Chromium picolinate is one of the most common ingredients in fat loss products. However, as this study demonstrates, it does not appear to produce any benefits. The purpose of this study was to determine whether chromium supplementation in conjunction with an exercise program resulted in a greater rate of fat loss than exercise alone.
Thirty-six men were divided into three groups: placebo, chromium chloride, and chromium picolinate. The study was double-blinded so neither investigators nor the subjects knew what supplement was assigned to whom.
Before and after the 8-week treatment period, body composition was assessed by dual x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). DEXA is a form of body composition measurement that uses x-rays to determine body density and then body composition. Bone, fat, and muscle possess different densities and will thus absorb x-rays at different amounts. This allows researchers then to quantify body composition. During the 8-week treatment period, subjects were supervised during a 5-day-per-week exercise program, which consisted of a general warm-up, stretching, and resistance training.
Fat-free mass increased in all three groups an equal amount. Body fat, expressed in absolute (kg) or relative (%) terms did not change during the 8-week treatment period in any of the three groups. Furthermore, Lukaski and coworkers reported that chromium supplementation resulted in an adverse interaction between chromium and iron. The elevated chromium reduced the binding of iron and transferrin. This could possibly result in iron deficiency, depending on the dose and duration of supplementation.
Thus, the results of this study indicate that chromium supplementation does not result in accelerated fat loss as is commonly advertised. In addition, prolonged chromium supplementation could result in iron deficiency and possibly suboptimal oxygen carrying capacity of the blood