Is Dark Chocolate Good or Bad for Bodybuilding? A Coach Answers

Reviewed By :

The health benefits of dark chocolate are often publicized in mainstream media, but you may be wondering whether these apply to bodybuilders.  As a certified nutrition coach, I’ve dug into the topic to break it down.

Key Takeaways

  • Dark chocolate is good for bodybuilding because it contains fat and fiber (10 and 4 grams per 30 grams respectively), two ingredients that help you feel satiated and improve your ability to stick to your diet. Since dark chocolate has little protein (1 gram per 30-gram serving), other meals should have a lean protein.
  • Despite the satiating effects, dark chocolate is also great for bodybuilders on a bulk.  Most people can easily eat more than one serving of dark chocolate, adding a few hundred calories to their total intake to promote weight (and muscle) gain. For reference, one serving of dark chocolate has 160-170 calories.
  • Dark chocolate can also be a good pre-workout snack. However, it’s best to pick one with 50-60% cocoa, as these provide more carbs for fuel. You should also limit it to one serving to avoid getting too much fat, which can slow down digestion and lead to stomach distress while working out.

Dark Chocolate: Overview

dark chocolate for bodybuilding

Dark chocolate includes any chocolate with 50-90% cocoa. 

However, the most popular in-store options are 60%, 70%, and 85%. 

The nutrition information for these is as follows:

Dark Chocolate (30 gram Serving)CaloriesProteinCarbsFat
60% Dark Chocolate1602g18g10g
70% Dark Chocolate1703g14g12g
85% Dark Chocolate1653g11g14g

As you can see, as the percentage of dark chocolate increases, the number of carbs decreases, and the number of fats increases. 

This information is essential when we start talking about the pros and cons of dark chocolate for bodybuilding.  

4 Pros of Eating Dark Chocolate For Bodybuilding

pros of eating dark chocolate for bodybuilding

1. Can Make It Easier To Lose Weight

Dark chocolate is a rich source of fat and contains fiber. Both fat and fiber slow digestion, meaning you will feel full and satisfied longer after eating. 

This is particularly beneficial for bodybuilders who are cutting. Anyone who has tried to lose weight knows that one of the biggest hurdles can be avoiding high-calorie foods and treats. 

I don’t know about you, but I tend to reach for those higher-calorie treats when I’m hungry and unsatisfied, especially when I’ve just eaten, and my meal didn’t do the trick. 

The more full and satisfied you can feel after each meal, the easier it will be to stick to a lower-calorie diet long-term.

Anna Brooks, a Senior Health and Science Editor, said: 

“Eating chocolate every day probably seems like the last way to lose weight, but research suggests dark chocolate may play a role in controlling appetite, which in turn could help with weight loss. Neuroscientist Will Clower, PhD, wrote a book on the subject called Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight, which describes how eating a bit of dark chocolate before or after meals triggers hormones that signal to the brain you’re full.”

2. Can Improve Digestion

Bodybuilders tend to consume a moderate carbohydrate diet. However, the majority of their carbs are often eaten pre and post-workout. Carbs eaten around a workout are generally lower in fiber. 

So, while this is beneficial for workout performance, it can result in slower digestion. This is where dark chocolate can help, as it provides 4g of fiber per 30g. 

General fiber recommendations are 25 – 30g daily, meaning 30g of dark chocolate will provide 16% of your daily fiber. 

It is important to note that the fiber increases as the percentage of cocoa increases. I recommend consuming 85% or higher for these health benefits.

Remember, chocolate is primarily a fat source, not a carbohydrate source. 

This benefits bodybuilders as it can be challenging to get fiber strictly from carbs consumed away from a workout without going over your total daily carbs. 

Since fat is primarily consumed away from workouts, this is the optimal situation. 

By incorporating dark chocolate into your diet, you can improve your digestive system regularly. This is important for overall health as this is how your body disposes of waste and toxins. 

Additionally, it can help improve your overall mood, as poor digestive health is often linked to reduced mental health.

3. Has Antioxidants and Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Dark chocolate contains cocoa, which is rich in antioxidants, providing anti-inflammatory properties. 

Put into simple terms, these foods assist your body in dealing with inflammation.  

Why is this important for bodybuilders? Well, inflammation is a normal part of weight training and allows our bodies to adapt and recover. 

However, if inflammation is too high, you will notice a reduction in performance as your body can never fully recover. 

Consuming dark chocolate can increase your body’s ability to fight inflammation, ensuring you are properly recovering after each workout. 

4. Can Help You Eat More Calories

As mentioned above, a mere 30-gram serving (about three squares) has 160-170 calories.

While satiating because of the fiber and fats, most people can eat more than one serving of dark chocolate to add a few hundred calories to their total.

For that reason alone, it might be great to look into dark chocolate, as it provides health benefits, and a few daily servings can help you create and sustain the necessary calorie surplus for muscle growth.

3 Cons of Eating Dark Chocolate For Bodybuilding

cons of eating dark chocolate for bodybuilding

1. Does Not Provide Sufficient Protein To Build Muscle

Consuming sufficient protein is critical for muscle growth and development, so your muscles have what they need to repair and recover after a workout.

Research suggests that to build muscle, a protein intake of 1.6g per kg of body weight should be consumed. For example, a 200lb individual (~90kg) would require approximately 144g of protein daily.

Dark chocolate only contains 2g of protein per 30g, making it not a significant source. Protein must be consumed from other sources throughout the day to ensure sufficient protein consumption. 

2. Does Not Have The Protein-to-Fat Ratio For Optimal Body Composition

To consume sufficient protein without exceeding your daily calories, it’s also essential to consider the ratio of protein to fat. 

Doing so will help you control your overall calorie intake, eat enough fat for healthy hormones, and get the necessary protein to build muscle.

To optimize body composition, research shows that a ratio of 5g of protein to 1g of fat is most optimal. 

30g serving of dark chocolate contains 2g of protein and 10-14g of fat. This is a ratio of 1g of protein to 5-7.5g of fat, quite off from the recommended range. 

This isn’t to say that dark chocolate is bad for bodybuilders, but it does show that it is essential to pair a lean protein source, such as low-fat Greek yogurt. 

3. Calorically Dense

Dark chocolate is high in fat, which means it is calorically dense. This means that the physical volume of dark chocolate is much less than, say, a food high in carbs or protein. 

Because of that, you might eat a lot of calories worth of dark chocolate without realizing it. This can cause you to go over your daily caloric intake, which may lead to fat gain in the long run.

As you can see, this can be beneficial during a bulk (as discussed above), but not so much during caloric restriction for fat loss. 

 Therefore, it’s important you’re tracking your dark chocolate intake as part of your overall caloric budget. 

Can You Eat Dark Chocolate Around Workouts?


You can consume dark chocolate before a workout, but opt for a 1oz (28g) serving of 50-60% cocoa 30-60 minutes before training so your body can utilize the sugar for quick energy. 

Since you want to maximize the energy you have available during your workout, it’s important to limit the fat in your pre-workout meal and allow your body to get its energy from the carbs consumed. 

A good general range I recommend is 15-20% of a meal’s calories.

For these reasons, you must be mindful of your dark chocolate intake before training to reap the benefits of sugar without the potential disadvantages that may come from too much fat (e.g., digestive troubles and a heavy feeling in your stomach).

I asked Registered Dietitian Breda Peralta about her thoughts on eating dark chocolate before a workout. She said: 

“Dark chocolate can give some extra energy to your workout. It also increases endorphins, which could make you more motivated to work out. Include 1 oz 30-60 minutes before the activity”. 


You can consume dark chocolate after workouts as it contains beneficial anti-inflammatory properties. 

However, limit it to 45g or less to maximize recovery. The amount of dark chocolate should be reduced if any other fat sources are consumed post-workout.

Consuming a high-carb, high-protein meal will provide your body with what it needs to recover and build muscle adequately.

Research shows consuming protein within the first two hours post-workout has a significant positive impact on muscle protein synthesis, otherwise known as the process of repairing and rebuilding muscle. 

This process of repair and recovery will lead to strength and muscle growth, a key goal of bodybuilding. 

Similarly, carbohydrates will replenish lost glycogen and could contribute to muscle protein synthesis.

Brenda Peralta noted that:

“After training is another good choice. It (dark chocolate) has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that help in the recuperation process.” 

Related Articles:

Which Type of Dark Chocolate is Better for Muscle Gain?

dark chocolate for muscle gain

Dark chocolate ranges in the percentage of cocoa from 50-90%. As the percentage of cocoa increases, the fat in the chocolate increases, and the carbs and sugar decrease. 

Therefore, the best type of dark chocolate to consume will depend on what macro profile is most beneficial.

Around a workout, where we want the carbs to be high and the fat low, I recommend consuming a lower percentage of dark chocolate, between 50-60%. 

This will provide the most sugar and carbs for energy with the least fat, slowing down this absorption process. 

For meals not around a workout, I recommend sticking to a higher percentage of chocolate; 70-85% is best. This will provide more fat and fiber, leaving you feeling fuller and more satisfied after your meal. 

What To Read Next


Clapp M, Aurora N, Herrera L, Bhatia M, Wilen E, Wakefield S. Gut microbiota’s effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis. Clin Pract. 2017 Sep 15;7(4):987. doi: 10.4081/cp.2017.987. PMID: 29071061; PMCID: PMC5641835.

Stokes T, Hector AJ, Morton RW, McGlory C, Phillips SM. Recent Perspectives Regarding the Role of Dietary Protein for the Promotion of Muscle Hypertrophy with Resistance Exercise Training. Nutrients. 2018 Feb 7;10(2):180. doi: 10.3390/nu10020180. PMID: 29414855; PMCID: PMC5852756.

Helms, E.R., Aragon, A.A. & Fitschen, P.J. Evidence-based recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: nutrition and supplementation. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 11, 20 (2014).

Kerksick, C.M., Arent, S., Schoenfeld, B.J. et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: nutrient timing. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 14, 33 (2017).

About The Author

Laura Semotiuk

Laura Semotiuk is a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified nutrition coach. She works with athletes and active individuals looking to improve performance and develop healthy nutritional habits and behaviors. She has a passion for cooking, meal prepping, and creating simple and healthy recipes.

Why Trust Our Content

FeastGood logo

On Staff at, we have Registered Dietitians, coaches with PhDs in Human Nutrition, and internationally ranked athletes who contribute to our editorial process. This includes research, writing, editing, fact-checking, and product testing/reviews. At a bare minimum, all authors must be certified nutrition coaches by either the National Academy of Sports Medicine, International Sport Sciences Association, or Precision Nutrition. Learn more about our team here.

Have a Question?

If you have any questions or feedback about what you’ve read, you can reach out to us at We respond to every email within 1 business day.