The Mythology: A barely legal anabolic agent that will have you putting on slabs of muscle in no time flat.
The Truth: A complete and utter dud. Move on folks.
Research: Over a decade of human studies with Chromium Picolonate indicate that the supplement has not demonstrated effects on the body composition of healthy individuals, even when taken in combination with an exercise training programme. Basically it’s a dud and possibly harmful.
1) Hallmark MA, Reynolds TH, DeSouza CA, Dotson CO, Anderson RA, Rogers MA, Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1996 Jan;28(1):139-44. Effects of chromium and resistive training on muscle strength and body composition.
2) Campbell WW, Joseph LJ, Anderson RA, Davey SL, Hinton J, Evans WJ, Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2002 Jun;12(2):125-35. Effects of resistive training and chromium picolinate on body composition and skeletal muscle size in older women.
3) Campbell WW, Joseph LJ, Anderson RA, Davey SL, Hinton J, Evans WJ, Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2002 Jun;12(2):125-35. Effects of resistive training and chromium picolinate on body composition and skeletal muscle size in older women.
4) Vincent JB, Sports Med. 2003;33(3):213-30. The potential value and toxicity of chromium picolinate as a nutritional supplement, weight loss agent and muscle development agent.
Adverse effects: Recent cell culture and in vivo rat studies have indicated that Cr(pic)(3) probably generates oxidative damage of DNA and lipids and is mutagenic, although the significance of these results on humans taking the supplement for prolonged periods of time is unknown.
How it works: Chromium can improve insulin sensitivity in muscle cells. This has led to wild claims that it helps muscles become energy efficient and that it helps muscle soak up the sugar it needs to grow, which are preposterous. The effects of modulating insulin sensitivity appear to have no practical effect on body mass when Chromium Picolinate is ingested as a supplement. Neither are Chromium supplements recommended for conditions which could more directly benefit from this effect such as diabates and obesity.