Chromium and Weight Loss

Chromium regulates blood sugar and may help insulin work more efficiently in diabetics, but its most popular use is as a weight loss supplement. There is some possibility it can affect factors related to weight loss, but its ability to actually do this is currently controversial. Among the claims made are that it can decrease fat and increase the amount of lean body mass, which is one of the holy grails of dieting. However, the research is shaky on this point at best, and negative at worst. In this article I will explore the latest studies as well as some anecdotal evidence on whether chromium does assist in dieting or not.

First, the anecdotal. This is in no way scientific, as other factors may not have been accounted for, so I'm presenting it here more for informational purposes only. On a discussion forum for women with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), several users discuss their experimentation with chromium for dieting. One took chromium picolinate, the most common supplemental form of the nutrient, for six months and reported that she did not see a difference. However, another user was taking a vitamin regimen that included chromium, and did not realize it is often touted as a weight loss pill. She discovered a loss of 7 pounds over the course of three weeks.

In yet another popular discussion board,, a user took 400 micrograms of chromium picolinate a day and lost 20 pounds. In addition, many users on this same board report a decreased desire for sweets, which may be part of the solution to this puzzle.

However, these users' experiences are all subjective, and a number of different factors may be involved, so let's look at the scientific studies so far.

Two older studies are of note. In a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise in 1997, chromium picolinate was actually concluded to have made young obese girls gain weight instead of lose it. In addition, the study suggested another chromium supplement, chromium nicotinate, may work better. In the other older study, obese diabetic patients were found to have gained lean body mass during chromium supplementation. No other conclusions were drawn. However, a much more recent study came to negative conclusions.

This study was a review of previous studies, and published in Sports Medicine in 2003. The project reviewed the results of previous studies to see if a pattern could be found, and the conclusion of the study was that chromium picolinate did not have any effect on weight loss, even when exercise was added, as compared to placebo groups.

So what is the answer, then? You won't like it, but there is nothing to say other than: the evidence is inconclusive so far. As you can see, some dieters have been happy with the results from chromium, but one study actually points to the possibility that chromium increases instead of decreases weight. For now, there is no definite answer, but we suggest trying chromium supplementation with your dieting plan, only after consulting your doctor first. If you are interested in a chromium supplement, note that chromium nicotinate has been shown to be more effective and safer than the more popular chromium picolinate. This is a more difficult version of chromium to find.


Sports Medicine. 33(3):213-230, 2003

Acta Med Austriaca. 1997;24(5):185-7

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 29(8):992-998, August 1997