When it comes to exercise, maybe people think that all they need to do is just go for a run several times a week. Many will make use of things like a Fitbit (Mobile Mob has more information on this and you can also check out Fitbit bands there as well), and just exercising regularly is the key to improving your fitness. But there’s more to it than people realize. Did you know that a little dark chocolate every day can improve your performance and even jump-start your metabolism?
As reported in a 2016 Journal of the International Study of Sports Nutrition article, investigation subjects who consumed 40 grams of dark chocolate daily for a period of two weeks experienced improvements in their VO2 max (maximal oxygen consumption) during an endurance fitness test. That translated into being able to exercise more intensely compared to baseline tests before the chocolate intake.
How can chocolate give you wings? It’s rich in antioxidants called flavonoids that can improve how efficiently your muscles use oxygen to generate energy during exercise. This makes it easy to work harder for longer, which could translate into improved fitness gains. Although this study was conducted on cyclists, the results also may trickle over to the weight room during intense bouts of resistance training when muscle-cell energy production is sky-high.
Here’s more data that gives you permission to boast that chocolate is your favorite vegetable. A study by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, found that adults who regularly indulged in chocolate (up to five servings a week) had lower body-fat numbers than those who mostly go without. The scientists surmise chocolate’s antioxidants may jump-start metabolism to offset its extra calories.
Dark chocolate has been known for centuries as a food of the gods, not only because of its rich flavor but also because of its health benefits. In recent years, research has shown that consuming dark chocolate can actually improve athletic performance. Here are some of the ways that dark chocolate can help you perform better:
- Improved blood flow: Dark chocolate is rich in flavanols, which have been shown to improve blood flow and oxygen delivery to muscles. This means that your muscles can work harder and longer before fatigue sets in.
- Reduced inflammation: Exercise causes inflammation in the body, which can lead to muscle soreness and fatigue. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants that can help reduce this inflammation, allowing you to recover more quickly from your workouts.
- Increased endurance: The flavanols in dark chocolate have been shown to improve endurance by increasing the amount of energy that muscles can produce. This means that you can exercise for longer periods of time without getting tired.
- Enhanced mood: Dark chocolate contains compounds that can improve your mood by increasing the production of endorphins, which are the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. This can help you feel more motivated and focused during your workouts.
To incorporate dark chocolate into your diet for improved performance, try adding a small amount (1-2 ounces) to your pre-workout snack or meal. Look for dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa solids (70% or more) for the greatest health benefits. However, keep in mind that dark chocolate is still high in calories and should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
Dark chocolate is a delicious treat that is often associated with indulgence and pleasure. However, it is also a powerful superfood that can benefit athletes and fitness enthusiasts in many ways. Dark chocolate contains high amounts of antioxidants, flavonoids, and other beneficial compounds that can help improve athletic performance, aid in recovery, and enhance overall health. In this article, we will explore the benefits of dark chocolate for athletes and how to incorporate it into your training regimen.
- Improved Cardiovascular Function
Dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, which are a type of antioxidant that helps protect against heart disease. Flavonoids can help improve blood flow, reduce inflammation, and decrease blood pressure, all of which can improve cardiovascular function. This can be especially beneficial for athletes who need optimal heart health to perform at their best.
- Enhanced Endurance
Dark chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, two natural stimulants that can help increase energy and focus during exercise. This can lead to improved endurance, allowing athletes to push harder and go longer during training and competitions.
- Increased Muscle Recovery
Dark chocolate is rich in magnesium, a mineral that is essential for muscle function and recovery. Magnesium helps relax muscles, reduce muscle soreness, and improve muscle function, all of which can aid in post-workout recovery.
- Improved Brain Function
Dark chocolate contains flavonoids and other compounds that can help improve brain function and cognitive performance. This can be especially beneficial for athletes who need to stay focused and alert during training and competitions.
- Reduced Inflammation
Dark chocolate contains anti-inflammatory compounds that can help reduce inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation can be a major obstacle for athletes, leading to muscle soreness, joint pain, and decreased performance. Incorporating dark chocolate into your diet can help reduce inflammation and improve recovery.
How to Incorporate Dark Chocolate into Your Diet
While dark chocolate can offer many benefits for athletes, it is important to remember that it is also high in calories and should be consumed in moderation. To incorporate dark chocolate into your diet, consider adding it as a dessert or snack after a workout. You can also mix dark chocolate into a smoothie or protein shake for added flavor and nutrition. When choosing dark chocolate, look for varieties that are at least 70% cacao to ensure a high level of antioxidants and flavonoids.
In conclusion, dark chocolate is a delicious and nutritious superfood that can offer many benefits for athletes. By incorporating it into your training regimen, you can improve cardiovascular function, enhance endurance, aid in recovery, improve brain function, and reduce inflammation. So go ahead and indulge in some dark chocolate, knowing that it can help you reach your fitness goals!