What is Cinnamon?
Cinnamon is used as a spice in culinary dishes from many countries; it consists of the inner bark from trees in the Cinnamomum genus. In order to collect it the bark is peeled from the tree, and then the inner layer scraped off and left to dry. This then curls up into long, thin, scrolls, and is divided up into 5-10cm long sections to be sold. In ancient times it was highly prized due to its appealing smell, and was seen as a gift for gods or kings.
Where Does Cinnamon Come From?
Cinnamon can be found in Arabia, Ethiopia, Northern India and Sri Lanka. It is also cultivated in many other countries, most notably China and Vietnam.
Cinnamon Health Benefits
Cinnamon has anti-diabetic effects throughout the body, including slowing glucose absorption in the intestine to prevent insulin spikes, increasing the body's sensitivity to insulin, reducing blood glucose generally and potentiating insulin's effects.
Cinnamon Benefits for Bodybuilding
The blood sugar benefits that assist with diabetics are also good for fitness and bodybuilding. Becoming more sensitive to insulin assists with blood sugar regulation and prevents weight gain, as well as promoting feelings of energy and vitality. The reduction in blood glucose spikes provides a sustained flow of energy and doesn't leave you with the following drop in blood sugar, which can lead you vulnerable to tiredness and poor food choices.
Cinnamon Side Effects, Safety and Negatives
There is a toxic compound called coumarin associated with cinnamon. The 'cassia' type of cinnamon has particularly high levels. Although supplemental levels of cinnamon will generally pose no problem, a small percentage of the population is particularly susceptible to it.
Cinnamon Recommended Doses and Ingredient Timing
Generally 1-6g of pure cinnamon can be taken daily with no ill effects. However the cassia type should be avoided, as some people can experience toxic effects in doses as low as 5g, and instead the 'true' type used for supplementation. Cinnamon should be taken with carbohydrate containing meals, and cooking does not reduce its effects.
Cinnamon can be bought as an extract in capsules, or is available at most supermarkets as the pure form. It it also found in some carbohydrate loading products in order to even out absorption, such as Evogen Glycoject.
Cinnamon would stack well with most other bodybuilding supplements. It is useful for glucose absorption and may go well with carbohydrate containing products such as Gen-Tec Pure Carb or Max's Cell Repair.
A Hydroxychalcone Derived from Cinnamon Functions as a Mimetic for Insulin in 3T3-L1 AdipocytesMohamed Sham Shihabudeen H, Hansi Priscilla D, Thirumurugan K. Cinnamon extract inhibits α-glucosidase activity and dampens postprandial glucose excursion in diabetic rats.Nutr Metab (Lond). (2011)
Adisakwattana S, et al. Inhibitory activity of cinnamon bark species and their combination effect with acarbose against intestinal α-glucosidase and pancreatic α-amylase. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. (2011)
A Hydroxychalcone Derived from Cinnamon Functions as a Mimetic for Insulin in 3T3-L1 AdipocytesIsolation and Characterization of Chalcone Polymers from Cinnamon with Insulin-Like Biological ActivityImparl-Radosevich J, et al. Regulation of PTP-1 and insulin receptor kinase by fractions from cinnamon: implications for cinnamon regulation of insulin signalling. Horm Res. (1998)
A Hydroxychalcone Derived from Cinnamon Functions as a Mimetic for Insulin in 3T3-L1 AdipocytesBroadhurst CL, Polansky MM, Anderson RA. Insulin-like biological activity of culinary and medicinal plant aqueous extracts in vitro. J Agric Food Chem. (2000)
Kirkham S, et al. The potential of cinnamon to reduce blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Diabetes Obes Metab. (2009)Pham AQ, Kourlas H, Pham DQ. Cinnamon supplementation in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Pharmacotherapy. (2007)
Mang B, et al. Effects of a cinnamon extract on plasma glucose, HbA, and serum lipids in diabetes mellitus type 2. Eur J Clin Invest. (2006)
Khan A, et al. Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. (2003)
Anderson RA. Chromium and polyphenols from cinnamon improve insulin sensitivity. Proc Nutr Soc. (2008)