Going on a diet invariably means giving up sugary sweets and treats. This makes a lot of sense because, by weight, these foods are usually very high in calories.
For example, where a medium-sized apple contains about 60 calories, a small cookie has roughly the same amount. Needless to say, you’ll probably only eat one apple, but it’s all too easy to eat half a dozen cookies.
However, there are some so-called junk foods that may actually help you lose weight. That’s not to say they’re miraculous fat burners, as no such thing exists. It’s more than eating a little of what is classed as an unhealthy and fattening food that can actually prevent overeating.
One such food is chocolate or, more specifically, dark chocolate. In fact, dark chocolate is so highly regarded that some experts class it as a superfood, which means it provides a wide range of potential health benefits. That’s good news if you are a chocoholic looking for validation!
So, is dark chocolate good for weight loss? It could be! In this article, we explain how it could help you lose weight and reveal some additional health benefits.
Is Dark Chocolate Good for Weight Loss
What is Dark Chocolate?
Humans have been eating chocolate for thousands of years.
Made from cocoa beans, it originates in central and South America, where it was consumed as a drink with spices, such as chili and cinnamon.
Chocolate was brought to Europe by the Spanish in the 1500s, where it was mixed with honey and sugar and made into solid bars.
In the late 1800s, chocolatiers begin to combine cocoa with milk, and the light, sweet chocolate that is so popular today was invented.
Chocolate is made from cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Milk chocolate contains added milk and sugar and is generally viewed as a source of empty calories. It has very little cocoa in it, which means it’s not especially good for you.
In contrast, dark chocolate contains no added milk and usually has much less added sugar. There are lots of different types of cark chocolate, and the cocoa content varies from variety to variety.
However, it is generally accepted that to be classed as dark chocolate, the product in question should contain 70-85% or more cocoa solids. This gives it a strong, intense, and slightly bitter flavor.
Dark chocolate is very high in beneficial nutrients, which is why it’s often viewed as a superfood. The nutritional values for one ounce/28 grams of dark chocolate are:
- 164 calories
- 11 grams of fat
- 2 grams of protein
- 17 grams of carbohydrate
- 2 grams of fiber
In addition, dark chocolate contains several valuable vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin B3
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
Dark chocolate also contains some additional compounds that have known health benefits, including antioxidants and flavanols.
Chocolate and Weight Loss
Eating chocolate can help you lose weight in several different ways, including:
Curb your cravings – chocolate has a rich, intense flavor, and a little goes a long way.
A small square of dark chocolate could be enough to satisfy your cravings for sugary sweets without derailing your diet.
Increased metabolism – dark chocolate contains caffeine, which is also found in coffee and is a common ingredient in fat burners. It also contains monounsaturated fats.
MUFAs and caffeine are known for their metabolism-boosting effect. Your metabolism is the number of calories you burn ore day, and a revved-up metabolism should lead to faster, easier weight loss.
Improved insulin sensitivity – eating dark chocolate may help your body process and digest carbs better, leading to less fat storage. Better insulin sensitivity also causes a decrease in blood glucose, which creates the best environment for fat burning.
Better mood – eating chocolate makes you happy, and happy people are less prone to emotional overeating. If stress makes you want to eat more, an ounce of dark chocolate could help.
Less hunger – even a small serving of dark chocolate may stop you from feeling hungry. It’s so rich that it fools your body into thinking you’ve eaten more than you have.
Eating dark chocolate between meals has been shown to reduce the amount of food consumed at subsequent mealtimes.
Additional Benefits of Eating Dark Chocolate
Eating chocolate as part of a calorie-controlled diet could help you lose weight. Better yet, it’s good for your health too. The benefits of eating dark chocolate include:
Lower risk of heart disease and stroke – the flavonoids in dark chocolate act as vasodilators, relaxing and opening your blood vessels to improve cardiovascular circulation. Combined with its anti-inflammatory effect, this means that dark chocolate is good for your heart and circulatory system.
In addition, dark chocolate has been shown to drive down levels of bad LDL cholesterol while increasing levels of good HDL cholesterol, which is the ratio you want for better heart health.
Improved cognition and less memory loss – the antioxidants and anti-inflammatories in dark chocolate are good for your brain.
Other compounds in cocoa are linked to increased brain plasticity, which often declines with age. Eating dark chocolate may enhance learning and memory and ward off Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
Lower risk of developing diabetes – unlike regular milk chocolate and candy, dark chocolate is low in sugar, making it less likely to cause spikes in blood glucose and diabetes.
In addition, studies suggest that dark chocolate actually helps your body metabolize carbs and sugar more efficiently, lowering blood glucose levels in the process.
Improved digestive health – chocolate contains prebiotic fiber, which feeds the good bacteria that resides in your digestive system.
A healthier gut is linked to improved digestion, better immunity, and enhanced weight loss.
May prevent some cancers – the antioxidants and flavonoids in dark chocolate are proven cancer fighters. Cocoa is one of the richest dietary sources of antioxidants.
Good for your skin – while sugary milk chocolate can cause breakouts, dark chocolate could actually prevent spots and wrinkles.
It’s high in manganese, which is a precursor of the protein collagen, which is vital for healthier, more elastic skin.
The antioxidants in dark chocolate may also help reduce the sun damage caused by exposure to ultraviolet rays.
While chocolate is a bonafide health food and could help you lose weight, there are a couple of downsides to consider before you start adding it to your diet:
High in calories and fat – eating too much chocolate, even the dark variety, could lead to weight gain. You’ll need to practice good portion control to avoid gaining weight by eating chocolate. Limit your intake to 1-2 ounces per day.
Caffeine content – dark chocolate is high in caffeine, so it could give you the jitters if you eat too much and might keep you awake if you eat it too close to bedtime.
Chocolate is a confusing food. On the one hand, most diets ban it outright, stating that it’s too high in fat, sugar, and calories to be anything other than fattening.
There are even low-fat, sugar-free chocolate bars that reinforce this notion.
On the other hand, chocolate, and especially the darker varieties, is often listed as a nutritional superfood, meaning it’s not just good for you; it’s REALLY good for you! Studies also suggest that eating dark chocolate could help you lose weight.
Because it’s so rich and satisfying, dark chocolate is a good weight-loss snack.
A little goes a long way, and if you let it slowly melt in your mouth, even just an ounce will deliver a big chocolate hit. It’s also lower in calories than many other types of confectionary.
Made from cocoa beans, dark chocolate is also high in nutrients, including antioxidants and flavonoids. This means it’s good for several aspects of your health and may help lower your risk of heart disease, some cancers, and diabetes.
However, before you start the all-chocolate diet, it’s important to remember that even dark chocolate contains fat, sugar, and calories, and eating too much could lead to weight gain.
So, while eating an ounce or two of dark chocolate could help you lose weight, consuming more could have the opposite effect.