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Is Chocolate a Good Source of Caffeine?

By Jiri Kaloc

Did you know that chocolate contains the most popular performance enhancing and mood elevating substance called caffeine? It’s not like you need another reason to eat it but the question is – how much caffeine are you getting? And will it disturb your sleep if you eat it before bed? Let’s take a closer look.

How much caffeine is in chocolate?

The caffeine content of any chocolate product depends on how much cacao was used to make it. That means that usually the darker the chocolate, the more caffeine it has. Here is a list of some popular chocolaty items.

• Dark chocolate (70-85% cacao solids) contains 81 mg per 100 g
• Dark chocolate for cooking (40-50% cacao solids) contains 42 mg per 100 g
• Milk chocolate contains 14 mg per 100 g
• Chocolate chip cookies contain 11 mg per 100 g (3 cookies)
• Chocolate ice cream contains 2 mg per 100 g
• Cocoa powder contains 12 mg in each tablespoon
• Chocolate cake contains 9 mg in one slice

It can’t compete with coffee

A standard cup of coffee contains about 150 mg of caffeine. You would have to eat two whole bars of very dark chocolate or 1,4 kg of chocolate chip cookies to get the same amount. Even though it might be fun to try, it’s not something people usually do. So, in terms of getting enough caffeine to enhance your performance on the bike, or lift your mood, chocolate is probably not going to do the trick. The average person can safely absorb around 400 mg of caffeine. So chocolate is also unlikely to cause you to lose sleep, at least not because of its caffeine content.

Maybe it’s not the caffeine stealing your sleep

There’s one more very potent substance in chocolate besides caffeine. It’s called theobromine and emerging research suggests that this compound has similar physiological effects to caffeine. And cacao contains much more of it than caffeine. So the better mood and alertness after chocolate might be actually a result of ingesting theobromine.
We all react differently to these substances. For some it’s not a problem to have a bar of chocolate before bed and sleep well. But if you find that chocolate makes you way too active to fall asleep, then it might be a good idea to stop eating mid-afternoon. That’s because it takes your body up to 6 hours to process it completely.