The holy grail of diets has always been the ability to eat the delicious foods that we want and still shed the pounds that we don’t want. And a growing body of scientific research suggests that help for eating what we want without gaining weight has arrived in an unlikely form: a mineral called chromium. Indeed everyone from body builders to diabetics are increasingly turning to chromium to have the best of both worlds. Chromium improves the body's ability to process carbs, helping to lower our blood sugar and speed weight-loss. “It’s a simple, safe and cheap fix that your doctor may not be telling you about,” says nutritional medical expert Fred Pescatore, MD, who takes chromium himself. So powerful are the effects of chromium on the way the body processes carbs that experts have dubbed it 'natural metformin,' since its effects are on par with the prescription diabetes medication metformin. And it's not just doctors who are benefitting: When Jeni Elizabeth Bianco incorporated chromium into her diet, she shed 110 pounds. Keep scrolling to read her full story, discover the science behind the testimonials and learn how you can make chromium work for you!
What is chromium?
Chromium is an essential mineral, which means our body requires it to function. While we only need trace amounts of it, this mineral plays a crucial role in assisting our body in processing carbs after we eat sugar. Many of us know that insulin is the hormone needed to move glucose out of the bloodstream and into the cells to be used for energy. This is where chromium comes in. Chromium is the key that opens up those cells for this important transfer. “Chromium preps the cells’ receptor sites,” explains Dr. Pescatore. “It’s what insulin docks onto.”
Without enough chromium, insulin may not function optimally, leading to impaired glucose tolerance (a fancy way of saying that your body can't handle dietary sugars well). This can contribute to higher blood sugar levels and an increased risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Chromium improves blood sugar control
Given this mineral’s role with insulin, it’s no surprise that chromium has been shown to lower our blood sugar levels. This makes maintaining and losing weight significantly easier. Dr. Pescatore says, “I recommend chromium to every patient with insulin resistance or unwanted weight.”
Nutritionist Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, NY Times bestselling author of over 35 books, shares that one of her longtime customers Bonnie, told her this: “I’ve had blood-sugar issues off and on for 45 years, but as long as I follow a healthy diet and take my chromium, I do fine.”
UCLA-trained doc Terry Dubrow, MD, star of Botched! is also a fan. He came across a study showing that people supplementing with 500 micrograms 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.”
Does chromium help you lose weight?
With blood sugar under control, the body turns off emergency signals that signal it to hold on to extra pounds. The result of this switch is dramatic. Suddenly, the body can function the way it is designed, processing carbs more efficiently, optimizing metabolism and shedding unneeded weight. In one study, fat loss increased by 900% in people who took an absorbable form of chromium, compared to those who received a placebo.
And chromium helps lower blood sugar to speed weight loss safely. With the recent popularity of prescription weight loss drugs like Ozempic, many dieters are losing muscle instead of fat. But chromium is proven to target fat during weight loss.
In a study by Georgetown University researchers, all women on a diet lost about the same amount of weight, but those supplementing with chromium lost 84% of their weight from fat. By comparison, those in the control group experienced only 8% of fat loss — and they also lost muscle. Even better, supplementing built up healthy reserves of chromium in the body, so the women kept experiencing fat loss for eight weeks after the study ended!
Chromium curbs carb & sugar cravings
“I like to call chromium my little ‘carb crusher,’” says Dr. Dubrow, since the mineral mutes glucose spikes, like flattening the peak of a mountain, preventing reactive cravings and fatigue that follow. In one study, women who took chromium decreased their hunger and ate 380 fewer calories per day. And all women reported a 50% drop in cravings in just two weeks!
Alma Padilla, of Toledo, lost 102 pounds in 9 months when she started mixing chromium-rich Plexus Slim powder into her water bottles. She says, “I felt more in control of my decisions without that ‘hangry' feeling. Plus, I’m more energized and my sleep improved. It’s been life-changing.” In addition, she says her blood sugar readings improved from a dangerously high 349 to an optimal 87!
Most of us are deficient in chromium
By now you know that chromium has great weight-loss potential. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t getting enough of this mineral. And older women are at the highest risk for chromium deficiency, which is crucial to controlling blood sugar and weight loss.
The reason? Back in the day, our grandmothers (and their grandmothers!) got the nutrients they needed from the food they ate, and they rarely struggled with weight or diabetes. But with each generation, farm soil and the food it produces have become more depleted of minerals. This change has led to a deficiency in the nutrient chromium, needed for healthy blood sugar regulation and weight management.
Today, it’s nearly impossible to get enough chromium from diet alone. Dr. Pescatore estimates, “You’d have to eat 10,000 calories of soil-based foods each day to get enough chromium from your diet. Can you imagine how much broccoli that would be?"
Supplementing is key to boosting chromium
Since our soil is depleted of minerals, it’s best to get chromium from supplements rather than food. But bridging dietary gaps with supplements poses its own challenges. Until recently, many chromium supplements didn’t reliably correct dietary deficiencies because common formulations were difficult for the body to absorb. As a result, women who took them still couldn’t steady their blood sugar and enjoy easy weight loss.
To the rescue: Biochemist Ned Jensen discovered a way to make chromium more soluble and bioavailable by combining it with niacin (or vitamin B3). This created a complex called chromium glucose tolerance factor, or GTF. Dr. Pescatore explains, “It’s the carrier molecule of niacin that makes the difference.” Jensen adds, “With chromium GTF, insulin can finally do its job.”
Chromium GTF works like natural Metformin
Dr. Pescatore is a big fan of chromium GTF because of its ability to regulate blood sugar. He says, “I’ve seen many patients decrease their prescription diabetes medications and drop 15 pounds in two weeks.”
Jensen notes one diabetic test subject who struggled with high blood sugar, lowered levels from 220 to 120 in just an hour after taking liquid chromium GTF. That’s 98% faster than the popular diabetes prescription Metformin, which takes 48 hours to work. For those reasons, some experts are now referring to chromium as “natural Metformin.”
This isn’t the first time a supplement has been called “natural Metformin.” Women’s health expert Taz Bhatia, MD, says, “I've been calling berberine the natural Metformin because it's essentially regulating blood sugar and it's helping it indirectly has other actions to it will help with sugar cravings.” (Click to read more about how the herb berberine helps with blood sugar and weight loss.)
Chromium GTF vs. chromium picolinate
Ohio State University department of nutrition researchers studied the absorption of different forms of chromium and found that chromium GTF absorbs three times better than commonly sold chromium picolinate and 6 times more chromium than chromium chloride.
Chromium this way wards off cravings
Dr. Dubrow prefers the form chromium nicotinate. He 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.” His own product, Consult Health Dubrow Keto/Fusion Carb-ology (Buy from Amazon, $57.60 for 120 capsules), contains 500 mcg. of chromium nicotinate.
The best chromium GTF dosage for weight loss
The daily recommended allowance for general health for women over 50 is just 20 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.
To get the benefits, experts advise supplementing with chromium GTF, aiming for 600 to 1,000 mcg per day (less for those not struggling with weight or blood sugar issues). Note that Chromium GTF can also be listed in the ingredients section as “chromium polynicotinate.” One to try: Nature’s Way GTF Chromium (buy at iHerb, $6.81 for 100 capsules).
5 tips for getting the most out of taking chromium GTF
1. Time your doses for optimal absorption
If you’re taking the maximum amount of chromium (1,000 mcg) you’ll want to space out your dose to ensure steady, proper absorption in the gut. “It’s best to take 200 mcg. multiple times throughout the day,” advises Dr. Pescatore, who notes that one of those doses can come in the form of a multivitamin. To try a multi with chromium GTF, consider MBi Nutraceuticals Bio-Naturalvite (Buy at MBiForLife.com $28 for 120 tablets).
2. Consider a liquid formula
For the fastest results, consider taking liquid chromium by putting the drops directly into your mouth. A product that meets the weight-loss criteria: Pounds and Inches Drops by Dirobi (Buy at Dirobi.com, $28 for 60 servings). This formula is designed to burn 1 to 2 pounds per day. Each 1 ml. serving contains 500 mcg. of chromium GTF.
3. Pair chromium for bonus benefits
In the lab, Jensen noticed a synergistic relationship between chromium and certain vitamins and minerals. “They make each other work better together,” Jensen explains. For example, studies have proven that pairing chromium with manganese reduces joint pain and stiffness, pairing it with vitamin C lowers cholesterol and pairing it with zinc improves immunity.
4. Load up on healthy food
Chromium GTF will help you lose weight no matter what diet plan you’re following, but to really rev results, Dr. Pescatore recommends a Mediterranean-style diet, like the one outlined in his bestselling book The Hamptons Diet. The basics: Drink plenty of water, limit processed foods and load your plate with lean meats, low-starch vegetables like broccoli, mushrooms and spinach and “good” fats, including macadamia nuts and avocado, plus enjoy one serving of fruit per day. (Click to learn how the Mediterranean diet can help you lose weight.)
5. Use caution if taking antacids
While chromium is extremely safe, experts point out that medications like antacids can impair the body’s ability to use chromium. As always, talk to your doctor before beginning a supplement regimen.
More health benefits of chromium
There are other chromium benefits beyond the scale: Increasing chromium levels reduces diabetes risk by 27%, and people with healthy body stores of the mineral are 35% less likely to suffer a heart attack, confirms Johns Hopkins University research. Chromium can also help women suffering from polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS, a condition that often occurs with accompanying insulin problems.
Chromium success story: Jeni Elizabeth Bianco
Sweaty and achy, Jeni Elizabeth Bianco, 42, ducked into a dressing room and started crying. As a wardrobe stylist, she was used to racing up and down stairs carrying garments. But today she was exhausted. I can’t do this, she feared. I’ve let my weight control me. And now it’s controlling my career.
Jeni thought she’d been eating healthy, but still, she’d packed on 100 pounds during a stressful time. “It was terrifying. I didn’t even know where to begin,” she admits. “My fingers were so swollen they couldn’t bend to use a phone.” Jeni (and her doctor) suspected her body was overrun by sugar — given her low energy, skin breakouts and yeast infections— putting her at risk for diabetes.
Looking for a natural healing approach, Jeni started taking multivitamins containing blood sugar–balancing chromium and eating clean foods, including broccoli and cucumbers. She also sipped chromium rich apple cider vinegar each morning at the suggestion of holistic health coach Carrie Sherman. Quickly, Jeni’s appetite calmed, her energy and mood lifted and her bloat subsided. She even shed 8 pounds in a week. “I remember thinking, It’s happening! I could hear angels singing!” she says.
In all, Jeni shed 110 pounds and got her blood sugar under control. Her body reminded her of all the ways it had evolved. “My wedding band fits again,” she recalls. “This reset my body. It made such a big difference in my life!”
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
For more ways to lower blood sugar and lose weight naturally, keep reading!