A new study has found that eating chocolate can actually boost your workout by improving your endurance.
But before you delve into those hoarded Cadbury Creme Eggs, there is a catch: the chocolate in question is dark chocolate and the required amounts are minimal. But hey – who are we to argue with an excuse to eat more chocolate?
The power lies in the high levels of epicatechin, a plant nutrient in cocoa which can cause cells to release extra nitric oxide. This has a number of effects on the body, including widening the veins and arteries, improving blood flow and cardiac function as well as enhancing the passage of oxygen into cells and take in more blood sugar.
Nitric oxide is a substance athletes have always sought through things like supplements, in order to improve performance.
Watch: Our site producer Lizzie takes on Sam Woods’ 28:28 fitness workout. (Post continues after video.)
While there have been a number of studies touting the various health benefits of dark chocolate, the researchers from UK’s Kingston University are the first to look into how the food can be used as a performance enhancer for athletes.
The study published in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Medicine in December last year looked at the effect of a small amount of dark chocolate every day on eight male recreational cyclists.
Their fitness levels and oxygen uptake were recorded on a stationary bicycle. Half the group were given 40 grams (around one and a half squares) of dark chocolate to eat every day in place of one of their normal snacks or chocolatey desserts. The other half were given the same amount of white chocolate which has little to no epicatechin. (Post continues after gallery.)