Picolinate Weight Loss and Side Effects
What Is Chromium Picolinate? Does it Work?
Chromium is an essential trace mineral found in various
foods. You may hear that there is wide spread deficiency
of Chromium Picolinate, however, there's little evidence
to show that this is true. It's rare to find chromium deficiency so it's not necessary to supplement with chromium picolinate (CP) for that purpose. It plays a role in maintaining carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. It is also better absorbed than dietary chromium, so most research studies have been done using chromium picolinate, and this is also a partial reason why it is a commonly used supplement.
Aside from that, CP is probably more often used as a weight loss aid and there are some claims that it can have benefits for improving body composition by reducing body fat while increasing lean body mass. Chromium Picolinate appears to be a rather popular and widely used supplement related to weight loss, and also for purposes of muscle gain.
Unfortunately, scientific evidence speaks otherwise - in all the human studies that we looked at, none provided support for these types of claims. So caution is warranted for using CP for improving one's body composition. Its effectiveness in this regards is questionable, and there are many studies that find it to be rather ineffective and thus not support these types of claims for improving body composition. We'll discuss some of these here. Also, some studies suggest that Chromium Picolinate may have certain side effects, such as possibly generating oxidative damage of DNA.
Benefits of Chromium Picolinate
Before we get into some specifics of the scientific studies, let's take a look at what are chromium picolinate benefits, if any. As already mentioned CP is often promoted as a supplement
that helps build muscle and burn fat, but there's
little evidence to support this. As far as chromium deficiency goes, its extremely rare, so supplementing with CP isn't really necessary.
However, there appears to be some evidence suggesting that Chromium
Picolinate has benefits for
helping to suppress appetite and carbohydrate cravings. Perhaps one of the bigger benefits of Chromium Picolinate may be
its effect on suppressing appetite and food cravings. This was supported in a study involving 113 over-weight or obese adult patients. The subjects were randomized to receive a chromium picolinate treatment or a placebo for 8 weeks. The study results found that the CP treated group produced improvements. Especially for patients with high carbohydrate craving, the chromium treatment helped with appetite and carbohydrate craving regulation. 
No Benefits for Weight Loss or Body Composition
Let's shed some light on the issue of using chromium picolinate for losing weight and gaining lean muscle mass. There are many recent studies done using human subjects which do not support those claims. For example, one US study involving 80 overweight adults randomized the participants into a chromium picolinate supplement group and a placebo group. The trials lasted 24 weeks. The results found no meaningful difference between the treatment group compared to the control group, and they did not find a change in the BMI of the subjects in both groups. The results of their study suggests that CP does not affect weight loss in overweight adults.  Another 12 week study with 83 women following nutritionally balanced diets stated that supplementing with chromium picolinate does not influence body weight or composition; therefore, the claims of CP promoting weight loss are not supported. 
More studies were conducted to test CP effects on body composition. One study was done on Navy bases where the participants met at least 3 times each week for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise. The subjects were 79 men and 16 women on active-duty with the Navy that exceeded the Navy's body fat standards. The participants took either chromium picolinate or a placebo for 16 weeks. At the end of the trials the entire group had lost a minor amount of body weight and body fat; however, the chromium group showed no significant improvement over the placebo group, further providing a case against the claim that CP helps with body fat reduction. 
So it should be quire obvious now that chromium picolinate is not an effective aid for controlling weight or helping with fat loss. But what about using it as a bodybuilding supplement? Aren't there claims that this helps with muscle growth and strength gains? Indeed, there are such claims; however, studies and research have shown that CP does not help with muscle or strength gains. Let's see...
One study of 15 female softball athletes provided them with either a chromium P. supplement or a placebo to examine CP effects on muscle strength and body composition. The female subjects exercised 3 times each week using machines and free weights. The study found no differences in muscle strength or body composition between the CP group and the placebo group.  Another study involved 18 older male subjects randomized to a placebo or chromium group. The men followed a 12 week high intensity resistance training program. While the resistance training induced strength gains, the study results found that chromium picolinate did not enhance strength or muscle mass gains. They did find that chromium picolinate group had a 50 fold increase in urinary chromium excretion. 
There you have it, CP does not help with weight loss, it does not increase fat loss, and it does not enhance muscle or strength gains.
Danger of Chromium Picolinate and
Generally, using Chromium Picolinate short term is
not linked to any side effects, however, studies have
noted few reports of irregular heartbeats, and also
few studies have found chromium picolinate to cause
changes in sleep patterns. What's
notable is that a study from Dartmouth college found
that Chromium Picolinate could damage the genetic
material in hamster cells, and this raises the concern
whether Chromium Picolinate can also cause cancer
and affect the DNA in humans.
In a 1999 study done by University of Alabama, the
researchers found when Chromium picolinate is taken
in combination with ascorbic acid in vitamin C supplements,
the Chromium Picolinate may cause DNA damage, and
possibly lead to cancer. This area still lacks long term extensive research
to really show what kind of long term effects chromium
picolinate may have on Human DNA and also the possibilities
of increased risk of cancer. Another study from the Albany College of Pharmacy in NY stated that chromium supplements may cause renal impairment when taken in excess. 
For what it does - suppressing appetite - Chromium
Picolinate works pretty good, but whether you're willing
to take the risks associated with chromium picolinate
is up to you. (It's really tough to say just how much
effect chromium picolinate will have on human DNA
in real life situations.) There really isn't much
evidence to show that there's wide spread deficiency
in chromium picolinate.
Chromium picolinate is a rather cheap
supplement, and you can buy it online for around $10
bucks or less.
Click here for Now Foods Chromium Picolinate
1. J Psychiatr Pract. 2005 Sep;11(5):302-14.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled, exploratory trial of chromium picolinate in atypical depression: effect on carbohydrate craving.
Docherty JP, Sack DA, Roffman M, Finch M, Komorowski JR.
2. J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Mar;16(3):291-9.
A pilot study of chromium picolinate for weight loss.
Yazaki Y, Faridi Z, Ma Y, Ali A, Northrup V, Njike VY, Liberti L, Katz DL
3. Nutrition. 2007 Mar;23(3):187-95. Epub 2007 Feb 8.Chromium picolinate supplementation in women: effects on body weight, composition, and iron status
Lukaski HC, Siders WA, Penland JG.
4. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 1995 Dec;35(4):273-80.
Effects of chromium picolinate on body composition.
Trent LK, Thieding-Cancel D.
5. J Strength Cond Res. 2001 May;15(2):161-6.
The effect of chromium picolinate on muscular strength and body composition in women athletes.
Livolsi JM, Adams GM, Laguna PL.
6. J Appl Physiol. 1999 Jan;86(1):29-39.
Effects of resistance training and chromium picolinate on body composition and skeletal muscle in older men.
Campbell WW, Joseph LJ, Davey SL, Cyr-Campbell D, Anderson RA, Evans WJ.
7. Ann Pharmacother. 1998 Apr;32(4):428-31.
Chromium picolinate toxicity.
Cerulli J, Grabe DW, Gauthier I, Malone M, McGoldrick MD.