How can a “simple” spice like cinnamon help you lose weight and what are its other health benefits? Read on and discover how cinnamon and weight loss go hand in hand…
Disclaimer: the following information is based on human studies and suggested by preliminary evidence. More research about how and when cinnamon works is needed, but the results so far are really promising. This article is purely informational, I am not a doctor.
Cinnamon and Weight Loss
Cinnamon sticks for weight loss, how does that work? Cinnamon will help you lose weight because it has the ability to reduce your blood sugar level.
It does this in 2 ways:
- Cinnamon slows down the rate at which your stomach empties after a meal (gastric emptying). As a result your blood sugar increase will be slower than normal and you won’t feel hungry so fast.
- One of the working substances in cinnamon is cinnamaldehyde. Cinnamaldehyde improves the effectiveness of your insulin receptors, resulting in a quicker intake of glucose by your cells.
Why is reduced blood sugar good for weight loss?
When we eat carbohydrates are converted into blood sugar (glucose; our main source of energy). Your blood sugar level determines how hungry and how energetic you feel and also whether we store fat or burn it. When we have a high blood sugar level, a lot of insulin is produced and our body thinks there’s plenty of energy and starts storing fat instead of burning it. Another issue is that too much insulin causes too much blood sugar to be removed from our blood. As a result insulin and blood sugar levels drop, which makes us hungry and tired and want to eat.
Cinnamon Health Benefits
There are several other health benefits of cinnamon:
- Diabetes type II: a condition in which cells fail to use insulin properly. Cinnamon improves the efficiency of the insulin receptors (see above).
- Cinnamon decreases cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Cinnamon helps indigestion: this function of cinnamon has been known for thousands of years. The Chinese used and use cinnamon as a cure for diarrhea.
- Cinnamon is anti-inflammatory and can be used as a relief for arthritis.
- Cinnamon contains a lot of antioxidants (it has the highest dose known in a food substance). Antioxidants terminate chain reactions started by free radicals in your body. These chain reactions damage cells and DNA, causing diseases like cancer and heart diseases.
- Cinnamon is antifungal: it can help to fight conditions like candidiasis (yeast infection).
- Cinnamon is antibacterial: it prevents tooth decay (when used as an ingredient in mouthwash).
- Cinnamon brings relief in case of allergic rhinitis (hay fever).
- It is a good source of manganese, an important mineral that is used by a lot of enzymes in our body.
Types of Cinnamon
There are 2 main types of cinnamon:
- Ceylon Cinnamon (cinnamomum zeylanicum), also known as “real” cinnamon: cultivated in Sri Lanka.
- Cassia Cinnamon (cinnamomum cassia), also known as “fake” cinnamon: cultivated in China, looks darker and doesn’t taste as sweet as Ceylon Cinnamon. It’s easy to recognize because the cassia cinnamon sticks roll up at both sides, like a scroll. Cassia contains coumarin (see below).
In this picture, Ceylon cinnamon is on the left, Cassia is on the right:
It is not clear which of these 2 is the most effective towards weight loss. Some sources say Cassia is the most effective, but no one seems to be sure about that.
There are more types of cinnamon, like Saigon Cinnamon or Burmese cinnamon, but Ceylon and Cassia are the most important and the most readily available.
Cinnamon Side Effects & Dosage
Is cinnamon safe? Cassia Cinnamon contains 2 substances that are toxic to your liver and kidneys, when consumed in high doses: safrole and especially coumarin. Don’t consumer more than 4 grams/day.
- Ceylon: 1 to 6 grams/day. About 4 gram works best (one and a half teaspoons).
- Cassia: 1 to 4 grams/day. Don’t use more because of the coumarin.
Side effects: Cinnamon doesn’t have any side effects, but there are some conditions in which you can’t use cinnamon:
- Pregnancy/Breastfeeding: don’t use cinnamon when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding because cinnamon has abortion inducing effects.
- Some people have a cinnamon allergy or are hypersensitive to cinnamon, although this is rare. Symptoms are skin rash, acne, inflammation of tongue and lips, mouth sores, etc
- Don’t use cinnamon if you have kidney problems.
- Don’t use cinnamon if you take blood thinners, because cinnamon is a blood thinner as well.
- Don’t use cinnamon oil, it’s toxic and not meant for consumption.
Honey and Cinnamon Cures
A lot of books and websites prescribe cinnamon and honey tea as a solution to lose weight. I see the health benefits of cinnamon, but I don’t see the benefits of honey and cinnamon. Honey is healthier than table sugar because it contains more minerals and vitamins, but it’s still sugar. I can’t see how sugar or honey can help weight loss so I don’t believe in a honey and cinnamon diet.
You can buy cinnamon in bulk or as sticks, but cinnamon powder is also available in the form of capsules.
Cinnulin-PF is a water soluble extract of cinnamon. The advantage of cinnamon supplements like these is that toxic substances like coumarin are filtered out.