Good news just in time for the holidays! "Chronic supplementation with dark chocolate" should be no problem at all.
Researchers at Kingston University have found that dark chocolate, consumed daily, can improve a cyclist’s performance in a two minute time trial - and improve the chocoholic’s gas exchange threshold for more prolonged cycling performance.
Dark chocolate supplementation reduces the oxygen cost of moderate intensity cycling
Dark chocolate (DC) is abundant in flavanols which have been reported to increase the bioavailability and bioactivity of nitric oxide (NO). Increasing NO bioavailability has often demonstrated reduced oxygen cost and performance enhancement during submaximal exercise.
Nine moderately-trained male participants volunteered to undertake baseline (BL) measurements that comprised a cycle test followed by cycling at 80 % of their established gas exchange threshold (GET) for 20-min and then immediately followed by a two-minute time-trial (TT). Using a randomised crossover design participants performed two further trials, two weeks apart, with either 40 g of dark chocolate (DC) or white chocolate (WC) being consumed daily. Oxygen consumption, RER, heart rate and blood lactate (BLa) were measured during each trial.
Dark chocolate consumption increased GET and TT performance compared to both BL and WC (P < 0.05). DC consumption increased [Formula: see text] by 6 % compared to BL (P < 0.05), but did not reach statistical significance compared to WC. There were no differences in the moderate-intensity cycling for [Formula: see text], RER, BLa and heart rate between conditions, although, [Formula: see text] and RER exhibited consistently lower trends following DC consumption compared to BL and WC, these did not reach statistical significance.
Chronic supplementation with dark chocolate resulted in a higher GET and enhanced TT performance. Consequently, ingestion of DC reduced the oxygen cost of moderate intensity exercise and may be an effective ergogenic aid for short-duration moderate intensity exercise.
This adds on to some previous research on the matter, where mice were choco-doped during mousey training:
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have discovered that epicatechin, a component of cocoa which is commonly found in dark chocolate, can significantly boost heart and leg muscle performance in mice.
Epicatechin enhances fatigue resistance and oxidative capacity in mouse muscle
The flavanol (-)-epicatechin, a component of cacao (cocoa), has been shown to have multiple health benefits in humans.
Using 1-year-old male mice, we examined the effects of 15 days of (-)-epicatechin treatment and regular exercise on:
(1) exercise performance,
(2) muscle fatigue,
(3) capillarity, and
(4) mitochondrial biogenesis in mouse hindlimb and heart muscles.
Twenty-five male mice (C57BL/6N) were randomized into four groups:
(2) water-exercise (W-Ex),
(3) (-)-epicatechin ((-)-Epi), and
(4) (-)-epicatechin-exercise ((-)-Epi-Ex).
Animals received 1 mg kg(-1) of (-)-epicatechin or water (vehicle) via oral gavage (twice daily). Exercise groups underwent 15 days of treadmill exercise. Significant increases in treadmill performance (∼50%) and enhanced in situ muscle fatigue resistance (∼30%) were observed with (-)-epicatechin.
Components of oxidative phosphorylation complexes, mitofilin, porin, nNOS, p-nNOS, and Tfam as well as mitochondrial volume and cristae abundance were significantly higher with (-)-epicatechin treatment for hindlimb and cardiac muscles than exercise alone. In addition, there were significant increases in skeletal muscle capillarity.
The combination of (-)-epicatechin and exercise resulted in further increases in oxidative phosphorylation-complex proteins, mitofilin, porin and capillarity than (-)-epicatechin alone. These findings indicate that (-)-epicatechin alone or in combination with exercise induces an integrated response that includes structural and metabolic changes in skeletal and cardiac muscles resulting in greater endurance capacity. These results, therefore, warrant the further evaluation of the underlying mechanism of action of (-)-epicatechin and its potential clinical application as an exercise mimetic.