We all love our guilty pleasures, don’t we? When it comes to those guilty pleasures, the one thing that stands out above the rest is chocolate. Sure, any chocolate is delicious, but we know they all don’t love us back.
So what you going to do when you NEED to get your chocolate fix?
The answer lies in dark chocolate, which let’s face it; tastes pretty darn good too!
Prepare to have your mind blown; when you find out what this delicious indulgence can do for you in your quest for an epic physique. But before we do, a little refresher on chocolate.
What Is It That Makes Chocolate So Good?
Well, first off let’s set some ground rules. We’re not talking at all about highly processed, sugar heavy milk chocolate varieties. As the only thing you will be getting from that type is diabetes.
Instead, we are talking about rich dark chocolate. The kind that is not overflowing with sweetness, but a unique bitter-sweet taste that is said to be acquired. But is it every worth acquiring!
7 Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Anyway back to the matter at hand; almost all of the benefits of dark chocolate can be traced back to the presence of one compound, known as epicatechin.
Epicatechin is a flavonoid, which is the name of the parent group of compounds and something you would have probably heard of.
And guess what?
Cacao and dark chocolate are just overflowing with epicatechin (given that you indeed get high quality stuff). Still need more convincing to munch down on more chocolate?
Then look at these 7 amazing ways dark chocolate can transform your physique:
1. Epicatechin Promotes Muscle Growth
One of the primary motivators for working out is to showing your hard earned muscle. Given, some people do find it easier than others to build muscle, but fear not – help is here!
The epicatechin found in dark chocolate is able to promote muscle growth by “unleashing” its potential. In particular, is the inhibition of a protein in muscle named myostatin, according to a published study.
Myostatin is not very friendly to muscle growth, as its primary function is to restrict the extent to which muscles can grow.
If you are an athlete, or work out with the primary goal of displaying your hard earned muscle, then reducing the effect of myostatin is desirable. You can build muscle mass quickly; however, you’ll need to follow a smart plan that optimizes your hormones and ensures sound nutrition is present.
2. Dark Chocolate May Help To Boost The Primary Male Hormone Testosterone
If there is one hormone that dictates the limit to which a physique can develop, it would have to be testosterone. Luckily, good old dark chocolate may be able to help raise levels of this important androgen too.
A study conducted on rodents found that consumption of low dose epicatechin daily led to an increase in blood testosterone levels, by stimulating the pituitary gland.
This is a tiny gland in the brain that ultimately leads to the testes increasing testosterone production. So be sure to ramp up your workouts to squeeze every ounce of muscle building potential out!
Epicatechin may be just as effective, if not superior to many testosterone boosting products.
3. Epicatechin Can Improve Blood Flow
Getting nutrients to muscle cells is critical if you desire to optimize your muscle building potential, but it can become a difficult task.
How? Due to poor blood flow.
In fact, what many people associate with having a good workout is known as “the pump”, or the scenario of enhanced blood flow to muscle cells in an effort to saturate it with nutrients and oxygen.
But that’s not all blood flow does; in the same vein (pun intended), blood also needs to get rid of metabolic waste produced by working muscle cells. Otherwise, premature fatigue will set in. This is another area you can benefit from via using a natural vasodilator, such as dark chocolate.
Know what else benefits from improved blood flow?
Yes, you guessed it – your sex life! Blood flow is critical to achieving satisfactory erections, and explains why older men with occluded blood vessels find it difficult to achieve sufficient erections sometimes. These claims were confirmed in a study conducted on overweight adults in 2014.
4. Dark Chocolate Consumption Can Reduce Cravings
If you’re trying to build muscle, you need to get adequately. By adequately, we do not mean that bag of potato chips that your mind is telling you to have, but real nutritive meals.
However, it can be a task, as addiction to sugar is rampant in society today, even though people do not understand the gravity of this situation.
Luckily, however, the epicatechin found in dark chocolate can help to suppress your appetite by boosting production of a hormone named Ghrelin. This signals to the brain that you are full.
Ghrelin resistance is common, and leads to compulsive overeating since it is unable to send signals to the brain that indicate you’ve had enough to eat.
The decrease in appetite observed from epicatechin consumption was confirmed in a study comparing it to other epicatechin free versions of cocoa, making its case even more compelling for usage.
5. Epicatechin Optimizes Cortisol’s Function
Now before we delve into the deep end of the pool, it is important to establish one fact; that cortisol (the stress hormone) is necessary for life, and that we cannot live without it. Now on to the meat of the matter.
Typically, cortisol does not function the way it was meant to, as a result of constant exposure to stressors, or from development of glucocorticoid resistance, a similar scenario to insulin resistance.
In simple terms, the body produces too much of the hormone cortisol, promoting its loss of potency and efficiency. The result? You always have high blood levels of cortisol, although it is extremely weak.
Regardless, this has a negative effect on your overall health, and your testosterone in particular. Testosterone and cortisol share a negatively inverse relationship, so as one increases, the other decreases.
This is why it is important to control cortisol. This may be aided by consumption of epicatechin, which can help reduce the development of cortisol resistance. Thus, the negative effect it can have on your testosterone.
6. Dark Chocolate Consumption Can Enhance Glucose Uptake By Muscle Cells
In a normal person, insulin is released in response to carbohydrates in the blood (primarily in the form of glucose). It then signals for muscle cells to increase uptake of this nutrient, where it is stored as glycogen or burned for fuel.
However, many people have far from normal insulin function. Following frequent battery of carbohydrate consumption, both insulin and transporter cells of muscle becomes sluggish, or desensitized.
Therefore absorbing less and less, and making more go into storage as fat.
Luckily, it was found that consumption of 100g dark chocolate daily acutely improved insulin sensitivity, allowing muscle cell glucose uptake to increase, along with a decrease in fat storage.
This could explain why epicatechin is being included in many supplements being referred to as “nutrient partitioners”.
7. Epicatechin May Reduce Symptoms Of Depression From Excessive Glucocorticoid Action
It is well known that excessive action of stress hormones can affect areas of the brain and promote symptoms of anxiety and depression.
According to a study conducted in rats, administration of a catechin (epicatechin is a catechin) reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety. Possibly by ameliorating the effect of the stress hormone itself.
Let’s face it; mood plays an important part in your workout, as there are days when you may not feel like hitting the gym, or doing anything at all. These days are frequent in people who suffer from depression, so it is best to prevent it from every occurring.
If you’ve never had dark chocolate, or have only had milk and white chocolate up to now, it is time you make the change. Although more studies need to be undertaken to concrete proof of its benefits, those completed so far are extremely promising.
Heck, it is safe to say there’s no harm from consuming a little 40-50g dark chocolate daily (as long as it yields about 70% epicatechin), but if you rather, epicatechin supplements can be far more convenient and effective.