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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 July 9, 2020

10 Easy At-Home Leg Toning Workouts for Women

10 Easy At-Home Leg Toning Workouts for Women

As you grow older, it becomes hard to balance and have stability in your joints if you’re not engaging in leg toning workouts. You start losing muscle mass, strength, and function over time. Furthermore, if you’re physically inactive, you’ll lose 3 to 5 percent of muscle mass each decade after age 30.

Thankfully, you can still score your strongest legs ever with the help of leg toning workouts. Strong legs help you support your body better and make you more attractive. Also, they are less susceptible to injuries.

The best part? You don’t need fancy and expensive gym equipment to fire up those leg muscles. You can do that right at home.

Ready to get strong? Here are the best at-home leg toning workout moves for women.

1. Bodyweight Squats

    The squat is often referred to as the king of all exercises. It’s an amazing way to tone your legs. Not only does it help you build lean muscle, but it also works your abs, butt, and hips. Also, if you’re suffering from back pain, it’s a great option as it doesn’t strain your back when done right. To do a squat:

    • Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes slightly turned out.
    • Bend at the knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
    • Pause for a moment and push yourself back to your original position.
    • Repeat.

    For extra support, consider doing this near a wall. Aim for 3 sets of 15 reps twice or thrice a week.

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    2. Forward Lunges

      When it comes to strength training, lunges are one of the most popular choices. It strengthens your legs while improving mobility and stability. Lunges also sculpt your butt and abs. What’s more, it can also help improve your posture. In order to do forward lunges properly:

      • Stand tall holding a dumbbell in each hand with your feet hip-width apart.
      • Take a big step forward with your right leg and lower your body into a lunge until both knees are bent 90 degrees.
      • If possible, lightly touch the floor with your left knee.
      • Push off on your front foot to bring yourself to the starting position.
      • Repeat on the other side.

      Aim for 3 sets of 12-15 reps on each leg. You can also do it without dumbbells if you’re just getting started.

      3. Single-Leg Deadlift

        Single-leg deadlifts targets all the major muscles, such as hamstrings, glutes, and even your core. It develops strength, balance, and stability. Another advantage of doing single-leg deadlifts is that it improves mobility through the legs and hips. To do a single-leg deadlift:

        • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
        • Hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing the front of your thighs.
        • Lean forward and shift your weight on the left leg with your right leg extended slightly behind you.
        • Lift your extended right leg until your body is parallel to the floor, arms hanging down.
        • Slowly return to the starting position.
        • Repeat and switch legs after doing all the reps.

        Do 3 sets of 15-20 reps with a 60 second break in between. If you’re new to this, you can also do it without weights.

        4. Jumping Jacks

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          Jumping jacks are an excellent leg toning workout move. They work your quadriceps, glutes, and hips. According to one study[1], they may also improve bone density. Additionally, this exercise also increases strength and agility. Here’s how you do jumping jacks:

          • Stand straight with your legs together and arms to your sides.
          • Jump into the air and spread your legs slightly beyond shoulder-width apart while your arms stretch over your head.
          • Jump back quickly, bringing yourself to the starting position.
          • Repeat.

          Start with 3 sets of 10 or more repetitions of jumping jacks.

          5. Single-Leg Calf Raise

          See the source image

            The single-leg calf raise strengthens both your lower legs and helps improve balance on one foot. This is important because it can improve sports performance and prevent injuries. Furthermore, it can also help prevent the onset of knee pain. Finally, it may also increase the size of your calves. To do a single-leg calf raise:

            • Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart and arms on your hips.
            • Bend your left knee and bring it hip-level.
            • Lift your right heel off the ground and balance on the ball of your foot.
            • Pause for a moment and lower your heel.
            • Repeat and then switch sides.

            Do 3 sets of 15-20 reps on each leg. Consider adding weight to make it more difficult.

            6. Side Lunges

              This leg toning workout move targets the sides of the glutes and quadricep muscles. It’s also a great exercise for tight hips and groin. Needless to say, it strengthens both your legs and boosts stability. To execute a side lunge the right way:

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              • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hands clasped in front of your chest.
              • Take a big step out to the right and lower your right knee until it is bent 90 degrees while pushing your butt back.
              • Keep your left leg straight during the process.
              • Push back and return to the starting position.
              • Repeat.

              Shoot for 10-12 reps and switch sides. Aim for 3 sets on each leg.

              7. Plank Leg Lifts

                Plank leg lifts work your butt and upper legs. With this exercise, you’ll also be able to get the benefits of a regular plank, meaning it will tone your whole body. It trains your core, glutes, and shoulders. Even better? It also trims body fat and improves posture. To do a plank leg lift:

                • Begin in a low plank position with your body straight and weight on your forearms.
                • Tighten your abs and raise your right leg, pausing for a moment.
                • Lower your right leg and do the same with your left leg.
                • Repeat.

                Do 2-3 sets of 15 reps. Brace your abs and glutes during the process.

                8. Glute Bridge

                  The glute bridge makes one of the best leg toning workouts for beginners. It sculpts your legs and improves hip mobility. If done correctly, it also enhances core stability. This exercise is also safe for people with chronic back pain. To do a glute bridge:

                  • Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Place your arms at your sides.
                  • Squeeze your abs and glutes.
                  • Raise your hips off the floor until your shoulder, hips, and knees are in a straight line.
                  • Pause for a few seconds and return to the starting position.
                  • Repeat.

                  Shoot for 2 sets of 10-12 reps. Do this 2-3 times a week. You can also wrap a resistance band around your thighs to challenge your endurance.

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                  9. Step-Ups

                    If you’re looking to strengthen your thighs, step-ups are an excellent choice. It targets the quadricep muscle that helps protect the knee. What’s more, it also improves balance and stability. You can do step-ups anywhere. All you have to do is find a bench, chair or any raised platform. To do a step-up properly:

                    • Begin standing facing a step.
                    • Place your right foot on the step and left foot on the floor.
                    • Press through your right heel and bring the left foot up until your left knee forms a 90-degree angle.
                    • Hold this position for a moment and then return to the starting position.
                    • Repeat and switch legs.

                    Aim for 3 sets of 12-15 reps on each side. To make it harder, hold dumbbells in your hands.

                    10. Dumbbell Good Morning

                    How to Do Good Mornings With Perfect Form | Muscle & Fitness

                      Dumbbell good mornings mainly target the hamstrings, but they also improve hip and back strength. You’ll also be able to develop stronger glutes with this exercise. Overall, it’s a great exercise for toning your legs. To perform this exercise:

                      1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent while holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level.
                      2. Hinge forward at your hips, and lower your torso until it is parallel to the floor.
                      3. Hold this position for 4-5 seconds and return to your original position.
                      4. Repeat.

                      Aim for 3 sets of 12-15 reps.

                      Final Thoughts

                      There are so many benefits of having well-toned legs. Stronger legs not only look good, but they also give you greater independence as you age. Therefore, it’s important to take good care of them.

                      In addition to exercise, you should also consider exfoliation and moisturization to keep your legs smooth, healthy, and firm. Always remember that strong legs are important if you want to live a healthy and active life. So, start working those leg muscles today, and you’ll thank yourself later.

                      More Tips on Strengthening Your Legs

                      Featured photo credit: Sergio Pedemonte via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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