Chromium Picolinate for weight loss
Its working properly therefore depends upon the intake of numerous different factors; these include nutrients, vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, fibre, calories, carbohydrates, fat and protein. Many of these are available naturally in many of the foods we eat, in varying levels.
Some, such as minerals, are available only in small amounts, and so the body may benefit from taking additional nutrients in from other sources, i.e. supplements. This article will look at the potential merits from the use of the supplement chromium picolinate, particularly how it may be beneficial for those trying to lose weight.
What role does Chromium Picolinic play in the body?
Chromium is well known for being beneficial to the body. Its role in aiding insulin is well established, although there are several different theories for how exactly it does this. One theory is that chromium forms a compound in the body that decreases glucose levels in the blood, which leads to increased insulin sensitivity. This may be of particular use to people with diabetes or insulin resistance (pre-diabetes), but can be of general use to anyone who is dieting. Another theory states that chromium increases the effectiveness of insulin and its ability to handle glucose directly. It was suggested by Krzanowski that chromium somehow works to increase sensitivity of insulin receptors (Krzanowski, 1996).
There is also lots of speculation by various sellers of Chromium Picolinate about how it affects the body; for example, “Some claim that that the improved insulin efficiency causes an increase in the production of serotonin, which subsequently reduces appetite. Still others assert that chromium can regulate the fat-production processes in the body, preventing excess fat from forming. One hypothesis states that chromium picolinate increases protein synthesis, which in turn stimulates muscle growth”. At present, it is not known which, if any of these theories is correct, and to what extent therefore the intake of Chromium Picolinate can improve attempts to lose weight.
Picolinic acid serves to aid the body’s absorption of Chromium, which means that more of the Chromium from a Chromium Picolinate supplement is taken into the body than would be taken ordinarily. This is why Chromium Picolinate is the most popular form to take Chromium as a supplement. Usually, only about 3 % of dietary chromium is retained in the body, because Chromium is so difficult to absorb.
There have been numerous studies conducted looking at the effects Chromium Picolinate has on the body, many of which were inconclusive or suggested that chromium picolinate has little affect upon weight loss or gain. However, there have also been several studies that heavily suggest that Chromium Picolinate can be beneficial in weight loss attempts. Harris et al (1998) examined dietary supplementation with Chroma Slim, a combination pill that includes chromium picolinate mixed with other active ingredients. The combination of supplementation and exercise significantly increased fat loss as compared to the control group (Harris et al, 1998). Several studies using animal subjects also show fat loss and muscle growth following long-term consumption of increased levels of chromium.
Two different studies have found conflicting results about the appetite suppression potential of chromium picolinate. One study found that the use of the supplement helped to regulate appetite and reduced cravings for carbohydrates. A second later study showed that participants had reduced cravings for fat based foods not carbohydrates.
Despite many claims that Chromium Picolinate aids in muscle growth, there is currently no conclusive evidence to support this, and several studies that suggest there is no direct link.
How might this aid weight loss?
Studies mentioned above have found separately that an increased intake of Chromium Picolinate decreases cravings for carbohydrates and for fats. This effectively works as an appetite suppressant, which may decrease cravings for unhealthy snacks that are fatty and high in calories. This craving for unhealthy foods is often what derails diets even for those with the best intentions, and therefore diets may be more successful in the end if a chromium picolinate supplement is taken.
The role chromium picolinate plays in aiding insulin may also aid weight loss. Chromium stimulates the activity of enzymes involved in the metabolism of glucose for energy and the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol. Chromium appears to increase the effectiveness of insulin and its ability to handle glucose, preventing hypoglycaemia (too much insulin) or diabetes (too little insulin). By improving the body’s ability to breakdown glucose and fat, the metabolism is improved, which means that more calories are burnt over the course of a day. This can over time lead to weight loss, or improve weight control and stability. This weight loss will obviously be more significant if diet and exercise changes are made alongside the use of a chromium picolinate supplement.
There are some side effects that have been associated with chromium, which are more likely if the supplement is consumed in large amounts. There have been some reports of chromium causing occasional irregular heartbeats, sleep disturbances, headaches, mood changes, and allergic reactions. Chromium may also increase the risk of kidney or liver damage, and therefore if you have kidney or liver disease, do not take chromium supplements without consulting a doctor first.
Some studies on animals did find skeletal abnormalities in offspring from rodents that had been given high levels of Chromium over a prolonged period of time. However, no other serious side effects were noted, and no similar findings have ever occurred in humans. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should always consult a doctor before starting a course of any supplement, medication or diet pill.
Too much chromium has been found to reduce insulin sensitivity, and so taking excess amounts could actually hinder weight loss attempts. Therefore, it is important to not exceed the stated dose, and to follow the instructions provided with supplements and diet pills containing chromium picolinate.
Experts appear to disagree about the amount of chromium that should be taken into the body per day. There is currently no known amount that the body requires to function, and so there is no standardised recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for Chromium. There is an estimate provided in the adequate intake (AI) that has been set. WebMD suggests that women up to 50 should be consuming at least 25 mcg per day and women over 50 should be consuming at least 20mcg per day, whilst men aged under 50 should seek to consume at least 35mcg per day of chromium, and men over 50 should be consuming at least 30mcg per day.
Estimates about the maximum amount of Chromium that should be consumed daily vary also. Many experts state that no more than 1000mcg should be consumed per day, whilst other researchers and experts estimate that at most 200mcg of chromium should be consumed per day. This vast difference between estimates shows how under-researched Chromium is in relation to its role in our bodies.
Following these guidelines, it is advisable to not consume more than 1000mcg per day of chromium, from either dietary or supplements sources. When choosing a chromium picolinate supplement to take, make sure to account for the presence of naturally occurring chromium within the daily diet, and to adjust the dose accordingly.
Natural sources of Chromium
There are many natural sources of Chromium available to incorporate into the daily diet. However, processed forms of these foods are somewhat stripped of their natural Chromium, meaning that processed foods are not a good source of Chromium, or indeed many other micronutrients that help the body to function.
Foods that are good sources of chromium include vegetables such as broccoli, potatoes, and green beans, whole-grain products, beef and poultry, fruits, including apples and bananas, and milk and dairy products. Chromium is present in these foods in varying amounts. However, only around 3% of dietary Chromium is absorbed, making it difficult to significantly increase the amount of chromium sourced from diet alone.
The chromium-containing foods most biologically available to the body are brewer’s yeast, liver, beef, whole-wheat bread, beets and beet sugar molasses, and mushrooms.
There are a large number of online retailers and health shops that stock chromium picolinate, and many of these have a large number of reviews and feedback from customers. These seem to be overwhelmingly positive, with only a small minority finding no physical changes or experiencing side effects. Many of the people who purchase chromium picolinate claim to be diabetic, hypo-glycemic or at risk of developing diabetes in later life. These users report stabilised energy levels throughout the day, stabilised blood sugar levels, and a slow reduction in blood sugar levels over a period of months. Several diabetics have been able to reduce or even stop their insulin injections with approval from their doctor whilst taking chromium picolinate. Many of the reviews also remark about their weight loss over a period of time, stating that their use of chromium picolinate was definitely a contributing factor, alongside diet and exercise. Some have felt a marked decrease in cravings for sugary goods, candy and chocolates, but these seem to be in the minority.
There are some negative reviews for chromium picolinate. Users either felt no effects or suffered from a rash on their arms and upper body. This seems to be the most common side effect based upon the available feedback from customers. One user, a diabetic, remarked that whilst it was effective at reducing blood sugar levels, too much could make them feel sluggish and low on energy. This does highlight the importance of ensuring the dosage of chromium picolinate is correct and regulated. Increasing doses of any supplement will not necessarily increase the desired effect of weight loss, and may actually increase the chances of negative side effects.
Chromium Picolinate in diet pills
There are several diet pills that have incorporated Chromium Picolinate or just Chromium into their ingredients list, often combined with other active ingredients to help boost the body’s potential weight loss abilities.
Slim gum is one such slimming aid. Each piece contains 50mcg of chromium, as well as green coffee bean extract, thiamine, biotin, green tea extract and L-carnitine. Individually, many of these ingredients have proven roles in improving the metabolism and dietary function of the body, making this a potentially very successful slimming aid.
Saba Ace and Lipo 30 are two other slimming aids that contain Chromium amongst their active ingredients. Saba Ace has received fairly positive reviews, with users commenting on message boards about their weight loss success. On the other hand, Lipo 30 has received poor customer reviews and an incredibly low ranking here at DPR. Lipo 30 contains 999mcg of chromium per daily-recommended serving, making it a very high dose, especially as Chromium is also present in a person’s daily diet. This makes it potentially unsuitable for long-term use. In addition to this, the lack of weight loss results reported from users suggests that there are other supplements and slimming aids that contain chromium which are more likely to aid in weight loss.
Chromium Picolinate may play a fairly significant role in aiding insulin in the body, but its overall effects upon weight loss may be negligible compared to our top rated diet pills, as well as diet and exercise regimes. The largest benefit of taking a Chromium Picolinate supplement may be felt by diabetics, or by people who are suffering from a Chromium deficiency. This deficiency is supposedly rare, but is being found in increasing amounts in people who have highly processed diets. Americans may also be more likely to suffer from a Chromium deficiency because of the low levels of chromium in soil, which in turn affects the levels found in plants and livestock.
Considering that, too much Chromium can reduce sensitivity to insulin, if taking a Chromium Picolinate supplement, it is important to only take a moderate sized dose, and to not exceed the maximum recommendation of 1000mcg per day. Reduced insulin sensitivity can lead to weight gain, as the body struggles to break down and use glucose in cells.
Chromium Picolinate is not the miracle weight loss cure that some claim it to be, but it may help to stimulate the metabolism through increased insulin sensitivity, which may make it easier to lose weight whilst undertaking a balanced diet and exercise regime.
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