“Even more important than overall weight loss is sustainably losing fat mass while maintaining lean body mass,” according to the authors of this new study, published in the journal Nutrients last month.
That is because a loss of lean body mass has been linked to declines in neuromuscular function and increased risk of injury, the authors argued.
“There are a few dietary supplements that appear to help preserve lean body mass during weight loss, or to reduce the loss of lean body mass compared to diet alone,” the researchers wrote.
Researchers affiliated with Baylor University, Central Michigan University, Nova Southeastern University, and scientific consulting company Substantiation Sciences conducted the study, funded by chromium picolinate supplier Nutrition 21.
They compiled peer-reviewed, published studies exploring how chromium picolinate supplementation may affect changes in body composition and compared it with studies on other popular weight management ingredients: Green tea catechin, soluble fiber complex, Garcinia cambogia, and Irvingia gabonensis.
From all the ingredients analyzed, studies on chromium picolinate have resulted in participants losing the least amount of lean body mass (and in some studies, even experiencing an increase of lean body mass) while still significantly reducing fat mass.
The researchers posited that it may be due to how chromium picolinate interacts with the body’s insulin levels.
“Chromium is an essential trace mineral involved in carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism and is combined with picolinic acid to enhance absorption,” Dr Susan J. Hewlings, one of the authors of the study, told NutraIngredients-USA.
“[Chromium picolinate] facilitates the action of insulin, has been shown to improve glycemic control in diabetes, and has been shown to improve body composition by helping to maintain lean body mass,” she added.
“Moreover, enhanced insulin action increases the rate of glucose and amino acid uptake in muscle cells. Several studies support its role in maintaining lean body mass during weight loss.”
The researchers searched for studies on the databases PubMed and Google Scholar for the following terms: Weight loss and lean body mass; weight loss and body composition; as well as weight loss and lean body mass followed by the name of different dietary supplement and diet interventions.
From their search, the authors included systematic reviews, meta-analyses, and placebo-controlled clinical trials to analyze.
“For the reasons shared in this paper, it seems logical to include chromium picolinate as part of any reduced calorie plan as a means of keeping metabolically active lean body mass,” they added.
The investigated ingredient, Nutrition 21's Chromax, is covered by various patents in the US and abroad.
“While reduced calorie weight loss programs used by consumers can be effective and provide short-term success, the larger issue is that many fail to keep weight off long-term because of the significant loss in muscle, or lean body mass, resulting in a decrease in metabolism,” said James Komorowski, MS, CNS, chief science officer at Nutrition 21.
“It’s encouraging to see how Chromax enabled subjects to achieve weight loss primarily from body fat, while maintaining their lean body mass, providing supportive evidence that incorporating chromium picolinate (Chromax) into a reduced calorie diet plan can markedly help maintain lean body mass.”
Published online ahead of print, https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10121876
“Body Composition Changes in Weight Loss: Strategies and Supplementation for Maintaining Lean Body Mass, a Brief Review”
Authors: Darryn Willoughby, Susan Hewlings, Douglas Kalman