Eating chocolate can lead to weight loss. I'll give you a second to process that.
Ready? Okay, but before you take that on as your new life motto, learn why this is a controversial suggestion.
The Proof is in the (Chocolate) Pudding
I’m just as ready and desperate to embrace the fat-busting ways of chocolate as you are, but let’s not just indulge in wishful thinking unless there’s scientific proof to back it up. Luckily, weight loss and chocolate have quite the track record.
In a 2005 study conducted at the University of L’Aquila in Italy, researchers found that dark chocolate decreases blood pressure and improves insulin sensitivity in healthy persons.
Neuroscientist and author of "Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight" Will Clower claims that eating chocolate 20 minutes before and five minutes after lunch and dinner can help cut appetite by up to 50 percent. This effect is a result of the brain releasing hormones that fool the body into thinking it’s full.
In a 2009 study, scientists found that dark chocolate was able to reduce the metabolic effects of stress. High stress levels are associated with weight gain. Meanwhile, University of Copenhagen researchers found that dark chocolate lessens cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods, obvious culprits on anyone’s trek to a slimmer figure.
The research substantiates the claim that eating chocolate may help you to lose weight. And, eating chocolate before a meal, appears to be the best time, as chocolate will give your body the sensation of being full (better before than after a meal) and will weaken cravings for poor food choices (better before than after the fact).
But there are limitations. Most of these studies hinge on the premise that the chocolate is a simple, dark variety - no dairy in the ingredient's list – and that it is consumed moderately. Too much of anything, especially of a food straddling the boundaries of that complex space called guilty conscience, can go sour.
Rather than treating chocolate as the only variable in your weight loss formula, make it part of a healthy, plant-based dietary lifestyle. Instead of fearing it, enjoy it on occasion, but not too much to the point it becomes its own food group.
The Chocolate Options
In sticking to the dark chocolate theme, choose an organic dairy-free version with at least a 72% cacao content, of which there are many on the market.
Dark chocolate is chock-full of resveratrol and antioxidants and is a good source of magnesium. However, these nutritional perks are shrouded when excess sugar and dairy are added to the equation.
Another option is raw chocolate. The difference between commercial dark chocolate and raw chocolate is that the cacao beans for raw chocolate are never heated above 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius), thus maintaining the nutritional profile of the cacao. Many raw chocolate brands usually stick to the unrefined (or healthy) theme by omitting refined sugar, dairy, and low-quality oils in the blend.
While a few pieces of dark (or raw) chocolate before a meal may help you lose weight, don’t abuse the science by overindulging.