The main ingredient of chocolate is cocoa (we all know that). It is packed with anti-oxidants called flavonoids. It is known that that dark chocolate reduces the risk factors of heart disease, improves cognitive function, and lowers cholesterol levels. But a recent study has revealed that dark chocolate can help improving athletic performance. The dark chocolate contains this particular flavonoid compound called epicatechin which also present in beetroot. This compound helps in increasing the nitric oxide production. Nitric oxide helps the blood vessels to dilate and increase the blood circulation throughout the body. Increasing circulation allows the blood to supply more oxygen to the muscles, this increases endurance. Nitric oxide is also helpful in the production of cells that promote cell repair. 

Epicatechin also regulates the production of follistatinFollistatin is a counterpart of myostatin. Myostatin is a protein that is reponsible for regulating muscle growth. It basically restricts muscle growth, in order to avoid excessive development of any muscle. Therefore inhibiting the function of myostatin significantly increases muscle growth. Follistatin interrupts myostatin signals which results in muscle growth. So when you ingest epicatechin it stimulates the production of follistatinTherefore it is a natural way to reduce the production of myostatin and increase muscle production in a natural way. 

The epicatechin present in the dark chocolate removes glucose and increases insulin sensitivity. Insulin is one of the key hormones in burning fat and building muscle. It triggers protein synthesis. Too much insulin results in insulin resistance that hinders the removal of excessive glucose. Therefore epicatechin helps in physical benefits like faster recovery and efficient muscle growth via improvement of muscle growth and glucose sensitiviy. 

Epicatechin also helps in improving muscle endurance. That means it will help you in providing increasing your endurance during workout. You can hit your high intensity workout without any qualms. It also suppresses appetite by signaling the brain that the person is satiated. This can contribute to better weight management.

The flavanol also stimulates the production of testosterone by stimulating the pituitary gland. It increases the secretion of two important hormones that are responsible for the production of testosterone gonadotropins and luteinizing hormones. Testosterone helps in muscle growth, enhancing enduring and improving sexual function. Increased testosterone helps in intense workouts and trainings for both athletes and fitness enthusiasts. 

The flavanol epicatechin has two purposes on is to increase muscle growth and two it acts as an anabolic enhancement. It is a better choice as opposed to chemically manufactured steroids. It is an antioxidant and a nitric oxide booster. The best part is it is found in dark chocolate. The more the percentage of cocoa the better dose of epicatechin. Make sure the chocolate is not too processed. A dosage of 30-40g of dark chocolate is ideal but you have to make sure it is 70 to 85 percent cocoa. A lot of people enjoy the bitterness in cocoa and others can always acquire the taste. But if you are looking to enhance your body building then opt for 40 to 50 g of dark chocolate per day. Many body builders even use 50 to 100 g of dark chocolate as a pre workout supplement to boost their work out, blood flow and increase the production of nitric oxide. Another aspect about dark chocolate is that it is high in calories and contains healthy saturated fats which is good for your health. Processed chocolates often do not have the desired content of flavonoids mainly because they are put through some gruesome processing that removes almost 60 percent of the epicatechin. The chocolate should be at least 70 percent cocoa otherwise you may incur metabolic damage from sugar. 

There are different ways in which you can add dark chocolate benefit in your pre workout snack:

  1. You can add a handful of dark chocolate chips and have it with some dry fruits. 

  2. Have some high quality chocolate right before work out.

  3. Add a spoon of cocoa powder to your coffee for good endurance benefits.

  4. Add dark cocoa to your protein shake that you consume just before workout.

Other benefits of dark chocolate include:

  1. It is very nutritious it contains fiber, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and selenium.

  2. It improves blood flow and may lower blood pressure.

  3. It raises HDL and prevents LDL oxidation. 

  4. May reduce heart disease risk.

  5. There are bioactive components that protect your skin from the sun.

  6. It may improve the brain function.

  7. It promotes weight loss.

  8. It may prevent diabetes.

  9. It is a known stress reducer and helps elevate mood. It releases endorphins in the blood stream that helps in improving your mood. 

Now we know that chocolate is a tasty way to improve workouts and promote cardio vascular health and regulating weight loss.