Honey and cinnamon for weight loss – the facts

Benefits of cinnamon and honey proved by science

Claims that consuming these substances helps weight loss might sound faddish, but they are in fact supported by scientific research. The beneficial effects of these tasty foods target the phenomenon of insulin resistance and the condition called metabolic syndrome that are caused by obesity and help sabotage slimming campaigns. Read on to find out what scientists have discovered and how this knowledge could help you slim, as well as to find out more about insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.

Cinnamon and honey help weight loss

Honey and cinnamon have been proven to fight the worst effects of obesity and help to take off the pounds.
Image: K Williams, all rights reserved.

Cinnamon polyphenols reverse insulin resistance

Richard Anderson from USDA reviewed studies looking at the effects of cinnamon (and also chromium) on insulin sensitivity. Here are some of the studies using cinnamon that he identified.

One carefully controlled study showed that giving a daily dose of 500 mg of a cinnamon extract to 22 people with metabolic syndrome had a beneficial effect on a number of parameters. After 12 weeks of treatment, this group had higher lean body mass, lower percentage of body fat, as well as lower fasting blood glucose levels and lower blood pressure than people given placebo (a product that looks the same as the test substance, but is known to have no physiological effect).

In another study, thirty diabetics (type 2 diabetes) were given 1-6 grams of cinnamon daily for a period of 40 days. At the end of this period, their blood glucose and cholesterol levels were found to have decreased compared to another thirty patients who received placebo. The improved results persisted for up to 20 days after the end of treatment.

A third study was conducted in a group of women with polycystic ovary syndrome and insulin resistance. After 8 weeks of taking 500 mg cinnamon extract each day, the women showed improvement in their fasting glucose levels, glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.

Important! When buying cinnamon, look for products guaranteed to be genuine Ceylon cinnamon. This contains only minuscule amounts of a substance called coumarin. Some dealers try to pass off cassia as cinnamon, but this product contains much higher levels. In larger quantities, coumarin can injure the liver and kidneys.


Public domain image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Buy genuine Ceylon cinnamon:
From US:  Frontier Herb Organic Ceylon Cinnamon Powder (1x1lb)

From UK: Frontier Natural Products, Organic Powdered Ceylon Cinnamon, 16 oz (453 g)





Honey: improves blood glucose and lipid levels

Healthy people volunteered to take part in a study, which asked them to drink honey in water every day . After only 15 days, their blood levels of total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, triglycerides and blood glucose had dropped, while levels of HDL-cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) had gone up

In patients with abnormally high levels of triglycerides and/or total cholesterol, the same treatment caused the levels to drop to normal again.

Like cinnamon, honey reverses some of the negative effects of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.

Another study found the same effects occurred in a group of overweight people given the same treatment. Even better, after 30 days, the scientists observed a 1.3% average decrease in body weight and a 1.1% average decrease in body fat.

This is just a small fraction of the amazing benefits of honey. Unfortunately, a lot of honey is heat-treated and this destroys important components. To get the most out of your honey, use Manuka from New Zealand. This is not heat-treated and has been shown to help recovery from infection and aid wound healing as well as having all the beneficial effects on blood levels of cholesterol and glucose. Manuka honey is tested for its content of healing substances and the results are shown as a plus sign followed by a number, with higher numbers meaning higher concentrations.

Comvita is the most respected Manuka brand. Try some now!
Follow this link to buy from USA: Comvita Manuka Honey UMF 15+ 250 gr/8.8 oz

this link to buy from UK :Comvita Manuka Honey UMF+15+ 250 g


How to take honey with cinnamon

Pour some boiling water into a mug and stir in half a teaspoonful of cinnamon. Let this cool before adding in a teaspoonful of honey. The reason to let the mixture cool is to avoid exposing the honey to heat.

Sometimes, I like to add a bit of lemon juice, which gives a lovely flavour. Occasionally, I do break the heat rule and stir both honey and cinnamon into a mug of hot coffee!

Obviously, both substances can also be used, together or separately, in various foods, for example, stirred into yogurt. Follow this link for some delicious ideas on how to use cinnamon in your cooking.

Important: If you are diabetic, do talk to your diabetes nurse or doctor if you plan to try this as honey is a source of sugar.

If you are not keen on the taste of the spice, or do not like the mouthfeel of the powder suspended in water, you can take the honey on its own (in water or off a spoon) and use cinnamon extract capsules in addition.

Popular with US buyers: Cinnapure Cinnamon Extract – Highest Quality – Standardized | 30 Veg Caps. Made in USA (1 Pack)

This UK product is stated to be free of coumarin: Rio Amazon 250mg Cinnamon 4:1 Extract – Pack of 60 Capsules

Why it is important to fight insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome

metabolic syndrome insulin resistance

This painting by Charles Mellin (1600-1649) shows a typical case of metabolic syndrome (syndrome X). Public domain image.

Since the beneficial effects of cinnamon and honey  described above target the phenomenon of insulin resistance and the condition called metabolic syndrome (previously known as syndrome X), I want to give some information here about these conditions. They are particularly relevant to postmenopausal women, because getting older in itself can be associated with a decrease in the body’s sensitivity to insulin. The hormone changes that occur in menopause are a further factor causing a decrease in the ability to respond to insulin.

What are insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome?

These two conditions are very closely related. Some health professionals and scientists use the terms interchangeably, seeing them simply as different areas of a single spectrum of symptoms and disorders.

When the body is said to be resistant to insulin, this means it is less capable of reacting to the effects of this hormone, with muscle and fat tissues being particularly affected. The body compensates by producing more insulin, which can cause overstimulation of tissues that are still sensitive to it. Over time, this affects glucose metabolism, so that levels of glucose in the blood begin to rise.

Insulin resistance impacts on fat metabolism as well, resulting in increased levels of triglycerides in the blood and decreased levels of HDL-cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol). In addition it can increase sodium retention, which causes blood pressure to increase. It has been suggested that it can cause a generalised inflammatory state in the body. It is thought to be involved in the development of polycystic ovary syndrome.

Relationship between insulin resistance and being overweight

Overeating, obesity and brain

The hypothalamus controls feelings of hunger and satiety. Public domain image, being a work of the United States Federal Government under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code

The appetite-regulating area of the hypothalamus (a structure in the brain) contains receptors that bind insulin. The final result of this binding is to suppress appetite. When resistance has developed, this process becomes less effective. A feeling of satiety might not be experienced, which results in the person overeating. It is hardly surprising that people with this condition often have problems with getting slim. They put on the pounds easily and find slimming difficult, despite all efforts. Typically, the surplus pounds tend to accumulate around the waist first, giving the “apple” pattern of overweight as seen in the Mellin painting above.

Being fat is thought to be one of the main causes of insulin resistance. However, once this condition has developed, it makes weight management even more difficult. Thus a vicious circle arises, which leads to obesity, which causes the condition to become more severe and eventually progress into metabolic syndrome.

The dangers of metabolic syndrome

People with full-blown metabolic syndrome, are markedly obese. They have hypertension, an abnormal cholesterol profile and sometimes an increased tendency to clotting. The disordered glucose metabolism can cause them to develop full diabetes. These people are at high risk of coronary disease, heart attacks, strokes and chronic kidney disease.

Even worse, metabolic syndrome has now been found to have very negative effects on the brain and nervous system. There is increasing evidence that people with this condition are likely to experience degeneration of nerve cells. Some scientists believe that such people are at far greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

High-fructose corn syrup: a major culprit

This substance is widely used today by the food and beverage industry as a sweetener and can contain 50-90% fructose. As a result, fructose consumption has increased dramatically in developed countries.

Consumption of large quantities of fructose disrupts the blood lipid profile, resulting in increased levels of “bad” cholesterol and decreased levels of “good” cholesterol. As a result, not only does it cause obesity, but it also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Excess fructose also decreases glucose tolerance (increase insulin resistance). A number of scientists consider that the increased consumption of high-fructose corn syrup is the main reason for the increased incidence of metabolic syndrome.

If that is not bad enough, research studies also show that high levels of fructose in the diet contribute to the development of fatty liver, a condition that is normally associated with excess consumption of alcohol!

One of the most valuable things you can do to help not just your weight loss but your overall health is to avoid products that contain high-fructose corn syrup whenever possible. It is sometimes listed on packet labels as iso-glucose,  fructose-glucose syrup, maize syrup or corn sugar.

Beat metabolic syndrome by watching what you eat

As described above, a spoonful of honey and half a spoonful of cinnamon a day can help to increase insulin sensitivity and so reverse the harmful changes caused to the body by metabolic syndrome.

A number of other changes to your diet can add their own beneficial effects, for example avoiding high-fructose corn syrup.

Omega-3 fatty acids help prevent some of the harmful effects of fructose that cause obesity and insulin resistance as well as protecting against damage to the nervous tissue. These fatty acids also improve mood, and relieve depression which can help with sticking to a good diet and stopping comfort eating.

An easy way to increase omega-3 is to use olive oil or canola oil instead of oil, sunflower, corn, soybean or safflower oil.

The following books provide more information and guidance on improving insulin sensitivity and beating syndrome X through diet.

The Insulin-Resistance Diet–Revised and Updated: How to Turn Off Your Body’s Fat-Making Machine by Cheryle R. Hart

Click here to find it: on Amazon US:

or buy it on Amazon UK

or get free worldwide delivery from Book Depository



Syndrome X: The Complete Nutritional Program to Prevent and Reverse Insulin Resistance by Jack Challem

Buy from: Amazon US

from: Amazon UK

from Book Depository



Scientific articles consulted for this post:

Richard A. Anderson
Chromium and polyphenols from cinnamon improve insulin sensitivity
Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 2008, vol. 67 pp. 48-53. (Go to summary)

Noori S. Al-Waili
Natural Honey Lowers Plasma Glucose, C-Reactive Protein Homocysteine, and Blood Lipids in Healthy, Diabetic, and Hyperlipidemic Subjects: Comparison with Dextroseand Sucrose
Journal of Medicinal Food, 2004, vol. 7 pp. 100-107 (Go to summary)

Artemis P. Simopoulos
Dietary Omega-3 Fatty Acid Deficiency and High Fructose intake in the Development of Metabolic Syndrome Brain, Metabolic Abnormalities, and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Nutrients. 2013 August; 5(8): 2901–2923. (Read the full article here)

Yaghoobi N, Al-Waili N, Ghayour-Mobarhan M, Parizadeh SM, Abasalti Z, Yaghoobi Z, Yaghoobi F, Esmaeili H, Kazemi-Bajestani SM, Aghasizadeh R, Saloom KY, Ferns GA
Natural honey and cardiovascular risk factors; effects on blood glucose, cholesterol, triacylglycerole, CRP, and body weight compared with sucrose.
Scientific World Journal, 2008, vol. 8 pp. 463-9. (Go to summary)

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