My love for chocolate and desire to be thin has been an ongoing struggle for as long as I can remember. Growing up a chubby kid didn’t make things easier, either. But don’t worry, you can absolutely have both!
Yes, you can eat chocolate and still lose weight. To lose weight, the amount of calories you consume is more important than what foods those calories come from. If you’re going to eat chocolate while trying to lose weight it’s important you monitor how much chocolate you eat.
Moreover, one study suggests that incorporating some chocolate in your diet can actually aid in weight loss by improving overall diet consistency.
There’s also evidence that suggests chocolate can help to satiate you and reduce cravings.
After extensive trial and error, I’m proud to say my weight loss journey has been a huge success. And, I’m equally proud that I’ve been able to enjoy chocolate throughout the process.
There are a few different tips and strategies you can incorporate which will allow you to lose weight while still indulging in chocolate every once in awhile.
Here’s how you do it!
How to lose weight and still eat chocolate
Losing weight has been made out to be this complex process in which you need expensive supplements and a personal trainer to be successful. That just isn’t true!
While it’s not always easy, losing weight is actually very simple.
The only way to lose weight is by consuming less calories than you’re expending, and do it consistently over a period of time. This is literally the only way to lose weight.
This state of eating less calories than you’re body uses is called a calorie deficit. And, it’s very possible to eat chocolate and still achieve a calorie deficit.
To determine whether or not you’re in a calorie deficit you must first figure out how many calories your body needs to maintain its current weight. Sex, age, height, weight, and how active you are will all factor into your daily calorie needs.
To estimate your daily calorie needs, see the chart below.
Let’s use a 27 year old female, who is moderately active, as an example. In order to maintain her current weight she needs to eat about 2000 calories per day. Consuming anything less than that would mean she is in a “calorie deficit”.
If she were to crush three fun-sized Milky Way chocolate bars (about 225 calories), but eat less than a total of 2000 calories that day, she would still be in a calorie deficit.
So, as you can see, eating chocolate and losing weight are not mutually exclusive.
That said, chocolate is not going to provide nearly as much nutritional value as say an apple or a bowl of oatmeal. This is why moderation is so important for weight loss.
To lose 1 pound of fat you’d need to achieve a 3,500 calorie deficit (there are 3,500 calories in 1 lb of fat). A relatively reasonable goal would be to achieve a 500 calorie deficit each day. This would translate into losing 1 lb per week…
Here are some strategies for losing weight while still enjoying some of your favorite foods, like chocolate.
3 strategies for eating chocolate and still losing weight
There are tons of different strategies for achieving calorie deficits and losing weight. Ultimately, you’ll need to find what works best for your body and your routine.
Here are three strategies I found most effective when trying to lose weight while still enjoying chocolate.
1. Intermittent fasting for weight loss (and chocolate consumption)
One of my favorite strategies for weight loss is intermittent fasting. I probably sound like a cross-fitting vegan with how much I talk about intermittent fasting. But, that’s because it’s been so effective for me.
At its core, intermittent fasting is a pattern of eating where you cycle between fasting and eating. It’s less about what you eat and more about when you can and can’t eat.
For example, I usually eat within an 8-hour window every day, followed by a 16-hour fast. And occasionally, chocolate is included in my diet.
The main reason I’ve found this strategy to be so effective is because it helps me to restrict my calorie intake. Reducing the amount of time you’re “allowed” to eat during the day is likely to result in eating less total calories.
It’s important to mention that you still need to watch how many calories you’re consuming for this method to be effective. Binge eating, even if it’s within a 6 or an 8 window, will still be counter productive to weight loss.
One of the nice things about intermittent fasting, assuming you’re consistent, is your body should adjust after awhile and you’ll find yourself less hungry throughout the day.
2. HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) to burn more calories
Another great strategy for losing weight while still being able to eat chocolate is burning more calories throughout the day.
There are really only two ways to achieve a calorie deficit. Either you’re eating less calories or you’re burning more calories. I’ve found doing a combination of the two to be the most effective.
One of my favorite ways to burn more calories is through a form of exercise called HIIT (high-intensity interval training). The main idea with HIIT is to increase the intensity of your workouts (working at about 80% of your peak heart rate) with brief periods of rest between rounds or sets.
HIIT has been proven to be incredibly effective for burning more calories in less time and improving body composition and aerobic capacity.
By burning more calories you’re able to incorporate more of the foods you enjoy, like chocolate, into your diet while still seeing the results you’re looking for on the scale.
3. “Cheat meals” for sustainable weight loss
Probably the most important variable with any new diet or workout routine is sustainability. How long can you stay the course and stick to the plan.
I’ve found that allowing myself one or two cheat meals per week is a great way to sustain increased activity levels and consistently hit my calorie deficit.
A cheat meal, for those of you unfamiliar, is a meal where you’re not counting calories or macros. Honestly, a cheat meal is a meal where you’re not concerned with much other than enjoying yourself.
This is a great time to enjoy some chocolate!
It can be really difficult, virtually impossible, to ensure 100% of the meals you eat are healthy and balanced. At least from a long-term standpoint.
By leaving yourself some room for error or enjoyment (say 90% of your meals being clean/healthy) you’re far more likely to be consistent with your diet in the long run.
Same thing goes with working out. Allowing yourself to take a day off every once in awhile will likely translate in more long term success.
Give yourself a break, every now and then, and have a cheat meal!
Is milk chocolate or dark chocolate better for weight loss?
One question I get asked a lot is whether milk chocolate or dark chocolate is better for weight loss. The truth is a bit convoluted.
When it comes to pure weight loss (again, referring to being in a calorie deficit) milk chocolate might be the better choice. Milk chocolate actually has slightly less calories than its dark chocolate counterpart.
(100 grams of milk chocolate has about 535 calories, while 100 grams of dark chocolate has around 600 calories.)
That said, dark chocolate is much better for you from a nutrient standpoint. The main ingredient in chocolate is cocoa which is rich in plant chemicals called flavanols. Flavanols have been shown to be great for heart health by lowering blood pressure and inflammation.
Dark chocolate contains 2-3 times the amount of flavanols compared to milk chocolate.
In addition to flavanols, dark chocolate contains a variety of other beneficial minerals:
Given how similar the two are in respect to calories, and all the health benefits dark chocolate provides, I think it’s safe to say dark chocolate is the better choice between the two.
Regardless which type of chocolate you choose to eat, or any other dessert for that matter, moderation is key! Over consumption will be the biggest deterrent to your weight loss goals.