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One of the first pieces of advice anyone will ever give you when you start a weight loss diet is to give up sweets, desserts, and chocolate. But one of these things can actually help you lose weight!
Chocolate or, more rightly, cocoa is rich in polyphenols and nutrients. When consumed without fats and with minimal sugar such as in the form of dark chocolate or hot cocoa, it can actually offer a variety of health benefits including weight loss. (1)
It is true that drinking homemade hot chocolate can help you lose weight, but it must contain minimal added sugar.
Drinking Hot Chocolate for Weight Loss
Chocolate is an age-old luxury food that comes from the cacao pod of the cacao trees. It is processed to obtain a variety of cocoa products such as cocoa powder, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate. (1)
Hot chocolate made from unsweetened cocoa powder has been identified to have a beneficial impact on weight loss in multiple studies. A study found that consuming less than 30 g of cocoa each day for 4–8 weeks resulted in significant loss of body weight and reduction in BMI. (2)
Cocoa, due to its high polyphenol content, can also increase the uptake of glucose by the cells, thus preventing its accumulation in the form of fat. (3)
Thus, drinking 1 cup of hot cocoa can be a delicious way to lose weight.
Other Benefits of Hot Chocolate
Not only can cocoa aid weight loss, but it can also offer a variety of other health benefits.
1. Better heart health and reduced cholesterol levels
Cocoa contains some amount of caffeine and theobromine, which are both potent flavonoids. They are known to improve HDL cholesterol levels and improve the muscle tone of the heart to increase blood flow. (4)
The phytosterol in cocoa is also helpful in reducing cholesterol levels in the blood by preventing its absorption in the intestines. (4)
Although only a few studies have evaluated the role of cocoa in reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, all of them suggested decreased risks of such conditions after consuming dark chocolate or cocoa at less than 6 servings per week. (5)
2. Improved outcomes of type 2 diabetes
The flavonoids in cocoa aid in reducing damage to the cells by free radicals, which is the main culprit for insulin resistance. This prevention of oxidative stress improves insulin sensitivity, allowing glucose to be utilized by the cells and preventing blood sugar spikes. (7)
3. Protection from skin damage
You can apply a face mask prepared by mixing unsweetened cocoa powder and honey to improve your skin.
4. Improved mood and cognition
Perhaps one of the best and well-known benefits of cocoa and dark chocolate is its positive effect on mood. Cocoa increases blood flow to the brain, which helps in the oxygenation of the brain and improves mood and cognition. (9)
Hot Chocolate Recipe
When using cocoa or hot chocolate for any of its health benefits, it is important to remember that it can easily be a source of excess calories.
Some brands sell drinking hot chocolate that contains excessive amounts of sugar and poor-quality cocoa. For this reason, it is important that you prepare your hot chocolate from either dark chocolate bars or unsweetened cocoa used in baking.
In addition, you can prepare hot chocolate in almond or coconut milk to avoid the additional calories, making it even more effective for weight loss.
You can follow this recipe:
- In a saucepan, heat 1 cup of plant milk such as coconut milk, soy milk, rice milk, or almond milk, depending on your preference.
- Put 2 tablespoons of the warmed milk into a mug, and add 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder.
- Whisk it well until it dissolves and becomes a thick paste.
- Once the remainder milk comes to a boil, add it to the mug of cocoa paste and mix well.
- Sweeten it by adding 1 teaspoon of sugar or your choice of sugar-free alternative.
- Optionally, you can add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder or vanilla essence to enhance the flavor.
Will Drinking Hot Chocolate Cause Acne?
Chocolate consumption has been identified to be a risk factor for acne, especially in adolescents. However, this is more likely because of the dairy and high sugar content in milk chocolate.
Using dark chocolate and hot cocoa made from unsweetened cocoa powder may not cause similar acne. However, if you do experience any skin issues, stop consuming hot chocolate immediately.
- Hot chocolate made from unsweetened cocoa can help with weight loss.
- It is rich in flavonoids, which aid in the utilization of glucose, preventing its accumulation as fat and ultimately weight gain.
- In addition, it offers benefits such as improved heart health, type 2 diabetes, mood, and cognition and it even protects the skin from damage by UV rays.
- Avoid consuming drinking chocolate and milk chocolate to prevent the intake of excess sugar and calories that will cause more weight gain instead of weight loss.