Eating chocolate on a diet can often seem like a paradox. For chocolate lovers like myself, it’s often a balancing act to pursue your fitness goals while still not giving up your chocolate enjoyment experience. It will depend on the diet or nutrition plan you choose, however, in the majority of cases, some chocolate can still be included in your diet once you plan and account for it.
Over the years, I’ve developed some tips that have worked for me. Everyone is different and you will need to discover what works for you so that you can enjoy some chocolate and still meet your fitness goals. That said, I hope that some of my tips for eating chocolate on a diet may be helpful for you.
Tips for Eating Chocolate On A Diet
1/ Acquire the taste for dark chocolate
Not everyone automatically enjoys dark chocolate, but this chocolate type is the one with the most health benefits associated. Dark chocolate with 70% and higher of cocoa is recommended to experience great health benefits while decreasing the amount of quantity of sugar and calories generally associated with chocolate. The higher the percentage, the better the chocolate is for you. It’s important to note too that the taste becomes more bitter with the increase in cocoa percentage, hence the acquired taste.
If you need to take baby steps and work your way up, go ahead! Wean yourself off of milk chocolate and start with a lower percentage of dark chocolate. Work your way up to 70%-85% dark chocolate.
Always remember to watch your overall chocolate intake as too much chocolate will not be helpful to your health & fitness objectives.
2/ Divide dark chocolate into serving sizes
Being able to eat the allocated portion of chocolate and no more is a skill that I strongly believe can be learnt. If I can do it then I know it really is possible.
Learn your tendencies. If it’s tough for you to break off a piece of the bar and put it back without going back to it again for more; when you buy the chocolate, divide it up and store in different places. Ideally, the chocolate should not be in your line of sight (it really helps if you’re not seeing it each time you open the fridge), so hide the pieces behind a few items if needed. These little steps can really go a long way in helping you as you build up your self-control.
Another plus of dark chocolate is that it promotes satiety ie it helps you to feel full and decreases the desire to eat something sweet (Read about this study here). Therefore, eating dark chocolate actually helps you with your sweet cravings and can make it a bit easier to be disciplined in adhering to serving sizes when you eat it.
3/ Consume dark chocolate as a reward
Making dark chocolate a reward can be a great motivator in your fitness journey and can help you better control the frequency that you consume the chocolate. For me, I’ve used dark chocolate as a reward for completing my 6 days of scheduled workouts for the week. If I skipped a workout then I’ve missed out on my chocolate that week and I don’t double up on the chocolate the next time I hit my goal by eating the piece from the missed week. It’s really key to maintain portion sizes.
If you find yourself struggling to limit your chocolate intake and keep to portion sizes, then have a look at this list from Your Home Fitness of non-food ways to reward yourself
3/ Use chocolate protein powder
Protein powder became a key addition early in my fitness journey. It really was a quick & easy way to add more protein to my diet without adding many calories as I add it to my fruit & vegetable shakes. There are lots of flavours available however for chocolate lovers this is a great way to get still enjoy chocolate in your day. Chocolate protein shakes are still one of my staples in my nutrition plan today.
4/ Snack on chocolate protein bars
Similar to protein powder, protein bars allow you to get your chocolate fix in a more healthy way. Bear in mind though that there are lots of protein bars on the market. Look for those that have high grams of protein and low sugar content. They make great snacks especially if you are on the road a lot. They can definitely be a healthier alternative.
5/ Sip on Chocolate Tea
The combination of tea (with all of its health benefits) and cocoa (providing the chocolate flavour) makes chocolate tea a good substitute particularly for hot chocolate as you start making choices that support your fitness plans. Tea, in general, can be a refreshing beverage and help you increase your water intake. Adding a few cups during the week is certainly worth considering.
I hope the tips above have shown you that eating chocolate on a diet can still be beneficial. However, it’s important to remember that not all chocolate is created equal. Dark chocolate is your best option but you will need to consume it in moderation so that it helps you in your fitness pursuits and it doesn’t work against you. For example, even for hard-core chocolate lovers like myself, there are times that I limit all chocolate for specified times depending on my short term fitness goals. However, in general, I consider it part of my diet and I have it occasionally as I still enjoy it.
For fellow chocolate lovers who walk the tightrope of enjoying chocolate and pursuing fitness, my encouragement to you is to use the tips above to see how you can balance your love of chocolate with your fitness goals.
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