How does chromium picolinate help you to lose weight? It’s a question we hear often, and one that we’ve spent a lot of time researching. This article will answer all of the questions you might have about chromium picolinate and weight loss..
After reading, you’ll know what chromium picolinate is, what it does for your body, how it helps with weight loss, and how much your body needs.
What Is Chromium Picolinate?
We’ll split the name out into two parts: Chromium first, then picolinate.
Chromium is a chemical element that hangs out in the d-block of the periodic table. It’s main uses are in the production of stainless steel, as a catalyst in various chemical reactions, and in ornaments, because it can be polished well without tarnishing.
Sounds great, but not necessarily like something you’d want to put in your body…
According to The U.S. National Library of Medicine (1), though: “Chromium is important in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. It stimulates fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis, which are important for brain function and other body processes. Chromium also aids in insulin action and glucose metabolism.”
That sounds a lot better, right?
But there’s a problem…
Chromium isn’t made in the body, so everything your body needs must come from your diet.
There’s another hiccup, too:
Your digestive system only absorbs around 0.5 – 2% of the chromium that goes through it (2), meaning the majority is wasted.
And this is where picolinic acid comes in.
This organic compound with the formula C5H4N(CO2H) ” is a derivative of pyridine with a carboxylic acid substituent at the 2-position” (3).
(We don’t know what that means either).
Picolinic acid has a lot of complicated scientific applications, but the bit we’re interested in is what happens when you combine it with chromium…
When the two are joined, you get chromium picolinate. A compound described as “the best absorbed and most efficacious” form of chromium (4).
This is why Chromium picolinate is used in dietary supplements, including Lean Bean!
What Are The Benefits For The Body When Taking Chromium?
For a humble chemical compound, chromium has been the subject of a huge amount of research studies over the past few years.
Researchers have been looking to understand the impacts of chromium on the body, and most specifically its role in human nutrition.
In 2010 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a scientific opinion (5) stating that, based on the findings of all the available literature, chromium contributes to:
- Normal macronutrient metabolism.
- The maintenance of normal blood glucose concentrations.
Both of which have an impact on weight loss, incidentally…
What Are The Benefits Of Chromium For Weight Loss?
This is the million dollar question.
As well as the EFSA-recognised body benefits listed above, some studies have found additional effects that may contribute to weight loss
One study, published in the journal Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics, found that
“CrPic [chromium picolinate] reduced food intake, hunger levels, and fat craving, and tended to decrease body weight” (6).
Some others studies have found that chromium picolinate
- Has a role in food intake regulation
- Contributes to the maintenance or achievement of a normal body weight.
So we can add these bullets to the list above.
It may not be obvious how the findings contribute to weight loss, so here’s a breakdown of each one.
Normal macronutrient metabolism
Metabolism is the process of your body converting food and drink into energy.
As you can imagine, it’s important that this runs smoothly.
A faster metabolism means that your body will convert sustenance into energy more quickly, and that less fat will be deposited around the body to be used later.
And it’s easy to see how less fat stored around the body helps with weight loss..!
‘Macronutrient’ refers collectively to things like proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, which are required in large amounts in your diet.
So, normal macronutrient metabolism means that your body is quickly and correctly processing everything that comes in.
If these things aren’t processed properly, it can lead to all sorts of issues. Disrupted glucose metabolism is a key factor in type-2 diabetes, for example.
Maintenance of normal blood glucose concentrations
Chromium is part of your glucose tolerance factor, or GTF: A compound used by the body to effectively use and store sugar in your blood.
The conclusion of one study suggests that not getting enough chromium is associated with problems with levels of insulin and blood sugar (8).
And because insulin helps your body turn sugar in your blood into energy, then to store it for use later (9), it’s important to get the balance right.
Let’s quickly recap on the relationship between insulin and glucose…
Glucose is the main form of sugar used by the human body for energy.
We break down complex carbohydrates in food into glucose and other sugars, and use these for fuel.
The body regulates blood sugar quite strictly, to make sure that we have enough for energy, but not too much.
Excess glucose is stored in glycogen deposits, for use later.
Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas. It helps the body use and store sugar, and controls blood sugar levels.
Achieving and maintaining the right balance of glucose and insulin is important for good health, and – because insulin resistance and high blood sugar are associated with increased body fat (10) – for weight loss.
One study, undertaken on “normal, free-living subjects” (7) found that chromium was linked to blood glucose reduction in people with higher glucose than usual.
Food intake regulation
One study found chromium picolinate led to a reduction in food cravings.
In this study, participants receiving the supplement had lower scores on all four subscales of a measure called the ‘Food Craving Inventory’ (FCI).
The subscales of the FCI are carbohydrates, starches, fast-food fats, and sweets. All things that you wouldn’t usually associate with weight loss!
People in this study also had “lower average hunger ratings than participants in the placebo condition at 4.5 h after lunch” (6).
So chromium is associated with fewer food cravings, and less compulsion to eat in the hours after meals.
These are things that you would associate with weight loss.
Maintenance or achievement of a normal body weight
So far we’ve tied all the effects of chromium back to weight loss, so this point has been covered already.
But to really drive the point home, here are a couple of quotes from other studies about chromium and weight loss:
A study published in the Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics journal stated that “chromium picolinate (CrPic) has been shown to attenuate [reduce] weight gain” (6).
This study concluded that “weight loss was found at trend level” (6).
This was backed up by another study, published in the Diabetes Care journal. They found that “[chromium] supplementation significantly attenuated [reduced] body weight gain and visceral fat accumulation compared with the placebo group” (11).
But before you get too excited…
Other studies have contested the impact of chromium on weight loss.
We have included these so as to paint a full picture of what you might expect when taking the supplement.
One study found that chromium picolinate only produced “very small” amounts of weight loss (2.4 pounds or 1.1 kg) after 12 to 16 weeks in overweight or obese adults.
They speculated that this was such a small change that the effect could not reliably be linked to chromium.
Some research has been carried out that found no links at all between chromium supplementation and weight loss. For example:
A pilot study of chromium picolinate for weight loss (12) found little statistical significance between supplementation of chromium compared to a placebo group, where both groups received nutritional education.
These researchers speculated that the nutritional education had an impact, however: A good vote of confidence for reading articles like this one!
This finding was echoed by another study, too (13).
In short, chromium may not be a miracle weight loss cure – but nothing is.
It has been proven to support normal bodily functions around metabolism and blood sugar regulation, meaning it contributes in a meaningful way to your body goals.
Some of the links that have been found are tentative, and research needs to continue to get a clearer understanding of the impact of chromium picolinate on weight loss.
But current research does look promising
Are There Any Side Effects of Chromium Picolinate?
As with everything the body needs, too much chromium can have negative effects.
For most people, the amount required to trigger these will be much higher than what you will consume via your diet or through supplements.
It’s good to be aware of the risks though, even if they are low.
Chromium picolinate should not be taken during pregnancy, or while nursing.
Nor should it be taken by people diagnosed with liver or kidney disease, thyroid disorders, or any diagnosed mental illness.
And, strangely, you should avoid it if you have an allergy to leather! (1)
If you’re taking any medication, speak with your doctor before taking supplements that contain chromium. They will be able to advise whether your planned supplements have adverse interactions with
(This is an important precaution with any supplements!)
What Is The Ideal Dosage For Weight Loss Results?
There is some debate about this question.
The scientific studies we’ve mentioned in this article use various amounts for their experiments. To give an idea of the spectrum one study described 1000μg of chromium per day as a “high dose” and 600μg of chromium per day as a “moderate dose” (14)
(Note: μg is the symbol for microgram, and a microgram is one millionth of a gram. So the quantities we’re talking about here are quite small!)
Each study exceeds the adequate intakes established by the Institute of Medicine (r.S), and the “estimated safe and adequate daily dietary intake” established by the National Academy of Sciences (15).
This amount is 50 – 200μg per day.
Chromium, by itself, is an important macronutrient. It has several applications in the human body that have been found to contribute to weight loss.
There is an established and growing body of literature around the role of chromium in nutrition and, more specifically, weight loss. While there is not unanimous agreement, many studies do agree there is a positive link. Research is ongoing to strengthen this understanding, too.
When combined with picolinic acid, chromium becomes chromium picolinate. This form of the chemical – the form we include in Lean Bean – has been found to be more effective than plain chromium, because your body is able to absorb more of it.
Chromium in your body helps with normal macronutrient metabolism, reduction of tiredness and fatigue, food intake regulation, and maintenance of normal body weight.
A supplement that contains chromium, in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise, will put you well on your way to healthy and sustainable weight loss.
Hopefully this article has answered your questions about what chromium does for the body!