Loving the BITE: Why Cyclists should drink Apple Cider Vinegar


VinTonic2 A couple years ago, I introduced a “health tonic” to help fight colds and sinus infections and improve overall health. It works great, and as more readers chimed in, I’ve learned that this old-fashioned folk-medicine-cure-all is used by many different people in different cultures all over the world.

But there’s more to this story for a cyclist. We’ve also discussed on “miracle-cure” for cramps in a post about pickle juice, vinegar & mustard.  As you’ve read, once again, it’s the vinegar that does the trick.

And these secrets are actually not secrets at all. New anti-cramp health-benefitting products crop up all the time that feature apple cider vinegar.

Today, we’ll put it altogether. Here’s the how and why cyclists should drink (diluted) apple cider vinegar, including an easy tonic a bit easier to swallow than the last.

Recipe of the Week: Vinegar Tonic for Cramp-Free Cycling


  • 1 Tbsp organic raw Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp strong-tasting 100% juice such as cherry (good for joints!), pomegranate, or grape
    • Alternatively, substitute 1 tsp raw honey for juice
  • ~3 ounces water
  • Optional add-ins: 1/2 tsp ground ginger, turmeric, or cinnamon; fresh mint


Mix all ingredients and drink. Add optional add-ins if desired.


My last tonic was effective, but not delicious. At all. It took plugging my nose before I was able to choke it down. And, while it was immediately effective for me in relieving sinus pressure and avoiding sinus infections, it wasn’t something I could get myself to drink every day.

This, I can.

Not only can I drink the new tonic every day, I look forward to it and find it refreshing. Why am I making this a daily habit in 2016? I know from research and anecdotal testimonies that it improves overall wellness – everything from healthy blood sugars to blood cholesterol to weight to reducing common colds.  Almost twenty-five hundred years ago, Hippocrateds used it to reduce infections and manage wounds and the Chinese used it to avoid infections during autopsies as early at the 10th century.  For a full research review on it, you can access this document for free at  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1785201/.

I also know it’s a great mucus-busting phlem-fighter. This is immediately obvious when you drink it. Your throat will VinTonic3feel clearer, sinuses drain, and pressure is relieved. Since many cyclists suffer from phelm build-up on the bike, why not try to proactively fight it with this daily tonic?

A couple anecdotes I’ve shared that may help (these are only 2 out of many, many stories from clients): First, I work with one ultra-runner who had been plagued with sinus infections most of his life, and has had unsuccessful sinus surgery to alleviate the problem.  Still, he suffered many debilitating sinus infections per year.   Since taking the tonic at the on-set of any symptoms, he’s not had one sinus infection in two years.  Other athletes have experienced the same results, but less dramatic stories.  And secondly as for myself, I’ve suffered three severe sinus infections in my life, all in the past five years.  The kind where you can’t eat because your teeth hurt too much, can’t look down because the pressure in your head is too great, and can’t clear out your sinuses no matter how much you’ve steamed your face and used a neti pot (these two are still often helpful, but now I use them in conjunction with ACV).  Hasn’t happened again since the health tonic.  Several times I’ve felt one coming on and went into action early.

Third, vinegar is a proven cramp-fighter.  I don’t know how it works exactly.  And, most of the research began with pickle juice. As I was studying up on it for a podcast a few years back, I learned that pickle juice relieves cramps effectively and quickly (in research & practice) – I’ve since experienced success with it with my own clients.  It had been hypothesized that the very high sodium content was the reason.  However, researchers found that the relief was much too fast for the sodium to have even been digested and absorbed by the gut.  It was something else.  Something acidic:  the likely hero is vinegar.

Although it’s not clear how, vinegar seems to work at a nerve-level, beginning its action as soon as it hits the mouth.  Researchers from North Dakota State University have speculated that the muscles are cramping due to exhaustion, and misfiring.  The vinegar may somehow send nervous system signals that stop it.

And last but not least, it seems that vinegar promotes energy production and glycogen replenishment, at least in animal studies. Vinegar, which is chemically known as acetic acid, can provide the acetyl group that is a fundamental building block during the Krebs Cycle, metabolizing carbohydrates and fat to produce energy/ATP for cells.  Yes, more reasons to love vinegar.

Here are some very important warnings:

  • Don’t drink it without diluting it at least 8:1 (other fluid : vinegar).  In the rare cases of esophageal tissue damage, the vinegar was consumed, often in large amounts, straight.
  • If possible, use a straw and don’t hold it in your mouth.  Highly acidic fluids can damage tooth enamel.
  • Vinegar can delay gastric emptying, so be careful using it right before a ride if you’ve just eaten, or just note if you continue to feel full (this is true in research, but does not seem to be an issue for athletes in practice.
  • Lastly, do choose raw ACV.  Like other raw fermented foods, it will provide the added bonus of healthy bacteria.  With this in mind, it’s fine to drink every day, even twice per day if you’d like.

This may be the most delicious vinegar drink you’ve ever drank – especially if you focus on all the benefits. If you do decide to give it a try on the daily, I would love to hear your observations. Less cramps? Less colds? Weird looks from the kids? Let us know what you find, and keep pedaling strong today.

Fuel Your Ride.  Nourish Your Body.

If you’d like to work with Kelli one-on-one with a Custom Nutrition Plan & Coaching, or download one of her acclaimed Instant Download Plans like Fuel Right Race Light, click here: Apex Nutrition Plans for Endurance Athletes. Be sure to use coupon code lovingthebike for a 15% discount!

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2 Responses to “ Loving the BITE: Why Cyclists should drink Apple Cider Vinegar ”

  1. Sarah on May 5, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    Might be a stupid question – but what’s the best time to take ACV? Is it better with food or on an empty stomach?


  2. Mitch LaMoure on February 1, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    This apple cider trick works well… I also use Baking soda. Here’s my short story.
    I had all the symptoms of prostate cancer but did nothing about it. Never went to the Doctor to see for sure but everyone I knew who had be diagnosis with it told me they were sure I had it and to get it checked… I heard about Baking soda helping cure it but didn’t believe it and didn’t check out much to find out if it was possible…. But by chance I heard on a heath show that Baking soda cured restless leg syndrome and severe leg cramping. Which I’ve always had a real problem with ,(especially if I had just finished a ride). So I said what the heck I’ll try anything to get ride of these grand mall seizure leg cramps I’ve had daily for the past 40 years of riding and racing…. That night I put ….1TEASPOON OF BAKING SODA IN A 1/4 CUP OF WATER…. Mixed it for about 20 seconds and drank it. The next morning I woke up for the first time in 40 + yrs with out a leg cramp. Since I started drink this mixture last July I have had ZERO leg cramps… I also got rid of ALL of my prostate cancer symptoms — all gone. So I no longer feel the need to go get it check there just gone !! … Also I had a sinus clogging thing that I had for 2yrs. I could not breath without a shot of Zicam every morning and night… Baking soda cured that in 3 days… I also had bad athletes foot fungus that the doctor and other treatment couldn’t cure either … Now it’s gone too! …Sounds crazy, such a simple thing to do but It really worked… I swear by it… give it a try it certainly wont kill you and it may just cure your prostate problem. What you got to lose ?


    April 2024
    M T W T F S S


Sugar Alternatives for Energy and Hydration

Question: I am using the homebrew sugar formulations (sometimes added to green tea).  I am also trying to wean myself off 1/2 dose adrenalean “lip tonic delivery system” (biorhythm brand- caffeine, hoodia g, synephrine, yohimbe) capsule for energy.

My question is other than juice, can you suggest modifications in lieu of table sugar for energy and hydration.


Both raw/organic honey or agave can work great in the homebrew (substitute in the same quantities for the sugar, or to taste), but you do have to shake well in order to make sure they don’t settle out.  Have you tried either of these?  Also, make sure to use at least the minimum amount of salt recommended in the homebrew as the temps rise, you need the sodium replacement if you’re sweating.

Sports Drink Homebrew

Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to www.apexnutritionllc.com.

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