Does Dark Chocolate Enhance Sports Performance?

We all know dark chocolate is good for our health. This happens because this type of chocolate is rich in flavonoids, good fats, antioxidants, and nutrients that keep our heart and skin healthy and happy. But what if we told you that even athletes could benefit from it?

The diet of an athlete is quite strict and things like sweets packed with sugar are banned from the start. Still, studies show that a bit of dark chocolate every day could improve the level of fitness and the athletic performance. The most recent study of this type was performed by Rishikesh Kankesh Patel, a postgraduate research student at London’s Kingston University. According to the study, dark chocolate offers the same benefits as the beetroot juice (athletes will know about it).

If you’re not familiar with the effects of beetroot juice, you should know that it is rich in nitrates which stimulate the body to produce nitric oxide. This helps dilate the blood vessels and reduce the consumption of oxygen. All these lead to an improved performance as the athlete will be able to resist better to effort. Now, dark chocolate contains epicatechin which is a substance borrowed from the cacao bean. This is a type of flavonoid that helps increases nitric oxide in the body so you can see why scientists were curious about its effects on performance.

The study

The tests for this study were performed on cyclists since this sport requires endurance and involves lots of oxygen and water consumption. The test group was divided in two: the first group was asked to replace on of their daily snacks with 40g of dark chocolate, while the other group had to swap their snack with 40g of white chocolate. The study took several weeks and cyclists consumed 40g of chocolate (dark or white) every day during this time.

Cyclists were asked to perform regularly and the heart rate and other vital functions were monitored to extract data for the study. After the first round of trials, groups were asked to switch the type of chocolate and new tests were performed.

cyclingThe results

At the end of the study, the data showed that dark chocolate helped our cyclists to resist longer when it came to moderate to highly intense effort. After comparing the results, cyclists who consumed white chocolate covered less distance in a two-minute flat-out race than the cyclists who ate dark chocolate. This happens because dark chocolate helped athletes to consume less oxygen which altered their response to aerobic activity making them more effective.

Does this mean athletes have a green light when it comes to dark chocolate? Well, if kept in moderation, then yes, dark chocolate if a great replacer for beetroot juice. Even more it brings an entire cocktail of nutrients and good fats to the table keeping your mood lifted and your energy levels high.

However, you should take all these with a grain of salt as the study only shows dark chocolate is effective at enhancing performance. Still, scientists don’t know if this is a temporary effect or it will last for a longer time period.