By Kirsten Whittaker
Weight loss as one of the advantages of eating chocolate sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? That is until you understand the science behind it. If you’re wanting to lose weight (and who isn’t?) you might not have to ban chocolate from your diet. At least not dark chocolate…
A new study finds that subjects who ate chocolate a lot actually weighed less than people who ate it less often.
Sounds strange but there’s solid data to back the claim. Using just about 1,000 healthy men and women, the researchers saw that those who indicated eating chocolate 5 times per week had BMIs (body mass index) of on average, one point fewer than those who enjoyed chocolate less often. One point on the BMI scale equals about 5 pounds using the example of a 5’6″ tall woman who weighs in at 125 pounds. Different weights and heights will produce different numbers.
What’s interesting is that the research team did look for other reasons that might explain away the weight difference. Chocolate eaters didn’t exercise any more than non-eaters. They didn’t engage in other behaviors that might influence their weight compared to those who ate less chocolate. However, as the study was observational it cannot prove that chocolate eating causes weight loss.
The findings just don’t seem to make intuitive sense. Eating chocolate should have you gaining weight, not losing it. What’s more, in the study, those who were eating a lot of chocolate also said they ate more calories in total as well as more saturated fats than those who consumed chocolate less frequently.
So, how can more calories equal less weight?
One possible explanation is that the calories found in chocolate are offset by some other ingredient that might speed metabolism.
Nutritionists who did not take part in the research are understandably skeptical of the idea that chocolate brings down body weight. Perhaps eating chocolate is a marker for an overall way of living and relaxed attitudes about eating that are healthy for people.
One expert who is willing to sing chocolate’s weight loss praises says that dark chocolate comes naturally with many things that means it is a good choice for dieters.
– The bittersweet taste of dark chocolate actually works to suppress appetite, where sweet tastes serve to encourage it.
– It’s high in fat, which slows digestion and might actually curb appetite for a longer period.
– Dark chocolate is also a natural source of a small amount of caffeine, which can speed up metabolism, helping your body burn more calories while at rest.
Experts also point out that chocolate is not calorie free. You need to account for them just as you would any other food you eat. No one is saying you can eat chocolate and effortlessly lose weight – the idea is more complex than that. You need to choose your wisely to gain the advantages of eating chocolate – resisting high fat and sugar varieties and go dark (at least 60% cocoa content), keeping the portion small – no bigger than a postage stamp.
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