Saturday 17 March 2018

Dieting: Why chocolate could replace sweating it out in the gym

Library image. Getty Images
Library image. Getty Images

Sinead Van Kampen

If you are tired of the treadmill or sick of your spin class in a bid to lose weight, then you'll be glad to hear that you may one day be able to swap exercising for chocolate.

That is the latest discovery by a university in the US which is making chocoholics around the world sit up and take notice.

Rather than spending hours straining to get that perfect body, it seems that all we need to help us tone up is dark chocolate.

Tests at the University of Detroit have shown that an ingredient in dark chocolate called epicatechin could soon offer a way to get that gym body we all crave.

In recent studies, researchers discovered that small amounts of the ingredient had the effect of increasing mitochondria in muscles which in turn increases blood flow and the ability to generate energy.

Most surprisingly, as well as being able to give us a boost in the gym, epicatechins in dark chocolate might one day be used as a substitute for the gym altogether. It seems that just the ingredient by itself can produce an effect in which is similar to exercise.

Dr Moh Malek, who led the research team said ''Aerobic exercise, such as running or cycling, is known to increase the number of mitochondria in muscle cells. Our study has found that epicatechin seems to bring about the same response".

As if the news that being sweet could one day replace being sweaty were not exciting enough, Dr Malek's research also found that the group likely to see most benefit from his research were those in middle age.

Although it is still early days on the tests, Dr Malek says that “Applying what we know of epicatechin’s ability to boost mitochondria may provide a way to cut the effects of muscle ageing.”

As ingredients found in dark chocolate have long been linked with disease prevention, this latest study has yet to be tested on humans. Whether we will be swapping the dreaded treadmill for more of our favourite treats remains to be seen.

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