- Personal trainers who have worked with the likes of Scarlett Johansson recommend eating dark chocolate before a workout.
- Brothers Ryan and Eric Johnson say there are many benefits to the routine, including boosting your energy and creating a positive feedback loop.
- Ideally, they say you should eat a third of a bar of high quality dark chocolate 15 minutes before a workout.
Chocolate and fitness are two things that most people don’t assume go hand-in-hand.
However, for two personal trainers, chocolate is the key to a good workout.
Ryan and Eric Johnson are the brothers behind Homage Fitness, a new line of gyms in private residences across Miami, New York, and D.C. designed to combine top level fitness with hospitality.
The brothers, who are certified strength and conditioning coaches, have over a decade of experience in the fitness industry.
They also happen to be Scarlett Johansson’s personal trainers and have worked with her and other actors on films such as “Captain America: Winter Soldier,” “Ghost in The Shell,” and “Avengers: Infinity War — Part 1.”
The most surprising part of their workout routines? The duo always eat dark chocolate as a pre-workout snack — and they encourage their clients to do the same.
“We’re always searching for a good pre-workout supplement but most of the things you can buy in stores are full of sugar and caffeine,” Eric told INSIDER.
“We already drink way too much coffee and most of our clients do too, so we wanted to find something which was more naturally organic and that would give you the same benefits.”
The benefits of chocolate in moderation are well documented.
The brothers say that good quality dark chocolate (ideally at least 70% cacao) has been proven to release endorphins that make us feel good.
What’s more, a recent study found that people who eat chocolate three times a month had a reduced risk of heart failure of 13%, compared to those who ate none. Similarly, as an anti-inflammatory food, chocolate is linked to living longer.
“Dark chocolate releases dopamine and has a lot of benefits such as vasodilation which is basically that pump that people are after when they’re trying to build muscle,” Eric continues.
“It also benefits your brain function because it stimulates your brain cells to release that dopamine. And it also releases serotonin which is going to calm the nervous system down.”
Science aside, the fitness gurus encourage people to get into the habit of eating dark chocolate before a workout for psychological reasons too.
“It creates this positive feedback loop with your brain — now that you’re getting this piece of chocolate before your workout you’re creating a positive association with your training session and you’re getting more excited to get to the gym… you have something to look forward to,” Ryan says.
They add that dark chocolate is also simply a great source of essential energy.
“If you just go into your session on an empty stomach, you probably won’t last or you might feel a bit sick,” Ryan continues.
“But at the same time, if you have too much food, you often feel a bit bogged down, heavy, and lethargic. So we found that the little piece of dark chocolate doesn’t have much weight to it but it’s very nutrient-dense so it really provides the body with a lot of energy whilst still making you feel light in the stomach, allowing you to jump around and move.”
Ryan and Eric don’t mean you should only have one tiny square, either — in fact, they recommend having around two to three pieces, about a third of a standard size chocolate bar, or 30-50g.
If you’re attempting to lose weight and thus are aiming to be in a calorie deficit, it’s worth noting that you’ll need to factor this extra snack into your daily goals: 50g of dark chocolate typically contains around 300 calories.
“While the benefits of this nutrient dense snack (such as the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties alone) outweigh the extra calories, one should certainly account for them,” Eric says.
“Depending on your current fitness goals, personal stats (height, weight, body fat percentage, waist measurement), and activity levels, you should factor in the amount you consume to ensure that meet your energy intake requirements.”
You need to be eating good quality chocolate, too.
“Don’t get the crappy stuff,” Eric and Ryan say. “We want high quality stuff so you can reap the benefits of the antioxidants that are going to be in there as well.”
Ideally, the brothers advise having your chocolate 10 to 15 minutes before your workout — their preferred approach is to pop a couple of squares in on the way to the gym and just let it melt in their mouths.
Occasionally, however, they haven’t been able to get their chocolate fix in advance, which mean there’s only one option left.
“Sometimes we eat our chocolate when warming up in the gym,” Ryan and Eric say. “People look at us like we’re mad!”