The Doctor Knows Best: 5 Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits for Runners

Ein bottle of apple cider vinegar on a wooden table

Is there anything that apple cider vinegar can’t do? The kitchen pantry staple is a main ingredient in everything from this energy-boosting detox drink to this natural antifungal spray. ACV gets its magical powers from naturally occurring compounds like acetic acid, potassium, magnesium, probiotics and enzymes—which all contribute to apple cider vinegar’s ability to rid the body of harmful bacteria, viruses and toxins. The result? A powerful elixir that’s great for the entire body, with no side effects.

But few people realize that apple cider vinegar is especially beneficial for runners. Whether you’re struggling with muscle cramps or the not-so-pleasant smells that radiate from your sweaty, post-run body, many of the problems that plague us before and after lacing up our sneakers can be helped by drinking and using ACV.

A bottle of apple cider vinegar

Here are five ways ACV specifically benefits runners:

1. It regulates the body’s pH levels

The sun is shining, you’ve hit your stride… and then the muscle cramping begins. Usually, this isn’t a sign of injury or muscle exhaustion, but rather that there’s a pH imbalance in the body—you might not be getting enough potassium or magnesium, for instance. Apple cider vinegar helps rebalance your system by sending a dose of electrolytes to the bloodstream. This keeps your muscles running smoothly so you can hit those PRs. If you take ACV after your run, it can also help replenish the electrolytes you’ve sweated out.

2. It can help you smell fresh

Maybe ACV won’t take the place of your normal deodorant just yet. But if you find yourself smelling especially bad while running or are looking for a natural option to take the place of your usual stick, it might be time to give apple cider vinegar a try.

ACV contains probiotics that kill bad bacteria and the sugar-loving yeast candida, that are the culprits of bad odors. And your armpits? Well, they’re a breeding ground for the stuff. Using your fingers to dab a little apple cider vinegar onto the area can help to kill yeast while neutralizing any particularly bad smells.

3. It stabilizes blood sugar levels

Regularly drinking apple cider vinegar can help reduce blood sugar levels and keep them balanced—in fact, it’s one of the reasons ACV is recommended to diabetics. For runners, avoiding these sugar highs and lows reduces the risk that you’ll “hit the wall,” which usually happens when your glucose levels have dipped rapidly.

Instead of your blood sugar spiking after eating then nosediving, apple cider vinegar blunts the effect, allowing glucose to be released into the bloodstream over a longer period of time. You won’t be hitting a wall—you’ll be climbing right over it!

Woman drinking from a bottle after her workout

4. It supports gut health and improves digestion

There’s nothing worse than going on a run, feeling the wind blowing through your hair and then, all of a sudden, wondering where the closest bathroom is and how quickly you can get there. If you suffer from bloating, leaky gut, diarrhea, gas, or other digestive ailments, apple cider vinegar will be your new best friend.

Thanks to the enzymes and probiotics found in ACV, it balances your digestive system by boosting production of stomach acids. In fact, taking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar as soon as you feel heartburn coming on can help stop it in its tracks. No more embarrassing detours necessary.

5. It can reduce sluggish feelings

Apple cider vinegar can help you run harder and longer because it’s an all-natural detox that your body loves. As it travels through the body, ACV helps to break down toxins while stimulating the cardiovascular system, and thanks to the acetic acid it contains, ACV also reduces sugar cravings and increases your metabolism, which supports weight loss. In short, you can say goodbye to those lethargic runs and hello to a leaner, more energetic you.

Ready to incorporate apple cider vinegar into your routine? I suggest you opt for a raw, organic, unfiltered and unpasteurized variety. If it looks cloudy, that’s a good sign! It means that the good bacteria and enzymes, which are what give ACV most of its healing benefits, are still intact.

And while it’s pretty easy to consume a bit of apple cider vinegar each day, I suggest going beyond just drinking it and adding it to your favorite recipes. There are tons of apple cider vinegar uses that make it great for external use.

No matter how you decide to use it, give apple cider vinegar a try. In addition to improving your overall health, it may help you log your next personal best.


Dr. Josh Axe Josh is a doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist, and author. He specializes in how the right nutrition has a positive influence on people's health. View all posts by Dr. Josh Axe