On Monday The New York Times published an article called, The Chocolate Diet
“People who ate chocolate the most frequently, despite eating more calories and exercising no differently from those who ate the least chocolate, tended to have lower B.M.I.’s. There was a difference of roughly five to seven pounds between subjects who ate five servings of chocolate a week and those who ate none.” ~Dr. Golomb
Note: a serving equals 1-2 squares of 70% (or higher) dark chocolate, or 1-2 teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa powder.
Remember when I interviewed Dr. Oro last week and I asked him what he eats for breakfast? One of the things he mentioned was DARK CHOCOLATE. He wasn’t kidding. Functional Medicine Doctors and Holistic Nutritionists have not only been eating dark chocolate on a regular basis but they frequently recommend it to their patients.
Cravings & Weight Loss
Cocoa is the dominant ingredient in dark chocolate and cocoa elevates both dopamine and serotonin which is huge when dealing with cravings. If your dopamine and serotonin levels are low you will crave sugar, alcohol, sweet/starchy breads. You’ll sleep less (which inhibits fat loss) and feel depressed which makes you want to self medicate even more with sugar and alcohol.
It’s a vicious cycle.
It doesn’t matter if you’re Paleo, Vegetarian, a point counter or a calorie counter. If your serotonin and dopamine levels are low it will sabotage your healthy eating choices 90% of the time. When I teach my weight loss classes I spend a good portion of the class talking about brain chemistry, it’s an important piece for successful weight loss and maintenance.
There are many ways to naturally boost brain chemicals (neurotransmitters), for more information on this topic I highly recommend, The Edge Effect by Dr. Eric Braverman.
Because cocoa has the ability to impact the brain on several overlapping mechanisms, it is one of the most clinically effective substances we have found to combat (refined sugar, starch and alcohol) cravings. Note, we’re talking dark chocolate, not milk chocolate, white chocolate or candy bars with a chocolate coating. If you buy dark chocolate bars make sure the cocoa levels are 70% or higher.
Sugar and alcohol run the same pathway in the brain. If people don’t boost their serotonin and dopamine levels before stopping sugar they usually start drinking more alcohol. If people stop drinking alcohol but don’t boost their serotonin and dopamine levels they often start eating more sugar. Bottom line, refined sugar and alcohol increases body weight.
If your sugar cravings and insatiable sweet tooth continually sabotage your weight loss try this.
“We make our craving control cocoa drink by mixing 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder in hot water (pour water on top of cocoa slowly while stirring to avoid clumping). You can also add any non-calorie sweetener (our favorites are stevia, xylitol and erythritol) as well as cinnamon, cayenne and/or other spices to taste. To get the best benefit of cocoa it should be taken alone and not mixed into foods, protein powders or milk.” – Jade Teta Naturopathic Doctor
I use Trader Joe’s unsweetened cocoa powder and I add a little cinnamon for blood sugar control and taste. It’s yummy.
For more information on the complete health benefits of cocoa powder.
Chocolate: Food as medicine/medicine as food – Journal of the American College of Nutrition
Cocoa: Benefits for health, fitness and fat loss – Keoni Teta ND, LAc, CSCS & Jillian Sarno Teta ND
Why you should eat and drink high-cacao dark chocolate – Mark Sisson