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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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Published on February 14, 2019

15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

Starting such a journey is never easy and you must remember this is not a crash diet, it is a lifestyle. Don’t panic and think you have to do it all at once as this will most likely overwhelm you. You may also find yourself giving up because crash diet are not sustainable.

The best approach is to make simple changes to your daily habits and over time, you will notice all your bad habits have turned into good habits.

Accordingly to a study by Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, on average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behaviour becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact.[1] And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances.

Here are 15 fitness goals to help you on your journey:

1. Drink More Water

W.H.Auden said it best when he said ‘Thousands Have Lived Without Love, Not One Without Water’. With any diet, the most important thing to remember is to stay hydrated. Drinking water will support your body with digestion, transporting nutrition to your body and even help improve cognitive function.

Ideally, you want to drink about half your body weight in ounces per day i.e. if you weight 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water a day.

Hopefully, by following this rule, you will be able to maintain a consistent consumption of water per day.

2. Add Some Lemon & Apple Cider Vinegar to Your Water

It is recommended we sleep for about 8 hours a day, this means we spend about 8 hours per day dehydrated. Therefore, hydrating your body first thing in the morning is absolutely necessary.

The best way to achieve hydration is by starting your day with a glass or even two of water. For that extra boost, add lemon juice and ½ teaspoons of apple cider vinegar. The lemon and apple cider vinegar will help your body with detoxifying, cleansing and digestion

3. Stop Drinking Your Calories

Yes, keeping hydrated is important but try to avoid high calorie drinks such as soft drinks, speciality coffee and juices as they are full of fast acting sugar.

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Really push yourself to stop drinking such drinks and before you know it, you will notice the benefits.

4. Start Stretching More Often

Always remember to stretch! The benefits are vast and the repercussions of failing to stretch can be dramatic.

Do yourself a favour and always stretch before and after a workout. This will promote a healthy cool down, improve flexibility and reduce next day aches. Failure to stretch can lead to injures and muscle damage.

So, the next time you work out, don’t forget you dedicate a few minutes to stretching before and after your workout. You will thank me for it later!

Here’re some simple stretching exercises you can start trying:

15 Static Stretching Exercises to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

5. Add in Some High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

You may have heard about HIIT training because it is the big thing right now and believe me when I say ‘It works!’.

The benefits include lower body fat, increased stamina, leaner muscles and fantastic hormonal benefits.

HIIT is where you perform an intense exercise, for a very short time frame (about 30 seconds) followed by a slower exercise for about 90 seconds.

Performing a HIIT routine for 1-3 times a week will lead to great results.

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6. Focus on Your Breathing When You Work Out

For the most part, breathing is second nature to most of us. But when exercising, you may find yourself holding your breath and this is not good.

It is important to consciously take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, this will fill your lungs with oxygen.

7. Build More Lean Muscle

We all want to have lean muscles because not only does it look good, it has great health benefits:

  • Improved posture
  • Reduced body fat
  • Improved metabolism
  • Strong bones
  • Protects and improves joint health
  • Improves stamina

Learn more about building muscle in this guide:

How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss?

8. Decrease Body Fat

This may seem like an obvious one but it is one of the most important steps to a healthier you. Reducing your body fat has a lot of benefits such as:

  • Improved joints and tendons
  • Lowered risk of diabetes
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Better performance and endurance
  • Improved appearance and confidence
  • Better hormonal profiles in your body

Remember, it is not a race to see how quickly you can decrease your body fat, a healthy weight loss is around 1-2 pounds a week.[2]

Crash dieting or pushing yourself too much in the gym can lead to you achieving an unrealistic target, and you may find yourself gaining all the weight you have lost.

Think of it as a lifestyle and take it slow and steady.

9. Eat More Greens

What you eat is the most important factor in a healthier living plan. It is important to ensure you are getting as many nutrients and vitamins from the food you are eating as possible.

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Focus on dark, leafy greens as they will provide you with a wide array of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants – all of which you body needs!

Don’t forget to avoid processed and manufactured food. They are usually high in fat and have minimal vitamins.

10. Start Eliminating Sugar

Another top goal you can start immediately is reducing the amount of sugar you consume. It also won’t cost you anything, save you money and improve your health in the long run.

There’s no surprise we eat too much sugar and this should be one of your top goals moving forward (eliminating or drastically reducing sugar).

Cutting out liquid calories is a great way to start. If you’re looking for something sweet, turn to fruits or even dark chocolate.

11. Allow Yourself to Rest and Recovery

The workout is where you go to breakdown the muscle tissue and it builds back through proper nutrition, rest and recovery. It might be tempting to go to the gym for two hours every day as hard as you can to achieve your goals but that’s not the most effective approach.

If you don’t allow for proper rest and recovery, it can set you back a few steps. Your body is more prone to injury and even illness as you can weaken your immune system from all the progressive intensity the body is facing.

12. Get More Sleep

When you are deprived of sleep, you make it next to impossible to achieve your health and fitness goals. Lack of sleep can increase stress hormones in your body and over time these can lead to a lot of inflammation and chronic diseases.[3]

Make sleep a priority to let your body heal and rejuvenate. A good approach is 7 to 8 hours. Also, allow yourself some wind-down time and a pre-bed routine to help get more consistent sleep every night.

13. Focus on the Habit and Not the Result

It’s easy to get caught up in trying to achieve a certain look or shed time off of your mile, but the more important focus is on the habit that will bring you those goals.

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Don’t look at the scale, the tape measure, or the body fat percentage. Focus on the habits that will lead to those achievements.

Don’t compare yourself to where others are, you’re right where you need to be.

14. Take Your Fitness Outside

This may be hard depending on the weather you experience, but the more you can be outside exposed to fresh air and sunlight, the better.

Being stuck in the gym doing cardio while staring at a wall won’t do much for your mental stimulation.

Try to challenge your body more by getting outside. Hiking is great and also just running and walking. Give yourself more mental stimulation and a constantly changing environment. It also beats breathing in that recycled gym air.

15. Do at Least One Pull Up

This is a great last goal to focus on because it’s a great test of strength and to see how you are progressing with your fitness.

If you haven’t been able to do one, you know what a challenge it can be. Having the goal of doing at least one pull up will not only show you how far you’ve progressed but is a great way to become dedicated and motivated.

The Bottom Line

It will become more attainable through the year if you’re consistent with your fitness. Set yourself a concrete timeline as when you want to accomplish some or all of these goals. In fact, start making one of these goals happen this month!

This guide on achieving goals will be helpful for you:

How to Set Goals and Achieve Them Successfully

Featured photo credit: ivan Torres via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Phillippa Lally: How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world
[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Losing Weight
[3] Unity Point: The Scary Truth About Sleep Deprivation and Chronic Diseases

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