This article has been Fact-Checked by Kendall Kennedy MS, RD, RYT
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Finding a good snack or dessert on a weight loss journey can be a challenge. What about dark chocolate, is it good or bad for weight loss?
Dark chocolate in its essential form is a food made from the cacao tree. The dark chocolate you can buy at the store comes in very different nutritional values.
Some dark chocolate products have a lot of added sugar. These are generally bad for weight loss. The higher cacao dark chocolate may have a time and place depending on your routine.
This article will initially use the nutritional values of dark chocolate with 70-85% cacao (1) and then you will learn what chocolate to choose if you’re looking to lose weight.
Micronutrients in dark chocolate
The first thing to look at is the amount of micronutrients in dark chocolate.
Micronutrients are a group of nutrients your body absolutely needs to survive and thrive. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. These are involved in basically every aspect of your health, including weight loss.
100 grams of 70-85% cacao dark chocolate provides you with approximately (1):
- Manganese: 97% of the DV (Daily Value)
- Copper: 88% of the DV
- Iron: 66% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 31% of the DV
- Zinc: 22% of the DV
- Potassium: 20% of the DV
- Selenium: 10% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 9% of the DV
- Calcium: 7% of the DV
- Riboflavin: 5% of the DV
- Niacin: 5% of the DV
- Vitamin B12: 5% of the DV
And a few other vitamins and minerals in less significant amounts. These are amazing amounts of vitamins and minerals compared to many whole foods.
You do have to keep in mind that these values are for 100 grams. It might not be advised to eat dark chocolate in that quantity as you will later see.
Dark chocolate also contains certain kinds of antioxidants, substances that help your body deal with oxidative damage. This includes polyphenols, flavonols, and catechins. Dark chocolate may have more antioxidant activity than for example blueberries (2).
Fiber in dark chocolate for weight loss
Another very important factor for weight loss is the amount of fiber in your food.
70-85% cacao dark chocolate contains around 10.9 grams of fiber per 100 grams.
That’s a very great amount of fiber per 100 grams compared to many other whole foods.
Fiber has multiple benefits for weight loss. First of all, it feeds your microbiome, the microbes that live in your intestines. The health of your microbiome influences your body’s health and weight. Feeding it well is usually not a bad idea.
Fiber also helps you feel less hungry without adding a lot of calories to your diet. Hunger and cravings can be a big pitfall for people trying to lose weight, so avoiding this is a big plus.
With the amount of fiber in this kind of dark chocolate you can reduce the time you spend craving for food a lot.
Does dark chocolate help you lose weight?
You still need a final piece of the puzzle. The amount of calories in dark chocolate.
70-85% cacao dark chocolate contains 599 calories per 100 grams. 183 of these calories come from the carbohydrates (45.8 g per 100 grams of which 10.9 g fiber).
Dark chocolate is a popular component for low carb diets like the keto diet. It is eaten on its own or as part of a fat bomb. If you do this you really have to make sure you buy the right kind of dark chocolate, one without a lot of added sugar.
The amount of calories in dark is very high compared to most foods, even this example which is already relatively high in cacao %.
The good kinds of dark chocolate do contain caffeine which may benefit weight loss a small amount. And a good amount of fiber and healthy fats which will reduce hunger.
That being said dark chocolate will most likely make you gain weight due to its high-calorie content. If you add this food on top of your current diet you will see less weight loss or even fattening results.
The way dark chocolate may benefit weight loss is when you replace a sugary food of the same amount of calories with dark chocolate. That’s because the dark chocolate will most likely be more filling and the calories will benefit weight loss more.
If you have to satisfy a sweet tooth dark chocolate will probably be one of the better choices but overall there are many better foods for weight loss.
Best time to eat dark chocolate for weight loss
Dark chocolate does contain caffeine which can decrease your sleep quality and duration. Sleep is important for your weight loss and health.
The exact amount will be different for brand to brand but you can expect about 75 mg of caffeine in 100 grams of 80% cacao dark chocolate. To compare, a cup of coffee contains about 100-200 mg of caffeine.
That’s one of the reasons why you preferably want to consume dark chocolate earlier in the day or at least not in +- 6 hours before you go to bed (if you are more sensitive to caffeine earlier).
Does dark chocolate help you lose belly fat?
Targetting fat loss in a specific area like your belly is generally not possible. Not by eating more of a specific food or by doing a specific exercise. To lose belly fat you have to lose weight overall.
Since dark chocolate is not a great choice if you want to lose weight it is also not a good choice if you want to lose belly fat.
Which dark chocolate is best for weight loss?
The general rule for which dark chocolate is the best for weight loss and health is the higher the cacao content the better. Then dark chocolates with the same cacao content may have different other ingredients, you want one with the least amount of sugar and sweeteners.
Some people don’t like the more bitter taste of higher % cacao content so if you decide to buy dark chocolate you will have to decide which kind to buy. You can even go up to 100% cacao powder.
Check out the prices for:
- 100 % cacao chocolate bars
- 95% cacao chocolate bars
- 90% cacao chocolate bars
- 85% cacao chocolate bars
- 80% cacao chocolate bars
- 75% cacao chocolate bars
- 70% cacao chocolate bars
How much dark chocolate per day to lose weight
Nutrition is always a bit of a puzzle in terms of what the perfect diet looks like. It’s a pretty individual thing.
If you don’t crave chocolate that much you don’t really want to add more chocolate to your daily diet. This will most likely make you gain weight.
If you do want to implement dark chocolate into your daily diet make sure you eat the right kind. How much dark chocolate per day you can eat and lose weight depends on things like how many calories you burn a day and what the rest of your diet looks like.
You probably don’t have room for the full 600 calories of 100 grams of chocolate in your daily diet. But the 60 calories from 0 grams may fit in.