Scientists have found that cinnamon may unlock a major secret in losing weight by boosting metabolism in the body.
If you have been dieting and exercising for a while and been frustrated by the results, you may be interested in the results of a groundbreaking new study. As we reported recently, a study in the journal Metabolism suggests that the essential oil in cinnamon that gives it its flavor, called cinnamaldehyde, may speed up your metabolism, but you may not be aware of is just how big of an impact this could have on future weight loss programs.
Fighting the battle of the bulge is frustrating for many, and sometimes diet and exercise aren’t quite enough to get the results you want. The secret in getting to the weight you desire may lie in your metabolism, which can vary from person to person, and scientists have long tried to figure out how to control this mysterious and little understood mechanism in the body.
That’s where cinnamaldehyde from cinnamon comes into play, as Jun Wu, a research assistant professor at the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute wanted to find out more about how the oil works against adipocytes, or fat cells, to burn excess energy. She found that cinnamaldenyde appeared to push metabolic regulatory proteins Ucp1 and Fgf21 into action.
“Scientists were finding that this compound affected metabolism,” said Jun Wu, who is also an assistant professor of molecular and integrative physiology at the medical school. “So we wanted to figure out how—what pathway might be involved, what it looked like in mice and what it looked like in human cells.”
The chemical had been shown in the past to work on mice, but the goal with this study was to test it in humans. She found the results encouraging, which could have huge ramifications for people who have struggled to lose weight due to having poor metabolism.
“Wu and her colleagues tested human adipocytes from volunteers representing a range of ages, ethnicities and body mass indices,” the statement from the University of Michigan reads. “When the cells were treated with cinnamaldehyde, the researchers noticed increased expression of several genes and enzymes that enhance lipid metabolism. They also observed an increase in Ucp1 and Fgf21, which are important metabolic regulatory proteins involved in thermogenesis.”
The problem is that our body stores lipids, which was beneficial in the early years of humanity as our species fought to survive and needed to store fat for the lean times and to withstand cold temperatures, but today we no longer face those obstacles, meaning the fat is just a problem.
“It’s only been relatively recently that energy surplus has become a problem,” Wu said in the statement. “Throughout evolution, the opposite—energy deficiency—has been the problem. So any energy-consuming process usually turns off the moment the body doesn’t need it.”
If we could find a way to increase our metabolism, it could have tremendous implications for weight loss.
“Metabolism is the set of life-sustaining chemical transformations within the cells of organisms,” reads Wikipedia’s description of the process. “The three main purposes of metabolism are the conversion of food/fuel to energy to run cellular processes, the conversion of food/fuel to building blocks for proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, and some carbohydrates, and the elimination of nitrogenous wastes.
“These enzyme-catalyzed reactions allow organisms to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures, and respond to their environments. The word metabolism can also refer to the sum of all chemical reactions that occur in living organisms, including digestion and the transport of substances into and between different cells, in which case the set of reactions within the cells is called intermediary metabolism or intermediate metabolism.”
Wu believes that cinnamaldehyde could mark a big step forward in controlling our metabolism and therefore better getting a handle on our weight.
“Cinnamon has been part of our diets for thousands of years, and people generally enjoy it,” Wu said. “So if it can help protect against obesity, too, it may offer an approach to metabolic health that is easier for patients to adhere to.”
More studies will be needed to prove its efficacy, as well as its safety, as we don’t yet know what kind of side effects it has. But it is certainly a development to watch with interest.