Phytochemicals are not a single substance but an entire class that includes polyphenols, alkaloids, carotenoids, and others. Cinnamon is one of the puddings that are rich in phytochemicals. It even contains four different types of bioactive components - cinnamic acid, cinnamaldehyde, eugenol, and coumarin. Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties but we will look at its activity in the context of fat burning and metabolic and impact.
So far, research has found that cinnamon:
Certain cinnamon can be a great benefit for weight loss. To establish this, a group of scientists gathers and conducts a large systematic review and meta-analysis of available studies on cinnamon properties.
What is being explored?
Systematic review and meta-analysis include only randomized placebo-controlled studies that monitor the effects of cinnamon on body weight, BMI index, waist circumference, and subcutaneous fat percentage.
Studies involving only cinnamon are used without being combined with other substances. Studies with different types of cinnamon are included. The system review follows all PRISMA standards. A total of 12 studies met the criteria of a systematic review.
The duration of the study varies between 8 and 16 weeks. The doses used are between 1000 and 10000 mg. The average dose is 1500 mg. A total of 786 participants with overweight (BMI between 27.6 and 33.6) are included. All but one trial includes participants with different metabolic problems such as type 2 diabetes, PCOS, metabolic syndrome, and pre-diabetic status.
What is it established?
In comparison to the placebo, cinnamon supplementation improves all four weight loss criteria. Subgroup analysis shows that there is a wide variety of results for three of the criteria. The only similar result for all subgroups is the size of the waist, which is adjusted by an average of 2.4 cm.
How do we interpret the study?
The systematic review tells us that the use of cinnamon improves all four criteria, with the daily dose and duration of intake being important. The effect is stronger in people with metabolic problems and overweight. The results are heterogeneous in the individual subgroups, but the tendency towards placebo is the same.
All studies include individuals who suffer from one or other metabolic disease associated with insulin resistance and high blood sugar. Because of its impact on carbohydrate metabolism, cinnamon may have benefits in people with metabolic problems, but so far, science has found no such relationship. The effect of cinnamon is limited to healthy people and is momentary without showing chronic properties in the long run.
In healthy people, cinnamon improves glucose tolerance as well as regulates blood sugar levels after high-carbohydrate eating (up to 12 hours). This is believed to be one of the main ways in which cinnamon can "suppress appetite and thus reduce caloric intake."
The weak side of research in meta-analysis is that in none of them the participants follow a particular diet. Some of the studies have questionnaires about food but can not be relied upon as a reliable source of information.
Assuming the participants did not reduce their caloric intake, then we could look for another possible mechanism behind the slimming properties of cinnamon. Spice suppresses pancreatic and intestinal enzymes, thereby reducing the degradation and absorption of carbohydrates.
The third possible mechanism for cinnamon properties is the effect on lipid metabolism and fatty acid oxidation.
Weaknesses of the study are limited to two factors:
The big picture
The systematic review tells us that cinnamon helps burn fat, but mostly in people with metabolic problems and overweight. The results are positive, but we can not say they are percussion. Taking cinnamon from healthy individuals who control their diet and lead an active lifestyle can lead to radically different results. Two studies have so far observed the effect of cinnamon in physical activity and no effect on body composition has been identified. At this stage, there is no evidence of cinnamon effectiveness in limiting calories.
A very important factor for the effectiveness of phytochemicals is their absorption and bioactivity. Many of these substances are not completely degraded and poor activity is manifested. For example, the cinnamaldehyde is oxidized rapidly by oral administration and only 20% of the administered substance remains active. For now, it is unclear how effective cinnamon can be influenced by the absorption of effective ingredients because much of the spice activity is in the small intestine.
Several factors can negatively affect the intake of cinnamon:
There is no evidence of how these factors affect cinnamon, and we can only make analogs with other substances. For example, quercetin is less absorbed if taken with fat. Lycopene is better absorbed when warming the food source.
Last but not least, cinnamon can have a stronger effect in combination with other similar substances. We have already looked at the topic of curcumin and burning fat, and such a combination may be useful. Another example is the combination of cinnamon and vinegar, which exhibit similar properties and may have a stronger synergistic effect.