Can Dark Chocolate Help You Lose Weight?
Thanks to dark chocolate's content of beneficial compounds like polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins, it's often considered as a health food. In fact, it has been linked to a number of health benefits, including improved heart health, decreased inflammation, and enhanced brain function.
Due to its recent superfood status, many people also wonder whether dark chocolate may aid weight loss. Dark chocolate may offer several potential benefits when it comes to weight loss.
Improves insulin sensitivity
Some research suggests that dark chocolate could help improve your body's sensitivity to insulin, the hormone responsible for moving sugar out of your bloodstream and into your cells where it can be used for energy, rather than converted to fat and stored.
Although more research is needed, some small studies have also found that dark chocolate may help improve blood sugar control. This can help prevent spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, which can lead to symptoms like increased hunger.
Decreases hunger and appetite
Studies show that dark chocolate may reduce cravings and promote feelings of fullness, which may help support weight loss.
In one study in 12 women, smelling and eating dark chocolate decreased appetite and reduced levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates hunger. Another small study in 16 people compared the effects of milk chocolate and dark chocolate and found that participants felt less hungry and more full and satisfied after eating dark chocolate.
They also consumed 17% fewer calories at a subsequent meal, compared with participants who ate milk chocolate. Still, more research is needed to evaluate how dark chocolate may affect appetite and food intake, compared with other foods.
Several studies have found that dark chocolate can positively affect mental health and mood, which can ensure that you feel your very best to help promote weight loss. According to one study in 13,626 people, those who consumed higher amounts of dark chocolate had 57% lower odds of experiencing depressive symptoms than those who did not regularly consume dark chocolate.
Although dark chocolate may offer some potential benefits for weight loss, there are several downsides to consider.
First, dark chocolate is relatively high in fat and calories. In fact, a (28 gram serving of dark chocolate contains 155 calories and nearly 9 grams of fat. Depending on the specific brand and product, a single serving may contain one-half to one-third the number of calories in a standard chocolate bar.
Some types of dark chocolate also contain high amounts of added sugar, which can harm your health. In addition to increasing the number of calories in a product, added sugar may contribute to chronic health conditions like liver disease, heart disease, and diabetes.
Therefore, while dark chocolate can likely fit into a weight loss diet, it's important to stick to high quality varieties and avoid going overboard. For best results, stick to around 28 grams at a time and pick a product that's low in added sugar and contains at least 70% cocoa.
Dark chocolate may aid weight loss through several mechanisms, such as by improving insulin sensitivity, reducing hunger and appetite, and enhancing mood.
However, it's important to keep in mind that dark chocolate is also high in calories and fat, and many varieties contain high amounts of added sugar. For this reason, it's best to select high quality products that are low in added sugar and contain at least 70% cocoa, as well as enjoy it in moderation as part of a healthy, well-rounded diet.
Fortunately, dark chocolate can be purchased in bite-sized, individually wrapped pieces, which might help promote portion control.