Chromium picolinate is often used to treat chromium deficiency and to accelerate weight loss. It is used not only by those looking to quickly shed pounds but also by people who want to improve their energy efficiency (such as athletes and bodybuilders) and by people who suffer from diabetes.
Predominantly, chromium picolinate works by increasing insulin production, which has the ability to improve energy efficiency so that the user can reduce blood sugar levels, improve energy and accelerate fat loss. Let’s take a closer look at exactly what it is and how it works and what effect it can have on your weight loss.
As a chromium supplement, chromium picolinate (not the same as chromium nicotinate, chromium polynicotinate, or chromium chelate) increases the production of and sensitivity to insulin -and thereby helps the body to use the sugar that’s in the blood stream. Insulin is the hormone that the body produces when blood sugar levels get too high – this in turn encourages the body to burn that sugar for energy and thereby provides a boost in energy levels while also reducing lipogenesis (fat storage).
If the body doesn’t produce enough insulin though or if it is resistant to insulin, then sugar can build up in the blood and leave the individual feeling sluggish and tired. This then leads to them consuming more glucose and that in turn can cause a number of problems – even causing damage to the nerves in the long term. Excess sugar is eventually converted to triglycerides and stored as fat around the body.
Even if you don’t have diabetes, insulin sensitivity can vary drastically from person to person. This is the result of genetics but it is also the result of lifestyle and diet. If you often eat a lot of simple carbs that spike the blood with sugar, then you can gradually build up a resistance.
It’s always important to remember that different people respond better to different weight loss methods and what is perfect for one person may not work for another. Chromium picolinate is the perfect example of a supplement that will work well for some people and have little impact on others – depending on the condition of your metabolism and your insulin resistance.
For people with normal insulin sensitivity who don’t struggle with weight loss, this might not be particularly effective. If you have tried everything else though to lose weight and suspect that you may not be metabolizing sugar correctly, this is worth a shot, especially as it can be acquired very cheaply.
According to sources such as the Mayo Clinic and Dr. Oz, 1000mcg per day is considered safe and may be effective in increasing insulin sensitivity and may also aid in weight loss.
Glucomannan is another weight loss supplement that is currently quite popular. Does it deserve a place in your stack? Like chromium picolinate, this one works primarily on insulin levels and can be used by diabetics. It fairs slightly better in studies on those with normal insulin though, so you might prefer this one or to try the two together.
Other similar products that act on insulin sensitivity include milk thistle and cinnamon. In one very interesting study, it was found that participants taking 1-6 grams of cinnamon over the course of several weeks could see their blood sugar levels decrease by over 20% in some cases.
Other Ways to Improve Insulin Sensitivity
There are additionally other methods you can use to improve insulin sensitivity and these can be used in conjunction with chromium to improve insulin production and sensitivity.
One of the best methods to use is to try and manage your general blood sugar levels. Eating simple carbs with a high GI rating will spike the blood with sugar as it gets absorbed very quickly, this in turn causes a sudden rise in insulin and over time the body can build up a resistance to this process.
However, if you avoid simple carbs and consume only complex, low GI carbs along with fats, fibers and proteins, then you can maintain a low blood sugar level. Likewise, high intensity interval training or fasting can also lower you blood sugar and force the body to burn fats for energy instead (a state called ketosis). Over time, this can force your body to become more energy efficient and not only will it improve insulin sensitivity but it will also increase the number and efficiency of your mitochondria.
The best way to benefit from using chromium picolinate for weight loss is to combine it with a high intensity training regime and a diet that is low in simple carbs. One great option is to use HIIT workouts, which involve alternating between very high intensity training (at around 90% maximum heart rate) and short periods of recovery.
However, if you notice that you feel tired and you have other symptoms of high blood sugar (such as frequent urination, thirst and low energy) then you should see your doctor who might recommend insulin injections. While supplements like chromium picolinate for diabetes can be useful for those trying to improve energy levels and weight loss, they are no replacement for medical attention from your GP.
What is the best time to take chromium picolinate?
It is best to take it 30 minutes before a meal. Many people prefer to take in first thing in the morning before breakfast.
What is the best brand of chromium picolinate?
There are many different brands and they vary in dosage. It is best to discuss this as well as any potential chromium picolinate dangers or possible interactions with your doctor.
There have been some reported chromium picolinate side effects, such as kidney issues or incidents of depression. However, according to esteemed integrative nutrition expert Dr. Weil, these chromium picolinate reviews have been isolated and in a very limited number. Dr. Weil suggests gtf chromium which stands for glucose tolerance factor. He claims it is more easily used and therefore more beneficial to your body.
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