Chromium’s role in blood sugar management and weight loss
The trace element chromium improves the effect of insulin, the hormone that helps glucose enter our cells. Chromium is needed for normal sugar metabolism that is closely linked to normal lipid metabolism and weight control. According to a new study of rodents, a chromium-deficient diet that is rich in carbohydrate and fat, increases hunger and energy intake. Also, levels of insulin and lipids in the blood increase, and there is weight gain and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The new study supports earlier studies of humans where it was seen that chromium is important for both blood sugar levels and weight control. When using chromium supplements, make sure to choose a product with chromium yeast that has good absorption. Also make sure to get plenty of protein that contributes to blood sugar management and fat burning, which makes it easier to lose weight.
Ingested carbohydrates are broken down into glucose that is absorbed in the bloodstream. In response, the pancreas secretes insulin, the hormone that helps glucose enter our cells. Chromium improves the effect of insulin, thereby enabling cells to absorb more glucose and enabling us to get more energy from the food we eat. Until recently, chromium’s effect on different metabolic parameters has been somewhat unclear because studies carried out on humans and animals have shown conflicting results. This may be due to factors such as differences in the groups that were studied, the length of the studies, the diet compositions, and the quality of chromium supplements used for research.
In the new study, the scientists wanted to see how different amounts of dietary chromium affected the energy intake of rats, their body weight, body composition, fat distribution, and different parameters related to sugar and lipid metabolism. For 12 weeks, the rodents were fed a diet with quite a lot of fat and carbohydrate, and they had free access to the food. The rats were divided into three groups that got too little chromium, a normal amount of the trace element, or too much. At study start, the rats were rather similar with regard to body weight and body composition. As the study progressed, however, the rats that got too little chromium ate more food than the rats that had a higher chromium intake. Moreover, the rats that got too little chromium had higher insulin levels 30-60 minutes after eating. At the end of the study, the rats that got too little chromium stored more body fat, weighed more, and had elevated blood levels of triglycerides compared with the rats that got enough chromium. This was observed in both male and female rats.
The study revealed that too little dietary chromium affects metabolic problems that are normally seen in connection with metabolic diseases, for example overweight, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. The new study is published in PLoS One and supports earlier studies of humans, where scientists have demonstrated that chromium supplementation can lower glucose levels, increase insulin sensitivity, and reduce body weight.
When attempting to regulate blood sugar levels and lose weight, it is essential to balance the intake of carbohydrates, fats, and protein in order to obtain optimal energy utilization. This was demonstrated by scientists in a Danish study from Bispebjerg Hospital. Many people would benefit from eating more protein and fewer carbohydrates and cutting down on their intake of refined and industrially processes carbohydrates such as sugar, while flour, soft drinks, cookies, fries, chips, candy, and other food sources that typically contain concealed carbohydrates.
Chromium’s effect on blood sugar, hunger, and weight
- Improves the effect of insulin, the hormone that helps glucose enter our cells
- Enhances the uptake of glucose in cells, which gives prolonged satiety
- Lowers blood lipids (cholesterol and triglyceride)
- Contributes to weight loss when combined with a healthy diet
Where do we get chromium, and what causes a deficiency?
Chromium is primarily found in brewer’s yeast, rocket (rucola), apricots, almonds, mussels, fish, meat, and legumes. Due to the lack of chromium in the agricultural soil, crops are low in chromium, and our tendency to choose foods that are not on the list of good chromium sources certainly doesn’t help any.
Another thing that is worth making a note of is that we excrete a lot of chromium in the urine, if our blood sugar levels suddenly plummet. Therefore, if you eat too many fast, refined carbohydrates, the body’s chromium reserves are depleted. Stimulant abuse can also result in a chromium deficiency.
The quality of a chromium supplement is determining
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has approved a health claim stating that chromium contributes to the maintenance of normal blood sugar levels and normal macronutrient metabolism. EFSA has also approved that organic chromium yeast is absorbed up to 10 times better in the body than other chromium sources such as chromium picolinate and chromium chloride.
Jesse Bertinato, Philip Griffin. A low chromium diet increases body fat, energy intake and circulating triglycerides and insulin in male and female rats fed a moderately high fat-, high sucrose diet from peripuberty to young adult age. PLoS One. 2023
Sijing Chen et al. Association of plasma chromium with metabolic syndrome among Chinese adults: a case-control study. Nutrition Journal. 2020
Bispebjerg Hospital. Færre kulhydrater forbedrer type-2 diabetikeres evne til at regulere blodsukkeret. Nyhedsbrev 2019
Pernille Lund. Sådan får du styr på dit blodsukker og din vægt. Ny Videnskab 2013
Frida - Parametre (fooddata.dk)
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