(The product in this post is NOT being promoted for medical purposes)
Chromium Picolinate is a mineral that aids in blood sugar control (among many other things) and is commonly used to help control diabetes and boost weight loss, and is said to be especially effective when used alongside other fat burning strategies. Only very small amounts are needed in the body, but as they are vital for health it is known as an essential trace element.
Uses for chromium picolinate
Chromium can be used (alongside advice from a professional) to help with 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. But, it must be stressed you should NEVER self treat any of these disorders with this supplement – for that you need to see your doctor first.
In this post I will only be focusing on the reasons why chromium picolinate is used as a supplement in the thriving health and fitness industry with a view to boosting weight loss, increasing energy levels, and its role in anti aging. We will also be looking at some scientific studies to find out if it actually works for weight loss specifically.
Chromium Picolinate and Weight Loss
So here’s the deal, who doesn’t have blood sugar dips and troughs every now and then, or even all the time, as many people do? One of the culprits of this problem is the hormonal changes that occur during the female monthly cycle when you may start craving with abandon refined carbohydrates and sugary treats.
The good news is we really can’t help it ladies. These cravings are real, and are down to the dips in serotonin which can happen during premenstrual hormone fluctuations. This has the side effect of making you crave carbohydrates, for the simple fact that they are the building blocks of that much needed serotonin.
Punishing yourself only makes matters worse!
For many, along with this feeling of lack of self control, comes a feeling of guilt that leaves you even more depressed. It can be a vicious cycle that is hard to break, which can lead to a reliance on the serotonin boost delivered by SUGAR. And then, as if that wasn’t bad enough, the whole host of new problems that come along with a high sugar diet.
But you can find ways to deal with this problem at its root cause, which is where you may find chromium picolinate may be helpful by getting your sugar cravings under control. It has been shown in studies that chromium can help hunger levels and fat cravings, leading to slightly reduced body weight.
How to keep blood sugar stable
The other solution to this (alongside the potential support of chromium picolinate supplementation) is to keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the day by eating low GI meals little and often.
However, this can be a problem for most of us (not just hormonal females) because our modern diet is littered with refined carbohydrates and other unhealthy simple sugars. Combine this with not enough fiber and nutrients from fruits, vegetables and wholegrains, and it can all end in up in a blood sugar disaster.
That is why dietis crucial and should always be your number one priority. A plant based diet filled with lots of plant proteins, antioxidants and detoxifying foods will work together to not only blast those sugar cravings into kingdom come, but also boost fat loss and potentially lower your risk of many modern day diseases. Check out here my Beginner’s Guide to this healthful lifestyle for more information.
The hidden sugars in food
According to new statistics, as of 2015 the average person consumes around 32 teaspoons of sugar a day, and these are mostly hidden in fast and processed foods.
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 psycologically addictive substances on earth. The body was not designed to metabolise the huge amounts that we consume in our modern diet; in fact, we can only safely metabolise around 7 teaspoons a day. Any more and we may be storing up ill health.
All this is also dependent on other lifestyle factors of course; for instance: If you’re a body builder, or do lots of exercise in general then you are likely burning those excess sugars off (if you eat them in moderation). Also, if you have high amounts of muscle mass on your body this will also help to mop up excess sugars from the bloodstream.
The term sugar addiction has been thrown about a lot these past few years, but new research suggests that it’s not the sugar that’s addictive, rather the temporary ‘high’ from the serotonin boost. Our bodies get used to that boost, so therefore we feel we need it to feel good. I often find that even those who claim they’re 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 – usually hidden in unsuspecting 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 too; so be aware.
Hidden Sugar in your Cupboard
If you open up your kitchen cupboard and properly checked out ingredients lists on all your food products, you would most likely find sugar hidden absolutely everywhere. And even more frustratingly is the fact that sugar is not always labelled as just ‘sugar’, but there are in fact around 56 different chemical names and types of sugar on the market and many times they are totally unidentifiable. Stressful yes, but if you eat a healthy whole food diet then you will be steering clear of all these sugars naturally.
Substituting sugar with REAL food
The solution to a diet too high in sugars, is to always buy your food in its most whole and close to nature form as possible. This includes:-
- Wholegrain pasta
- Brown rice
- Granary breads
- Wholegrain breakfast cereals (you may need to check sugar content with these). Check out this protein rich muesli and these fabulous quinoa breakfast bowls for inspiration.
- Organic butters
- Plain yogurts of soy or coconut (you can add healthier brown rice syrup, date or maple syrup, or fresh fruit for sweetness).
- Good quality oils such as olive, coconut, flax, sunflower and sesame.
- 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.
What happens to sugar in the body?
When you eat sugar (or any refined carbohydrates such as refined flours, rice, bread and pasta) they are broken down rapidly by the body and absorbed into the bloodstream, thus causing a rapid and fast blood sugar rise. This causes the brain to signal an insulin release from the pancreas to mop those sugars up, then transport them into the liver and muscles where they can be stored for energy. Or, more often than not (unless burnt off for energy in the form of a workout) they are stored as fat; unfortunately, this will usually be dangerous belly fat.
This was a good thing once upon a time 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 to 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 can lead to type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and a whole host of other potentially life threatening diseases.
How to SLOW down a food’s sugars
Eating unrefined and low GI foods such as wholegrains, whole fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and pulses – all of which release their sugars slowly into the bloodstream, will help to keep your blood sugars on an even keel for hours. This helps to reduce those dreaded sugar cravings that can lead to over-eating.
An easy way to quickly assess a food’s GI (which is the rating for the amount of sugar it contains – the lower the better) 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 GI than potatoes that have had their fibrous skins removed and then mashed.
Why? Because the mashing process in itself has broken the food down, which is usually the job that your mouth, stomach and intestines are designed to do. But in this scenario it has already been done, therefore your body doesn’t have to do anything and can absorb those sugars quickly – too quickly in fact.
These sugars are then released almost instantly into your bloodstream; rather than more slowly over a longer more sustained period through the digestion process. And there you have it, an unnatural blood sugar spike that promotes a high insulin release. It all makes sense when you think about it: this is what the body is designed to do in nature – to break down food slowly, thus keeping us sustained and full for hours.
Fruit juice – Not as healthy as you think!
This same reasoning holds true for everything you consume. Fruit juice, for instance, has a MUCH higher GI value than eating the whole fruit, because it has had its fiber taken out in the juicing process. And even if your juice contains the pulp, it is still only marginally better as that pulp has also been broken down too!
It is also very easy to consume 10 oranges in record time when they are in juice form; but you could NEVER consume 10 whole oranges within minutes if you were to eat the whole fruit one after the other (unless you’re some kind of eating competition champ).
No, this would be way to much fruit sugar (fructose in particular) for your body to deal with in one hit. It would cause a big sugar spike, therefore promoting fat to be laid down. So just think of how easy it is for this to happen when you drink fruit juices, especially in high amounts! Always mix them with water.
Eat ‘whole’ foods in their natural form
Refined flours, pastas, rice, and all sweet products will have the same effects on blood sugar, but the sugars in whole foods are released much more slowly because they haven’t had their fibers broken down, or 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 GI, thus giving you a steady release of energy and stopping those uncontrollable 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 GI, will cause the body to not only more readily lay down those sugars as fat, but also this faster processing will cause them to ‘burn off’ more quickly, thus encouraging hunger to strike again fast and ultimately leading to the over consumption of calories over all.
Chromium Rich Foods
There are certain foods that contain chromium, though these wouldn’t be in the high amounts found in a supplement, but they are still well worth adding to your diet for their other amazing health benefits.
Also, I believe that the nutrients in food are well absorbed into the body in a more natural way to supplements. This is why DIET is always the biggest contributor to health, and certain natural supplements may just help to boost it to even higher levels.
Plant based chromium containing foods:-
- Green beans
- Brewers yeast
- Grape juice
Non plant based chromium containing foods:-
- Milk and Dairy products
Benefits and side effects of Chromium Picolinate
1. BLOOD SUGAR CONTROL
Recent studies suggests chromium picolinate has the abilities to augment insulin action, so therefore helps to control blood sugar better in those with glucose intolerances and insulin resistance. Slowing down the release of sugars into the blood is one of the MAJOR CORNERSTONES of health in general, and will help with your weight loss efforts and overall body fat reduction.
2. SUGAR CRAVINGS
Chromium may also help those those who suffer severe sugar cravings. It was shown in this study over 8 weeks that 600 micrograms of chromium daily significantly reduced carbohydrate cravings, and the best results were seen in those with the greatest cravings.
The recommended daily intake is between 50-200 micrograms to maintain health, but higher doses of up to 1000 micrograms can be used with certain medical conditions under professional supervision.
Cinnamon and chromium for weight loss
You will find in certain chromium supplements that cinnamon is also added to also help lower blood sugar alongside the chromium. There is a very good reason for this, as this particular spice has been shown in studies to help with weight loss.
Cinnamon has SO many other amazing health benefits such as being a powerful antioxidant, anti fungal and anti ager that it is worth using it in powdered form as often as possible, either in baking or sprinkled onto cereals and yogurts. My advice would be to buy your own ceylon cinnamon sticks and grind them yourself to add either to your breakfast, smoothies, or in baking.
Always be sure to buy ceylon cinnamon, and not cassia, as this is healthier. Most supermarket ground cinnamon will be the cheaper cassia variety, and the problem is, you can’t tell the difference when it is pre-ground ,which is why I advise you grind your own.
3. ANTI AGING
You may be wondering how all this ties in with anti aging, and the answer is quite simple: Sugar is VERY aging (yes, the horror!!);just like sunshine and smoking. Every time you have blood sugar spikes and troughs this accelerates your aging process even more by shortening your precious telomeres.
Telomeres are strands of DNA that shorten as you get older through the simple effects of time, but mostly through the oxidative damage of the above factors. Take these out of the equation, and add in lots of antioxidant rich foods, and you will vastly slow down the aging process; it’s just simple science.
How much chromium Picolinate can I take?
You may want to experiment to find the dosage that 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 for a good quality, controlled product that actually works.
POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS:
It may not be safe for everyone to supplement with chromium picolinate, and you should always consult with your doctor before taking these 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. Always buy from a trusted chromium picolinate brand that doesn’t use unethical methods of production, OR fill their products with synthetic chemicals, fillers or artificial preservatives.
Thanks for stopping by today. If you decide to use chromium picolinate to help with sugar carvings, then please drop me a line and let me know how they work out for you as I would be grateful of the feedback. Also, if you have any questions then please feel free to go ahead and post them in the comments section.
Although chromium picolinate isn’t proven to directly cause negligible weight loss when used alone, it can however help to keep your blood sugar stable. This in turn may help with your weight loss efforts when combined with a healthy, whole food diet and exercise.
No one product will ever make you lose negligible amounts of weight on a long term basis if you don’t sort your diet and exercise out. And obviously, it’s your diet and exercise routine that will keep you healthy and and within a good BMI range for life. So moral of the story, use all weight loss aids as a tool alongside other lifestyle changes and they will work a lot better for you.
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