Chocolate and Exercise, An Unlikely Benefit?
You might think that chocolate has no place in your healthy eating plan.
There is growing evidence that chocolate – dark chocolate – helps you get better results from your workout. It also helps you recover faster after your workout.
Here are a couple of rules you must follow when talking chocolate and exercise…
How This Substance in Dark Chocolate May Benefit Your Workout
It seems dark chocolate delivers great results, but milk and white chocolate do not. Researchers think dark chocolate contains epicatechin – something the other chocolates do not.
Epicatechin is a naturally-occurring substance found in cocoa. Studies show it improves blood flow, cardiac functioning, and energy metabolism in muscles. That helps you bring your best game and keep it up for longer before you conk out.
As a rule, dark chocolate is rich in epicatechin. But production methods can vary these levels. It is lower in milk chocolate, which contains little cocoa, and white chocolate contains little or none of the nutrient.
But researchers at Kingston University in England wanted to see if dark chocolate would improve performance, as long as the user’s ate it in small amounts.
Their study (1) appeared December last year in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Eight male recreational cyclists swallowed a little dark chocolate (1.4 ounces, or about one and a half squares) every day. They performed better in most of the physical tests after two weeks.
They used less oxygen to ride at a moderate pace. That means they could ride longer or harder before tiring. They also covered more distance during a two-minute, all-out time trial. Their anaerobic sprinting ability was better. Chocolate and exercise performance seemed to have a connection.
What about faster recovery?
Here’s a second study, from at the University of Texas at Austin. Ten expert cyclists peddled for two hours then drank chocolate milk, a carbonate drink or a diet drink.
Four hours later, the ten went for a 40K ride.
Chocolate milk drinkers performed much better than the other two group… six minutes better!
It seems the chocolate milk activates the proteins that block protein breakdown. This preserves protein and muscle, helping the recovery process.
What’s The Upshot of These Findings?
If you want to improve your performance, swap your daily cookie or soda for a square or two of dark chocolate.
But scientists have a word of caution. They do not know the perfect amount of dark chocolate you should take for perfect recovery and results. But they say that you should stick to less than 40 grams.
So take a square or two from the bar, and keep the rest for the next day… no matter how good it tastes.
Here’s where I get to remind you that you will never get the most out of your workout if you don’t have healthy bones. Low bone density may lead to pain and limitations, and that will force you to cut back on your much needed workout.
So, be sure you take your AlgaeCal Plus to increase your bone density.
You should take AlgaeCal Plus with a meal. So maybe that bit of chocolate will be a great way to finish your meal before you head out to the gym or for your long walk!
As I said at the beginning… Mmmmmm… chocolate….
- Rishikesh Kankesh Patel ,James Brouner and, Owen Spendiff. Dark chocolate supplementation reduces the oxygen cost of moderate intensity cycling. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition201512:47. DOI: 10.1186/s12970-015-0106-7