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Getting Enough Chromium? This Mineral May Balance Blood Sugar and Support Weight Loss

It may flatten cravings.

Good gifts may come in small packages, but when it comes to our favorite holiday treats, it’s hard to limit them to tiny portions. And who would want to? Nibbling on a cookie (or three!) feels so satisfying. Unfortunately, we know that after we indulge, our blood sugar will go up and a crash will follow, leaving us feeling tired, foggy, moody, and bloated. But reaching for another feel-good burst of sugar only extends our hormonal roller-coaster ride — and our waistline.

Big blood-sugar spikes lead to troublesome blood-sugar drops, even for non-diabetics. And as we age, our body becomes less nimble in its ability to use insulin to transport excess sugar (glucose) out of our bloodstream and into our cells to be burned as energy, rather than stored as fat. No wonder 100 million Americans have or are at risk of insulin-related problems. “The goal, even for women who aren’t diabetic or prediabetic, is to prevent those rapid elevations of glucose in our blood to avoid the painful lows,” says UCLA-trained doc Terry Dubrow, MD, star of E!’s Botched. “And I’ve found an easy way to do it.”

Why Chromium May Flatten Cravings

“I like to call chromium my little ‘carb crusher,’” says Terry Dubrow, MD, since the mineral mutes glucose spikes, like flattening the peak of a mountain, preventing reactive cravings and fatigue that follow.

Dr. Dubrow’s secret: chromium, a miracle mineral that blocks the effects of carbs so you can indulge and still lose weight. When researching, the doctor came across a study showing that people supplementing with 500 micrograms (mcg.) of chromium twice daily for four months saw a reduction in their A1C levels, an indication of how balanced blood sugar is over time. “That was my lightbulb moment,” he recalls, as he realized, “Chromium is a safe, easy way to curb cravings, lose fat, and control carbohydrate metabolism.”

Taking high doses of chromium to “biohack” blood sugar is a fairly new concept. The daily recommended allowance for general health is just 25 mcg. Based on those low standards, very few folks are “deficient.” But Dr. Dubrow says, “When we talk about ideal amounts, that’s very different — 25 mcg. isn’t going to help you maximize the absorption of glucose and get the big health effects possible. We need 20 times that!” Indeed, some experts contend that the right dose makes a difference: Research published in 1996 shows the body burns fat faster when people took high-dose chromium, compared to a placebo. How? Dr. Dubrow says, “Less glucose in the blood leads to less insulin, which signals fat cells to release fat.”

Chromium also curbs appetite. That was the first thing Dr. Dubrow and his wife, Heather, star of The Real Housewives of Orange County, noticed when they started supplementing. And research backs it up. In one study from 2008, women who took chromium daily cut sugar cravings and ate significantly fewer calories a day without trying.

“Chromium is a great tool for anyone with a metabolism that’s slowing down, including menopausal women,” adds naturopathic physician Brian Yeung, ND. The biggest benefits go to people who suffer from insulin resistance, like those with type 2 diabetes. “That’s when people keep producing insulin, but their body doesn’t ‘listen’ to it.” Indeed, in a 2006 study conducted by Yale University researchers, overweight subjects with diabetes got control of their previously uncontrolled blood sugar after taking chromium and biotin for one month. And additional research shows chromium regulates blood sugar as effectively as prescription medication — without the same side effects. Ready to test this slimming mineral for yourself? Read on.

Note: According to WebMD, chromium supplementation may cause irregular heartbeats, sleep disturbances, headaches, mood changes, and allergic reactions. It may also increase the risk of kidney or liver damage. If you have kidney or liver disease, do not take chromium without talking to your doctor first.

Why Chromium May Help With Weight Loss

Chromium may especially help women over 50 who are experiencing a weight-redistribution phenomenon due to hormonal changes. Dr. Dubrow explains, “That’s when fat shifts from accumulating primarily in women’s thighs to settling higher, in their belly, back, bra strap area, and arms.” But learning to manipulate sugar in the bloodstream helps fight off those changes.

To experience the changes that have Dr. Dubrow so excited, follow his jump-start plan for three weeks (or stick with it for life). He raves, “It’s not strict. It makes sense. And it’s enjoyable!” Key to the plan? Supplementing with up to 500 mcg. of chromium daily. (More on that soon…)

Dr. Dubrow says chromium supplementation pairs best with a healthy diet rich in foods low on the glycemic index, like eggs, grilled shrimp, and baked chicken. He suggests giving your gut time to fully digest by making dinner the last thing you eat until breakfast the next morning. And of course, there’s room on the plan for what Dr. Dubrow calls “purposeful” carb cheating around the holidays. He says, “If you’re going to splurge, do it thoughtfully, but without guilt. Life is short; you don’t need to be perfect.” Maximize your health and slimming with these strategies…

Choose the best form of chromium.

As the body ages, it absorbs minerals, including chromium, less effectively, so choosing the most bioavailable type of chromium is key. “Avoid chromium chloride, since it is proven to be the least absorbed,” says Dr. Yeung, who recommends chromium to his weight-loss patients. Your best bet, according to Dr. Dubrow? Chromium nicotinate or chromium picolinate. His own product, Consult Health Dubrow Keto/Fusion Carb-ology (Buy from Amazon, $46.76), contains 500 mcg. of chromium nicotinate.

Try a targeted approach.

Instead of taking chromium like a daily multivitamin, Dr. Dubrow and his wife, Heather, use it the way people take digestive enzymes: 30 minutes before sitting down to a high-carb meal. “We take it when we’re going to eat pizza or go to a Mexican restaurant and have chips,” says Dr. Dubrow. “Some people talk about feeling less headache-y after eating sugar when they take chromium first. I just like knowing I’m maximizing my body’s response when splurging on carbs — and I have fewer cravings.”

Use food sources for support.

While it’s hard to get a high dose of chromium from food alone, you can boost your overall levels by reaching for the richest sources in the grocery store, including shellfish like shrimp, oysters, and mussels (up to 128 mcg. for 3.5 ounces), 1 cup of grape juice (8 mcg. Dilute with water and drink throughout the day), 1 English muffin (4 mcg.), 1 cup of orange juice (2 mcg.), and 3 ounces of beef (2 mcg.). Every little bit helps. Dr. Dubrow says, “Chromium makes sure your cells are ‘fed’ so you feel satisfied, not hungry.”

A Sample Day of Eating With Chromium in Mind

  • Breakfast: Eggs Florentine. Top toasted English muffin halves with 1 cup steamed spinach and 2 poached eggs. Top with 1 Tbs. hollandaise sauce, chives, and ground nutmeg.
  • Lunch: Steak. Marinate 6 ounces of sirloin in 4 tablespoons of teriyaki sauce for 30 minutes. Pan-sear meat, 2 minutes on each side (or until desired doneness). Serve with 1 cup grilled veggies.
  • Dinner: Chef’s Salad. Arrange 1 ½ cups lettuce with 1 sliced hard-boiled egg, 3 ounces diced ham or turkey, tomatoes, cucumber, and 1 ounce of cheese cubes. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  • Dessert/Midday Snack: Cookies. Mix 2 cups each sugar and flour, 2 eggs, ¼ cups butter, ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1 teaspoon baking soda. Form into balls; cook at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 minutes.

Disclaimer: There is conflicting research on the efficacy of chromium supplementation for weight loss. A note from Michigan State University researchers, updated on November 15, 2022: “There is little evidence supporting the supplementation of chromium in individuals who are not deficient in chromium. In 2010, the American Diabetes Association announced in their diabetes guidelines that since chromium supplementation has not definitively shown benefits in the literature, they cannot recommend its regular supplementation. Patients with diabetes mellitus with no other risk factors or signs and symptoms of chromium deficiency should be treated with guideline-directed management.

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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