Lancashire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
1:00 AM 14th October 2023

Exploring The Health Benefits Of Chocolate For Cyclists

Image by Alexander Stein from Pixabay
Image by Alexander Stein from Pixabay
For anyone with even a hint of a sweet tooth, chocolate is irresistible. However, the average chocolate bar is loaded with sugar and saturated fat, making it unhealthy. But opting for chocolate with high cocoa content and low sugar can be much better. Surprisingly, cocoa, the plant from which chocolate is made, is rich in antioxidants and other nutritional benefits. However, many of these antioxidants can be lost during the process of transforming cocoa into chocolate.

What better excuse to investigate the benefits of chocolate than Chocolate Week, which starts on Monday the 16th of October. Ahead of Chocolate Week, the cycle and e-bike insurer cycleGuard has discovered what benefits does chocolate have for cyclists.

James Whitten, the Marketing Manager at cycleGuard says:
“Because chocolate is so often described as unhealthy, many of us don’t look into the impact of different types of chocolate on a human body.”

How can chocolate help for exercise?

Chocolate which is made up of a higher percentage of cocoa can be an effective recovery source after exercise. Cocoa contains antioxidants which can help to treat inflammation and muscle soreness. After finishing a particularly demanding course, a cyclist will need to recharge their body with carbohydrates and protein. Tired muscles need protein to build and repair, while a serving of carbs is needed to refuel and replace muscle glycogen. Chocolate, as with all sweets, contains a large amount of carbohydrates. To get a boost of protein, chocolate milk as a post-workout recovery drink seems to be popular among riders looking to get their fix of the sweet stuff while keeping themselves in racing shape.

Can chocolate be good for muscle growth?

An American study carried out in 2017 found that dark chocolate, along with almonds, managed to reduce the levels of 'bad' cholesterol in the body. While dark chocolate on its own is not going to build-up the power in cyclist’s legs for those long and arduous hill climbs, it may be able to help them prepare for it. Cocoa also contains a number of amino acids, such as leucine, which are needed for muscle growth and repair.

Can chocolate improve cycling performance?

A study by Kingston University investigated the effect that flavanols had on the body during exercise and had nine ‘moderately trained' cyclists replace a snack with 40g of dark chocolate in their daily diet for two weeks. Dark chocolate is particularly rich in flavanols, a group of natural compounds from plants which have antioxidant-like effects on the body and can also be found in things like tea. The study suggested that the riders may have become more efficient at their own oxygen usage after adding dark chocolate to their diet. It may be that, for short-duration, moderate-intensity exercise, dark chocolate might help people exercise for longer.

Whitten warns:
“Although some chocolate can have a more positive impact on cyclist’s health, it is important that it is consumed in moderation”

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