When it comes to dieting and watching what you eat, whether you’re trying to lose weight or build muscle, it all seems very strict and by the book.
Like there are strict guidelines that you must follow or you’ll never lose weight.
To be honest it can all seem very daunting and you must eat certain things and that it’s not allowed to be enjoyable. Which is why so many people struggle to stick to a diet.
It’s all doom and gloom.
Or is it?
Can there be funner side to this?
What I’m going to go through today is looking at the nicer side of dieting. No mention of salads in this blog.
What if I told you that you could eat chocolate and lose weight?
Before I go any further I have to give a massive shout out to Ross Edgley who wrote The World’s Fittest Book. A lot of the ideas here came from reading his amazing book and I highly recommend checking it out. Here is a link to his incredible book which is a must have for anyone into health and fitness.
Chocolate is basically a massive no when it comes to losing weight. I’m sure you’ve heard people say things like, they need to go for a run or get another work out in to make come up for the chocolate or the extra calories they ate.
Now I’m not saying it’s ok to eat multiple bars of chocolate. I’m definitely not.
And this doesn’t count as a “cheat meal” either.
Straight after a workout, there is nothing wrong with going into the kitchen and getting a bar of cocoa-rich chocolate bar and scoffing it down.
After your workout your muscle will be depleted and your body’s ability to eat and assimilate food has improved a lot.
Well chocolate is a plant based food coming from the cocoa bean. Studies into this has a shown that cocoa, in its raw form, is naturally incredibly high in a plant nutrient called flavanols.
This is where chocolate gets it’s power.
Ross Edgley does a great job in his book in explaining the history and science behind this so a massive shout out to him for his amazing work.
Many, many years ago, Mayan warriors would march for miles all day then go into battle being fuelled basically only by cocoa beans. It was something that they ate for sustenance and to tackle virile challenges.
The flavanol that is found in dark chocolate improves insulin sensitivity in healthy people.
So a tough training session, teamed with some flavanol rich chocolate, makes your muscles absorb and use everything you give them, like your body is a massive sponge.
So if chocolate is so good, why is it branded as junk food?
It’s basically how modern chocolate is made. One thing I have to emphasise is that not all chocolate has this cocoa in it. The like of dark chocolate is typically very high in cocoa and can have up to 70-85% cocoa. Obviously this will change brand to brand.
Sadly it’s less raw and caramel covered relations don’t come with the same health properties.
This is due to all the added sugar causes insulin to spike through the roof and cause you crave more foods like that. Insulin is a hormone related to fat storage so the last thing we want is for it to shoot through the roof.
Now this doesn’t mean that you can’t ever have a chocolate biscuit. I love them just as much as the next person. But it is worth noting that not all chocolate is the same and that certain cocoa rich chocolate can be in your diet in moderation. Again, this doesn’t mean that you can stuff your face with dark chocolate. But small amount, even every day, is fine.
Ok so we covered that chocolate can be ok. But I’ll do well to give alcohol any praise. Especially seen as it’s almost as calorie dense as fat with 7 calories per gram.
But alcohol comes in a lot of different forms, each having different impacts on our body. There’s certainly more to it than the calories on the bottle.
It is possible to consume alcohol moderately and lose weight.
Moderate is the key word as there is no study promoting excessive alcohol drinking and the doing so has very bad effects on your body and your health. So the fact it says moderation the incredibly important.
This is just to discuss something that isn’t often discussed and to show that the drinks cabinet doesn’t need to be locked and throw away the key.
Alcohol is non essential nutrient and has empty calories. This means that the calories in alcohol, unlike fat, protein and carbs, have no nutritional value at all.
In fact there was a study that showed that alcohol actually slows the whole fat burning process.
So not looking good for calorie counters who enjoy a drink.
But alcohol, and all foods for that matter, can’t just be measured by its calorie content.
This way of thinking suggests the body needs foods solely for energy and calories. This just isn’t the case. We get more than calories from food and it’s not the only thing we get from alcohol.
A good example is gin and tonic. Incredibly popular drink nowadays so there will be a lot of happy people reading this. Gin is distilled. This means that it is very low in sugar compared to a lot of other drinks.
Studies have shown a connection between sugar-sweetened drinks and cases of obesity. So it would certainly be advised to go for the likes of a distilled drink instead of a colourful sugar loads cocktail or alco-pop.
A big factor that shows how likely you are to store fat is your insulin sensitivity. If you have poor insulin sensitivity, you are more likely to store fat as your body isn’t effective at processing carbs.
Though a study in Japan showed that alcohol could actually improve your insulin sensitivity.
So that glass of gin and tonic starting to sound a bit better for you that first thought.
Now for red wine. I’m sure you’ve heard for years that glass of red is good for you. Well red wine has a health boosting compound called resveratrol. This is produced when grapes that used to make the wine are under attack from fungus and disease. The thinking is that you ingest the same disease fighting properties when you drink a glass of red wine. It is thought that it could have “anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and antiviral properties.”
I have to say, if you have been told by a medical professional not to drink alcohol, then please follow your doctors instructions. But if you are fit and healthy and are avoiding a glass or two to watch your diet, then you might want to rethink that.
Now this obviously only scratches the surface. This is intent to make you look at the “bad things” slightly differently. To make you question the norm. Read food labels, not just the calories. And don’t deny yourself the nice things you enjoy just for calories.