OK, if you’re like me, this is giving you some serious chocolate cravings. What if I told you that you could eat all the chocolate you want, for a whole month? The only condition, is that it’s the only thing you can eat.
How much would you have to eat each day? What would happen to your body? Where does chocolate come from?
Eating chocolate can be good for you. Since it’s rich in antioxidants, dark chocolate can lower cholesterol levels, and decrease the risk of stroke. It’s also rich in heart-healthy flavonols.
And there have been successful diets based on eating chocolate. One woman lost over 7 kg (16 lb) in one month by consuming four chocolate shakes per day. Another person lost 0.8 kg (1.8 lb) in just over two weeks by eating a little chocolate before every meal.
Some people even claim that chocolate should be labeled a health food. OK. Even for a chocolate lover, that sounds way too good to be true. So before you start a chocolate-only diet, let’s find out how valid these claims are.
The chocolate that we eat today goes through a complicated process. It begins as the fruit Theobroma cacao, which means “food of the gods” in Greek. This fruit is handpicked, fermented, dried, roasted, cracked open, and ground.
It takes a lot of labor to produce chocolate. And according to Slave Free Chocolate, 2.3 million children work in chocolate production in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, where they face slavery and violence. But let’s assume that you’re choosing ethically sourced chocolate for this month-long experiment. And we’re talking about a pure chocolate bar. No nuts, caramel, or other add-ins.
You eat your first bar for breakfast. How does your body react?
At first, you’d feel really good. Your brain would release dopamine and endorphins within ten minutes. Then, your blood sugar will rise. And you’ll feel energized as the caffeine and sugar hits your system.
This all sounds great, so far. But all these effects happen within one hour after eating that first chocolate bar. The long term effects don’t sound as pleasant. Let’s say you’re going to consume 2,000 calories. That means you’d have to eat around 366 g (13 oz) of chocolate every day.
You’d be getting a normal amount of carbohydrates, a fair amount of fiber, way too much sugar, and at least two times the amount of fat that’s recommended. But although you’re eating too much fat, it doesn’t mean you’d gain weight. Doctors recommend that you decrease the fat in your diet because it’s highly caloric, with 9 calories per gram (0.03 oz).
So if you can stick to only eating 366 g (13 oz) daily, you wouldn’t be consuming any extra calories from all that fat. But weight gain isn’t the only reason why too much saturated fat is unhealthy.
It can also increase your cholesterol levels, putting you more at risk for heart disease. A 100 g (3.5 oz) chunk of chocolate can have up to 95% of the recommended amount of saturated fats. Now multiply that by three.
You’d be putting your heart at risk from eating so much chocolate for a whole month. You wouldn’t feel this effect on your heart, but you would feel tired and lethargic. Your muscles would start losing mass, and you’d become clumsier. Why?
You’re not getting enough protein. Milk chocolate has twice the amount of protein than dark chocolate, but it’s still not enough. You’d be eating just 24 g of protein a day, so you’d eventually become protein deficient.
But hey, at least you’d be getting iron, magnesium, and zinc. Though that’s about it on the vitamin and mineral front. And bad things happen when you don’t consume enough Vitamin C.
Vitamin C is vital. It helps your body to absorb iron and produce collagen. But your body can’t store this essential nutrient, so you need to eat it every day. Without it, your tissue would begin to degrade as you become Vitamin C deficient.
We’re talking about bone pain, gum disease, losing teeth, depression, and eventually scurvy. You would not be a pretty sight. Luckily, these symptoms usually take eight weeks to appear. So your four weeks of eating nothing but chocolate would end before you felt the worst of it.
Now, go eat some vegetables. Please. I think it’s safe to say that too much chocolate is not good for you. At the very least, you’d ruin any love you had for it. You’d never be able to eat a chocolate chip cookie, or a brownie, again.
So, maybe you should pass on eating nothing but chocolate for a month. Just stick to eating a bit, here and there. There are plenty of other extreme diets out there, like only eating raw meat. I wonder if that would be any better for you?
- “Chocolate Facts, Effects & History | Live Science”. Jessie Szalay. 2018. livescience.com.
- “Chocolate: Health Benefits, Facts, And Research”. 2021. medicalnewstoday.com.
- “Cocoa Market Update” 2021. worldcocoafoundation.org.
- “Slave Free Chocolate”. 2021. Slave Free Chocolate.
- “Dark Chocolate: Health Benefits, Nutrition, And How Much To Eat”. 2021. medicalnewstoday.com.
- “This Is What Happens To Your Body 1 Hour After Eating Chocolate”. 2015. Legion Athletics.