When I was on this major weight loss plan, I completely refused to look at the one thing in life that made me forget all my woes. Turns out I had it all wrong!
Because neuroscientist Will Clower's book, ‘Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight’ was staring at me from the aisles of a bookshelf in an airport. It had grabbed me, before I did the same to the book. Reading the book in two days flat, I had a Eureka moment - eating chocolate 20 minutes before and five minutes after lunch and dinner to cut appetite by up to 50 percent.
Studies About Chocolate Prove It
Last year, a German study concluded that eating chocolate can reduce your waistline, lower your cholesterol and help you sleep.
The study, published in the International Archives of Medicine, revealed that chocolate is a rich source of bio-active compounds – a plant compounds associated with several positive health impacts.
In the study, Johannes Bohannon, research director of the non-profit Institute of Diet and Health, said:
To our surprise, the effect of chocolate is real. It is not enough to just consume chocolate, but in combination with exercise and reduction in carbohydrates, our data indicates that chocolate can be a weight loss accelerator.Johannes Bohannon
The ‘food of the Gods’ fights not just mood lows but also sugar spikes.
In another study from the University of L'Aquila in Italy, people who ate a candy bar's worth of dark chocolate once a day for 15 days in a row decreased their potential for insulin resistance by almost 50 percent.
University of Copenhagen researchers have shown that dark chocolate curbs cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods while Swiss scientists have found that dark chocolate reduces the metabolic effects of stress.
Thanks to certain flavanols that exist in chocolate, the sweet treat has been found to help lower blood sugar and also decrease body fat according to the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
The Archives of Internal Medicine published a study suggesting that people who eat chocolates more frequently may have lower BMI. Dark chocolate, in particular might help balance the hormones that facilitate weight control.
Mood for Chocolate, Chocolate for Mood
There is a study that also links chocolates with happiness - something that we all knew from the start!
Eating small amounts of chocolate every day does help you relax, according to a study published in the Journal of Proteome Research.
Here’s the science - stress triggers weight gain because it causes your cortisol levels to spike, increasing appetite and encouraging you to eat based on emotions rather than physical need - both of which result in overeating. If you can manage your stress levels, you can better control what you put in your mouth.
Eating dark chocolate increases serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain, which helps alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety and boost your mood.
Experts Believe It
There are few things in life sweeter than chocolate.
According to the health experts eating chocolate as part of a balanced diet can cheer you up, improve your heart health, protect your arteries, calm your cough and improve your brain power. And now, the sinful food can actually help you shed the pounds.
Experts believe flavonoids in chocolates reduce insulin resistance.
Avni Kaul, nutritionist and wellness coach, founder of Nutri Activania, certified diabetes educator from Project Hope and International Diabetes Federation, Delhi, notes:
Dark chocolate also contains healthy fats, which slow the absorption of sugar into the blood stream. That helps prevent the dreaded insulin spike, which is famed for shuttling sugar straight into your fat cells. Insulin spikes turn off your body’s fat-burning mechanisms and make you hungry again several hours later. Over time, they can also lead to insulin resistance and diabetes.Avni Kaul
Chocolate actually contains a decent amount of fibre, which helps keep your appetite in check and increase feelings of satiety. One 3.5-ounce bar of 70% dark chocolate contains around 16% of your daily recommended intake.
Of course foods like oatmeal or broccoli will always come out on top when it comes to fibre content.
But if you want to indulge that sweet tooth, choosing dark chocolate over nutritionally hollow cookies or toffees for a snack will satiate you much more effectively.
Insisting upon the importance of satisfying the senses, Avni Kaul, nutritionist and wellness coach, founder of Nutri Activania, says:
Often what we’re looking for with food is satisfaction. If you are craving chocolate, you will eat something to help you get over that craving. But if you can have that piece of dark chocolate, it can be intensely satisfying to eat.Avni Kaul
"Chocolate is maybe my only vice. In particular, Godiva's champagne truffles. But I look at it this way - it is healthy for my body and also nourishes my soul," says our very own Jane Fonda, yummy mummy Shilpa Shetty Kundra. She adds:
I have mentioned in my book too that the word ‘diet’ makes the mind believe that the body is being deprived, and this deprivation leads to cravings.Shilpa Shetty Kundra
How Can Chocolate Help You Lose Weight?
With most weight-loss plans you end up cutting back a lot on sweets and sugary foods, but a small amount of dark chocolate each day can help prevent you from reaching for something higher in sugar and lower in nutritional value.
As with any good thing, there is a fine print with consuming chocolates. Keep the following pointer in mind while indulging:
1. Dark IS handsome!
Chocolates boosting weight-loss only works if you reach for dark chocolate (i.e., types that are made up of at least 70 percent cacao). Lighter chocolates are loaded with sugar. Also, flavanols are more prevalent in dark chocolate than in milk chocolate.
White and milk chocolate has a lot of added sugar and contains milk (also a type of sugar), while dark chocolate has less added sugar, contains monounsaturated fatty acids, and has a bittersweet taste that reduces the amount you eat.Avni Kaul
He adds, “Don’t take chocolate’s weight-loss benefits as an excuse to pound chocolate bars like they’re going out of style. Each helping should be no bigger than the end of your thumb. Eat more than that, and you could overload on sugar and fat.”
2. Check the Cocoa Bean Content
Pick your bars with care. The singular ingredient that has all the health benefits of chocolate is the cocoa bean.
Chocolate should be as minimally processed as possible to offer the most nutritional benefit. Choose chocolate that is 70% cocoa or higher, and aim for one that has no milk solids, extra syrups (glucose syrup, sugar) or other un-pronounceable ingredients.Shilpa Shetty Kundra
"Dark chocolate, specifically if it's bittersweet -- if it's that that 60 percent or higher threshold -- is really rich in fibre, and it's filling," says Avni Kaul.
3. Moderation is Key
You can take advantage of the benefits of chocolate to lose weight. But it won’t happen if you stuff a kilo of Dairy Milk into your face! Too much of anything can lead to weight gain, so be stubborn about portion control!
“Buy individually-wrapped dark chocolate pieces, and choose to have one or two as a dessert,” suggests Shilpa.
“The trick with chocolate is not to overdo it. I am fine with indulging in may be a couple of small tasting squares of 70 percent cacao or greater every day,” recommends self-confessed chocoholic Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, adding, “A little sweet treat on occasion can help keep those cravings in check and allow you to follow your weight-loss or weight-maintenance regimen.”
Note that the operative word here is ‘little’.
Remembering to always enjoy chocolate in moderation, and choosing the right kind of chocolate, can help you lose weight and yet enjoy one of the best things in life. Not to mention that chocolate is something that never fails to uplift your mood, a diet that allows you to eat chocolate is like having the cake and eating it too!
(Aarti K Singh is an independent writer with close to two decades' experience in various media. Having worked in radio, TV and print media, she is now indulging in her passion to rediscover the world, besides juggling a PhD and raising her son.)
(Have you subscribed to FIT’s newsletter yet? Click here and get health updates directly in your inbox.)
(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)
(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)
We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated.
Liked this story? We'll send you more. Subscribe to The Quint's newsletter and get selected stories delivered to your inbox every day. Click to get started.
The Quint is available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, click to join.