Can Cinnamon Really Help You Lose Weight?

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I love cinnamon. It adds sweetness without calories or sugar. There’s also been quite a bit of research showing that it may help stabilize blood sugar levels. Now there’s new research about cinnamon and weight loss.

Cinnamon: A Timeless Spice

Cinnamon comes from the bark of an ancient tree and originated in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Historically, because long-distance sea travel was too risky for precious cargo, cinnamon made its way to Western civilization along the Silk Road to reach the Roman Empire. This was a thousand-mile-plus trip across the desert on camels! These routes were also controlled by Arab traders who were the only ones who knew where the watering holes were located. So cinnamon was literally a spice of kings, costing an average worker’s annual wage for a pound.

While today cinnamon is probably best known for its use as a spice in food or an aromatic to freshen up our homes with one of the most recognizable aromas of all time, studies have shown many medicinal benefits to cinnamon as well. Now, a new study has discovered that because of an oil within it, it may be possible to also use cinnamon to lose weight. Let’s take a look.

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New Study Finds Cinnamon Burns Off Fat Cells

After a previous mouse study discovered that cinnamon protects against obesity and hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), the new study set out to determine how this actually happens and what kind of effect cinnamon has directly on human fat cells. Donated fat cells from a variety of ethnicities, ages, and BMIs were used in this study.

The result? Cinnamaldehyde, the oil in cinnamon that gives it that telltale sweet-savory flavor, was found to be a vehicle that stimulates thermogenesis in adipocytes (fat cells). Thermogenesis is a process in which the body produces heat and burns calories for energy—in this case, by burning off those fat cells. In addition, researchers also discovered a greater expression of the genes that increase metabolism, also attributed to the cinnamaldehyde consumption. There are many benefits to an increased metabolism, including weight loss and maintenance (due to all that calorie burning) and more energy.

So if weight loss is on your New Year’s Resolutions list this year, you may want to add a healthy dose of cinnamon to your daily meal planning. Just be sure you aren’t counteracting its effect with recipes loaded with sugar, a common ingredient used with cinnamon. Let me explain.

To Use Cinnamon to Lose Weight; Skip the Cinnamon Rolls

In order to use cinnamon to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight, you can’t just add cinnamon rolls to your diet and call it done. First, cinnamon rolls with all of that extra sugar and bread would spike your blood sugar leading to a release of insulin which would turn sugar into fat, and, prevent fat burning. Second, in addition to regular exercise, it’s very important to maintain a proper diet that feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut. Let’s take a look at some of the dangerous effects of all that sugar:

If you are trying to lose weight, a ketogenic diet (which, incidentally, may increase your lifespan) that cuts the sugars, drastically reduces carbs, and increases fats may be a good solution for jump-starting your weight loss and resetting your metabolism. And cinnamon is a ketogenic-friendly ingredient.

To add cinnamon to your diet, a significant amount is needed. A cinnamon stick in your green tea, sprinkling ground cinnamon over a small bowl of berries or adding a couple of dashes to your breakfast smoothie are all good starts, but they are unlikely to get it done. I would target adding 1-2 tablespoons of cinnamon a day to your diet. If you’re going to be consuming larger amounts of cinnamon, make sure it’s true cinnamon, which is called cinnamon verum, as other types may breakdown into products that are not good for you. There are also cinnamon supplements. The dose is usually 1–2 grams a day.

The upshot? Add cinnamon to your diet! It’s a spice that most of us love. Heck, it’s aromatherapy all by itself as most of us remember the smell of cinnamon wafting from the kitchen and filling the house during the holidays. You just can’t go wrong with the spice of kings!

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Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

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