New research again proves that a food not designed specifically to be a sports nutrition product can amp up your exercise performance, and it just might be the best news ever for chocolate lovers.
A study published in the Journal of the International Study of Sports Nutrition by British researchers found that cyclists who consumed 40 grams of dark chocolate daily (about a 1.5 ounce serving) for a period of two weeks witnessed an improvement in their VO2 max (maximal oxygen consumption) during a cycling fitness test and also were able to ride further during a 2-minute time-trail test compared to baseline tests prior to chocolate intake. The benefits of chocolate were also greater when dark chocolate was consumed compared to white chocolate.
How can being a chocoholic boost your game? Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoid antioxidants that are believed to improve the efficiency of oxygen use by your muscles during exercise. This results in improved energy production for any given amount of work. This is similar to how beets can improve performance.
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To get the most bang for your buck, you need to nibble your way through bars of chocolate that have a higher cocoa percentage, and, in turn, a greater amount of antioxidants at the expense of sugar. My preference is dark chocolate with about 80% cocoa. But if that is too strong for you from the get-go start with bars that provide about 60% cocoa and work your way up from there as your taste buds become accustomed to the stronger flavor.
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You see, some sports nutrition research is truly awesome. And now you can even feel better about enjoying the numerous chocolate infused recipes in ROCKET FUEL. It’s not just because it tastes great, but also we now know that it may keep you ahead of the pack.
In Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sports & Adventure, award-winning dietitian Matt Kadey offers up 120 delicious, creative, and convenient real-food recipes to power your everyday exercise and weekend adventures.
Rocket Fuel is available now in bookstores, outdoors stores, and online from these online retailers:
Barnes & Noble
Chapters/Indigo and MEC.ca in Canada
Food photography by Aaron Colussi.