Thanks to dark chocolate’s content of beneficial compounds like polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins, it’s often hailed as a health food.
It has been linked to several health benefits, including improved heart health, decreased inflammation, and enhanced brain function.
Due to its recent superfood status, many wonder whether dark chocolate may aid weight loss.
This article closely examines the research to determine whether dark chocolate can help you lose weight.
Potential benefits of dark chocolate
Dark chocolate may offer several potential benefits when it comes to weight loss.
Dark chocolate improves insulin sensitivity
Some research suggests that dark chocolate could help improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin, the hormone responsible for shutting sugar out of your bloodstream and into your cells, which can be used for energy.
This can help decrease insulin levels in the blood, which may be associated with increased weight loss and reduced fat storage.
Although more research is needed, some small studies have also found that dark chocolate may help improve blood sugar control.
This may help prevent spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, which can lead to symptoms like increased hunger.
Dark chocolate decreases hunger and appetite
Studies show that dark chocolate may reduce cravings and promote feelings of fullness, which may help support weight loss.
In one study in 12 women, smelling and eating dark chocolate decreased appetite and reduced ghrelin levels, the hormone that stimulates hunger.
Another small study in 16 people compared the effects of milk chocolate and dark chocolate and found that participants felt less hungry and more full and satisfied after eating dark chocolate.
Furthermore, they consumed 17% fewer calories at a subsequent meal than participants who ate milk chocolate.
Similarly, a study in 14 postmenopausal women showed that consuming dark chocolate led to greater food intake reductions compared to eating white and milk chocolate.
Still, more research is needed to evaluate how dark chocolate may affect appetite and food intake, compared with other foods.
Dark chocolate enhances mood
Several studies have found that dark chocolate may positively affect mental health and mood, which can ensure that you feel your very best to help promote weight loss.
According to one study in 13,626 people, those who consumed higher amounts of dark chocolate had 57% lower odds of experiencing depressive symptoms than those who did not regularly consume dark chocolate.
In another small study, eating 1.5 ounces (40 grams) of dark chocolate daily reduced stress levels in women over two weeks.
Moreover, a study in 72 adults showed that consuming a dark chocolate drink for 30 days led to increased feelings of self-rated calmness and contentedness, compared with a placebo.
Additional research is needed to determine whether the potential mood-boosting benefits of dark chocolate may be beneficial for weight loss.
Summary: Dark chocolate may help improve insulin sensitivity, reduce hunger and appetite, and enhance mood, which may help promote weight loss.
Possible downsides of dark chocolate
Although dark chocolate may offer some potential benefits for weight loss, several downsides exist.
First, dark chocolate is relatively high in fat and calories.
A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of dark chocolate contains 155 calories and nearly 9 grams of fat.
Depending on the specific brand and product, a single serving may contain one-half to one-third the number of calories in a standard chocolate bar.
Suggested read: 11 healthy foods that help you burn fat
Some types of dark chocolate also contain high amounts of added sugar, which can harm your health.
In addition to increasing the number of calories in a product, added sugar may contribute to chronic health conditions like liver disease, heart disease, and diabetes.
Therefore, while dark chocolate can likely fit into a weight loss diet, it’s important to stick to high-quality varieties and avoid going overboard.
For best results, stick to around 1 ounce (28 grams) at a time and pick a product that’s low in added sugar and contains at least 70% cocoa.
Summary: Dark chocolate is high in calories and fat, which may contribute to weight gain if consumed in excess. Some types also contain high amounts of added sugar, which can increase the calorie count and contribute to chronic disease.
Dark chocolate may aid weight loss through several mechanisms, such as improving insulin sensitivity, reducing hunger and appetite, and enhancing mood.
However, it’s important to remember that dark chocolate is also high in calories and fat, and many varieties contain high amounts of added sugar.
For this reason, it’s best to select high-quality products that are low in added sugar and contain at least 70% cocoa and enjoy it in moderation as part of a healthy, well-rounded diet.
Fortunately, dark chocolate can be purchased in bite-sized, individually wrapped pieces, which might help promote portion control.