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Chromium and Weight Loss

There’s no disputing that the key to an effective weight loss plan is a healthy, well-balanced diet as well and a challenging physical activity plan.

If you eat less calories than you burn off, you’ll lose weight – a process called negative energy balance. But as the weight starts to come off you’ll find it harder and harder to get rid of those last few pounds.

There are a number of nutrients that have been found in clinical studies to speed up weight loss – they aren’t designed to replace a negative energy balance, but when combined can really ramp up your progress.

One of those nutrients is chromium. In this article, we’ll tell you all you need to know about this mineral and how it supports you in your body composition goals.


What is Chromium?

Glucose tolerance factor chromium, or GTF chromium is an essential mineral. It has to be obtained through diet as your body cannot manufacture it.

You’ll find it in a range of different food including shellfish, meats and vegetables – broccoli in particular is a great source. You’ll also find it in brewer’s yeast, cheese, skimmed milk and bovine colostrum too.

It is a trace element (Cr) yet a large proportion of people don’t get enough in their diet. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they are deficient in it, just that their levels are low.

Those who eat a lot of sugar or refined carbohydrates are at risk of low chromium levels, as simple sugars can increase excretion in the urine – particularly when it comprises 35% of overall calories or more [1].

When optimized, this nutrient helps to maintain proper carbohydrate and fat metabolism [2]. It essentially controls insulin –  the hormone made by the pancreas that allows you to regulate how your body uses or stores glucose and fat.

In fact, if you were deficient in the mineral you’d have symptoms which were very similar to type 1 diabetes [3] – a disease characterized by a lack of insulin.

Chromium’s mechanism is to act directly on insulin receptors. To achieve this, it is dependent on chromodulin – a protein that potentiates the effects of insulin within cells.

Whilst its main action within the body is related to insulin, this nutrient has a number of other benefits. These include:

  • Regulation of fat and carbohydrates
  • Boosts energy levels
  • Reduced food cravings
  • Increases metabolism

broccoli-chromium

Chromium and Weight Loss

By improving the body’s ability to breakdown carbohydrates and fats, chromium can improve weight loss. The stimulation of chromodulin helps to metabolize glucose as well as fatty acids, leading to an increase in metabolic rate and calories burned throughout a day.

A study published in Nutrition Reviews [4] suggested that not only does the mineral affect insulin and the metabolism of glucose and fat metabolism, it also provides another piece in the puzzle regarding control of weight loss and body composition.

Chromium has also been found to help with weight loss by reducing appetite and cravings. A 2008 study published in Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics [5] found that when a group of overweight women who experienced carb cravings were given chromium over an 8-week period, they reported a decrease in hunger levels, food intake and body weight. 

Likewise, a large meta-analysis study of 10 randomized, double-blind studies found that on average, chromium led to a 1.1kg loss in weight [6].

Animal studies have also found that when chromium is supplemented, lactate values reduce leading to better physical performance and recovery [7]. This is thought to be due to the ability of the nutrient to decrease serum insulin, leading to more available glucose for energy.


fat-loss-exercise

Key Point: Chromium has been found to boost weight loss by reducing appetite, regulating metabolism and enhancing performance.


Summary

Chromium is an trace mineral responsible for regulating blood sugar due to its relationship with insulin. It is essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats and assists insulin in transporting these nutrients into cells in order for it to be used as energy.

As a dietary supplement it has been shown to improve weight loss, increase metabolism and reduce appetite and cravings. It can also boost energy levels.

Whilst this nutrient won’t replace a well-rounded diet and physical activity program, when used in combination it can enhance your results.


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References

  1. Kozlovsky, AS. Effects of diets high in simple sugars on urinary chromium losses. Metabolism 1986; 35: 515-8
  2. Vincent, JB. The biochemistry of chromium. J. Nutr. 2000; 130(4): 715-718
  3. Jeejeebhoy, KN et al. Chromium deficiency, glucose intolerance, and neuropathy reversed by chromium supplementation, in a patient receiving long-term total parenteral nutrition . Am J Clin Nutr. 1977; 30(4): 531-8
  4. Anderson, RA. Effects of chromum on body composition and weight loss. Nutr Rev. 1998; 56(9): 266-70
  5. Anton, SD et al. Effects of chromium picolinate on food intake and satiety. Diabetes Technol Ther. 2008; 10(5): 405-12
  6. Pittler, MH et al. Chromium picolinate for reducing body weight: meta-analysis of randomized trials. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003; 27(4): 522-9
  7. Fonseca, LA et al. Influence of chromium supplementation on energy metabolism in horses used in policing activity. Arquivo Brasileiro de Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia. 2011; 63(5): 1175-1180


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