.Good News For Us Postmenopausal Chocoholics: An Extra Large Milk Chocolate Bar Twice A Day Is Found to Have Health Benefits

This Grandma is an unapologetic chocoholic. As I previously shared, I fed my first baby warmed chocolate fudge at three months old, one baby spoonful for her and one baby spoonful for me. Before you gasp in horror, know it was the dark ages nearly five decades ago when we did not know better.

A day without chocolate is worse than a day without sunshine for me, and I thrive on sunny days. After all, I moved to Florida also almost five decades ago, right before our oldest was born, when it was not usual for twenty somethings to come to this populated retirement state, with the supposed second oldest population in the United States.

I crave dark chocolate, and previously was happy to learn dark chocolate is actually good for you. I happily eat dark chocolate daily. See, prior post, “How the 2019 Color of the Year and A Daily Dose of Dark Chocolate Are Connected.”

After menopause ended for me in my fifties, I switched to sugar free chocolate. I learned then that our postmenopausal bodies do not do well with sugar. The good news was our bodies can process fat, so I learned to be careful of foods that were low fat, as they pump up the sugar for taste. See, prior posts:

Best Four Tips We Boomer Women Should Share About Menopause and Beyond”

Should You Listen to Grandma or Dr. Oz and Other Experts for Weight Loss Ideas that Work for Post Menopausal Women in 2015″

Being With a Grandchild is Fattening: Five Best Tips for Grandma Weight Maintenance”

Science Daily gives me my daily dose of scientific study headlines, and today’s daily dose included three blurbs of interest and one that brought the biggest smile to my face. Now, I have good cause to eat chocolate for breakfast (as if I do not steal my granddaughter’s chocolate chip pancakes from her when we are together)!

THE STUDY

At Brigham and Women’s Hospital, researchers recently studied women and chocolate. The Science Daily headline is “Starting the day off with chocolate could have unexpected benefits: Researchers find time of day eating milk chocolate can impact regulation of body weight.” Here is the first delicious paragraph of the Science Daily post, June 27, 2021:

Eating milk chocolate every day may sound like a recipe for weight gain, but a new study of postmenopausal women has found that eating a concentrated amount of chocolate during a narrow window of time in the morning may help the body burn fat and decrease blood sugar levels.”

Here is the link to Science Daily about the study.

Here is the link to the actual study.

FINDINGS

Here is what Brigham and Women’s Hospital, researchers found:

Morning or nighttime chocolate intake did not lead to weight gain; Eating chocolate in the morning or in the evening can influence hunger and appetite, microbiota composition, sleep and more; A high intake of chocolate during the morning hours could help to burn fat and reduce blood glucose levels. Evening/night chocolate altered next-morning resting and exercise metabolism.”

High chocolate intake in the morning hours is healthy!

Eating chocolate at night is healthy if increase next day exercise (as they did by only 7%)!

No significant weight gain despite increased calorie intake!

Reduced fasting glucose and waist circumference!

Increased morning energy!

Better sleep!

For this Grandma chocolate lover, this is heaven, but I guess midday chocolate intake must go!

AMOUNTS

I had to look up amounts and was pleasantly surprised at how much milk chocolate to eat.

I am not good with grams. 100 grams is the amount to eat twice a day. 100 grams is 4 ounces. 4 ounces is a quarter pound of chocolate. TWICE A DAY.

What is this in real world terms? A Hershey’s, Extra Large Chocolate Bar, 4.4 twice a day. Extra large! Buy at Amazon.

I am getting a case.

This is going to be an expensive habit, but not so for my six day trial. I guess I have to switch to milk chocolate until they repeat the study with dark chocolate. I am a rule follower, after all.

WHEN TO EAT CHOCOLATE IS AS IMPORTANT AS AMOUNT

Remember, this study is about WHEN to eat the MILK chocolate. We learn why the study was done:

. . . Most of these clinical trials have been performed with dark chocolate (35-85% of cocoa), while milk chocolate, with less cocoa content (~10-35%), is still the basis of most popular candy bars and sweet treats. More importantly, none of these studies have considered the timing at which the chocolate is consumed.”

Here is the science information from the actual study:

The circadian system keeps us in synchrony with the 24-hour day. Meal timing can influence circadian rhythms and eating a high energy and high sugar food, such as chocolate, either at night or in the morning may have a different effect on the circadian system, the peripheral clocks of different organs and tissues, and consequently on body weight and metabolism. Eating at the “wrong” time could be a determining factor for the loss of synchrony between the circadian system and different metabolic processes affecting energy and adipose tissue metabolism and the obesity risk.”

So why did the study participants not gain weight when “[c]onsidering the so-called 3,500-calorie rule that estimates that increasing caloric intake by 500 kcal per day, or 3500 kcal per week would result in 1 lb of weight gain per week, these postmenopausal females should have gained more than 2 lb (~1 kg) in each chocolate intervention (2 wk × 7d × 542 kcal = 7588 kcal) if there would be no differences in ad libitum intake or energy expenditure.”?

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS OF IMPORTANCE

The participants did eat a Mediterranean diet and eating this large amount of milk chocolate morning and night actually changed their eating and exercise habits. I will have to now intentionally watch what else I eat and increase exercise. Eating less other food because of eating large amounts of chocolate and exercising more because of chocolate energy is worth two giant milk chocolate bars a day.

THE RESULTS

The results:

Results show that when eating chocolate, females were less hungry and had less desire for sweets than with no chocolate, especially when taking chocolate during the evening/night. Moreover, daily cortisol levels were lower when eating chocolate in the morning than at evening/night. Lower cortisol levels have been related to a lower stress-related appetite which may partly explain the better caloric compensation by the females when eating chocolate in the morning (Epel et al., 2001). The decreased desire for sweets could be related to reduced cravings and improved diet satisfaction. However, all these forementioned factors were not enough to fully compensate the extra energy derived from chocolate intake.”

QUESTIONS THIS STUDY RAISES

My final questions included whether this crazy chocoholic is foreclosed from any other chocolate, and the answer is in the study, yes. Another question was whether there were time limitations for eating the chocolate and the answer is yes.

In the weeks of chocolate intervention, volunteers were allowed to have chocolate only during a 1-hour time window. Nevertheless, they were allowed to have another type of chocolate-free candy at any time. During the weeks of control [participating] and washout [breaks], volunteers were not permitted to have any chocolate, but they were allowed to have any other chocolate-free sweets.”

Things to watch for:

The study showed impact on carbohydrates at nighttime chocolate for the next morning. “Therefore, chocolate intake at evening/night could be advisable for next morning performance during high intensity exercises or prolonged exercises and thus avoid hepatic and muscle glycogen depletion.”

And, the worst for us postmenopausal women and our weight:

The relatively short duration of the intervention (28 days, including both morning and evening/night conditions) could be a factor to explain the absence of effects of chocolate on body weight. However, some studies have shown increases in body weight with chocolate interventions in studies with similar durations to ours while others with longer interventions showed no effect, or even opposite effects (ie, longer periods of chocolate interventions associated with body weight loss). In a previous systematic review Kord-Verkaneh et al, concluded that the duration of the intervention was not critical for the effects of chocolate on body weight, while if any, the positive effects on waist circumference were more evident with longer durations.”

Always note the sampling of study participants and this study is small. Just like many studies, there is hedging at the end. More study is always needed. This two large milk chocolate bar a day habit may need to be a two week trial, a break, and a 28 day maximum for now. Better than not. I can do this! Chocolate is one of life’s

 

Joy,

 

Mema

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