Sure, you eschew sweets most of the time – but that chocolate bar packed with nuts and caramel is screaming your name.
But will it stall your weight loss progress or even make you gain?
Well, maybe. One chocolate bar certainly won't derail any diet, but regularly adding chocolate to your diet might tip the scales if you're not including it in your daily calorie count. And while dark chocolate has some serious health benefits, you can gain weight from eating too much of that as well.
But the news is not all bad. Read on to learn about how chocolate can affect your weight – and to how to avoid gaining when you eat it.
All Calories Count
First things first: chocolate is a concentrated source of calories, and eating too many calories will make you gain weight. Exactly how many calories you'll get depends on exactly what kind of chocolate you eat.
A 1.5-ounce bar of milk chocolate has 235 calories – slightly more than 10 percent of your daily allowance on a 2,000-calorie diet – which is about the same as a the calories in the same size serving of white chocolate. But larger bars have bigger calorie counts: a dark chocolate bar weighing about 3.5 ounces, for instance, has a staggering 604 calories.
Because it's such a concentrated source of calories, eating just one bar of chocolate on top of your regular diet can lead to weight gain over time. But there are downsides, even if you fit a larger chocolate bar into your calorie allowance. Spending 600 of your calorie "allowance" on a chocolate bar instead of a full meal may leave you hungry, making it harder to stay within your calorie goals.
Sugar Poses Problems, Too
When it comes to chocolate bars, it's not just the calories – it's the sugar. Even though sugar is a concentrated source of energy, it doesn't fill you up. So even though you ate a high-calorie bar, you might find hunger pangs start to come back within an hour or two, whereas a 600-calorie meal made from lean proteins, whole grains and veggies would have kept you going for hours.
What's more, the sugar in chocolate can trigger a blood sugar spike. And when your body overcompensates to lower your blood sugar (the dreaded blood sugar "crash") you'll find yourself cranky and waiting for your next meal.
How to Include Chocolate Healthily
This doesn't mean you need to forego chocolate entirely – just practice portion control, like enjoying a small square of chocolate with a healthy meal. Get your chocolate fix with healthier options like very dark chocolate or dishes made with cocoa powder or cocoa nibs, which have lower sugar and calorie counts.
Save the uber-sweet chocolate bars for the occasional treat. Eat it slowly, and savor every bite – you've earned it!
About the Author
Sylvie Tremblay holds a Master of Science in molecular and cellular biology and has years of experience as a cancer researcher and neuroscientist. Based in Ontario, Canada, Tremblay is an experienced journalist and blogger specializing in nutrition, fitness, lifestyle, and health.
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