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Chocolate is not something that you would find in a fitness enthusiast’s diet plan. Nonetheless, we still love it and indulge in a chocolatey delight now and then. Even the most dedicated people buy chocolate flavored whey protein.
What if you could have chocolate regularly and still get the best out of your workout routine? Enter dark chocolate with science at its back. You will get mixed opinions but many believe that eating dark chocolate before a workout can help because it contains carbs and antioxidants. But whether white, milk or dark, chocolate contains plenty of carbs because of the sugar content. So, “limit” is the word. Go for a 75% or higher content of dark chocolate because it contains low quantities of sugar. Moreover, the darker the chocolate, the higher the number of antioxidants.
Eating an entire chocolate bar before a workout is not advisable though. No single food or snack can satiate your body’s nutritional needs. Consult expert nutritionists for a diet that supports your needs and lifestyles. Get a personalized diet plan and track your water and food intake in-app with FITFEAST.
A person’s aerobic capacity is measured based on the maximum or optimum level at which his/her muscles, lungs, and heart use oxygen during incremental exercise. This is known as VO2 max or in simple words, how efficiently your body organs utilize oxygen. According to research, cacao contains a flavanol – epicatechin – which improves the functions of the mitochondria – the powerhouse of the cells. A study found that consumption of 20 grams of dark chocolate every day for up to 10-12 weeks manifested a whopping 17% increase in the VO2 max of people with sedentary lifestyles.
Ever had chocolate and felt happy? Well, it happens every time and there is a reason behind that – cacao contains the hormone serotonin, which regulates your mood. Research confirms that the darker the chocolate, the higher the serotonin production.
In another study, it was found that people who ate dark chocolate for 2 days straight were 70% less likely to experience depressive symptoms as compared to those who didn’t. Moreover, eating dark chocolate pre-workout can fuel you according to a strength and fitness coach who has previously worked with the likes of Ryan Gosling and Scarlett Johansson. It works as a treat that makes you want to workout.
Inflammation is a body tissues’ biological response to irritants, pathogens, damaged cells, etc. Sometimes too much inflammation, which is common after working out, can be harmful. Dark chocolate can help reduce inflammation because it contains antioxidants known as flavonoids. Milk chocolate contains antioxidants too but dark chocolate is best in this regard.
Therefore, eating chocolate before a workout may reduce the inflammation in the muscles and joints and the associated pain. Moreover, flavonoids are known to improve heart health as well as boost brainpower.
Ever worked out after having black coffee? It’s amazing, isn’t it? Studies find that the caffeine content in dark chocolate might allow you to workout harder and for longer. Caffeine is known to enhance strength as well as endurance. A combination of caffeine and carbs, which is found in dark chocolate, is good for muscle recovery post-workout. However, the only thing you need to do is go in for a high-intensity workout to get the best of it.
Dark chocolate is a great pre-workout fuel if you eat it in moderation.
- Consume small portions because chocolate is higher in fats than other sources of carbs. So, no more than a quarter of a bar every day
- It is difficult for the body to break down fats as compared to carbs for fuel. Have chocolate at least 2 hours before the workout
- Have no more than 25 to 50 grams; a good way to replenish your glycogen stores after a workout
- Have dark chocolate with a protein source like a glass of milk – a great combo for muscle recovery
- Chocolate is not the best for people suffering from acid reflux. Avoid it if you experience heartburn, indigestion, etc.
Dark chocolate contains bioactive compounds that are good for your skin. Flavonols protect against sun damage while improving blood flow to the skin, which increases hydration and skin density. A study that included 30 people, proved that eating dark chocolate regularly for 3 months doubled the resistance to UltraViolet B-rays (UVB) exposure. You might want to start eating a little dark chocolate each day if you’re planning a beach vacation.
Several studies suggest that dark chocolate is good against heart disease. According to a study, cacao powder decreases oxidized LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol, which has reacted with free radicals) in men while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol. It also lowers total LDL in people with high cholesterol levels. Oxidized LDL can damage tissues such as the arteries in your heart. Since dark chocolate contains powerful antioxidants, it lowers oxidized LDL. It can also reduce insulin resistance; another reason for heart disease and diabetes.
Eating dark chocolate is good for the lining of the arteries; it produces nitric oxide (NO). NO relaxes the arteries and lowers the resistance of blow flow, which reduces blood pressure. Most studies suggest that cacao and dark chocolate are good for blood flow and blood pressure.
Remember that the darker the chocolate, the better for your health.