The benefits of cinnamon go far beyond a warm, comforting scent and a spicy flavor. In fact, it's thought that cinnamon — or, in particular, cinnamon pills — might help people lose weight.
Of course, there's no such thing as a magic diet pill (to lose weight, you'll likely need to reduce portion sizes and boost your physical activity levels), but eating more cinnamon might just help you shed a few pounds.
Cinnamon for Weight Loss
Over the years, studies about cinnamon and weight loss have yielded mixed results. But some research shows that supplementing your diet with cinnamon pills might help you lose weight. According to a research review published in February 2019 in the journal Clinical Nutrition, people who took at least 2 grams a day of cinnamon in supplement form saw improvements in their body weight, waist circumference and fat mass, whereas those who took placebo pills did not.
One potential reason why: Cinnamon contains compounds called flavanols, which, according to a review published in April 2018 in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases, can help protect against obesity.
The researchers also noted that cinnamon can delay gastric emptying, or the time it takes for food to travel through a person's stomach. It's thought that a slow gastric emptying rate can help people feel fuller, longer, and therefore help them lose weight.
"Cinnamon may help slightly with weight loss," says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, author of The Superfood Swap. "It's definitely not a magic bullet, but adding cinnamon to meals may help you feel full longer."
Plus, she says, cinnamon can make food and drinks more flavorful — no added sugar necessary. "Since cinnamon adds an almost-naturally sweet flavor, people can use less sugar in things like coffee, oatmeal, yogurt and smoothies," says Jackson Blatner. "Feeling more full and using less sugar — and fewer calories — can be a small healthy addition to a total weight-loss program."
Cinnamon Pill Precautions
Cinnamon pills are sold over the counter in many health stores and pharmacies — and if taken in moderate amounts, they're usually safe to use. Still, be sure to ask your doctor whether you're a good candidate for cinnamon pills before taking them; some people may be allergic to cinnamon, whereas others — particularly those with liver disease — shouldn't consume too much cassia cinnamon, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
Be aware, too, that herbal supplements aren't regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as strictly as medications, so there's no guarantee of the product's quality.
Using Whole Cinnamon to Lose Weight
Much of the research on cinnamon and weight loss has been done with cinnamon pills. But if you want to supplement your diet with the spice instead — something that Jackson Blatner recommends doing — you can purchase whole cinnamon sticks and fresh-ground, powdered cinnamon for cooking.
Use powdered cinnamon as part of a seasoning rub for chicken or sprinkled on top of almond butter on toast. Or, try simmering the sticks in soups and stews, cooking them in a rice pilaf or brewing them into a tea with apple juice and lemon slices.
- Clinical Nutrition: "Cinnamon Supplementation Positively Affects Obesity: A Systematic Review and Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials"
- Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases: "Flavanols Are Potential Anti-Obesity Agents, a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Controlled Clinical Trials"
- Science Direct: "Stomach Emptying"
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: "Cinnamon"