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Chocolate makes you fat, right? And sugary milk chocolate especially! Well, new research suggests that maybe not. A study compared what happens when women either start the day with a full bar of milk chocolate or have it in the evening, and when they don’t have it at all. The results might surprise you.

There’s a lot of research looking at the benefits of chocolate, which focuses on compounds such as polyphenols, theobromine or caffeine that chocolate has. The problem is that most of this research is aimed at dark chocolate. This new study is the first to look at milk chocolate and also at the timing of when you eat it.

A bar of milk chocolate in the morning

Chocolate
Eating chocolate in the morning turned out to bring some positive effects. © Profimedia

To find out about the effects of eating milk chocolate at different times of day, researchers conducted a randomized, controlled, cross-over trial that included 19 women. The participants went through 3 scenarios that lasted 14 days each.

  • Consume 100 g of milk chocolate in the morning (within one hour after waking up).
  • Consume 100 g of milk chocolate at night (within one hour before bedtime)
  • No chocolate intake

The milk chocolate had 18% of cocoa and was composed of approximately 31 g fat, 58 g carbs, 58 g sugar, 6 g proteins, and 2 g fibre per 100 g.

It helped burn fat and reduce glucose levels

The study offered some very interesting results.

  • Chocolate in the morning could help burn fat and reduce blood glucose levels.
  • Both morning and night-time chocolate intake did not lead to weight gain.
  • Both morning and night-time chocolate can influence hunger and appetite, microbiota composition, and sleep.
  • Evening chocolate altered next-morning resting and exercise metabolism.
Some chocolate bars contain very little to no actual cocoa, while others are loaded with sugar and fillers.

“Our findings highlight that not only what but also when we eat can impact physiological mechanisms involved in the regulation of body weight,” said Frank A. J. L. Scheer, co-author of the study.

How is it possible they didn’t gain weight?

The authors suggest that the increased calories from the chocolate were compensated by a reduction in hunger. In other words, the participants ate that much less on the days when they indulged in chocolate.

“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 Marta Garaulet, co-author of the study.

Overall, this study is good news for chocolate lovers. Chocolate seems to reduce the cravings for other sweets and if you enjoy it in the morning, you might get a benefit too.