The start of summer may cause some angst when you think about the sleeveless tops, shorts and bathing suits you’ll soon be wearing. But if you’d like to shed a few pounds before you “reach the beach” – there’s still time!
How can you lose a few pounds, especially when it’s so easy to get derailed by favorite sweet treats – like chocolate? You may be surprised to learn that when it comes to chocolate, it’s not the problem, it’s the solution.
It may be hard to believe, but if you eat the right chocolate in the right way you can actually take off weight.
As a matter of fact, recent research indicates that those who consume chocolate the most consistently are the most likely to lose weight. This was found to be true for adults as well as adolescents.
All of this might sound too good to be true, right? But keep in mind that the reason scientists found what they did was due to the active ingredient. It’s not the chocolate, but the high-cocoa that made the difference.
Choose the Right Chocolate
There are many reasons to explain these results, but one of them is the fact that chocolate with cocoa content 70% or higher is also a naturally low-sugar food. Milk chocolate, on the other hand, is not. It’s a high-sugar, high-fat confection. The sugar can sabotage your weight-loss efforts in two ways: It brings down your energy level so that you’re less motivated to be active and, worse, it fuels cravings for more – more chocolate and any other sugary, fattening foods you reach for when cravings strike. In fact, for most people chocolate functions as a sugar-delivery device. You must think of chocolate as a cocoa-delivery device.
A bonus effect of high-cocoa chocolate is that it can help prevent overeating during meals and help keep you satisfied in-between. How is that? The vegetable oils that come from the cocoa bean help stimulate satiety and clamp down on the over-consumption that leads to calorie overload. No more making a beeline to the office kitchen for that box of doughnut holes somebody was nice enough to leave behind!
And there’s more good news about how dark chocolate can help you slim down. The latest science has shown that cocoa consumption can increase blood vessel growth into your muscles (cardiac and skeletal) to increase its nutrients and oxygen supply. That’s important because it helps increase the number and efficiency of energy-producing organelles known as mitochondria. More mitochondria equals more energy available to move through the day. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can just eat high-cocoa chocolate and never leave the couch. You still have to continue with your regular workout routine (if you don’t have one, now’s the time to start!)
In fact, research data shows that cocoa consumption boosts workout results by increasing your time to exhaustion and decreasing muscle soreness afterwards. What that translates into is more energy for a longer walk, run or other cardio workout. And to tighten up those trouble spots (we’re looking at you arms, belly and butt!) be sure to add a toning routine every other day.
Your Chocolate Diet
Simply eat two pieces of dark, high-cocoa chocolate before and two pieces after both lunch and dinner. Each piece should be the size of the end joint of your thumb. Be consistent and, in the process, note what impact this has on your hunger levels, cravings and energy throughout the day. If you consume chocolate in this way, you will very likely be pleasantly surprised at the results.
Think of chocolate consumption as your own lovely little multi-vitamin (vitamin Ch) that helps control your appetite, cranks your metabolism and gives you more energy to boost your workouts. A total win-win!
And that’s how, between now and early summer, you can have your chocolate, eat it too and still lose weight!
About the Author
Will Clower, PhD
This article originally appeared on Sharecare.com, the leading online health and wellness social platform