One of the worst things you can feel before a workout is hungry. You’re stuck with an impossible choice: whether to suck it up and hit the gym – knowing you’re going to feel tired, weak, and uncomfortable, at best – or to get a snack, and then have to wait at least half an hour to digest so you don’t upset your stomach.
Why Should You Eat Chocolate Before a Workout?
First is the psychology of it: essentially, you’re creating what Ryan called a “positive feedback loop.” Chocolate has been shown to increase endorphin levels – a hormone that relieves stress and pain and causes feelings of euphoria – in your brain. This might sound familiar, because exercise does the same thing. When you pop in a couple pieces right before a workout, you’ll start to associate that delicious taste and those happy feelings with heading to the gym.
What Kind of Chocolate Should You Eat Before a Workout?
This isn’t an excuse to scarf down a bag of M&M’s before a workout, though. Eric and Ryan specified that the chocolate should be organic, fair-trade, and most of all, dark: about 80 percent cacao or more, Ryan said. Aim to eat about 25 to 50 grams of it, depending on the intensity and length of your workout; that’s about a third to a half of a standard-sized bar. You can eat it up to 20 to 30 minutes before the workout, Ryan said. “Sometimes if I’m in a rush, I’ll be eating it as I warm up,” he added.
You don’t need an excuse to eat dark chocolate, but now you have one backed up by trainers and science. If you’re ready to pick up a couple bars (or a cases), check out some of our favorite healthy chocolate brands, all available at Whole Foods.