guest post written by: Isabella Lovett
Here’s How Chocolate Can Enhance Your Workout Routine
For years, chocolate enthusiasts have happily espoused the health benefits of chocolate, and indulging in this all-time favorite treat has been proven to be good for you. Studies have shown that it can prevent heart disease and reduce the risks of depression, among other things, which is why you shouldn't feel guilty about indulging in a few squares of your favorite chocolate. But did you know that eating chocolate after exercising can alsoenhance your fitness routine? Snacking on an energy bar may seem like a good idea after an intense cardio workout, but if you really want to boost your health, you may want to reach for a tall glass of chocolate milk instead. The latest studies indicate that drinking chocolate is the perfect post-fitness pick me up. Intrigued? Here’s how chocolate can enhance your workout routine.
It helps you build strong muscles
Getting a body like Jennifer Aniston (can you believe she's 50?) takes a lot of work and dedication - the actress cycles through an intense workout schedule that involves boxing, yoga, cardio and strength training, amongst other activities. But you don't need to do all of these exercises to stay fit and lean like the "Friends" star. Certain workouts, such as cycling, can promote overall wellness: cycling not only burns body fat, but it also boosts stamina and strengthens muscles. Riding a bike can create minuscule tears in the muscles, and the rebuilding or recovery process makes your muscles and entire body stronger every single time you workout. The recovery process is what causes you to feel sore and achy, and you may want to swear off working out entirely because of the discomfort. But don't think about giving up - instead, treat yourself to a glass of drinking chocolate.
According to research, chocolate milk’s carbohydrate to protein ratio makes it ideal for rebuilding lean muscle after exercise, making it even better than plain water, a sports drink, or a smoothie. Have one glass of dark drinking chocolate or chocolate milk at least 20 minutes after your workout to aid muscle recovery, and keep it to just one glass for best results. You're well on your way to getting Jennifer Aniston's lean arms, and perhaps Gwen Stefani's spectacular abs!
It can improve exercise performance
Maybe you're not a gym person, or perhaps going to a Zumba class isn't really your thing, or maybe you prefer to work out at home. Don't fret: even those who do moderate aerobic activity, such as walking, can benefit from drinking a cup of dark chocolate before working out. In another study, it was found that participants who consumed a drink with 15 grams of cocoa were able towalk 43 meters furtherthan those who drank a placebo beverage. Moreover, researchers concluded that chocolate, which is an accessible and inexpensive product, may help in promoting better blood flow and improved calf muscle health in people who have difficulty walking. So cue up that walking playlist on your smartphone, do a few laps around the neighborhood, and have a well-deserved cup of cocoa right after!
Should you drink chocolate if you're trying to lose weight?
It has to be said - chocolate contains a significant amount of fat, protein, carbohydrates, and sugar, and eating too much of it may hinder your weight loss efforts if you're actively trying to shed a few pounds. However, as proven by research, having a little chocolate can be good for you, so if you need to lose excess weight and flab without sacrificing your chocolate habit, you can drink low-fat chocolate milk or one percent chocolate milk. You can also eat a square of dark chocolate as a pick-me-up if you find that your energy's flagging towards the end of the day. But if you need to increase endurance to make it through your spinning class, then a chocolate drink made with whole milk may be better for you - just make sure to drink no more than eight ounces so you don't derail your fitness goals.
The skinny on chocolate
The studies on chocolate and its ability to improve exercise performance prove that you can continue to indulge in your favorite sweet treat and have a great body at the same time. Whether you take it warm or cold is up to you, but for best results, make sure that your beverage contains a good amount of real cocoa as some chocolate mixes don’t contain enough of it, so they’re unsuitable as a pre or post-workout drink. Also, make it a habit to exercise regularly: consistency is the key to wellness. In time, you’ll be rocking a lean and fit body, just in time for bikini season!
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