Saturday, April 30, 2016

In The News: Is Dark Chocolate An Athletic Performance Booster?

Dark chocolate has been in the news for years now, often with respect to its affect on cardiovascular disease prevention and lowering body fat.  Now recent research shows it may even boost athletic performance! The study, published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, tested nine amateur cyclists with an initial fitness test, then divided them into two groups- one was instructed to replace one of their normal daily snacks with 40 grams of dark chocolate (dc) and the other ate 40 grams of white chocolate (wc). A randomized crossover design was used and the groups and the participants each had two week trials, each group either eating the dc or wc for one week and then switching. Oxygen consumption, RER, heart rate and blood lactate were measured during each trial during moderate exercise and in time trials at the end of each week. The researchers found that cyclists eating dark chocolate used less oxygen when cycling at a moderate pace and rode more distance in a two minute timed interval. Oxygen consumption was 6% higher following dark chocolate consumption vs. baseline measurements and gas exchange threshold (a marker of respiratory fitness and endurance) increased by 11% in the dc group comparison to the wc group and increased 21% overall in comparison to baseline.  Dark chocolate's beneficial effect on athletic performance is thought to be due to increasing the availability of nitric oxide in the blood, which may increase vasodilation, uptake of glucose and help with regulation of muscular contraction. This seems like more exciting preliminary news for dark chocolate lovers!!


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