My willingness to try weird workouts and diets and elixirs in the name of wellness knows no bounds. So when Dirty Lemon’s buzzy new offering, +chromium ($45/case of 6 bottles), found its way to my desk, I was more than game to give it a try.
What exactly is this stuff? Well, according to the company, +chromium is “a thermogenic elixir designed to complement your health and fitness goals.” In addition to chromium, the drink contains a mixture of guarana and blue spirulina. Sounds...
I'll be honest. Before reading the label, I'd never heard of chromium before. But according to the National Institutes of Health, chromium is a mineral that can “enhance the action of insulin, a hormone critical to the metabolism and storage of carbohydrate, fat and protein in the body. It also “appears to be directly involved in carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism, but more research is needed to determine the full range of its roles in the body.”
Per Dirty Lemon, chromium is also thought to boost the body’s metabolic rate and promote the increase of lean muscle mass. Chromium naturally occurs in some meat and whole-grain products, as well as some fruit, veggies and spices, like garlic and basil. The NIH suggests that most adult women already get the daily recommended intake of chromium through their regular diets.
Dirty Lemon recommends drinking +chromium at the beginning of the day, before any strenuous exercise, so I drank mine soon after getting into the office every morning. Like all of Dirty Lemon’s products, it comes in a sleek, Instagram-friendly bottle (in this case, a gorgeous shade of aquamarine). I know the aesthetic shouldn’t matter that much, but I’m a sucker for pretty packaging, and Dirty Lemon never disappoints in that department.
How does it taste? Not bad at all. The flavor was inspired by ingredients grown in the South Pacific, including purple passionfruit and pineapple. To me, it tastes like one-part Cool Blue Gatorade mixed with five parts water. It’s not the tastiest drink I’ve ever sipped, but it’s far from offensive. It also doesn’t taste like a traditional “health” drink—a major plus.
So we know we need a certain amount of chromium to function at our peak, but does it actually help with weight loss, as Dirty Lemon claims? When you look at the science, probably not. According to the National Institutes of Health, “a recent review of 24 studies that examined the effects of 200 to 1,000 mcg/day of chromium on body mass or composition found no significant benefits.” Another study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition did find, however, “that supplements of chromium picolinate help with weight loss when compared with placebos, but the differences were small and of debatable clinical relevance.”
I didn’t notice any significant changes in my own metabolism, muscle mass or weight by the end of my monthlong trial. In terms of complementing my fitness goals, my workout routine stayed pretty much the same while I was drinking chromium+, and I didn't feel any major changes to my performance or recovery time. But I did experience another benefit: By starting my day with a drink I perceived as healthy, I was more inspired to make smarter food choices throughout the day. Before grabbing a cookie from the kitchen, for example, I’d remember the virtuous way I kicked off my morning and choose to snack on almonds instead.
Am I going to incorporate +chromium into my everyday routine? Probably not—especially since it seems fairly easy to get your daily dose of chromium through food. But would I drink it occasionally to keep me fueled on days when I’m especially active? Totally.