In my newest book, S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches, I made a ‘Daily Dark Chocolate Escape’ a mandatory part of the weight-loss plan. In fact, I devoted an entire chapter to chocolate goodness, including research about how eating a small amount every day helps curb cravings for both sweet and salty foods. When I wrote the book I knew that this trick worked for myself and my clients, but a new study may help explain more about why chocolate acts as an effective weight loss weapon.
Penn State researchers tested how cocoa extracts impacted the activity of the enzymes that digest fat and carbohydrate. Among three cocoa extracts the one that underwent the least processing and maintained the most antioxidants best blocked the enzymes.
Research about what to eat (rather than what not to eat) to lose weight is white-hot right now, and currently there are only about five different strategies that work:
Foods that boost metabolism/fat burning
Foods that boost satiety/fullness
Foods that suppress appetite
Foods that regulate mood (which in turn leads to eating less)
Foods that block digestion and absorption
This study focuses on the latter. If the antioxidants in chocolate help block the breakdown of fat and carbohydrates, that means less gets absorbed from your digestive tract into your bloodstream, so it can’t get socked away in your fat cells. Cool, huh? Fortunately there are lots of other reasons to enjoy dark chocolate, from its effects on lowering blood pressure, to boosting “good” HDL cholesterol.
Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian with master's degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she's a SHAPE contributing editor and nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays. Her latest New York Times best seller is S.A.S.S. Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.