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Can Dark Chocolate Help Rev Up Your Workout?

Resolutions to get fit often inspire many of us to clear our houses of treats. However, research shows that you may want to hold onto any dark chocolate you find: a small study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that regularly eating dark chocolate may improve performance during moderately intense exercise. At the beginning of the study, nine moderately-trained men participated in a performance trial: first the men cycled while researchers measured their maximum oxygen uptake (a measure of cardiorespiratory fitness and endurance capacity). After they rested for 30 minutes, the men then cycled at moderate-intensity for 20 minutes at 80% of their established maximum oxygen uptake; then they completed a two minute time-trial, in which they cycled as fast as they could and researchers measured their total distance.

The men were then assigned to eat 40 grams of either dark or white chocolate every day for two weeks, followed by another performance trial. After the two weeks, the men switched to eating the other type of chocolate (those who ate dark chocolate now ate white chocolate and vice versa) every day for another two weeks and the performance trial was repeated a final time. Researchers tracked the men’s time performance and oxygen uptake, among other things, during each of the three trials. At the end of the study, they found that:

  • The men who ate dark chocolate increased their maximum oxygen uptake and cycled further on their time trial performance than the men who ate the white chocolate.

These findings suggest that regularly eating dark chocolate could be beneficial for people who engage in moderate-intensity exercise. Since past research has found that dark chocolate may also provide cardiovascular benefits, boost your mood, and decrease your risk of stroke, you may want to stock up. When you’re on a chocolate run, remember to look for chocolate with 60% (or more) cocoa to boost the benefits and limit the additives.

Source: Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition

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