Chromium, protein and dietary changes reduce hunger and promote satiety

Chromium picolinate reduced hunger and cravings, protein for breakfast cut hunger all day, and limiting total calories lowered weight, in three new studies.

In a hunger study, 42 overweight non-smoking women, average age 33, who said they intensely craved carbohydrates, took 1,000 mcg of chromium picolinate per day or a placebo. After eight weeks, those in the chromium picolinate group had about 24 percent lower hunger levels and food intake, while the placebo group reported increased hunger levels.

Dr. Louis J. Aronne from the Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City says that while all calories have the same energy value, some foods increase hunger and may affect what people eat later on. For example, carbohydrates raise blood sugar, causing an insulin surge that lowers blood sugar, increasing hunger again. The doctor believes that insulin spikes interfere with the satiety hormone leptin, which may malfunction in obese people. Dr. Aronne cites a study where people who ate a protein-rich breakfast of eggs consumed 140 fewer calories at lunch and ate less during the next 36 hours compared to those who ate a bagel for breakfast.

In a long-term weight loss study, doctors from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, wanted to vary the amount of fat, protein and carbohydrate to see if one diet is better than another.

About 800 overweight adults ate one of four diets that were low or high in fat, protein or carbohydrates (see table). All the diets followed heart-healthy guidelines, replaced saturated with unsaturated fat and were high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

Participants were asked to attend behavior counseling, exercise moderately for 90 minutes per week, keep a daily diet diary and eat 750 calories less than normal per day. No one ate fewer than 1,200 calories per day.

After six months, participants on all four diets lost an average of 13 pounds. By two years, weight loss remained similar for all groups—an average of nine pounds less. Researchers concluded that reduced-calorie diets result in clinically meaningful weight loss regardless of which macronutrients they emphasize. 

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