Starting the Day off With Chocolate Could Have Unexpected Benefits

Summary: For postmenopausal women, eating 100g of chocolate within an hour of waking in the morning helped burn body fat and decrease blood sugar levels.

Source: Brigham and Women’s Hospital

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.

To find out about the effects of eating milk chocolate at different times of day, researchers from the Brigham collaborated with investigators at the University of Murcia in Spain.

Together, they conducted a randomized, controlled, cross-over trial of 19 postmenopausal women who consumed either 100g of chocolate in the morning (within one hour after waking time) or at night (within one hour before bedtime). They compared weight gain and many other measures to no chocolate intake.

Researchers report that among the women studied:

  • 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.

“Our findings highlight that not only ‘what’ but also ‘when’ we eat can impact physiological mechanisms involved in the regulation of body weight,” said Scheer.

This shows a woman eating chocolate
“Our findings highlight that not only ‘what’ but also ‘when’ we eat can impact physiological mechanisms involved in the regulation of body weight,” said Scheer. Image is in the public domain

“Our volunteers did not gain weight despite increasing caloric intake. Our results show that chocolate reduced ad libitum energy intake, consistent with the observed reduction in hunger, appetite and the desire for sweets shown in previous studies,” said Garaulet.

About this diet and metabolism research news

Source: Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Contact: Elaine St Peter – Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Image: The image is in the public domain

Original Research: Open access.
Timing of chocolate intake affects hunger, substrate oxidation, and microbiota: A randomized controlled trial” by Frank A. J. L. Scheer, et al. FASEB Journal


Abstract

Timing of chocolate intake affects hunger, substrate oxidation, and microbiota: A randomized controlled trial

Eating chocolate in the morning or in the evening/at night, may differentially affect energy balance and impact body weight due to changes in energy intake, substrate oxidation, microbiota (composition/function), and circadian-related variables. In a randomized controlled trial, postmenopausal females (n = 19) had 100 g of chocolate in the morning (MC), in the evening/at night (EC), or no chocolate (N) for 2 weeks and ate any other food ad libitum.

Our results show that 14 days of chocolate intake did not increase body weight. Chocolate consumption decreased hunger and desire for sweets (P < .005), and reduced ad libitum energy intake by ~300 kcal/day during MC and ~150 kcal/day during EC (P = .01), but did not fully compensate for the extra energy contribution of chocolate (542 kcal/day). EC increased physical activity by +6.9%, heat dissipation after meals +1.3%, and carbohydrate oxidation by +35.3% (P < .05). MC reduced fasting glucose (4.4%) and waist circumference (−1.7%) and increased lipid oxidation (+25.6%). Principal component analyses showed that both timings of chocolate intake resulted in differential microbiota profiles and function (P < .05).

Heat map of wrist temperature and sleep records showed that EC induced more regular timing of sleep episodes with lower variability of sleep onset among days than MC (60 min vs 78 min; P = .028).

In conclusion, having chocolate in the morning or in the evening/night results in differential effects on hunger and appetite, substrate oxidation, fasting glucose, microbiota (composition and function), and sleep and temperature rhythms.

Results highlight that the “when” we eat is a relevant factor to consider in energy balance and metabolism.

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  1. Thanks for letting me tell you of my interest in the Neuroscience. I am not familiar with
    all the terms used but I do understand the goals. As a mother who was her son’s main caregiver I have a lived experience with a person who had classic Paranoid Schizophrenia. I believe if all knew the reality of this illness it would be feared to the degree that cancer is feared. The person is living but loses is life and never will be the same again. Even though my son reached remission all the hope and dreams were gone forever. Reaching remission meant he could live in peace and did not ever become psychotic. He lost 13 years before reaching remission that did take its toll. I a forever grateful for the 11 years because I know too many never get there. We were truly Blessed and I am thankful for the opportunity I had to help all. Mississippi was 49th and after legislation we moved up 22 slots to 28th and a B+ in the Treatment Advocacy Center’s Grading the States.

  2. I have eaten dark chocolate everyday after lunch even when on my Weight Watchers diet and have lost pounds as much as 20lbs. I have not eaten in the morning or at night. I am currently on the Weigh Watchers Diet (I count points. I am going to try to each dark chocolate at night and see what happens. I hope I can still lose pounds eating chocolate at night. I try to stay within my points range. At night I find I have a longing for a bite. Maybe dark chocolate at night might work for me and I can still lose weight. That would be great. I will substitute my after lunch dark chocolate bar with a 1 Fit and Light.

    I Neuroscience for information on Schizophrenia research and other health issues. I am the Mother of a now decreased son who developed Paranoid Schizophrenia. I am hoping along with my fellow Serious Brain Disorder Advocates that Schizophrenia will be reclassified as a Serious Brain Disorder. It happens before the birth of the child and in the development of the brain which neither parent or child have any direct control over. We do not know until the first psychotic break. Our journey began in 1984 2 weeks after our youngest son and middle child’s high school graduation at age 18. I did not have a clue. Two years later Paranoid Schizophrenia. I have never been so devastated. I vowed no other parent would be in the dark because of me. I was a loud advocate for my son and when I became state NAMI Director I worked with a state senator to pass The Mississippi Mental Reform Act of 1997. In September of 1997 my son had the opportunity to take Clozapine and reached remission for the next 11 years before his death on 11/11/2008 at age 43. He reached the point where he could not take medication due to the fatal condition that sometimes happens. In between medications he somehow got the deadly super bug MRSA. I just finished reading Hidden Valley Road. I especially liked the information on the research that the Galvins Family contribute their DNA for and hope that my great grand son’s mother received the Choline that might prevent schizophrenia from developing thanks to this family and Robert Freedman.

  3. Dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao would be the best choice. Milk and white chocolates do not have the same benefits as dark chocolate. After eating dark chocolate for years, milk chocolate tastes yucky to me.

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