One day it is tea. The next it is grapefruit. The list for the next “fat burner food” seems endless. But here is the hard truth: it is not the food itself that makes your muffin top crumble. Instead, the so-called “magic” comes from its specific ingredients or enzymes that have proven fat-burning properties.

Take simple vinegar. According to my grandma, if you want to cut the fat, pour on the vinegar.

Certainly, vinegar has many health benefits. Its caloric content is quite low—around 3 calories per tablespoon. It adds strong flavor, which may help reduce the sodium in many dishes as you won’t be tempted to go overboard with the saltshaker. And paired with oils rich in mono-saturated fats, such as olive and avocado oils, you have the ideal recipe to better manage your cholesterol and lower inflammation.

But does it help to decrease body fat? My grandma may be right.

A recent study published in the journal Bioscience Biotechnology and Biochemistry had subjects consume one to two tablespoons of apple vinegar daily for 12 weeks. Afterwards, they significantly lowered body weight, body mass index, visceral fat and waist circumference, compared to the control group who did not consume any vinegar.

What is vinegar’s “magic?” The researchers point to acetatic acid, a main component of vinegar. It seems to switch on genes that pump out proteins that break down fat.

Fat Blocker

To shrink your waist, it’s not a matter of reducing extra fat, but preventing it in the first place. Here again, vinegar can be your weight loss ally.

Sugar swings are the perfect scenario to increase body fat. First, insulin may need to work overtime to transport the sugar into the cells, and in many incidents the extra sugar will turn into fat. Secondly, the sugar ups and downs can make you enter into a circle of a rapid blood glucose increase, follow by a decrease, which will make you crave more sugar. It is an endless loop.

However, vinegar can help stop this loop. When a group was given a high carbohydrate meal on two different days, with and without the addition of vinegar, the glucose release pattern was lower after the vinegar addition. Equally, the insulin response was reduced, says a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Another extra benefit of vinegar —in particular, balsamic— is its resveratrol content, which has shown to activate fat reducing genes.

Vinaigrette Fat Shakers

How can you benefit from vinegar as your preferred seasoning ingredient? There are many types of vinegar on the market, so feel free to experiment with different versions, such as apple cedar and raspberry and blueberry infused flavors, wine vinegar, among others. (Also, don’t forget to read the nutritional labels: an added flavor or spice is okay, but not added sugars that are not the natural ones found with the fruit.)

Vinegar is easy to add to meals and versatile. It takes only a few minutes and a blender to put together yummy fat blaster dressings that can be added to salads, vegetables, fish, poultry, pasta and even omelets. Here are a few to try from Elizabeth Brown, MS, RD, CPT, CDE, of TheKitchenVixen.com. Add all the ingredients in a large bowl or blender and mix well.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

• 1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
• 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
• 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
• 3 Cloves garlic
• 1/2 tsp. Sea salt
• 1/8 tsp. Fresh ground black pepper
• 1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil

Parmesan Vinaigrette

• 1 Clove garlic
• 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
• 2 tsp. Lemon juice
• 1/4 tsp. Ground black pepper
• 2 Tbsp. olive oil
• 2 Tbsp. fresh chopped basil
• 2 Tbsp. freshly shaved Parmesan cheese
• 1/4 cup Water

Papaya Dressing

• 1/4 cup Chopped papaya with a few seeds
• 1/4 cup Brown rice vinegar
• 1 Tbsp. olive oil
• 1 tsp. Raw honey
• 1 tsp. Dijon mustard

Thyme Vinaigrette

• Juice of one lemon
• 3 Cloves garlic, minced
• 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
• 2 Tbsp. Red wine vinegar
• 1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil
• 1/8 tsp. Black pepper

Marta Montenegro is an exercise physiologist, certified strength and conditioning coach and master trainer, who teaches as an adjunct professor at Florida International University. Marta has developed her own system of exercises used by professional athletes. Her personal website, martamontenegro.com, combines fitness, nutrition and health tips, exercise routines, recipes and the latest news to help you change your life but not your lifestyle. She was the founder of nationally awarded SOBeFiT magazine and the fitness DVD series Montenegro Method.

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