Dark Chocolate for your Valentine

Leading on from my short article on 'Improving performance through nutrition' and it being Valentine's day I thought I would talk about the benefits of perhaps buying your valentine some dark chocolate (70% and higher Cocoa content).

Dark chocolate 70% and higher, has some great benefits; it is an excellent antioxidant with high polyphenols content (a phytochemical with varying antioxidant properties which also includes reducing inflammatory responses in the body) plus a compound called 'epicatechin'. This bioactive compound is classed as a flavonol, a plant-based phytochemical. So what does this actually mean… well these compounds have been shown to induce metabolic remodeling, effecting mitochondrial gene expression and enhancing responses in skeletal muscle. Put simply the consumption of cocoa can improve mitochondria economy (responsible for energy production) therefore improving energy production which can improve performance.

Putting all this together, with the glycogen depletion during exercise I mentioned in my latest article 'Improving performance through nutrition', enhancement of mitochondrial biogenesis basically is improving performance even more by planning the correct nutrients to eat during a specific training load or phase. It should be easy to see how, with the correct nutritional planning and intervention toward an athletes training, they are able to squeeze every bit of physiological adaption out of their program.

It is of course more than just shoving a few more food groups down your throat and it is important to highlight that this planning is enhanced by a nutritionist qualified professional and not just from a few 'top tips'. There is a lot of science behind sports nutrition and it is a very hot topic right now, you only have to do a simple check online to see what the athletes at #pyeongchang #Olympics2018 are doing to reach their peak to realise that nutrition plays a critical role, get smarter with yours.

If you are heading out for a romantic valentine meal, consider a dark chocolate dessert for its nutritional benefits as well as its great taste.