Whether you believe that Valentine’s Day is just another Hallmark Holiday or is a wonderful way to celebrate love, chances are you’ve seen store shelves overflowing with everything chocolate heading into February. And let’s be real – every holiday is an excuse for food companies to market chocolate in various forms, shapes, and sizes. I’d be willing to bet for every type of chocolate sold there is a consumer out there just waiting to gobble up this highly palatable treat.

No judgment if you enjoy chocolate of course, but if you find you are the type who has trouble sticking to reasonable portions of chocolatey goodness, I hope this blog post gives you a new strategy to implement as part of your weight loss and shape change goals. While most of the chocolate you’ll find filling the shelves at stores is loaded with sugar and unhealthy fats, the cocoa beans that have been roasted and made into a powder prior to all of the processing are actually beneficial to your health and metabolic balance.

Years ago I was a fanatical listener of a podcast called Underground Wellness. I’m pretty sure the podcast no longer produces new episodes, but I first learned of using cocoa powder as a weight loss aid when Dr. Jade appeared as a guest marketing his first book. Since Dr. Jade and his brother Keoni spent years researching the cacao bean and its byproducts, they became extremely knowledgeable about the health benefits of cocoa and how it can be an important dietary addition for those trying to manage their weight. 

Through Dr. Jade’s clinical experience, he learned that cocoa powder is a wonderful way to help keep HEC in check. If you aren’t familiar with the term HEC, it stands for hunger, energy, and cravings. When your “HEC is in check” you can safely assume that your hormonal biochemistry is balanced. Balanced hormones and a happy internal physiological state allow you to experience the benefits of a diet that is best for your own biochemistry and a well-rounded exercise plan that includes plenty of movement. 

On the flip side, if your HEC is not in check, you may be in for a wild ride metabolically. Think about how days of higher hunger, lower energy, and crazy cravings impact you personally. Like many, you may feel extremely challenged to stay consistent with eating the diet that is best for your body or moving as much as you find beneficial for things like keeping your stress levels low and your sleep patterns steady. All of this becomes a real struggle when HEC is not in check.

Aside from doing great things for your HEC, cocoa is considered a superfood due to its many beneficial properties. For more on the overall health benefits of cocoa, our Head of Coaching Danny Coleman wrote this blog post around the same time last year. Danny does a great job of explaining how cocoa powder helps to support your mood, focus, libido, and even the ability to push harder as part of your workout plan. And he will share with you what exactly to look for when purchasing cocoa powder.

So details aside, how should you use cocoa as part of your personalized plan for smashing cravings? According to Dr. Jade, there are six main ways to incorporate this superfood consistently:

  1. Preload: Use before each meal. This will reduce the amount you eat at the meal and reduce the chance of cravings after the meal. This is best for those individuals who find themselves overeating at meals.
  2. Reload: Use after each meal. This reduces or removes the sense of dissatisfaction many people report after eating what may be personally defined as a healthy meal. This is best for those who crave sweets or alcohol after meals.
  3. Front-load: Use first thing in the morning. This is a great strategy if you are not a big eater in the morning yet the lack of a morning meal leads to binging later. In this case, you can use cocoa to reduce the chances of getting hungry and craving the wrong things later that morning. (It works great when blended in coffee per Dr. Jade). This is best for those who prefer to skip breakfast but find that by doing so, your HEC goes out of check leading to higher cravings mid-morning or overeating the wrong foods at lunch or dinner.
  4. Backload: Use last thing in the evening. This is a great strategy if you are the type who requires something sweet and satisfying at night. This helps as a substitute for a dessert or alcohol craving at night. This is best for those that feel the need to continue eating after dinner or like to enjoy a snack in front of the tv.
  5. Meal Replacement: Use in place of one or more meals. If you are someone who must eat frequently to maintain blood sugar balance, subbing cocoa in place of 1 or more meals or snacks will allow you to maintain your blood sugar and energy levels while reducing your daily caloric load. This is best for those that want to cut calories without feeling deprived.
  6. Snacking: If you eat three meals per day, adding cocoa between breakfast and lunch, lunch and dinner, and dinner and bedtime can have a dramatic impact on reducing the chance of overeating at your regular meals or eating the wrong things. This is best if you prefer not to “eat” between meals yet find that avoiding snacks leads to overeating at meals.

Remember as you experiment with Dr. Jade’s top 6 suggestions for strategically adding cocoa to your day, pay attention to your own HEC and come up with a system that works best for you! Perhaps you find that the front-load strategy works best for you on the weekends because you like to sleep in or prefer to skip breakfast. Maybe during the week, you use the snacking or meal replacement strategy because you find that you need a better way to deal with boredom, which often leads to overeating.

If you’ve been struggling to keep your HEC in check, and you aren’t seeing the results you are looking for with your body composition goals, why not add some cocoa powder to the mix? You may be pleasantly surprised by how such an easy tweak gets you going in the right direction, and adds a little chocolatey goodness to your day, too! Let us know what strategy you choose to try and how it works for you! 

~ Thanks to Dr. Jade for the protocol as cross-referenced from the link above!

Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash