Based on new groundbreaking research and the amazing results of his clients, who have lost more than 100 pounds, nutritionist and neuroscientist Dr. Will Clower dispels the myth that chocolate is just a "junk food" by revealing how this succulent food contains healthy antioxidants that can actually help you lose weight.
All you have to do is take the Chocolate Challenge: an 8-week plan that reveals which type of chocolate is the healthiest and exactly how you should be eating it to maximize all of its surprising health benefits, including:
- Weight loss of up to 20 pounds in 8 weeks
- Reduced food cravings and appetite
- Prevention and reversal of diabetes
- Improved dental health
- Significant improvement in blood pressure
- Enhanced energy levels (up to 50%!)
- Increased skin moisture and UV protection
- And more!
With Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight, Dr. Clower is finally bringing his incredibly successful-and delicious-plan to chocolate lovers everywhere!
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
There's Chocolate and There's "Chocolate"
Remember the rule: There's nothing so wonderful in this world, so marvelous and perfect, that someone can't come along and totally screw it up. And chocolate is a great example: It can be used as a tool to lose weight, control consumption, and live a very healthy lifestyle. But not all chocolates will do this for you, because not all of them are created equal. There are as many versions and perversions of chocolate as there are of bread and butter. And just because you pick up a wrapper that has the word "chocolate" slapped on the label doesn't mean it has a place in your new healthy lifestyle.
So the very first step for you to take in the direction of chocolate-induced weight loss is to choose the type of chocolate that will help you lose weight and to avoid the kind that will pack on the £ds. To help you understand what's good chocolate, what's average chocolate, and what's complete nastiness, this chapter will walk you through the elements of normal real chocolate, how it's made, why it's good for you, and which "chocolates" you need to avoid completely.
CHOCOLATE versus "Chocolate"
If you want to eat chocolate and lose weight doing it, you are going to have to begin with this first lesson: There's good chocolate and there's bad chocolate. The same rule applies to everything, actually. Remember when we were told that all fat was bad? By the late 1970s and early 1980s, the low-fat dogma had become entrenched and was promoted by physicians, the federal government, the food industry, and the media. We all jumped on board, even though empirical evidence that it actually led to weight loss just wasn't there.1 Then the health advice was reversed, and we were told that some fats were actually good for you, but other fats were completely off-limits.
Next came the low-carb revolution. The Atkins-style diets became the fab fave diets du jour, and we were coached to believe that all carbs were bad. As a result, millions of people ate bacon, egg, and cheese omelets every day while avoiding the evil carbohydrate-laden items like fruit. After the perhaps predictable demise of that overly simplistic notion, even the most enthusiastic supporters of low-carb diets amended their advice: "Oops, sorry. Yes, actually there are also good carbs and bad carbs." And bread lovers all over the world breathed a collective sigh of relief. Do you see the theme yet? People make broad, sweeping generalizations, then have to eat their overportioned words. They tell us that we have to avoid every speck of some specific type of food, only to later backpedal from absolute value to nuance, from simplistic to realistic.
Cholesterol is a more recent example. That great dietary Darth Vader of the nutritional dark side turned out to have a softer side, too. At first, we were told to limit all cholesterol—yes, all of it. Now we've learned that advice was probably terrible, because cholesterol is all Jekyll-and-Hyde as well, just like the fats and the carbs that have a good side and a bad side. Right now, before you read on, I want you to guess what they're going to say about the new advice on cholesterol: There's good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL) and there's bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, or LDL). You actually need good cholesterol. Welcome to the world of nutritional nuance.
What makes this all so confusing for ordinary people simply trying to live a healthy lifestyle is just how confident the voices are, every single time. Whether they're telling you to eat or not eat the margarine, to avoid eggs or not, to eat bread or avoid it like the plague, it's all stated with absolute conviction. The fact that their advice has been dead wrong in the past seems to have no bearing on the certainty they show now.
This same pattern of overstatement, followed by the inevitable graded retraction, will turn out to be just as true for chocolate. Chocolate is not bad. Chocolate is not something you should avoid. Chocolate is not your problem. In fact, it's your solution. The key to this distinction, just as with your carbs, fats, and cholesterol, is in knowing which is the good kind and which is the bad kind.
Although, I have to say, even the phrase "there's good chocolate and there's bad chocolate" is misleading, because all real chocolate is good chocolate. It only becomes bad when someone takes wonderful, delicious, healthful chocolate and diddles with it to the point that it has cheapened nutrition, dishwater flavor, and zero weight-loss potential. So, to sort all this out and get to the difference between chocolate and "chocolate," this chapter will cover the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly.
The Best Chocolates
All the amazing weight-loss and health benefits of chocolate come from one place and one place only: cocoa. That's all. High cocoa content equals high health benefits. Low cocoa content equals low health benefits. So, when you're browsing the zoo of chocolate choices spilling off your grocery store shelves, make sure to maximize the cocoa and minimize the rest.
Even though it sounds simple, it's about as easy as picking out a healthy breakfast cereal (which is nearly impossible). Why? Because so many brands spike plain, wonderful foods with ingredients designed to make it sound all sexy and supercharged—like when they put omega-3 fatty acids in your butter, squirt docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in your milk, and lace faux-food fillers like synthetic sweeteners, colors, and oils into all the processed products that we're told to eat. But remember that regardless of the clever, artful, gorgeous ad campaigns, the health benefits of chocolate are not a function of these additions, but rather of the cocoa itself. So, to help you out in your struggle for chocolate-induced weight loss, here are three simple rules for finding the healthiest chocolate bar on planet Earth. Write these down, and be sure to put them in this order:
1. Darker is better.
2. Darker is better.
3. Darker is better.
Why is darker better? It's simple: You get darker chocolate when you choose versions that also have a higher cocoa content. The nice thing about this rule is that the percentage of cocoa found in chocolate is not something that marketers can gloss over. They have to be honest about the ingredients. In other words, the wrapper may say that a product will instantly turn you into a bombshell babe or a sexy stud muffin. However, the ingredient list on the back must be stated correctly by law. Therefore, find out the cocoa percentage of the chocolate product and opt for the darker (higher-cocoa) choices.
Some Solid (Chocolate) Health Advice
If you smear thin, waxy milk chocolate over a long, sugary wafer, you'll get a candy that's popular today. If you pour a veneer of the same anemic confection over caramel, you'll get another one; and over nougat, another one. But the nougat is awful for you, the caramel is just sugar concentrate, and there is nothing whatsoever about that wafer that is important for your health.
This is one of the confusions that our culture of health has created for us by dropping a small amount of something wonderful (like chocolate) into a vat of something else that happens to be terrible for you. The strawberry doesn't redeem the gummy candy, the blueberry doesn't make the toaster pastry okay, and the cherry flavoring doesn't mean that cola should be used for anything other than cleaning grease stains off your driveway (the phosphoric acid in colas will actually do that for you).
The Health Benefits of Cocoa Stand the Test of Time
This is an amazing story: W. Jeffrey Hurst, a researcher at the Hershey Company, made an incredible discovery. He found that 80-year-old cocoa powder and 116-year-old cocoa beans still retained very high levels of antioxidant activity through their flavonol content.2 And it's not just the beans but even the cocoa itself: Hershey's cocoa powder from 80 years ago has an antioxidant value of 55.5, 50-year-old cocoa powder still retains a value of 52.7, 30-year-old cocoa powder weighs in at 56.6, and a container you would pick up from the store shelves today averages 60.2. Note: All of these values are statistically the same. In other words, cocoa powder from the Great Depression era still has the very same antioxidant power as the cocoa you could pull off the shelf at your neighborhood grocery store this afternoon! So even after all that time, the cocoa is still exceptionally good for you! To find out what happened here, I called Dr. Hurst and spoke with him over the phone.
How does a biochemist at Hershey get his experimental hands on 116-year-old cocoa beans? It turns out that he was asked to give a lecture on chocolate and cocoa at the Field Museum in Chicago. While there, the organizer mentioned that he had some cocoa beans from 1893 They had been saved from the original World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. But there's another reason why this is so cool: These beans, which Dr. Hurst brought back to analyze in Hershey, Pennsylvania, were taken from the very same Columbian Exposition that had changed Milton Hershey's life and led to the most amazing dissemination of chocolate the world has seen.
Most people know that Milton Hershey visited the 1893 Columbian Exposition, where he witnessed the complete chocolate manufacturing operation in action. Inspired to bring this process to the world on a massive scale, he opted not to try to re-create it back home. Instead, he simply purchased the entire assembly, as is, and had it shipped to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, as soon as the exposition closed. Apparently he did not, however, purchase all the beans, because some of those beans remained in Chicago, at the museum, until 116 years later, when Dr. Hurst finally brought them back to analyze in the laboratories that Milton Hershey made possible in the first place.
What's the take-home message? You know how there's an exception to every rule (except the rule that there's an exception to every rule)? If your food has so many preservatives in it that it will never go bad (think Twinkies and fast-food hamburger buns), that means that bacteria won't even eat it! And a great rule of thumb is that you shouldn't eat it either, as it has got to be unhealthy for you. However, there's even an exception to this rule. And, as Dr. Hurst discovered, that exception turns out to be the cocoa in chocolate!
This seems so rational, but it's amazing how many people are sold on a product because there's an iota of health food in it. They're sold on the good part on the front end, but left dealing with the hefty consequences of the bad part on the back end, so to speak.
So, if you really want to eat chocolate and actually lose weight doing it, don't eat wafers, caramel, or nougat. Instead, follow a simple rule: Just eat chocolate—solid dark chocolate.
Look at the chocolate you might have at home or at work. If it amounts to shellacked sugar slathered over a confection that's awful for you, put it down, step away from the vending machine, and go find some real chocolate. What I do not want is for you to use this book as your excuse to eat the overt sugars that harm your health, push you toward diabetes, and make you buy larger pants. Listen, I want you in smaller pants. So, again, just eat chocolate—solid dark chocolate.
That's not to say certain ingredients that are added to plain chocolate can't be healthy for you. For example, some solid chocolates have hazelnuts in them, and hazelnuts are great for you. Some solid chocolates have blueberries, or chile peppers, or cherries, or walnuts in them. These are perfectly acceptable additions. Why? Because they're great to eat on their own. They're real foods in their own right. For example, say you picked up a walnut, a hazelnut, or a blueberry and asked me, "Dr. Clower, is it okay for me to eat this?" I'd pause for a minute and then tell you, "Yes, of course you can. It's food. Eat it! Why are you asking me silly questions?"
However, if you asked me whether you should eat a spoonful of caramel or a nougat or wafer, I'd respectfully tell you to put the spoon down and step away from your kids' Halloween stash. In other words, if the addition to your chocolate is something that is a real food all by itself, it's okay to include as a chocolate additive. Otherwise, leave it out.
So, in case you're still bewildered by the zoo of chocolate choices out there and what you need to put into your mouth in order to eat chocolate and lose weight, there's that easy rule for you to follow: Just eat chocolate—solid dark chocolate.
What about Cocoa?
Choosing healthy cocoa should be simple because cocoa powder comes from the cocoa bean, which is definitely not a faux food. The reason we have to talk about cocoa is because our industrially produced methods have messed with normal, natural, wonderful cocoa to the point that some versions are no longer good for your health. As with fats, carbs, and cholesterol, there are even good cocoas and not-so-good cocoas. So how do you know which kinds to grab?
Don't Go Dutch
When you get plain unsweetened cocoa from the store (note: not cocoa syrup, cocoa candies or confections, or cocoa-licious breakfast cereal), the better variety is the kind that doesn't have the word "Dutch" anywhere on the container: Dutch cocoa, Dutch method, Dutch shoes, Dutch flowers, going Dutch for lunch...nothing. Why is that? Well, if your cocoa has gone Dutch, that means that the manufacturer has taken the normal chocolate liquor and added some species of alkali to it. Alkali, chemically, is the opposite of an acid. For example, vinegar is acidic and has a very low pH. By contrast, ammonia is alkaline and has a very high pH. They're on opposite sides of the chemical coin. That said, they have the same basic effect on you—alkalis will burn your skin just like acids will, despite the fact that it will occur for opposite chemical reasons.
Normal chocolate is slightly acidic, with a pH of about 5.5 or so. When it gets all "Dutched up" with alkali, the pH rises to about 7 or 8. The question is: Why on earth would they change chocolate in the first place? It's been flawless for thousands of years—since the ancient Mesoamerican civilizations (the Aztecs and Mayans) cultivated the cocoa bean for their people and even their kings. In fact, the great Aztec king Montezuma himself reportedly drank about 50 cups of cocoa every single day. Why would our modern manufacturers mess with perfection?
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 There's Chocolate and There's "Chocolate" 1
Chapter 2 How Much Is Too Much? 26
Chapter 3 Lose Your Sweet Tooth with Chocolate 48
Chapter 4 The "How" of Eating Chocolate 71
Chapter 5 Sensual Eating with Chocolate 96
Chapter 6 Chocolate on the Brain 121
Chapter 7 The Chocolate Workout 141
Chapter 8 Take Your "Vitamin Ch": Why Chocolate Is a Superfood 160
Chapter 9 The Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight Meal Plan 181
Chapter 10 Chocolate-Based Recipes 200
Chapter 11 The Chocolate Journal 252