It is well known that eating dark chocolate contributes to improving athletic performance. But on what basis is this principle based?
Scientific studies published by the journal “Journal of Physiology” explain two actions resulting from cocoa intake.
The first is the increase in blood flow to all the body’s tissues, especially to the muscles and the brain. It follows an increase in oxygen and glucose available to the muscle under stress, improvement of sports performance, decreased perception of effort and increased cognitive and visual ability. It is the effect of cocoa flavanols, family of antioxidants with the ability to prevent cardiovascular diseases and to improve the metabolism of sugars.
A second action determined by the intake of dark chocolate is the increase of mitochondria in skeletal muscle and heart muscle thanks to aerobic exercise and flavanol intake. It is a good thing because the mitochondria – whose presence is normally determined by the maternal genetic code – are an important source of energy for the cells of the body: more mitochondria means more energy available.
A team of researchers measured the physical performance and the ability to produce energy in response to the physical exertion of some mice to which epicatechin, a cocoa component, was given. After 15 days the rodents that had taken the substance were more athletic than 50% and 30% more resistant than their peers. At the moment it would be an act of faith to say that the effects would be quantitatively identical on humans. But, as Dr Moh Malek of Wayne State University in Detroit explains, it is something that researchers hope to identify in future studies.
The best dark chocolate for the sportsman is that containing a minimum cocoa percentage of 72%, due to a greater load of antioxidants. Eating 25-30 grams of dark chocolate 30-45 minutes before training, allows the metabolism to assimilate a quantity of sugar suitable to face the effort, in addition to two exciting substances, theobromine and caffeine. The first one in particular contributes to improving concentration and promptness of reflexes.
In the picture: San Vittore Olona (Milan) – The podium of the winners of the Cinquemulini 2018, cross country race known all over the world. The Laica brand is also linked to the 86th edition, among the sponsors of the event.