- Don’t hold out hope for the Cinnabon Diet just yet. But a study published in the journal Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental suggests that cinnamaldehyde, an essential oil (as opposed to a useless oil) that gives cinnamon its flavor, may possibly potentially help fat cells burn energy.
The qualifiers (may possibly potentially) are there because this study does not necessarily mean that dumping a fistful of cinnamon on your latte will help you lose weight. The study was a lab experiment in which a team of researchers from the University of Michigan (Juan Jiang, Margo P. Emont, Heejin Jun, Xiaona Qiao, Jiling Liao, Dong-il Kim, and Jun Wu) obtained fat cells (also called adipocytes) from mice and various human volunteers who had undergone liposuction. After treating these cells with cinnamaldehyde, the researchers noticed some interesting changes. There was greater expression of genes and production of proteins that assist with lipid metabolism and fat burning. The researchers did point out that these findings are consistent with results from previous studies that gave mice cinnamaldehyde as supplements to their food and observed less weight gain and better blood sugar control. Yes, cinnamon may be on a bit of a roll.
Of course, you probably aren’t a mouse. (If you are, welcome and congratulations on your ability to read.) Also, your fat cells are usually inside and not outside your body. (If they were, losing weight would be a lot easier). Moreover, eating cinnamon may not be the same as putting cinnamaldehyde on your fat cells because cinnamon that goes into your mouth has to travel a long way to get to your fat cells and may not necessarily make it there. Thus, it’s not clear how much cinnamon you would need to eat to have any effect.
Another issue is that cinnamon is often on things that aren’t exactly known for their weight loss properties such as cinnamon rolls, cakes, doughnuts or cookies. Consuming lots of cinnamon rolls to lose weight would be like buying dozens of airplane tickets just to get enough miles to get a “free” trip. And if you are thinking of just consuming a ladle of cinnamon on it’s own, don’t, as the “Cinnamon Challenge” has shown:
However, there is some evidence that cinnamon in a human diet may possibly potentially have some metabolism- and weight-related benefits, besides causing you to burn calories by coughing and choking. For example , a systematic review that analyzed results from 10 clinical trials found that eating cinnamon was associated with significantly lower fasting blood sugar, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels and higher HDL cholesterol levels in patients with Type 2 diabetes. As another set of examples, a review article in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology summarized several studies in which healthy volunteers didn’t have as high increases in their blood sugar, better insulin responses, and had slower emptying of their stomach when they had cinnamon with their food. Slower emptying of the stomach may help people feel fuller longer.
So while there’s Sporty Spice, Posh Spice, and Scary Spice, cinnamon may be a rather “Complex Spice.” Nonetheless, before you make any stronger conclusions about cinnamon being able to help with weight loss, think of the Andrea True disco song and wait for “more, more, more” scientific studies to be true.