Chromium Picolinate isn’t one of those elements that is frequently discussed when it comes to weight reduction. If you look carefully though, you can spot it in the ingredient list of some of the fat-burning supplements that claim that chromium contributes in different ways to slimming down your waistline. It is one of the essential minerals sourced from various foods and is surely known for its ability to improve insulin response, physical performance, control cholesterol levels, etc. But does it actually promote weight loss?
We have done extensive research on the weight loss claims of chromium picolinate, what science says, and its safety as a supplement. Here’s what you need to know:
What Is Chromium Picolinate
Chromium, also often called a trace mineral, occurs in different foods that we eat and is believed to offer various health benefits. Some of the foods that are rich in chromium include broccoli, brewer’s yeast, meat, liver, whole grains, seafood, and apples among others.
Surprisingly, our body absorbs very little amount of chromium (just about 2.5% of the total mineral consumed) and this is where chromium picolinate’s benefits come into the picture. Of many different forms, chromium picolinate is the most common one because it is easier to absorb in the body. This is why various fat burners prefer to use this compound in their formula. Chromium picolinate forms when chromium combines with picolinic acid.
Chromium picolinate is believed to play a key role in carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism by regulating insulin action when taken in an appropriate form and dosage. This has been suggested in a review of the scientific literature by the Institute of Medicine.
Now let’s take a look at how science backs up the weight loss effects of chromium as claimed by the supplement manufacturers.
Chromium Picolinate And Weight Loss – Scientific Studies
There are quite a few studies that have shown that chromium can contribute to losing weight in various ways-
Curbing Food Cravings
Food cravings often come in the way of your weight loss journey and finding ways to control it accelerates the process. There is a concrete two-part study (Part 1 on human subjects and Part 2 on animals) that shows that chromium picolinate (CrPic) can control your food intake by reducing the appetite thus supporting weight reduction.
In part 1 which involved a group of healthy adult women with carbohydrate cravings, the volunteers were given 1000 mcg of chromium picolinate for 8 weeks. Researchers found that there was a significant decrease in food intake, appetite, and carb and sugar cravings at the end of the 8-week period.
In part 2, chromium picolinate was injected directly into the brains of the rats that were kept on fast for 24 hours. This again showed that the food intake post-injected had reduced.
The clinical trial hence confirmed that chromium picolinate does lower the appetite and food intake significantly. Additionally, the findings of the part 2 trial suggest that the mineral affects the brain which likely produces these effects of satiety and reduced hunger.
We found another pilot study on chromium picolinate’s appetite-suppressing properties, the findings of which suggest that it may be beneficial for people suffering from eating disorders. Chromium does that by regulating blood glucose levels which in turn reduces binge eating.
Balancing Blood Glucose Levels
The carbohydrate and sugar cravings are largely associated with the insulin response and the sugar levels in the blood. One of the studies from 2004 found that a dosage of about 200 to 1,000 mcg of chromium picolinate per day can improve blood glucose levels.
Another study published earlier also supported chromium picolinate’s ability to decrease body composition by balancing blood sugar levels. Chromium, thus, plays a crucial role in regulating insulin response which in turn influences fat (carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins) metabolism converting to energy. This is a crucial process for weight loss.
In fact, one of the studies also found that chromium supplementation showed a positive effect on overweight people with diabetes.
Effect On Body Composition
We found a recent meta-analysis involving twenty-one clinical trials from 19 studies on chromium’s effect on body mass index on obese subjects. The study established that supplementation of this mineral can decrease body composition and thus promote weight loss.
There are a couple of studies, however, that stated that the effect of chromium on body weight was inconclusive even though few studies have shown otherwise. Their findings suggest that future trials conducted on chromium’s effect on body composition should last for a longer time – at least about 16 weeks for better assessment.
Restoring Chromium Levels In The Body
As mentioned earlier, our body absorbs chromium in very small amounts which is why it is known as a trace mineral. To top that off, certain factors like intense training sessions, rigorous physical activities, pregnancy, lactation, or health issues can bring the chromium levels further down leading to a deficiency.
Now if you are specifically aiming to reduce your body weight, clearly, you will have to work out rigorously. But since exercise accelerates metabolism of the nutrients, this can be one of the reasons behind the decline in chromium levels and you will have to restore it for the body to use it effectively. This is where supplements can be of great help. There are independent chromium picolinate supplements but fat burners with chromium as one of their ingredients can give an overall nutritional boost along with restoring chromium levels.
Aside from that there are several chromium-rich foods like broccoli, meat, liver, whole grains, eggs, oysters, and more. Adding some of these to your diet on a consistent basis can be a great way to restore the levels of this mineral in your body.
Does Chromium Picolinate Have Side Effects?
While chromium is an essential mineral for the body, high doses of anything can be harmful. So if your body is already receiving the recommended amount of this mineral then supplementation of it can cause something referred to as chromium toxicity. Some of the reactions to the excessive presence of chromium in the body include restlessness, issues with cardiovascular functioning, gastrointestinal problems, and asthma.
It is also important to understand that every individual has a different biochemical mix in the body so chromium may not necessarily have the same effect on everyone. On the positive side, if you are glucose intolerant as a result of low chromium levels, the supplementation of this mineral can help reduce insulin requirements and reverse the intolerance leading to gain in weight as well.
The majority of the studies above indicate a positive connection between chromium and weight reduction. Their findings establish that chromium picolinate is a dietary supplement and its intake does have a positive effect on weight loss. That said, the mineral alone cannot do much. Complimenting chromium supplementation with a healthy lifestyle including a healthy diet, physical exercises, and ample rest together can accelerate the weight loss process.
You should also keep in mind that chromium should not be taken in excess as it can have adverse effects on the body. We always recommend that you seek a healthcare practitioner’s advice before taking chromium supplements, especially if you are suffering from long or short-term ailments (diabetes, cardiovascular issues, etc.), undergoing any treatment, or taking medicines.