A new study has found a delicious way to boost your athletic performance: Eat dark chocolate.
The research is published in the latest issue of the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Scientists had cyclists do all-out sprints on stationary bikes. They recorded distance covered, oxygen intake, and fitness levels.1
Then they had half the cyclists eat 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate every day. The other half ate 1.4 ounces of white chocolate. After two weeks, they tested the cyclists’ sprinting ability again.
Next, the groups switched chocolate types. Those eating dark chocolate switched to white. And vice-versa. They performed the sprint tests again.
The results? The dark chocolate group performed better each time.
They used less oxygen—and were less tired—during a two-minute bicycle sprint. And they were able to cover an average of a tenth of a mile more than the white chocolate group.
Their anaerobic capacity had increased… All from eating a little piece of dark chocolate each day. Researchers used Dove brand dark chocolate in the study. The daily amount eaten by study subjects was equal to about one and a half squares.
Raise Your Game with a Sweet Treat
In some ways the findings are not surprising. For years, researchers have told us that dark chocolate is rich in epicatechin. This is a substance that causes the lining of your blood vessels to release nitric oxide. Nitric oxide increases blood vessel dilation. This improves blood flow and cardiac function. It also provides muscle cells with more energy and oxygen.2
Rishikresh Kankesh Patel of Kingston University in England was the lead researcher. He suggested recreational athletes who would like to improve their performance consider eating a little dark chocolate each day.
One cautionary note from the researchers… They did not determine the optimal dosage of dark chocolate. More may not be better. They suggest you limit yourself to 1.4 ounces a day.
If you’re going to treat yourself to some dark chocolate after dinner, make sure it’s minimally processed. Look for organic dark chocolate bars that are at least 70% cacao. The higher this percentage, the better (and more bitter the taste).3
6 Foods to Improve Athletic Performance
However, chocolate isn’t the only good source of epicatechin you can get from your diet. Others include:
- Black and green tea
But if you really want to boost your performance…
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In Good Health,
Executive Director, INH Health Watch