Is Chocolate for Weight Loss Too Good to Be True?

Chocolate

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Mmmm, chocolate, the ultimate indulgence. But could the sweet treat actually help with weight loss? People have been asking this question for years. 

Research has shown that cocoa is rich in flavanols, which have been shown to improve blood flow and lower blood pressure. Scientists have also looked for evidence of chocolate as a weight-loss tool. A flavonol in cocoa called oligomeric PCs has been linked to weight loss, displaying anti-obesity properties.

There may also be a correlation between eating dark chocolate and feelings of fullness. In one study, researchers observed that chocolate eaters had lower BMIs (body mass index) than non-chocolate eaters.

Caveats of Eating Chocolate for Weight Loss

The claims above may sound like a good excuse to eat chocolate every day, but it's important to keep the following caveats in mind:

  • While oligomeric PCs have been linked to weight loss, based on a study done on mice, the findings haven't been replicated in humans.
  • As for dark chocolate increasing feelings of fullness, it can also increase post-meal blood glucose.
  • It's not actually proven that eating chocolate causes lower BMIs, there is just a correlation, and most study participants received relatively small pieces of chocolate, not an entire bar.

There's no direct evidence that eating chocolate will help you lose weight. And you certainly don't want to use the health benefits of flavanols as an excuse to take in loads of excess calories from the sweet treat.

But that doesn't mean you can’t eat chocolate if you’re trying to lose weight. You don't need to completely cut out the foods you crave to lose weight. In fact, eliminating your favorite foods could lead you to give up on a diet.

How to Add Chocolate to Your Diet

So, stick with cocoa-rich dark/semi-sweet chocolate for its health properties and filling factor. But be conscious of portion size and your total calorie intake.

Mini semi-sweet chocolate chips are versatile, and a little goes a long way. Each tablespoon has about 70 calories, 4 g fat, 9 g carbs, and 8 g sugars.

Here are some low-calorie ways to enjoy chocolate:

  • Eat a small piece after dinner for some satisfying sweetness. A small piece of dark chocolate (7.6g) is 40 calories.
  • Make hot cocoa. Dissolve 1 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 tsp mini semi-sweet chocolate chips in 1/4 cup extra hot water. Add 1/2 cup fat-free milk and another 1/4 cup water and microwave until hot. Stir in a no-calorie sweetener packet. Now you've got a 99-calorie cup of rich chocolatey deliciousness.
  • Toss some chocolate protein powder into a low-cal smoothie or shake. Even if chocolate doesn't help with weight loss, at least you're getting some protein.
  • Use mini semi-sweet chocolate chips as an oatmeal add-in. They'll get all melty and amazing! 
Was this page helpful?
5 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Ried K, Fakler P, Stocks NP. Effect of cocoa on blood pressureCochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017;4(4):CD008893. Published 2017 Apr 25. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD008893.pub3

  2. Dorenkott MR, Griffin LE, Goodrich KM, et al. Oligomeric cocoa procyanidins possess enhanced bioactivity compared to monomeric and polymeric cocoa procyanidins for preventing the development of obesity, insulin resistance, and impaired glucose tolerance during high-fat feeding. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2014;62(10):2216-2227. doi:10.1021/jf500333y.

  3. Oliveira D, Nilsson A. Effects of dark-chocolate on appetite variables and glucose tolerance: A 4 week randomised crossover intervention in healthy middle aged subjects. Journal of Functional Foods. 2017;37:390-399. doi:10.1016/j.jff.2017.08.010.

  4. Kord-Varkaneh H, Ghaedi E, Nazary-Vanani A, Mohammadi H, Shab-Bidar S. Does cocoa/dark chocolate supplementation have favorable effect on body weight, body mass index and waist circumference? A systematic review, meta-analysis and dose-response of randomized clinical trials. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2018;59(15):2349-2362. doi:10.1080/10408398.2018.1451820.

  5. USDA. Chocolate, dark. October 30, 2020.