranate’s role? It also helps keep blood sugar steady. “Ending sugar surges is a double victory, since less insulin means we store less new ab fat and more readily release existing ab fat,” says Schoffro Cook.
Any time blood sugar is better controlled, hunger and cravings diminish, confirms Johnston. Plus, thanks to antioxidants delivered by pomegranate, pom-vinegar improves levels of the hunger hormone, leptin.
For years, scientists have known that acetic acid in vinegar triggers our livers to speed fat breakdown. What surprised them? When seven vinegar drinks were tested, pomegranate-vinegar was by far the most potent—beating vinegar blended with cherry, ginseng, and even blueberry. Experts determined that four different compounds in pomegranate — including two never before identified — accelerate the effect of acetic acid.
The Pomegranate-Vinegar Diet for Weight Loss
How much weight can pomegranate-vinegar help you lose? Research on vinegar alone shows non-dieters lose, on average, half a pound a week. Meanwhile, readers who began drinking pom-vinegar tonics while enjoying unlimited healthy fare dropped up to a jean size in seven days. “I love that this works with ordinary, inexpensive food,” says Canadian mom Jenise Hollaar, 25, who zapped more than three inches from her middle. Connecticut bookkeeper Lisa Bonenfant, 43, was impressed, too. “My usual never-ending cravings were virtually nonexistent. And I lost two inches from my midsection and nine inches overall.” Then there’s Cindy Zimmer, who spent time in Korea and learned about the benefits of vinegar drinks. “I was happy when I found it in my local Korean grocery store,” says the Canadian writer, 41. Now if her tummy seems bloated or she needs to lose a quick 10 pounds, “I turn to the pomegranate-vinegar. It works like a charm.”
How to Make Pomegranate-Vinegar Diet Drink
Though Amazon sells ready-to-mix concentrates, such as this one from Di Nirgis (Buy on Amazon, $6.99), making your own pom-vinegar drink is easy. Just mix 1 Tbsp. white vinegar (with at least 5 percent acetic acid), 2 oz. pure pomegranate juice, 8 to 12 oz. water or seltzer, and a little zero-cal sweetener to taste. Serve over ice. For best results, enjoy before, during, or immediately after two meals daily.
While pomegranate-vinegar tonics have been found to help melt belly fat whether you diet or not, pairing the drink with healthy eating will speed results — which is why our nutrition team put together this no-stress sample menu. It’s meant to be an inspiration, not a strict diet — so make any healthy substitutions or additions you like. But do pay attention to your body and stop eating when you feel lightly full. To protect tooth enamel, drink the pom-vinegar diluted in at least 8 oz. liquid and consume no more than 4 Tbsp. pure vinegar per day. In addition to tonics, be sure to drink plenty of water. Note: As always, get a doctor’s OK to try any new plan.
Pomegranate-Vinegar Diet Menu Plan
Each day, drink a pomegranate-vinegar tonic before, during, or after any two meals. Because pomegranate-vinegar works without a special diet, there are no specific dietary guidelines you need to follow. Want to boost results? Experts say you should build most meals and snacks around healthy options like high-fiber whole grains, ultra-filling lean proteins, and lots of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.
Breakfast: Choose One Daily
Option 1: Unlimited whole-grain cereal, such as Kashi’s Dark Cocoa Karma shredded wheat (Buy on Amazon, $18.96). Unlimited 1% milk. Unlimited berries.
Option 2: 1 Starbucks Spinach & Feta wrap or unlimited egg whites scrambled with veggies and cheese. 1 piece of fruit.
Lunch: Choose One Daily
Option 1: Grilled chicken breast, shrimp, or tuna over unlimited salad veggies, vinaigrette. Fruit or light yogurt.
Option 2: Any low-fat Subway sandwich. Apple slices or light yogurt.
Dinner: Choose One Daily
Option 1: Easy Chicken Parm: Slice sautéed chicken breast, top with low-sugar jarred sauce and a sprinkle of Parmesan; broil or microwave to melt; serve over whole-grain pasta. Large side of steamed broccoli or green beans with lemon and herbs.
Option 2: Deviled eggs made with low-fat mayo. Grilled or rotisserie chicken. Green beans and corn.
Option 3: Extra-lean burger on whole-grain thin bun or in whole-grain pita. Cheese slice, mustard, lettuce, tomato, pickles. Side salad, 1 tsp. olive oil or 2 tsp. vinaigrette.
Snack: Choose One Daily
Option 1: Low-fat ice cream.
Option 2: Low-fat cheese stick. 1 glass red wine.
Option 3: Handful of nuts. Fresh fruit or veggies.
Pomegranate-Vinegar Diet Cocktail Recipes
Love cosmos and margaritas? They’re yummier — and healthier — with pom-vinegar!
From New York City to Los Angeles to Portland, the trendiest bars are adding flavored vinegars to their cocktails. Amazing bonus: Each glassful offers the same health-boosting and waist-shrinking properties as virgin vinegar drinks. Options to try with bottled pomegranate-vinegar:
Shake 2 oz. tequila, 1 oz. undiluted pom-vinegar, and 1 oz. fresh lime juice with ice and pour into margarita glass.
Pomegranate Vin & Gin
Top off 1 1/2 oz. gin, 1 oz. undiluted pom-vinegar, and a spritz of lime with ice and club soda or tonic.
In a well-iced martini shaker, mix 2 oz. vodka, 1 1/2 oz. undiluted pom-vinegar, 1 Tbsp. Cointreau or simple syrup, and 1 dash orange bitters. Serve with ice in a martini glass. Garnish with a twist.