Why experts aren’t good at study claiming chocolate can help burn fat

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Eating milk chocolate in the morning may have several health benefits, according to a new study, but nutritionists say these findings may not be as sweet as they seem. Photo duos / Getty Images
  • One small study found that eating 100 grams of milk chocolate, either within an hour of waking up or an hour after bed, can actually help burn fat and lower blood sugar.
  • Researchers have also found that chocolate helps regulate sleep and suppresses appetite.
  • While the study garnered a lot of attention, nutritionists warn against changing your daily diet to include a serving of chocolate that is so high in calories and sugar, as it can contribute to chronic disease related to the disease. power over time.

A small study by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in collaboration with researchers at the University of Murcia in Spain suggests that eating chocolate for breakfast may, at least for some, have unexpected benefits.

In fact, they found that consuming high amounts of milk chocolate in the morning could actually help burn fat and lower blood sugar.

They also found that depending on when it was taken, chocolate could affect hunger and appetite, gut bacteria, sleep, etc.

Plus, eating chocolate at night can alter your metabolism the next morning.

The randomized, controlled, crossover trial involved 19 postmenopausal women.

Each person ate 100 grams of milk chocolate, either within an hour of waking up or within an hour of going to bed.

The research team then compared women who didn’t eat chocolate for measurable effects, such as weight gain.

After 14 days of chocolate consumption, the women had not gained weight.

Additionally, even though they were allowed to eat freely other than having the required amount of chocolate, the women spontaneously reduced the number of calories they ate to partially offset the calories from chocolate.

Those who ate chocolate in the morning reduced their intake by about 300 kcal / day, while those who ate chocolate in the evening reduced their intake by about 150 kcal / day.

This was compared to the 542 kcal / day they got from eating chocolate.

Chocolate consumption has also been found to decrease hunger and desire for sweets.

The researchers further found signs of increased fat burning and lower blood sugar levels in women who ate chocolate in the morning.

Among those who ate it at night, they found signs that it could alter metabolism the next day.

When it comes to the composition of gut bacteria, evening and morning consumption has been found to lead to different profile and function.

Finally, when women ate chocolate in the evening, they had more regularity in the time it took them to fall asleep.

While it may seem like eating chocolate for breakfast is a good idea, Marie-Jon Ludy, PhD, Department of Public Health chair and ally and associate professor, Food and Nutrition at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, says it’s a bit early to start recommending a bar of chocolate in the morning.

She said an important caveat in this study is that only a small group of healthy women were studied over a short period of time.

Additionally, she noted that they consumed a third of their daily calorie needs from a single food high in fat and sugar.

“With more than half of American adults managing at least one diet-related chronic disease,” she said, “more evidence is needed before a milk chocolate breakfast is approved for the public. general “.

Colleen Tewksbury, PhD, national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, agrees.

“Milk chocolate is a food rich in calories, sugar and fat. Having small amounts and maintaining a healthy intake can be done, but many people struggle to find that balance without conscious effort, ”she said.

While Ludy is in no rush to recommend milk chocolate based on this study, she did say that chocolate may have some health benefits. For example, it contains flavonoids, which help lower blood pressure, decrease inflammation, and improve insulin sensitivity. It also contains theobromine, which helps improve good cholesterol levels and may promote mood by improving alertness.

However, if you are going to consume chocolate, research suggests that dark chocolate is better for you. It contains healthier compounds such as flavonoids and theobromine, but lower amounts of sugar than milk chocolate.

She suggests looking for darker chocolates with a higher percentage of cocoa and consuming it in moderation as part of an overall nutritious diet.

While there are healthier ways to consume chocolate than to eat milk chocolate, Tewksbury said, “When it comes to reducing the risk of developing heart disease and diabetes, it’s not a food or drink. a change that should make a huge difference – it’s a lot of small. “

She suggests maintaining a moderate weight, exercising for 30 minutes 5 times a week, and eating a variety of nutritious foods, including:

  • whole grains
  • legumes
  • nuts
  • lean protein
  • heart healthy fats
  • fruits
  • vegetables

Ludy said if you want to add chocolate to your day, be aware that it’s a higher calorie food, so it’s important to consider setting limits for portions and frequency.

“More is not always better in nutrition,” she said.

So, for example, a person might choose to have a fun-sized little chocolate bar once a day. Another might choose to add chocolate to a recipe several times a week.

Ludy said the best place to start deciding how to incorporate chocolate into a healthy diet is to see a registered dietitian. They can help you determine what works best for you and your health goals.


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