If you feel obesity is a small problem, think again. In US more than one third of adults are obese. Obesity not only leads to several other problems but it also brings huge financial burden on economy. In 2008, costs of obesity related medical problems was USD 147 bn! All of this can be avoided with some care while taking food and healthy lifestyle.
Before going ahead and discussing how cinnamon can help in weight loss, lets understand a bit about obesity. Obesity is generally determined by BMI or body mass index. A person with a BMI of > 30 is obese and > 40 is extremely obese. Obesity is the cause of numerous diseases. When a person’s fat is centered on the waist, the consequences are more dangerous. Some conditions associated with obesity include high cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, stroke and gallstones.
Consuming a high calorie diet without adequate exercise to burn off excess fat is the leading cause of obesity. Other factors include psychological problems, age, genetics, medications like corticosteroids, antidepressants and others and medical problems like hypothyroidism or Cushing syndrome. Even when obesity is caused by medications or an illness, there are ways to combat it by following preventive care, lifestyle changes, exercise etc. For extreme obesity, drug therapies or surgery maybe recommended.
Cinnamon for Weight Loss
Weight loss is the best way to combat obesity. There are many nutritional supplements, herbs and spices that can provide benefits for weight loss. Nutritional supplements help maintain proper levels of nutrients which could get depleted during a weight loss program.
Cinnamon is one such spice that is used for weight loss especially combined with honey. Cinnamon is got from the dried bark of the Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Ceylon cinnamon) or Cinnamomumcassia (Chinese cinnamon) tree. Cinnamon contains chemical compounds like cinnamaldehyde, which is also used as an essential oil and eugenol. Cinnamon is used to flavor curries, pies, muffins, and cookies, etc. It is a popular essential oil used in aromatherapy and was used by ancient Egyptians for embalming.
A mixture of cinnamon and honey in warm water can help with weight loss. Cinnamon and honey do help with weight loss but only when combined with a healthy diet and sufficient exercise. The reason for this mixture being such a potent weight loss tool could be because it is rich in antioxidants.
Obesity also causes various diseases as we have seen. Cinnamon is said to lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Studies found that using cinnamon could lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by at least 27%.
Cinnamon also affects the way blood sugar is processed therefore helping the body break down sugars more efficiently and preventing them from turning to fat. It can also increase insulin levels by mimicking insulin’s biological activity and increasing glucose metabolism in the blood. High blood sugar causes increased fat deposits in the body. This is prevented by cinnamon and helps with weight loss by metabolizing sugar and preventing its transformation to fat. Cinnamon also slows the time taken by food to reach the intestine, therefore making us feel full for longer. This makes us eat less and lose more weight. Carbohydrates are processed more efficiently by cinnamon and helps with weight loss. Certain studies find that abdominal fats react more to cinnamon than other fats and this also promotes weight loss.
Weight Loss Recipes with Cinnamon
The main weight loss recipe is a combination of cinnamon and honey. For this you need:
- Cinnamon powder – ½ tsp
- Honey – 1 tsp
- Boiling water – 1 cup
Combine the cinnamon and honey and make a paste. Add boiling water, cover and leave the mixture for ½ hour. Now, stir it well, filter and drink half the quantity on an empty stomach before breakfast. You can refrigerate or leave the rest of the mixture at room temperature and drink it before bedtime. Do not reheat it. There are reports of people who have used this recipe regularly and lost about 3kg in a week.
Always look for fresh cinnamon. You can normally find three types of cinnamon sold in the markets – Ceylon, Cassia and Indonesian. Each offer different benefits with Ceylon cinnamon said to help the most.
Apart from cinnamon and honey which is a specific recipe for weight loss, there are many ways that cinnamon can be combined in food and even this could help with weight loss. Add cinnamon to herbal tea preparation, making it healthier and more flavorful. Cinnamon can be sprinkled on oatmeal, toast, breakfast cereal or even added to a cup of morning coffee. Cinnamon is often used to flavor products like cheese, butter, peach or apple pies, ciders and juices. Those who want an easier option can choose to take cinnamon supplements.
There is no hard and fast rule regarding cinnamon dosage. This is true with most herbal / natural remedies. The daily dosage of cinnamon depends on the user, age or any medical conditions they may have. For ground cinnamon the dosage is 1-1.5g a day. If using a cinnamon supplement, do not exceed 500mg a day split in two doses to be taken after breakfast and dinner.
Precautions with cinnamon
Those with sensitivity to cinnamon and pregnant and breast feeding women must avoid the product. Excess exposure to the skin could cause allergic reactions and skin irritation. Some people can develop mouth lesions, inflammation of lips, gum diseases, tongue inflammation, mouth sores or acne when using cinnamon-flavored chewing gum, cinnamon oil, cinnamon toothpaste or mints. The effect could be due to the presence of cinnamaldehyde in these products. Cassia cinnamon contains coumarin could cause liver problems. Those taking heart medications, blood thinners, antibiotics must be careful when using cinnamon. As with any supplement, it is best to consult your doctor before going ahead and taking the supplement.