In just a few days, Scarlet Johansson will once again take intergalactic warlord Thanos to task as the heroic Black Widow in “Avengers: Endgame.”
Don’t tell Captain America, but her secret may have been chocolate bars.
Apparently, Johansson’s personal trainers encourage their clients to eat up to a third of a high-quality dark chocolate bar at least 15 minutes prior to working out.
While exercise and dark chocolate may sound like the mad ravings of a super-villain, the trainers’ reasoning for this unusual pre-workout snack is entirely noble. Energy bars and pre-exercise supplements sold in stores, they say, are filled with sugar and caffeine, detriments to an effective workout.
Organic dark chocolate containing at least 70 percent cacao, on the other hand, boasts a surprising number of health benefits:
- Eating chocolate stimulates the brain to release endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine, all of which can help prompt feelings of positivity and calmness. The result? A more productive workout.
- Dark chocolate has also been linked to improved heart health. One study suggests eating small portions at least three times a month could significantly reduce cardiovascular risk.
- The antioxidants in dark chocolate, known as flavonoids, contain anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce muscle inflammation and pain resulting from a strenuous workout.
- The plant nutrient known as epicatechin, found in cacao, prompts blood vessel cells to release nitric oxide – which aids in the widening of veins and arteries to improve blood flow. This substance also helps muscle cells retain more blood sugar, which produces energy and prompts the release of oxygen.
These findings aren’t exclusive to trainers of the Hollywood elite, either. Health-enhancing dark chocolate discoveries have emerged in studies involving mice and cyclists. The verdict is still out regarding the ideal amount – some experts stress a bite or two, not a whole bar, is best – and calories, of course, must be accounted for if weight loss is a goal. The average dark chocolate bar clocks in at approximately 300 calories.
But perhaps most importantly – working on an empty stomach is simply not a great idea. Maximizing your workout requires finding the perfect balance between nothing at all and an ample pre-workout snack that doesn’t weigh you down.
Fitness Together Ellicott City believes a healthier lifestyle revolves around a balance of nutrition and exercise. Our certified personal trainers can custom-tailor an exercise program to your unique needs and goals. Give us a call today at 410-750-2228 to find out how we can help you.