Eating lots of chocolate and going to the gym are already related in the sense that you'll drag yourself to work out after recklessly wiping out your supply of chocolate bars. Although, now, it looks like there's a better reason to pair your chocolate addiction with working out: it could easily improve your physical performance, according to recent research.
As explained in a report by The New York Times, chocolate -- specifically, dark chocolate -- has long been known to pack serious health benefits, seeing as it's often loaded with a nutrient known as epicatechin. The substance has been shown to promote extra nitric oxide in blood vessels, which results in a number of physical benefits like better blood flow and an increase in oxygen to muscle cells. Knowing that, scientists at Kingston University looked at the possibility of using dark chocolate as a physical performance enhancer in a recent study published in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Medicine.
In the study, the researchers provided a group of cyclists with a small amount of chocolate every day and tested their physical fitness before and after chocolate was added to their diets. Half the cyclists received 40g of Dove brand dark chocolate and the other half received 40g of white chocolate (known to contain fewer nutrients) as a control. Later, the researchers switched the type of chocolate provided to the cyclists and tested their physical fitness again. And as the Times report puts it, the results were "beguiling," or in plan terms, insanely interesting.
As you might have guessed, the cyclists who ate dark chocolate performed better in the physical tests than the cyclists who ate white chocolate. The researchers found cyclists in the dark chocolate group were able to ride longer and harder and covered more distance in a short time-trial, which suggests the dark chocolate enhanced their "anaerobic, sprinting ability," according to the report. Ultimately, the researchers suggest that people who want to improve their athletic performance should consider replacing their current snack food with a few squares of dark chocolate every day. Um, don't mind if we do.
As with most studies, this one comes with plenty of caveats and cautions, which you can read all about in the Times' full report, right here.
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Tony Merevick is Cities News Editor at Thrillist and might just give this a try. Send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @tonymerevick.