Can Chocolate Give You a Better Workout? Posted on 16 Mar 08:17 , 0 comments

There is a lot of evidence (both human and ... sad sigh ... animals) looking at dark chocolate and its effect on the cardiovascular system. It is well known that dark chocolate contains rocket high amounts of flavanols-beneficial phytonutrients that offer mega disease-fighting capabilities. One type of flavanol is epicatechin, which is responsible for giving dark chocolate its bitter taste as well as offering health benefits. (Side note: more than likely, the more bitter your chocolate, the higher the flavanol content.)

organic dark chocolate

Several studies have looked at the effects of epicatechin's ability to increase nitric oxide production within the body. Nitric oxide can be produced by eating dark chocolate, beets, celery and green tea, to name a few. It benefits the cardiovascular system by dilating the arteries, thereby increasing blood flow to the muscles as well as lowering blood pressure. Don't forget that the increase in blood flow also means increase in oxygen supply and healing nutrients that reach the muscles, heart and organs. 

A recent study found that cocoa epicatechins by itself produced a 30 percent increase in fatigue resistance (more energy!) and a 30 percent increase in new blood supply after two weeks of consistent consumption. When the cocoa epicatechins were combined with exercise there was a 50 percent bump in fatigue resistance via increased blood supply and capillary growth (which increases oxygen and nutrient supply). Another study looked a cocoa flavanols over a four week period and found the same benefit after consistent cocoa or epicatechin intake. 

What does this mean? Pretty much what we've been saying. First, more isn't better, but a little bit of dark chocolate daily may be good for you. We still stick by the 1-1.5 ounces of dark chocolate daily and, from these studies, consuming a bit before exercise may potentially enhance your workout and decrease early fatigue.

1-1.5 ounce people. Not a bar. :) 

ginger green tea truffles

References:
Epicatechin mediates beneficial effects of flavanol-rich cocoa on vascular function in humans. 2006 Jan 24; 103(4): 1024–1029.
Stimulatory effects of the flavanol epicatechin on cardiac angiogenesis: additive effects with exercise. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2012 Nov; 60(5): 429–438.