Turns out chocolate can have some surprising benefits when it comes to physical performance. Here are a few weird and interesting facts that you might not have known about chocolate and exercise:
Chocolate milk is a great post-workout drink: Many athletes reach for chocolate milk after a workout, and for good reason. Chocolate milk contains the perfect ratio of carbohydrates to protein, making it an effective post-workout recovery drink.
The carbohydrates replenish glycogen stores, while the protein helps repair damaged muscle tissue.
Chocolate can help with altitude sickness: Altitude sickness can be a major issue for athletes who are training or competing at high altitudes. However, research has shown that consuming dark chocolate can help with reducing the symptoms of altitude sickness, including headaches, nausea, and fatigue.
The flavonoids in dark chocolate have been found to increase the production of nitric oxide, which can help to dilate blood vessels and increase oxygen delivery to the brain and body.
Chocolate can improve brain function: While we often think of chocolate only as a treat for our taste buds, it can also be good for our brains. The flavonoids in chocolate can help to improve blood flow to the brain, which can enhance cognitive function and reaction time.
In one study, participants who consumed dark chocolate with a high flavonoid content had improved visual processing speed and working memory.
Chocolate can help reduce exercise-induced stress: Exercise is a form of stress on the body, and it can lead to increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol. However, consuming dark chocolate can help to reduce cortisol levels, which can improve your mood and reduce the negative effects of stress on the body.
In a study of 30 healthy adults, those who consumed dark chocolate had lower levels of cortisol after a stressful task compared to those who consumed a placebo.
Chocolate can improve cardiovascular health: While it might sound counterintuitive, consuming dark chocolate can actually help to improve cardiovascular health. The flavonoids in dark chocolate can help to reduce blood pressure and improve blood flow, which can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
A meta-analysis of 19 randomized controlled trials found that consuming dark chocolate resulted in a small but significant reduction in blood pressure.
To conclude, chocolate has multiple advantages when it comes to performance, from aiding in recovery to improving brain function and reducing stress, chocolate can be a valuable addition to any athlete's diet. So, the next time you're looking for a way to enhance your workout, consider reaching for a piece of dark chocolate.
If you enjoyed this blog post, check out our article on Baking soda here :)
Karp, J. R., Johnston, J. D., Tecklenburg, S., Mickleborough, T. D., Fly, A. D., & Stager, J. M. (2006). Chocolate milk as a post-exercise recovery aid. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 16(1), 78-91. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijsnem.16.1.78
Richalet, J. P., Rivera, M., Bouchet, P., Chirinos, E., Onnen, I., Petitjean, O., ... & Leon-Velarde, F. (2012). Chocolate, altitude sickness and vascular function in humans. Journal of hypertension, 30(2), 241-248.
Sorond, F. A., Hurwitz, S., Salat, D. H., Greve, D. N., Fisher, N. D., & Cleary, J. P. (2013). Neurovascular coupling, cerebral white matter integrity, and response to cocoa in older people. Neurology, 81(10), 904-909. https://doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0b013e3182a351aa
A. Magrone, G. Russo, M. Jirillo, and E. Aquino, "Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Polyphenols: From Biology to Clinical Applications," Frontiers in Immunology, vol. 8, p. 677, 2017. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2017.00677
E. Decroix, L. Tonoli, J. Soares, J. Tagougui, J. Heyman, and R. Meeusen, "Acute cocoa flavanol improves cerebral oxygenation without enhancing executive function at rest or after exercise," Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, vol. 41, no. 12, pp. 1247-1253, 2016. DOI:10.1139/apnm-2016-0245