This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
There has been a lot of buzz about cinnamon supplements for weight loss. But can a pill really help you lose weight in a healthy manner?
We all know that the formula for weight loss is simple — eat less and move more. But it’s certainly not as easy as it sounds. Losing weight is difficult for many people, and in most cases, lack of willpower is not entirely to blame.
One of the primary challenges that people face when attempting to stick to a weight loss plan is an inability to control food cravings. These cravings are usually caused by a complex blend of emotional and hormonal factors. But underlying these factors typically is a blood sugar imbalance — which can manifest as a physical addiction to sugar. Not unlike a drug or alcohol addiction, a sugar addiction can cause intense, overpowering cravings for refined carbohydrates or other foods. In fact, research has actually shown that refined sugar may be more addictive than cocaine.
The most effective way to deal with a blood sugar imbalance is to eliminate refined carbs (as well as other high-glycemic foods) from your diet for a period of time. This, however, is no easy task if you are suffering from a blood sugar imbalance. Exercise can also help to regulate insulin and curb food cravings.
According to weight loss expert Harry Preuss, M.D., professor at Georgetown Medical Center and author of The Natural Fat-Loss Pharmacy, weight loss supplements can enhance the work you’re doing to drop the pounds.
In particular, cinnamon supplements can help control blood sugar, which makes them a valuable tool for natural weight loss. The fat cells in your abdomen are particularly sensitive to high insulin levels, and are very effective at storing excess calories that become fat.
According to research, cinnamon may actually mimic insulin, says Dr. Preuss. “It stimulates insulin receptors on fat cells in the same way that insulin does, allowing excess sugar to move out of the blood and into the cells.”
Studies have also shown that taking a water-soluble cinnamon extract as a daily supplement can lead to significant increases in lean body mass and a reduction in overall body fat. In addition, cinnamon has antioxidant properties that can fight aging and help your heart.
One notable study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that cinnamon may indeed be an effective way to control blood sugar levels. Researchers found that people who consumed three grams of cinnamon daily had improved insulin function and increased levels of a peptide reported to delay the emptying of the stomach. Delayed stomach emptying may help people eat less, preventing overeating which can lead to spikes in blood sugar.
Health benefits aside, there’s plenty of reason to make cinnamon a staple on your spice rack. It’s great on hot cereals, apples, sweet potatoes, squash… the list goes on. However, getting the full weight loss benefits of cinnamon is not as simple as sprinkling cinnamon on your food. Whole and powdered cinnamon contains volatile compound called coumarin, which may be toxic when consumed consistently or in very high doses.
It’s best to use a cinnamon extract that has had this constituent removed for weight loss or other therapeutic benefits. Currently, most experts recommend taking about 250 mg, morning and evening, of a standardized, water-soluble cinnamon extract, which is more absorbable and safer than consuming large amounts of powdered cinnamon.
And don’t forget… if you decide to try taking a cinnamon supplement for weight loss, you’ll want to pair it with a low-glycemic diet and an exercise plan for more immediate (and lasting) results.