One of the great Superfoods for runners is dark chocolate 85% or more, but above 90% is even better with less sugar and more antioxidants. The darker the chocolate the better, 100% dark chocolate is actually not chocolate, but 100% cacao. Dark chocolate can boost your energy and is a good fueling option. The quality of dark chocolate can make a huge difference in the benefits and taste, organic dark chocolate is more efficient and delicious.
Benefits of Dark Chocolate
1. Increase your VO2 Max- Consuming dark chocolate can help improve your VO2 max, how efficiently you can use oxygen. Research has found that even for sedentary people who consumed 20g of dark chocolate daily for three months, their VO2 max increased by 17%. What helps to improve their VO2 max is epicatechin, a flanavol in cacao, which helps the mitochondria (powerhouse of cells) function more efficiently. Even small amounts of dark chocolate are very efficient and healthier.
2. Reduce Inflammation- The dark chocolate antioxidants (flavonoids) also help reduce inflammation in the muscles and joints, eating a few bites of dark chocolate pre- or post-run or workout, can help reduce inflammation and soreness. Flavonoids are also very beneficial in boosting the brain and cardio health. Flavonoids have many benefits for runners.
3. Settle your Mind- Eating dark chocolate can make you feel better. Cacao contains serotonin, a mood-balancing hormone. The darker the chocolate the more you get. People who have some depression issues and eat dark chocolate can reduce the risk of depression or anxiety by up to 70%. For runners, to balance our mood-hormones can be helpful with tough training sessions. Eating a bite of dark chocolate before a run or workout can boost your energy level and creates positive mindset. To feel more positive can improve our level of stamina and endurance.
4. Run Longer- Caffeine found in dark chocolate may help support a long-distance run. Caffeine enhances both strength and endurance, and consuming caffeine with carbs found in dark chocolate can help increase muscle recovery post-run. Taking a bite pre-run and post-run will have several benefits.
5. Antioxidants- Antioxidants are the compounds that are believed to neutralize free radicals and protect the body from their damage. Antioxidants include vitamins, minerals and phytochemical helpful plant compounds. One of dark chocolate’s most impressive attributes is its high-antioxidant content, which is why it is one of the top 10 high-antioxidants foods. Two groups of antioxidants prevalent in dark chocolate are flavonoids and polyphenols. Dark chocolate’s cocoa has actually been shown to have the highest content of polyphenols and flavonoids, even greater than wine and tea. So, the higher the cacao percentage of your next dark chocolate bar, the more awesome antioxidants you’ll consume. How to Fuel with Dark Chocolate If you consume it the right way, dark chocolate is a great source of fuel. Dark chocolate is higher in fat and other carb sources. Fat takes longer to breakdown as fuel than simple carbs like sugar, or fruits. Make sure you eat the dark chocolate 1-2 hrs before your training. If you use it for recovery, eat 1-2 ounces, which will help replace the glycogen stores after training. Combine it with some protein, like nuts or nut butter, the protein-carb combo is essential for muscle recovery. Dark chocolate can trigger some acid reflux for people who suffer from this issue, if you feel symptoms like heartburn or indigestion during your run or training, then avoid dark chocolate pre-run fuel, use it for post-run recovery. Again, focus on the quality of the dark chocolate, organic and the darker the better for runner’s health and strength.
Train Well, Eat Well, Feel Great!