It’s World Chocolate Day on the 7th July so we’re taking a closer look at one of our favourite treats. How do chocolate and training impact each other? How can this sweet snack be included in your diet as part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle?
The British Heart Foundation found that the average British person will eat 7,560 chocolate bars, 2,268 slices of chocolate cake and 8,316 chocolate biscuits over their life. That’s before counting hot chocolate and Easter eggs. A whole lot of cocoa! If you want to have a healthier diet and be more sporty, chocolate and training may not go so well together and you might want to watch your chocolate consumption. But don’t worry, chocolate is not necessarily incompatible with the daily life of a sportsman or fitness fan.
What is chocolate and which one should you choose?
Behind chocolate is a product that contains mainly cocoa, cocoa butter and sugar. Cocoa in itself is not actually bad for you, but those other ingredients vary between bars which can make some delicious choices smarter than others. Try to choose a chocolate with more than 70/75% cocoa as a minimum.
Chocolate also contains around 5 to 10% of protein from vegetable sources, as well as 30 to 42% of lipids (fats) and 33 to 58% of carbohydrates. In chocolate, there are also various antioxidants and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, phosphorus, and sodium. This is why the high cocoa content is so important, that’s where the good stuff is.
When we talk about sport and chocolate, we are talking about dark chocolate. You do not want to be consuming sugar-laden milk chocolate on a regular basis as the low cocoa percentage means there is very little benefit. In general, dark chocolate is considered to be particularly healthy and can even be excellent for people who participate in regular sports.
Chocolate is a great stimulant
Chocolate has some stimulating properties that are more than interesting for athletes. This stimulating effect is mainly due to its composition in terms of theobromine. This chemical positively stimulates the nervous system which will facilitate muscular effort. We also observe that chocolate increases fatigue resistance, which can quickly be felt when you exercise regularly. Dark chocolate also has a significant amount of caffeine, one of the best stimulants for athletes.
Chocolate affects your mood
More generally, science has proven that chocolate is considered to be particularly good for morale. Eating chocolate secretes serotonin, more commonly known as the “happiness hormone”. By regularly consuming dark chocolate in reasonable quantities, it will be possible to boost your morale and keep it high. For this reason it’s also a great choice to bring as a snack for team sports.
Chocolate can maintain your physical abilities
The large quantity of magnesium present in the chocolate helps to avoid cramps, especially when you consume it every day. To avoid other problems related to magnesium deficiency, it is recommended to eat dark chocolate every day but not to exceed the dose of 20 grams per day. By respecting these quantities, it could also help to effectively protect against certain cardiovascular diseases.
It has been proven that this food can improve sporting performance by producing nitric acid. This is really useful to owe the oxygen supply to our muscles to the point where athletes can reduce their oxygen consumption during their efforts if they ate dark chocolate.
So, in reasonable doses, chocolate can be included in your daily life as part of a healthy and balances training routine. With two larges squares of chocolate per day, whether you are a beginner or experienced, you can discover find many benefits in this food. No wonder it’s one of our favourite treats!