Claims of links between chromium picolinate and weight loss are everywhere, but is it all it’s cracked up to be in terms of burning fat and conserving muscle?
Chromium picolinate is a popular supplement, often marketed as a fat burner, with claims made that it increases metabolism, burns body fat and in bodybuilding circles in particular, protects muscle tissue whilst dieting.
But does it work?
Chromium Picolinate and Weight Loss – Does it Work…?
It depends on which evidence you choose to believe. However scientific research has been largely unsupportive of any link between chromium picolinate and weight loss.
A study in 1995 of male participants with a body fat over 22% and women over 30% concluded that there was no link between body fat, insulin sensitivity and chromium picolinate.
The participants in the 16 week trial did three 30 minute sessions of aerobic activity each week. One group were given 400mcg of chromium picolinate, the other a placebo.
The conclusions were that there was no difference in the weight lost by either group and that the exercise was responsible for the small amount of body fat lost.
A meta-analysis of the evidence supporting a causative link between chromium picolinate and weight loss carried out by Exeter and Plymouth Universities in the UK also found little evidence to support any link.
Researchers looked at published and unpublished studies from a range of sources, all randomised, double blind and placebo controlled.
Reporting in the International Journal of Obesity in 2003, the researchers concluded that there was a relatively small effect in terms of weight loss, largely due to the results of one of the 10 trials reviewed.
However, the clinical relevance of this effect was debatable and not robust and as such should be treated with caution. Hardly conclusive.
We could go on as there are many studies with similar findings and conclusions.
There are some studies that make claims of a link between chromium picolinate and weight loss in their conclusions. These, though, seem to either to be flawed in the research methods used or funded by vested interests, like chromium suppliers or supplement manufacturers.
So What is Chromium Picolinate…?
Chromium picolinate is a combination of chromium and picolinic acid. Chromium is a mineral, trace amounts of which are found in for example, fish, poultry, meat and whole grain products.
Chromium aids the transport of blood glucose across cell membranes. Combining chromium with picolinic acid simply aids the absorption by the body of chromium.
The claims made about chromium picolinate are based on the fact that it stimulates the activity of insulin after eating, assisting the metabolism of glucose and fat and managing fat and glucose breakdown.
Whilst this exact mechanism has yet to be identified, it hasn’t stopped the intense marketing of chromium picolinate as a supplement that can burn body fat whilst conserving lean tissue, inhibit the storing of fat by the body and reduce appetite.
In terms of adverse effects, whilst nothing serious has been reported, those that have have caused the FDA in the US to cite “safety concerns”.
The Bottom Line…?
Despite the miraculous and very appealing claims made for chromium picolinate and weight loss and the saturation of products containing it, the scientific evidence seems pretty clear.
There is no reliable link between chromium picolinate and weight loss, fat burning and increases in muscle mass and metabolism.
Even when combined with exercise, there is no discernable effect above and beyond that of the exercise itself.
Whilst promoted as a reliable, safe and effective way to reduce body fat, the evidence suggests otherwise.
Our advice? Ignore the hype, save your money and find a healthy weight loss plan that will give you the results you’re looking for.
Diet and exercise are the only proven ways to lose weight and to keep it off.