A few years ago, scientists carried out an experiment using cyclists and chocolate. They were split into 2 groups and each was given 40g of chocolate a day for 2 weeks. Group 1 was given dark chocolate, whilst group 2 was given white chocolate.
Each day they had to carry out a cycling test, pedalling at increasing intensity until they were exhausted. They were given a brief rest, before then riding for 20 minutes at 80% of their maximum, followed by a 2 minute time trial. The results will surprise you.
Those eating the dark chocolate performed significantly higher than those in white chocolate, and their own individual performance from before the chocolate tests had increased by 17% – wow! Now, we’re not saying that you should go out and eat a whole bar every day, but it is Easter, and by being sensible, chocolate can be something to both enjoy and help you to perform well on you bike – so what’s the science behind it…
Chocolate has a combination of antioxidants, protein and carbohydrate and can make for a great recovery drink. More importantly, chocolate, or rather cocoa contains specific group of flavonoids. Flavonoids are a naturally occurring chemical compound found in plants like beetroot, which we all know is good for us. They help us with processes such as wound repair and disease protection, and there’s a known link between eating foods rich in flavonoids and decreased risk of illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and stroke; but don’t go out and buy lots of chocolate just yet. Like everything else, it needs to be balanced and controlled.
Remember, chocolate also contains fats, sugars and is high in calories. Too much if these things and all that work on the bike will be wasted. Remember, everything in moderation!
At Easter, Christmas and at birthdays and other celebrations through the year, by being sensible you can treat yourself to some dark chocolate. You could even try out the experiment we mentioned earlier, and see how you perform pre-test and post-test. And let’s not forget, cocoa also contains caffeine, which is also known to improve cycling performance in certain doses. As we say, it’s all about balance, and too much caffeine is definitely not good for you.
So yes, you can have that chocolate that others seem to tuck away all year long, and that so many special occasions are celebrated with; just make sure it’s the dark stuff, and don’t overdo it? Happy eating everyone!