Chromium Picolinate is a mineral commonly used to help control diabetes and aid weight loss by helping keep blood sugar levels stable. As very small amounts are needed by the body, and are vital for health, it is known as an essential trace element. In this post we will look at chromium Picolinate benefits to see if this is a supplement right for you.
What is it Good For?
Chromium Picolinate can be used in the treatment of a whole host of illnesses and diseases, including pre-diabetes, type 1 and 2 diabetes, depression and certain other mental illnesses, PCOS, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome and some eating disorders.
Here, I am essentially going to focus on the main reason Chromium Picolinate is used as a supplement in the thriving health and fitness industry, where it is used to boost weight loss and anti aging, and increase energy levels.
So here’s the deal, who doesn’t have blood sugar dips and troughs every now and then? And one of the main culprits is the hormonal changes that occur during the female monthly cycle when that sugar demon is released and we start craving with abandon refined carbohydrates and sugary treats.
The good news is we really can’t help it, these cravings are real due to dips in the hormone serotonin, which happens during the premenstrual hormone fluctuations. This has the side effect of making us crave carbohydrates because these are the building blocks of that much needed serotonin.
Punishing ourselves only makes matters worse!
We really we shouldn’t punish ourselves too much by feeling out of control, guilty and even more depressed, but instead find other ways to deal with this problem at its root cause. This is where chromium picolinate may be really helpful to help keep sugar cravings under control.
There is a solution to this – keeping blood sugar levels stable throughout the day by eating low G.I. foods little and often will go a long way to controlling sugar cravings. But this can be a problem for many of us (not just hormonal females) as our modern diet is littered with refined carbohydrates and other simple sugars. Combine this with not enough fiber and nutrients from fruits, vegetables and wholegrains and it can all end in a blood sugar disaster.
Read here my list of fat burning foods that you can easily incorporate into your diet every day, and will help to keep blood sugar stable and kick start that fat burning process.
According to new statistics as of 2015 the average person consumes around 32 teaspoons of sugar a day, mostly hidden in fast and processed foods. This is the main cause of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome – all of which in themselves create a whole new set of problems, making controlling sugar intake absolutely vital for long term health.
HIDDEN SUGARS IN FOOD
Lets face it, sugar is everywhere and hidden in so many foods, even unlikely savory foods can contain high amounts of sugar and it has been called one of the most addictive substances on earth. The body was not designed to metabolise the huge amounts that we consume in our modern diets: in fact we can only safely metabolise around 7 teaspoons a day – any more and we could be storing up problems.
Sugar Addiction – A Plight of Modern Times
Most of us have some level of sugar addiction going on, and we are more than likely unaware of it: even those who claim they are ‘not a sweet toothed person’ and never eat cakes and deserts are probably in reality still consuming way over the recommended 7 teaspoons a day, often hidden in their so called savory foods.
In fact the average hamburger from a fast food joint could be loaded with over 2 teaspoons of sugar, and other processed foods such as fruit juices, breads, processed meats, and most condiment sauces will all be packed with sugar.
Hidden Sugars in your Cupboards:
If you open up your kitchen cupboard and properly checked out ingredients lists you would most likely find sugar hidden everywhere, and sugar is not always labelled as just ‘sugar’. There are in fact around 50 different chemical names and ‘types’ of sugar, and many times they are totally unidentifiable. Stressful yes, but if you eat a whole food and ‘Low GI Diet’ then you will be steering clear of all these sugars naturally.
SUBSTITUTING SUGAR WITH GOOD QUALITY ‘REAL’ FOOD
The solution to a diet too high in sugars is to buy your food in its most whole and close to nature form as possible.
These include fruits, vegetables, wholegrain pastas, brown rice, granary breads, and wholegrain breakfast cereals (you may need to check sugar content with these), organic butters and plain yogurts (you can add your brown rice, date, maple syrup, or fruit for sweetness but only in moderation), pulses, lentils, good quality oils such as olive, coconut, flax, sunflower and sesame, plus raw unsalted nuts and seeds.
All of these contain only a minimum, if any added sugars, and will give you a full array of nutrients, protein, fiber and amino acids. For a full list of low GI, low sugar foods please read ‘Low GI Foods List’ and find out exactly what you need to put on your shopping list for a low sugar diet.
What happens to sugars in the body?
When you eat sugar, or other refined carbohydrates such as refined flours, they are broken down rapidly by the body and absorbed into the bloodstream, causing a rapid and ‘fast’ blood sugar rise. This signals insulin to be released to mop those sugars up and transport them into the liver and the muscles where they can be stored for energy OR more often than not, stored as fat.
The problem with this scenario is all this ‘energy‘ in most cases isn’t actually used, and so those excess sugars get stored as fat, and often specifically dangerous belly fat. This was a good thing when we were living in caves and didn’t know where our next meal was coming from, but it’s not good to be having these reactions many times a day at every meal, and a low sugar diet will help negate this.
This occurs when the body is bombarded on a continual basis with too much sugar: the cells eventually fail to respond to the insulin being pumped out and become insulin resistant.
This leads to the body being unable to clear sugar from the bloodstream effectively, which is VERY DANGEROUS and leads to type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and a whole host of other potentially life threatening diseases.
SLOWING DOWN THE SUGARS IN FOODS:
Eat unrefined and low G.I. foods such as wholegrains, whole fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and pulses, (and if you are not veggie or vegan: fish, eggs and meat) all of which release their sugars slowly into the bloodstream and help keep your blood sugars on an even keel. This helps to reduce over eating and those dreaded sugar cravings.
Try not to break your foods down!
An easy way to quickly assess the G.I. (which is the amount of sugar) in a food is to think of it like this – if something is in its whole form, for example, a boiled potato in its skin, then this is going to have a much lower G.I. than potatoes that have had their fibrous skins removed and then mashed.
Why? Because the mashing process in itself has broken the food down (a job that your mouth, stomach and intestines are supposed to do), meaning the sugars in the food have already been broken down before they even enter your body.
This then causes those sugars to be released very quickly into the bloodstream, rather than more slowly and over a longer period through the digestion process.
THE FACTS ABOUT FRUIT JUICES:
This same reasoning holds true for everything: fruit juice is higher G.I. than eating the whole fruit as its fiber has been taken out, and even if your juice contains the pulp it is still only marginally better as that pulp has also been broken down.
Also, it is easy to consume 10 oranges when it is in juice form, but you could NEVER consume 10 whole oranges if you were to eat the whole fruit. This would be way to much fruit sugar (fructose) for your body to deal with in one hit, thus causing sugar spikes and fat to be laid down. So just think of how easy it is for this to happen when you drink fruit juices!
And refined flours, pastas, rice, and all sweet products will all have the same effects on blood sugar. Whole food have their sugar released much more slowly as they haven’t had their fibers broken down and nutrients processed out of them.
So in essence, it is the process of the body having to do the hard work of breaking down the food that makes it lower G.I. which gives you a steady release of sugar into the bloodstream, hence STOPPING those cravings.
This is why NOT all calories are created equal!
Armed with this knowledge it is easier to understand the concept of not all calories being created equal. Take the mashed potatoes versus the boiled in their skin potatoes – both have the same calories gram for gram, but their different cooking and processing methods means their sugars are released differently.
The mash being higher G.I. will cause the body to not only more readily lay down those sugars as fat, but also this faster processing process will cause them to ‘burn off‘ more quickly, causing hunger and the consumption of too many calories.
CHROMIUM PICOLINATE BENEFITS
Here’s where chromium picolinate comes in:
Chromium picolinate supplements may be of help to you, especially if you are pre diabetic, have type 1 or 2 diabetes, have high blood sugar, high cholesterol, depression and other mental illnesses, metabolic syndrome or eating disorders, as it can help control your blood sugar AND your sugar cravings.
Recent studies suggests chromium picolinate has the abilities to augment insulin action, and therefore help control blood sugar better in those with glucose intollerances and insulin resistance. Slowing down the release of sugars into the blood is one of the major cornerstones of health, and will help with your weight loss and reducing overall body fat efforts.
Help with those dreaded sugar cravings
Chromium may also help those those who suffer severe sugar cravings. It was shown in one study over 8 weeks that 600 micrograms of chromium daily significantly reduced carbohydrate cravings. The best results were seen in those with the greatest cravings.
The recommended daily intake is between 50-200 micrograms daily to maintain health, but higher doses of up to 1000 micrograms can be used with certain medical conditions, and also depending on the other reasons you are using it.
Find what works best for you:
You may want to experiment to find what works for you, especially if you are using it to control sugar cravings. Chromium Picolinate should not be taken without breaks for more than 8 weeks at a time, and never more than instructed on the bottle. ALWAYS make sure as with any supplements that you buy from a reputable brand so you know you’re getting a good quality, controlled product.
You may be wondering how all this ties in with anti aging – well it’s quite simple: sugar is very aging just like the sunshine and smoking. Every time we have sugar spikes and troughs this accelerates the aging process even more, and shortens our telomeres. Therefore the simple process of cutting down on sugar and adding more healthy foods will help keep you looking younger far more effectively than any cream or potion can.
Read here for more awesome ‘Anti Aging Supplements’.
POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS:
It may not be safe for everyone to supplement with chromium picolinate. Always consult with your doctor before taking supplements if you have the following conditions-
- Kidney or liver disease
- Insulin dependent diabetes
- Allergy to leather
- Mental illness
- Thyroid disorder
- Certain steroid medications
Recommended dose – Up to 1000 micrograms daily
Trusted brand Amazon – SOLGAR 5oo mcg Chromium Picolinate