By John Parrillo
This month, Valentine’s Day is a time for love, hearts, flowers – and chocolate.
Yes, you heard that right…chocolate. I know what you’re thinking: Is chocolate on the Parrillo Nutrition Program? Yes – but as long as you make good chocolate choices, and that’s what this column is about.
But before I get into that, let me emphasize something you’ve probably heard: chocolate is good for your health and it’s even good for your training. Cocoa (and, therefore, chocolate) is packed with flavonoids, which are phytochemicals that act as strong antioxidants to help fight cancer, support heart health, decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, and improve your circulation.
As for exercise performance, listen to this one: A study published in 2017 in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness examined the effect of cocoa consumption on the markers of muscle damage, oxidative stress and physical fitness in professional soccer players. In other words, the study wanted to see if cocoa had any benefits on exercise recovery.
Turns out, it did. Cocoa repaired muscle damage more rapidly than without it. It increased antioxidants in the body – which have a protective effect against cell damage and illness. Plus, it increased the athletes’ exercise performance.
This is all great news if you’re a soccer player, but what about bodybuilders?
Harvard Medical School researchers have reported that cocoa can boost nitric oxide (NO) levels. NO is involved in numerous bodily processes, one of the most important being blood vessel dilation. Supplements that boost NO production are a popular component of preworkout nutrition because they boost blood flow to working muscles. This helps to deliver more nutrients, hormones and oxygen to muscles, which in turn results in a more intense pump and greater growth. So yes – cocoa is great for strength athletes.
I’m by no means suggesting that you make a steady diet of milk chocolate candy bars or pig out on a box of chocolates with your sweetie this Valentine’s Day. That stuff is processed food, full of sugar and bad fat and practically devoid of flavonoids.
What you can do, however, is look into a number of chocolate-flavored Parrillo products. We make them with totally defatted cocoa – which is the ingredient most responsible for chocolate’s health benefits.
Like chocolate ice cream? We’ve got you covered with our chocolate Ice Kreem Mix™. How about brownies, cake, or cookies? No problem – we have chocolate mixes for each one. The same goes for pudding and even chocolate syrup.
So yes, you can have chocolate even if you’re on a strict diet! With products like these, you won’t blow your diet – you will enhance it because these items are loaded with protein, have no fat or sugar, and provide all the benefits of cocoa.
Besides the nutritional treats mentioned above, we also have traditional bodybuilding products such as bars and proteins powders – all flavored with totally defatted cocoa – that you use to accentuate your training and diet strategies.
A good example is Chocolate Fix™, a protein powder that serves up the famous flavor combo of milk chocolate, almond and coconut, reminiscent of one of your favorite candy bars. We also have a brand new flavor: chocolate cherry cordial. But more than that, Chocolate Fix™ is formulated with the two best protein-powder choices for muscle growth: whey and casein.
Whey is one of the most rapidly digested of all supplemental proteins. Its amino acids are so rapidly absorbed so that the processes of muscle repair and growth are accelerated. Another mass-gaining benefit of whey protein is its potential to stimulate IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1) production. IGF-1 is structurally and functionally similar to insulin. It enhances protein synthesis and increases muscle growth.
In addition, whey is loaded with various health-building nutrients, including B-complex vitamins, selenium, calcium, and iodine.
Casein is digested and very slowly and powerfully stimulates protein synthesis. It can also increase muscle size by limiting the loss of amino acids.
With a protein powder that contains both whey and casein, you’re getting a dynamic duo of benefits. Studies indicate that combining fast-digesting whey and slow-digesting casein leads to a longer anabolic (growth-inducing) effect and thus greater muscle growth.
As with most protein powders, the suggested usage is one or more servings (2 scoops mixed with 8 ounces or ¼ liter of water or beverage) taken as needed with or between meals, and taken before, during, and after workouts.
We have at least five different types of protein bars, too, that are chocolate flavored. These are the protein bars that shouldn’t even exist. No one should be able to get this kind of chocolatey taste with so much protein and so little sugar and LCT fat. Bite into these, and you’ll swear you’re cheating with flavors like Fudge Brownie, Chocolate Almond Coconut, Chocolate Cherry Cordial, Chocolate Graham Cracker, and regular Chocolate. Any one of these bars can be a dessert!
So get your chocolate fix from Parrillo Performance…instead of gnawing on a high-fat, sugar-laced chocolate bar…and see a remarkable transformation in your body and your health in a relatively short time.
Fisher, N.D., et al. 2003. Flavanol-rich cocoa induces nitric-oxide-dependent vasodilation in healthy humans. Journal of Hypertension 21: 2281-2286.
Gonzalex-Garrido, J.A., et al. 2017. An association of cocoa consumption with improved physical fitness and decreased muscle damage and oxidative stress in athletes. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 57: 441-447.