6 July 2021

Choc around the clock

The Back Page

What time of day do you prefer to eat milk chocolate?

As a dark chocolate snob from way back, the Back Page can honestly say never. We certainly wouldn’t be smashing it first thing in the morning – but that’s what this team of researchers inflicted on a group of women in the name of science.

The crossover study assigned 19 post-menopausal women to a rotating two-week regime of 100g of milk chocolate – THAT’S QUITE A LOT – in the first hour after waking, in the last hour before bed, or not at all, with a washout week between the conditions. The rest of their diets was unconstrained.

The team took a raft of measurements to see what effect all those calories had on weight, energy expenditure and circadian rhythm, among other things, and whether they differed between morning and night consumption.

The women – whose baseline BMI was on average 25 – did not put on weight in either chocolate condition. There was a decreased ad libitum energy intake outside the chocolate ration, but not enough to compensate, the authors reported.

The morning consumers’ waistlines actually reduced slightly, compared with controls and the evening group, as did their fasting glucose. Their lipid oxidation went up and their cortisol levels went down.

The evening consumers increased their physical activity by an average of 7%, and their sleep patterns became more regular. Their carbohydrate oxidation and skin heat dissipation went up.

There were also some beneficial effects to microbiota composition and function.

“The intake of a rather high amount of chocolate (100g) concentrated in a narrow (1h) timing window in the morning could help to burn body fat and to decrease glucose levels in postmenopausal women,” the authors concluded.

Further studies could try to confirm the results in men and younger women, they said, but the Back Page is more curious to learn the beneficial effects specifically of Lindt dark chocolate with sea salt.

If you see something sweet and surprising, tell felicity@medicalrepublic.com.au.

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