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You may worry that you shouldn’t eat chocolate when you’re trying to lose weight or cut body fat for physique or performance goals.
So, can you eat chocolate while cutting? Yes, you can eat chocolate while cutting. You should include a variety of foods in moderation while cutting, especially foods you enjoy. As long as you balance your daily caloric intake, you will still meet your goals. No food should be off-limits during a cut, including chocolate.
However, chocolate is a very calorie-dense food. It is high in fat, and it can have a lot of added sugar, depending on the type.
In order to include it in your diet during a cut, I’ll share some tips with you below on how to do it effectively. I’ll cover how much to eat, the best time to eat it, and which chocolate is best for weight loss.
Chocolate & Weight Loss: What People Are Saying
If you are wondering about losing weight and eating chocolate, you are not the only one.
There are lots of questions and concerns on Internet forums about chocolate and weight loss:
- “Can I eat chocolate as long as it fits in my calorie plan?” (Reddit)
- “Can you eat chocolate while trying to lose weight?” (Answeregy.com)
- “Does dark chocolate foster weight loss?” (Reddit)
- “Does chocolate help with weight loss?” (Quora)
- “Can I be addicted to chocolate?” (Reddit)
- “Just how bad is chocolate?” (Bodybuilding.com)
- “How much and what chocolate can I eat when I am on a weight loss mission?” (Quora)
The good news is that yes, you can eat chocolate while you lose weight, and I’m going to cover the answers to the questions above.
To start, I’ll explain the different types of chocolate, and share nutritional information for each.
Chocolate Overview: Types, Calories, Macronutrients, & Micronutrients
Types of Chocolate
The nutritional content of chocolate varies depending on its type: white chocolate, milk chocolate, sweet, semisweet, bittersweet or unsweetened chocolate.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) actually sets requirements for the percentage of cocoa solids and cocoa butter (known as chocolate liquor) for each type of chocolate.
In general, chocolate must have at least 65% chocolate liquor to be considered dark chocolate (labeled as 65% cacao or 65% cocoa).
Chocolate manufacturer Lindt gives the following ranges:
- Sweet chocolate: minimum 30% cacao content
- Semi-sweet chocolate: 50%-60% cacao content
- Bittersweet chocolate: 70%-85% cacao content
- Bitter chocolate: up to 99% cacao content
When you look at the nutritional information for the different types of chocolate below, you will see that some types of chocolate are better while cutting than others.
|Per 30g||Example||Min %||Calories||Carbs (sugar)||Fiber||Fat||Protein|
|White Chocolate||MilkBoy Swiss White Chocolate||- 20% cacao fat |
- 14% milk solids
- Max 55% sweetener
|Milk Chocolate||Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate||- 10% chocolate liquor |
- 12% milk solids
|Semisweet Chocolate||Baker’s Premium Semi Sweet Chocolate Bar 56% Cacao||- 35% chocolate liquor||150||18.2g |
|Bittersweet Chocolate||Perugina Bittersweet Chocolate Bar 70%||- 35% chocolate liquor||160||15g |
|Unsweetened Chocolate||Ghirardelli Premium 100% Cacao Unsweetened Chocolate||- 100% chocolate liquor||150||9.6g |
Key Takeaway: As you can see, the calorie content is actually quite similar across all types of chocolate. The difference is that less and less of the total caloric content is from added sugar and more and more is from fat as the percentage of cacao increases.
The sugar content can matter when you are looking to lose weight because high added sugar might make you more likely to overeat the chocolate and you could feel less full than eating higher-fat chocolate. Feeling full is important for managing a calorie deficit.
With all types of chocolate, the majority of the calories come from fat. This means that chocolate is primarily a source of fat. However, white chocolate and milk chocolate also have significant added sugar.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to no more than 6 tsp (25g) per day for women and 9 tsp (36g) for men. With 17g of added sugar, a one-ounce serving of white chocolate is more than two-thirds of the recommendation for women and nearly half the added sugar for a man.
Too much added sugar is linked to negative health outcomes including:
- Increased risk of heart disease: high sugar intake is linked to inflammation, increased blood pressure, and elevated triglycerides, which are all risks for heart disease.
- Increased risk of diabetes: high sugar intake can lead to insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels and when its function is compromised, it can be a precursor to developing diabetes.
Key Takeaway: For these reasons, it is better to focus on bittersweet and bitter chocolate types (70%-99% cacao) when including chocolate in your diet.
These types of chocolate also have more fiber. The combination of more fat and more fiber means these chocolates will take longer to digest and will keep you feeling full for longer. This is very helpful when managing a calorie deficit.
Dark chocolate is also a low-FODMAP food. This is great news for people who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other chronic conditions like Crohn’s disease or colitis as this means that it does not contain compounds that will cause aggravation for these conditions.
While in a calorie deficit, it can be harder to meet the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for certain vitamins and minerals because you are eating less food overall. Including foods that contain these important micronutrients is a key consideration while cutting.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is a key mineral for all organs in the body, assisting with metabolism, digestive health, sleep, and recovery from both training and life in general. A one-ounce serving provides 16% of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA).
- Copper: Copper helps with blood pressure control, a key indicator of heart health and important for your cardiovascular fitness, and helps with bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and keeping your bones strong for strength training. A one-ounce serving provides 25% of the RDA.
- Iron: Iron is an important component of red blood cells, carrying oxygen-rich blood to all cells of the body and assisting in the production of energy. Iron can assist in sports performance. A one-ounce serving provides 19% of the RDA.
- Manganese: Manganese helps other enzymes to carry out their functions in the body, such as forming connective tissue like the ligaments and tendons that are so important when lifting weights. A one-ounce serving provides 27% of the RDA.
Also, a calorie deficit is a form of stress on the body that can make you more susceptible to getting sick. Focusing on foods that provide health benefits means that you are less likely to get run down. You’ll feel good and you’ll have energy for training and for life in general.
Cacao is in fact a plant that is rich in antioxidants, such as flavanols. So, eating chocolate with a high cacao content (bittersweet or bitter chocolate with at least 70% cacao content) can provide the health benefits of these flavanols:
- Improve insulin sensitivity: this means your body will be able to regulate blood sugar well, and reduce the risk of diabetes.
- Lower blood pressure: healthy blood pressure is important for reducing the risk of heart attack or stroke.
- Lower inflammation: managing inflammation in the body allows you to recover more quickly from workouts and from life in general. Chronic inflammation can lead to fatigue and joint pain and stiffness and eventually even arthritis.
Key Takeaway: Dark chocolate (70%-99% cacao) is a good source of micronutrients and has health benefits.
How Do I Incorporate Chocolate Into My Diet While Cutting?
Fitting Chocolate Into Your Macros
Follow these three easy steps to figure out how to include chocolate in your macros. If you already have your macros for cutting, skip to Step 3.
Step 1: Determine your calories
Use an online calorie calculator like this one to estimate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). Your TDEE is how many calories you need to maintain your weight.
Input your age, gender, height, current weight, and activity level and press Calculate. The “Maintain weight” result is your current estimated TDEE.
Here are two examples:
- A male who is 24 years old, weighs 200lbs, is 5’11” tall, and exercises intensely 3-4 times per week has a suggested maintenance intake (TDEE) of 2,975 calories per day.
- A female who is 57 years old, weighs 150lbs, is 5’3” tall, and exercises lightly 1-3 times per week has a suggested maintenance intake (TDEE) of 1,700 calories per day.
Each person would start with a 10% reduction in calories (e.g. ~300 calories for the man and ~170 calories for the woman).
Step 2: Determine your macros
Once you know your total calories, it’s time to determine your macronutrient split between protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
A general guideline for athletes is to consume 1.2 – 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or up to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. This can be based on goal bodyweight instead of current body weight.
Protein should provide 25-35% of your total daily calories. Each gram of protein supplies 4 calories.
An active person would look to have ~40% of calories coming from carbohydrates. Each gram of protein supplies 4 calories.
The remaining calories would be from fat. Fat provides 9 calories per gram.
|Activity||Intense exercise 3-4x/week||Light exercise 1-3x/week|
|30% Protein||743 calories = 186g protein||459 calories = 115g protein|
|40% Carbs||990 calories = 248g carbs||612 calories = 153g carbs|
|30% Fat||742 calories = 82g fat||459 calories = 51g fat|
Step 3: Plan for chocolate in your macros
If 70% cacao chocolate was the only fat source for the day, this would mean 4-7 servings (48-85g fat) for the people in the example above.
Of course, chocolate shouldn’t be the only fat source in your diet, especially when it still has added sugar.
For other fat sources in your diet:
- Are Nuts Good Or Bad For Bodybuilding?
- Are Avocados Good Or Bad For Bodybuilding?
- Is Peanut Butter Good Or Bad For Bodybuilding?
However, you can easily plan to eat at least 1-3 squares (10-30g) of dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao content) while losing weight.
Does The Type Of Chocolate Matter When It Comes To Losing Weight?
The type of chocolate does not matter when it comes to losing weight, but there are health reasons for choosing dark chocolate. It is important to consider chocolate in the context of your overall intake for the day. If you find yourself more likely to overeat certain types of chocolate than others, then it is wise to steer clear of those types.
For example, the added sugar in milk chocolate and white chocolate makes them more appealing to overeat (often called “hyper-palatable”). This is why some people say that they are “addicted to chocolate.”
The reality is that they overeat because of the irresistible combination of sugar and fat found in sweet chocolate.
We saw the drawbacks of added sugar for health, and the sugar also means the chocolate will be digested more quickly, with an energy high and a “sugar crash” shortly thereafter.
As stated, it is better to focus on bittersweet and bitter chocolate types (70%-99% cacao) when including chocolate in your diet, even though all types of chocolate can be included in moderation when cutting.
What To Eat With Chocolate While Cutting
Since chocolate is primarily a source of fat, but also provides some carbohydrates, pair it with lean protein like Greek yogurt and a moderate carbohydrate source like strawberries for an overall balanced snack.
One small square (10g) of dark chocolate is also a satisfying way to add something sweet to the end of a meal. Consider the fat as part of the overall total for the meal.
When To Eat Chocolate While Cutting
Fat takes longer to digest so it does not provide the fast-acting energy needed prior to a workout. Post-workout, it can slow down the absorption of carbohydrates and protein needed for building new muscle tissue (muscle protein synthesis) and replenishing fuel stores in the muscles and liver (glycogen replenishment).
Chocolate is great to eat at any meal or snack away from the training window. Do not eat chocolate immediately pre-or post-workout.
A small serving of chocolate with added sugar (white chocolate or milk chocolate) can be a good pre-workout choice 30-60 minutes before a workout. This will allow time for the sugar to be digested to provide energy for the workout.
A meal 2-3 hours or more before or after training is the best time to have chocolate. Consider it as part of the overall meal, balanced with lean protein and complex carbohydrates.
Are There Any Reasons Not To Eat Chocolate While Cutting?
There are a few scenarios when chocolate should be off-limits.
Allergies to cacao itself are very rare, but it is more common for people to be allergic to other added ingredients that are common in chocolate such as peanuts, tree nuts, milk or soy. An allergic reaction is a serious and important reason to avoid any chocolate that contains possible allergens.
Final Stages of a Competitive Bodybuilding Cut
During the final prep weeks leading up to a competitive bodybuilding stage show, your coach may reduce fat and/or carbs to such a low level that you can no longer realistically include chocolate in your daily macros without unreasonably compromising the rest of your intake.
This is extreme and should be a brief, temporary measure that ends after the show. Stage prep is not a healthy, sustainable way of eating to be used in the long term.
If you’ve been trying to manage a competition bodybuilding cut on your own, you might like to consider a free one-on-one consultation with one of our coaches.
3 Best Chocolates For Cutting
Now that you know that you can eat chocolate while cutting, which chocolate should you choose?
I will share my top three recommendations.
1. Lindt Excellence 99% Cocoa Bar – Best Overall For Cutting
My top pick is for the most serious chocolate fans: the Lindt Excellence 99% Cocoa bar. Containing only cocoa solids and a tiny bit of minimally-processed raw demerara sugar, this bar delivers an intense chocolate taste.
It can seem quite bitter at first, so my recommendation is to slowly increase the cacao percentage of your chocolate bar over time (70%, 85%, 90%, 95%).
The nutritional content for 30g (3 squares):
- Calories: 165
- Carbs: 9g (0.8g sugar)
- Fiber: 5.2g
- Protein: 3.8g
- Fat: 15g
- Sodium: 11.2mg
There is less than one gram of sugar and the five grams of fiber make this a high-fiber food. The combination of fat and fiber makes this a slow-digesting delight that will satisfy.
Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate Squares, 72% Cacao – Best for Portion Control
Ghirardelli is a well-known chocolatier, and their 72% dark chocolate is a great entry point to dark chocolate for people looking to replace milk chocolate and work up to higher percentage cacao chocolate.
The nutritional content for 3 squares:
- Calories: 180
- Carbs: 15g (9g sugar)
- Fiber: 3g
- Protein: 1.5g
- Fat: 15g
- Sodium: 0mg
I love that these are individually-wrapped squares. This makes portion control much easier than the discipline required when breaking squares off of a whole bar. Each square has three grams of added sugar, so intake can be controlled relative to the guidelines for added sugar.
3. Lily’s Original White Chocolate Style Bar – Best White Chocolate Style
For the white chocolate lovers, I am excited to share this stevia-sweetened white chocolate style bar from Lily’s (it can’t be called true white chocolate because its ingredients do not match the FDA requirements for white chocolate).
The great team at Lily’s uses stevia and erythritol to sweeten this bar, making it much lower in sugar and higher in fiber than traditional white chocolate.
The nutritional content for 30g:
- Calories: 120
- Carbs: 18gg (2g sugar; 0g added sugar; 8g erythritol)
- Fiber: 7g
- Protein: 1g
- Fat: 10g
- Sodium: 0mg
This sweet and creamy confection really does the trick for a white chocolate replacement. Because of its high erythritol content, it can cause digestive problems for some people. Start with a small serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Eat Chocolate & Still Lose Weight?
Yes, you can eat chocolate & still lose weight. Losing weight is a matter of energy balance: when your energy intake from the foods you eat is less than your energy output, you will lose weight. This is true even when some of your calories come from chocolate.
Should You Stop Eating Chocolate To Lose Weight Faster?
No, you do not need to stop eating chocolate to lose weight faster unless you are unable to control your portion size. Choose chocolate with minimal added sugar. Dark chocolate is a good source of antioxidants and fiber.
Is Chocolate Addictive?
No, chocolate is not addictive. The combination of fat and sugar makes it hyper-palatable and easy to overeat, but it is not a true addiction.
How Much Chocolate Can You Eat Per Day & Still Lose Weight?
You will lose weight as long as your total calorie intake for the day is less than your energy expenditure. Chocolate should be just one part of an overall balanced intake along with other sources of fat, protein, and carbs. I recommend a maximum of 10-30g of chocolate per day to lose weight.
Eating Other Foods While Cutting
- Can I Eat Whole Eggs While Cutting?
- Can I Eat Peanut Butter While Cutting?
- Can I Eat Bread While Cutting?
- Can I Eat Rice While Cutting?
- Can I Eat Pasta While Cutting?
- Can I Eat Fruit While Cutting?
About The Author
Lauren Graham is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified nutrition coach. She focuses on helping busy professionals balance healthy eating and purposeful movement. Lauren has a background in competitive swimming and is currently competing as a CrossFit athlete. She has a passion for training, teaching, and writing.