Why You Shouldn’t Feel Bad About Fuelling Rides with Chocolate
Good news: Another study suggests dark chocolate could help your fitness. – By Caitlin Giddings
Chocolate: Some days it’s seemingly everywhere even when you aren’t looking for it. Among the birthday treats your colleague brought to the office, right next to the energy drinks at the grocery store – sometimes it can be just about impossible to avoid ingesting a bar of the stuff.
And why would you want to?
Study after study has shown that chocolate – at least cocoa-rich dark chocolate – may help your performance on the bike. And while you probably shouldn’t power through an entire box of gourmet truffles on your own, it’s worth having a few science-based excuses in your pocket to justify the indulgence.
For example, a study from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition shows that dark chocolate consumption over a 14-day period increased VO2 Max by six percent compared to base line values, and slightly more than increases from white chocolate consumption over the same period. While the study was highly limited, its evidence to suggests that cocoa consumption could contribute to anaerobic threshold and two-minute time trial performance.
Sound too good to be true? Some chocolate-related science is. Last year, journalist John Bohannon produced a fake study extolling the weight-loss benefits of chocolates, to see how many media outlets would fall for manipulated science: Plenty did. While the study published in JISSN also drew from a limited sample size (which helped set the stage for misleading data in Bohannon’s study), the journal has a sound peer-review process. Moreover, there are already well-documented links between plant-based nutrients in cocoa-rich dark chocolate called flavanols and a host of health benefits—decreased blood pressure, reduced fatigue, and even delayed memory loss, to name a few.
What else on the dessert table can make the same claims?
So, if you’re a cyclist that needs a sweet treat from time to time, you don’t have to feel bad about mainlining a (reasonable) serving of dark chocolate. You can reap a benefit or two from flavanols if you don’t overdo it.