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Dark Chocolate for Physical Performance

Here's a new study on something I can't keep my hands off... chocolate! This new study indicates that dark chocolate, known for it's benefits to cardiovascular and cognitive health, may also have potential for sports nutrition applications. This was just a small study with nine moderately-trained men to, but does confirm the results of an animal study I discussed a few years back.

In this study, the volunteers underwent a series of fitness tests at the start of the study and then randomly assigned to receive 40 g/day of dark or white chocolate for two weeks, after which they repeated the same tests After a washout period, the men were also crossed-over to the other intervention for a further two weeks.

Results showed that gas exchange threshold (GET, a measure of cardiorespiratory fitness and endurance capacity) increased by 11% compared to white chocolate and 21% compared to baseline. In addition, results from the time trial indicated that the dark chocolate intervention was associated with a 17% increase in total distance covered compared to baseline values, and a 13% increase compared to white chocolate.

While VO2max increased by 6% following the dark chocolate intervention compared to baseline, no statistically significant difference was observed compared to white chocolate.

“Consequently, it can be concluded that ingestion of dark chocolate for 14 days reduced the oxygen cost of moderate intensity exercise and may be an effective ergogenic aid for short-duration moderate intensity exercise,” said the researchers.

Commenting on the potential mechanism(s) of action, the researchers proposed that endothelium-dependent effects related to the flavanol content of dark chocolate, and (-)-epicatechin in particular, may boost the production of nitric oxide (NO), a potent vasodilator.

“A caveat of the present study was that flavanol and NO were not directly measured thus the causation of the observed effects is speculated around flavanol and NO,” they wrote.

Many of you who have read my book will know that it's also the greatest source of PQQ, which could explain a lot of these observed benefits, although it often takes a back seat to the polyphenols and flavonols (and most of the times doesn't get mentioned at all).

Last word, just remember that we're talking about real chocolate, not the candy bars you buy at the convenience store. Only eat ones that are all-natural, and ideally organic. Stay health everyone.

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Source: Dark chocolate supplementation reduces the oxygen cost of moderate intensity cycling

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