Have you heard of chromium GTF before? Well, uber-popular beverage brand Dirty Lemon — which is stocked at trendy retailers ranging from Chillhouse to Barry's Bootcamp, and happens to be a major disrupter with its own brick and mortar venture — is betting that its latest launch, Chromium Water is going to be the next big thing in the detoxing beverage space. While they're not the only ones pushing the benefits of chromium GTF, they are the first to push it in water versus in supplement form in a major, glitzy way.
First, let's elucidate the basics: chromium is a trace mineral and "GTF" stands for "glucose tolerance factor." The dietary supplement is thought to help weight loss efforts: "Companies that sell Chromium GTF supplements/enhanced beverages claim that it helps with weight loss by curbing cravings for carbs and sugar and suppressing the appetite," explains Michelle Dudash, RDN, author of "Clean Eating for Busy Families." She quickly adds, however, that the research to date is inconclusive. "While chromium is an essential nutrient required by the body for metabolizing carbohydrates and enhancing insulin function, it isn't clear how much is required or if supplementation is actually beneficial for the average healthy person who isn't deficient."
Curious? Keep reading to learn more about chromium GTF from top nutritionists and experts.
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How does chromium GTF work?
So what exactly is the mechanism that might correlate chromium with diabetes symptoms? Well, that's where the glucose tolerance factor comes in: "Insulin operates as a receptor on every cell in the body, assisting in the transfer of glucose into cells to feed them and yield energy," explains Dr. Laurie Brodsky, HBSc, ND and Dirty Lemon's in-house naturopath. "By helping to regulate insulin function, you're essentially telling your body that you're full." She continues by explaining that chromium has the ability to work on the cellular level, mitigating these neuropathways: instead of dropping up and down like a rollercoaster throughout the day and particularly during periods of stress like acute exercise, chromium is thought to stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels. From there, cravings and binge eating tendencies are better able to be kept at bay, some believe.
How legit is it?
While there is still widespread skepticism among many of the nutritionists consulted for this story, there's also openness to the possibility of benefits. Ashley Koff RD, CEO of The Better Nutrition Program thinks the benefits in regards to support for blood sugar levels are valid; though she notes that consumers shouldn't consider chromium GTF water as a replacement for a healthy diet. In addition, Koff recommends drinking water with lemon, which is an alkaline former that helps support healthy digestion and metabolism.
If you're exploring adding chromium to your diet, Koff also suggests doing it along with making some key upgrades: "Assessing your current intake of added sugar to see if you are within your budget is important and only then would I recommend trying this water — perhaps midday to help support better energy which can help keep you from a sugar choice at the 3pm crash."
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How do you know if you need chromium?
Actual chromium deficiency, it turns out, is considered rare in humans and chromium is generally widely available in a balanced diet. "However, there have been a few hospital cases where diabetic patients given chromium intravenously fared well from the high-dose supplementation, correcting their diabetes symptoms," says Dudash.
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How else can you get chromium?
Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, founder of BetterThanDieting.com and the author of "Read It Before You Eat It — Taking You from Label to Table," points out that while drinking chromium GTF water is probably fine for most people, there are much better ways to get the trace mineral's nutritional benefits. For example, Dudash says that just a 1/2 cup broccoli actually contains 9 percent of the daily recommended amount of chromium. It's also easy to find other chromium sources using the better trace minerals menu.
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