Can Cocoa Help You Lose Weight?
By Anthony Almada, MS
Eating chocolate has long been a pure-pleasure deal. Derived from the plant Theobroma cacao, natural chocolate is processed into cocoa, often as a powder. Two of the constituents of cocoa and chocolate products are caffeine and theobromine (the latter a chemical that makes chocolate unkind to our canine friends). Various teas and coffees also contain theobromine. Cocoa contains about ten to 15 times more theobromine than caffeine.
Because of the very mild stimulant effects of cocoa powder, attributable to mixing theobromine with caffeine, cocoa extracts containing both ingredients have recently entered the market as weight-loss extracts. To date, however, no research studies have shown that theobromine (or cocoa-powder extracts containing theobromine and caffeine) has any impact on weight or fat loss, or appetite, in humans. Researchers conducting one four-day study fed lab rats an enormous amount of theobromine—a dose so large not even a chocoholic would want it—and found favorable changes in blood fats. For humans, however, theobromine looks like another wait-and-see diet ingredient.
Nutrition and exercise biochemist Anthony Almada, MS, has collaborated on more than 45 university-based studies, is co-founder of Experimental and Applied Sciences (EAS), and is founder and chief scientific officer of IMAGINutrition.