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How to Eat Your Way to a Great Physique With Chocolate

How to Eat Your Way to a Great Physique With Chocolate

Is it really possible to enjoy tasty food AND build a great physique?

Of course, if you choose to eat the right things.

Bodybuilding isn’t all about supplements, steroids and pumping iron. Nor is it about buying expensive protein powders. It is primarily about nourishing your body and giving it the raw materials it needs to build lean mass.

At the forefront of the right things to eat for ripped abs and beefed-up biceps is, surprisingly, dark chocolate.

We’re not kidding. There’s actual science behind that statement.

Dark Chocolate’s Dark Secret

Theobroma cacao is the plant from where cacao beans are found. These seeds are the source of the chocolates we all enjoy.

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Not much convincing is needed to get anyone to eat more chocolate, it’s simply one of the most delicious foods. It’s decadent. It’s satisfying. It can lift your mood and make you feel happier.

Not only that. It has numerous health benefits as well.

Where does the health benefits of chocolate come from?

It’s the cacao flavonoids.

These are the main active compounds in chocolate and what makes it a healthy food.

However, these cacao flavonoids can only be found in sufficient quantities of dark chocolate or cacao extracts. Dark chocolate must be 70% cacao or more, the higher cacao content the better. Do note that higher cacao concentrations also means a more bitter taste. The 70% dark chocolate contains just enough sugar to tone down the bitterness.

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Avoid milk chocolate, the added sugar and other ingredients in milk chocolate make it unhealthy. These will overpower any benefits you may get from the cacao. Besides, the cacao in milk chocolates is already too low to produce any real noticeable effects.

Also, chocolate must be from organic sources, processed in the least way possible. Choose non-alkalized chocolate since most of the beneficial compounds are still intact in this form.

Back to flavonoids.

Flavonoids are potent antioxidants with numerous benefits. They are especially beneficial to the cardiovascular system. The cacao flavonoids help increase nitric oxide. This compound relaxes the blood vessels (vasodilation) and allows more blood to flow through. This promotes more blood to reach all tissues while also keeping blood pressure within normal range.

This effect is also beneficial to your goal of building a ripped physique. Your muscle tissues will receive more nutrients and oxygen that they need to build more lean muscle.

Dark Chocolate For Building More Muscle

Good blood flow helps improve muscle recovery and endurance. You will feel less muscle soreness after high-intensity exercise, as well as shortening the recovery period letting you maintain the growth you achieved from your exercise.

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Prolonged recovery would mean prolonged catabolism. This is the breakdown process typical of the muscle recovery process. Any gains made run the risk of being broken down without adequate recovery. Dark chocolate can help counteract this by improving your muscle recovery rate.

One notable type of flavonol in dark chocolate is epicatechin. This acts as a myostatin inhibitor. Myostatin is a protein that controls muscle growth and development. It is an important protein to prevent hypertrophy or abnormal muscle growth. Epicatechin inhibits myostatin just enough to let your muscles grow faster and with greater volume, acting as an anabolic compound.

Epicatechin further promotes muscle building by stimulating follistatin. This protein’s function is the opposite of myostatin. Follistatin promotes muscle growth, further adding to epicatechin’s anabolic effect.

Aside from dark chocolate and cacao, you may get epicatechin from other foods and supplements.

Dark Chocolate’s Other Desirable Benefits

There is a long list of health benefits to be gained from eating dark chocolates daily. You should aim for at least 50 grams each day, with at least 70% cacao content.

The most prominent benefits other than muscle building includes better mood and improved sex life. Yes, you will feel happier and enjoy sex better because of dark chocolate.

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Dark chocolate promotes better blood flow to reproductive organs and promotes increased testosterone production, which also can help improve libido. Better blood flow and higher testosterone levels will enable you to have more stamina in bed and perform for longer, promoting stronger, fuller erections.

Blood flow to the brain is also increased, leading to nourished brain cells that are sure to function on a high level. This in turn, leads to a better balance of neurotransmitters, which can translate to better mood and an overall anti-depressant effect.

The benefits of consuming dark chocolate are substantial and science is just beginning to uncover what this seemingly magical cacao bean is all about. If you find it hard to incorporate healthy habits, dark chocolate might be easy for you since it is not only good for you but also tastes amazing!

Featured photo credit: Licensed from stockunlimited.com (Image ID : 1692172) via stockunlimited.com

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Alex Eriksson

Founder & CEO, Anabolic Health

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Last Updated on February 6, 2020

10 Simple Morning Exercises to Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises to Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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