Chromium and Weight Loss

eating chrome wheel spokes

Can Chromium Reduce Fat?

You may have heard of chromium before, the metal used to be found adorning cars but is actually a metal that can be used for weight loss.

And, just like essential metals such as zinc being a crucial part of our dietary intake, chromium is too.

Furthermore, just like zinc and other nutrients a lot of people are deficient in chromium as they do not eat a varied diet.

So, what is it about chromium that is so beneficial and how can it lead to fat loss?

We shall cover this and other aspects regarded chromium in this article:

  • What is chromium 
  • Chromium benefits
  • Side effects
  • Sources 

What is Chromium?

Just as it was found on cars during the 1950’s, chromium is a shiny metal.

However, like many minerals, humans require very small amounts for optimal health, although as of yet, science is not entirely sure of its full range of benefits in human health.

And, if we are honest, not many people really know or understand the benefits or even sources of chromium, let alone recommended dietary needs.

It is available naturally through plant based sources such as grains and seems to have positive reactions to those with diabetes plus a number of other bodily functions.

Chromium was proposed to be an essential element as far back as 1959 where it was identified as being necessary for glucose metabolism. [1]

However, this recognition does very between regions.

The US does identify chromium as being essential whereas the EU does not.

Chromium Health Benefits

Due to the uncertain nature and inconclusive stature of chromium it is never in the spotlight. People have heard of zinc and magnesium, but few would know much about chromium and its effects.

In the same breath, barely anyone would know if they are deficient in chromium and what a deficiency looks like or means to them.

However, chromium deficiency is a widespread problem and it effects a large section of society.

Much of this is because contemporary food intake levels of chromium are three times lower than they were in and before 1977.

Those most at risk from chromium deficiency are:

  • Athletes
  • Diabetics
  • Pregnant women
  • Elderly persons

A deficiency in chromium can lead to a number of health concerns which includes high levels of bad cholesterol in the blood, high blood insulin and it can also lead to artery plaque resulting in cardiovascular disease. [2]

Those who eat a high sugar diet whereby over a quarter of the daily calorie intake consists of sugar are susceptible to more chromium losses through urine.

However, chromium deficiencies also prevent normal protein synthesis (whereby new proteins are generated) and energy production.

Chromium itself is also required for carbohydrate metabolism, and metabolism is the chemical processes that occur in the body which keep you alive.

If you have the required amounts of chromium it helps regulate insulin requirements, this healthy release of insulin lowers blood glucose after you have eaten to keep it in the normal range. [3]

High blood insulin is associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas and is directly associated with the storage of fat in the body. [4]

While it is a loose at present, there’s also a connection between an impairment of insulin’s inability to work effectively, depression and binge eating, particularly those who report carbohydrate cravings. [5]

Studies in to the effects of chromium have also noticed a rise in libido for those people who are classed as obese and it has also produced improvements in acne levels and hirsutism while having no effect on hormone levels. [6]

Further clinical trials have also noted that chromium may be able to alleviate some depression factors.

And, chromium is also demonstrating positive action towards increasing the good cholesterol (HDL) in your blood. [7]

fat levels man

Chromium and weight loss – The science

Okay, so we have established that there are many health benefits to ensuring that we have enough chromium in our diets.

Low levels can negatively affect insulin control, binge eating, energy production, protein development and even acne with related hirsutism in women.

So, what about fat levels, and why is chromium found in some fat burner supplements?

We have already discussed that it has abilities to reduce carbohydrate cravings, so let us look in to this a bit further…

While the exact reasoning behind the actions are yet to be established, there have been numerous reports of studies outlining chromium’s ability to reduce appetite.

This has resulted in subjects eating 25% less food over a course of 8 weeks while supplementing chromium when compared to a placebo.

It is thought that chromium affects neurotransmitters that control appetite and cravings. [8]

There is also a high level of correlation between obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Studies have proven that those who suffer from type 2 diabetes have low levels of chromium by approximately one third than their healthy counterparts, and those suffering from type 2 diabetes also excrete higher amounts of chromium through urination. [9]

It is believed that chromium has an ability to affect the phosphorylation of protein tyrosine residues is the reason behind the anti-diabetic effects. [10]

For those who are involved in resistance training, a study demonstrated that when compared, those who were supplementing with chromium saw significant lean muscle gains compared to the placebo group which saw little lean muscle mass increases but significant body fat gains. [11]

Because chromium is a major contributor to the metabolism of carbohydrates and lipids it has been reported to have a positive effect on lean muscle mass and decrease body fat percentages. [12]

Chromium supplementation side effects?

There are minimal reports concerning any adverse reactions regarding chromium.

In most cases it is safe to use, with only a few incidences of ill health.

These were surrounding kidney and liver damage to patients who were suffering from liver and kidney disease.

Sources of Chromium

As previously mentioned, since 1977 there has been a dramatic reduction of chromium being sourced from foods.

However, you can source chromium by eating foods that are typically high in protein; therefore lean meats, seafood, eggs, beans, nuts, seeds and milks products.

Many vegetables also contain high levels of chromium.

As such, you should ensure that you include potatoes, broccoli and even fruits such as grapes and oranges.

Male adults require about 35mcg of chromium per day and female adults require 25mcg.

Conclusion

We have learned that chromium is a trace metal that is essential to healthy metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and regulates insulin levels.

Chromium has shown to improve cardiovascular health, improve depression markers, helps increase the good cholesterol plus have a positive effect on libido while curbing carvings for carbohydrate heavy foods.

These factors contribute to weight loss and lean muscle gains when accompanied by a resistance training program.


References

[1] SCHWARZ, K; MERTZ, W (November 1959). “Chromium(III) and the glucose tolerance factor”. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics85: 292–295. doi:10.1016/0003-9861(59)90479-5PMID 14444068.

[2] https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6386156

[3] https://niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes/prediabetes-insulin-resistance

[4] Porte Jr. D, Sherwin RS, Baron A (editors). Ellengerg & Rifkin’s Diabetes Mellitus, 6th Edition. McGraw-Hill, New York, 2003.

[5] https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16184071

[6] https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26613790

[7] https://health.harvard.edu/press_releases/chromium-supplements

[8] Anton SD, et al. Effects of chromium picolinate on food intake and satietyDiabetes Technol Ther. (2008)

[9] Morris, B. W., Griffiths, H., and Kemp, G. J. (1988) Correlations between abnormalities in chromium and glucose metabolism in a group of diabetics. Clin. Chem. 34, 1525–1526.

[10] LeRoith, D., Quon, M. J., and Zick, Y. (2002) Insulin and insulin-like growth factor1
receptors and signaling pathways: Similarities and differences in Hormone Signaling
(Goffin, V., and Kelly, P. A., eds.) pp. 81–100, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston MA.

[11] Clancy, S. P., Clarkson, P. M., Cheke, M. E. D., Nosaka, K., Freedson, P. S., Cunningham, J. J., and Valentine, B. (1994) Effects of chromium picolinate supplementaion on body composition, strength, and urinary chromium loss in football players. Int. J. Sport Nutr. 4, 142–153.

[12] https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12664086

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