Who doesn’t love cinnamon? It’s the perfect balance of spicy sweet, and used on its own has no calories or sugar. Studies have also shown that cinnamon may even help keep blood sugar stabilized. Now, it seems, according to another study, it may even be an effective fat burner, but the key is to use it in the right ways and not just to spice up already heavily sweetened snacks. We’ll review the study in a moment, but first let’s learn a little about this timeless and delicious spice.
Cinnamon: The Spice of Kings
Cinnamon originated in what is now Sri Lanka (Ceylon at the time) and comes from the bark of an ancient tree native to that area. Way back when, it was too risky to transport precious goods using long-distance sea travel, so cinnamon was transported from the East to the West via the Silk Road. This consisted of a journey of over one thousand miles, riding camels across the desert and eventually reaching the Roman Empire! One pound of cinnamon cost an entire annual wage for the average worker at the time, so cinnamon was quite literally a spice of kings.
Today, cinnamon is much easier to come by, and, thank goodness, we don’t have to be royalty to afford it. While we most commonly use cinnamon today as a spice in food, it’s also used in aromatics, such as incense, aromatherapy, such as essential oils, or even in toothpastes or breath-freshening mints. Cinnamon is easily one of the most recognizable scents, and studies have also found that cinnamon may also have medicinal properties.
Now, we may be able to add something new to the list of cinnamon’s benefits: fat burning and weight loss.
Cinnamon Found to Burn Fat and Increase Metabolism
After one study found that cinnamon protects against obesity, researchers designed another study to answer the remaining question of how? What is the mechanism exactly that causes it to have this effect on weight?
What did they discover? The answer was found in the cinnamaldehyde oil in cinnamon that gives it that distinctive flavor. The cinnamaldehyde oil was stimulates a process known as thermogenesis in fat cells. During thermogenesis, the human body produces heat, burning off calories for energy. So in this case, the energy is created by the burning off those fat cells.
An increase in metabolism was also identified, which the researchers attributed to greater gene expression for metabolism due to the cinnamaldehyde. Higher metabolism means better weight control and maintenance as well as more energy as calories are burned at a faster rate.
No, Cinnamon Rolls Won’t Do the Job
To reap the benefits of cinnamon, the idea is to include a healthy dose of it to your diet each day. Unfortunately, all of those processed, high-carb, high-sugar foods that manufacturers sprinkle with a little cinnamon flavoring not only won’t do the job, but they are going to counteract your fat-burning attempts. We all love indulging in a giant Cinnabon once in a while, but each time you consume all that bread and sugar, you’re getting a blood-sugar spike that causes an insulin release that turns that sugar into fat and prevents your body from burning fat.
How to Use It for Good Health
First, adopt a lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a proper diet that nourishes the good (healthy) bacteria in your gut. One way you can really start to focus on this, besides adding it daily, is to cut the sugar. Here are a few things we know about the harmful effects of sugar:
- Even healthy people can fall prey to the damaging effects of sugar consumption.
- Cancer cells thrive on sugar! Studies have shown the more cancer cells feast on sugar, the stronger it makes them, and strong cancer cells make if more challenging for our immune system to kill them.
- Excessive sugar consumption can result in metabolic syndrome and arthritis.
- Sugar consumption can lead to dysbiosis in the gut that increase the risk of emotional disturbances and even certain diseases, such as Parkinson’s.
A ketogenic diet, is a very low-carb diet that drastically cuts sugars and increases healthy fats, and it can be a good option to help reset metabolism and kick off weight loss. And cinnamon is an approved ketogenic ingredient.
You need quite a bit, about 1–2 tablespoons per day, to benefit from its effects. A couple of smoothies and a teaspoon of cinnamon mixed into a bowl of berries and yogurt will help, but it won’t get you to your cinnamon goal, so if you really want to be sure or if cinnamon isn’t really your thing, but you still want to take advantage of its benefits, you may need a cinnamon supplement (1–2 grams daily). If you’re consuming in excess of this, make sure you’re using cinnamon verum, a true cinnamon. Other types may be lower quality and break down into unhealthy products.
If you need to enhance your fat-burning and weight-loss efforts, stock up on the spice of kings, and use it regularly.