Just in time for a guilt-free Valentine's Day, a well-known food scientist and neurologist is dishing up what he has discovered really works for weight loss: Chocolate. Dr. Will Clower explained his research in a Feb. 4 interview with Yahoo Shine.
The title of his new book sums up Dr. Clower's theory: "Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight: New Science Proves You Should Eat Chocolate Every Day" (click for details). But for those who say it sounds too good to be true, Dr. Clower says that the key is in two aspects of this weight loss recipe: Eating the right type and the right amount. And that applies to every aspect of your diet and relationship with food.
"I use chocolate as a metaphor for reconsidering the entire way you've been coached to think about food and eating," explains Dr. Clower.
"For any given dinner, for example, decide what you'd like to eat, then take the time to prepare it, making sure it's whole-foods-based and satisfying. Then sit down and enjoy it. If you start treating each meal this way, I guarantee you won't overeat, and you'll start to choose the healthiest meals for you intuitively," he declares.
As for the chocolate feature of this weight loss plan? Dr. Clower says that he's backed by the most recent studies.
"The most recent research reveals chocolate to be an absolutely amazing health food across many disciplines. That comes from cocoa itself," he states.
"It boosts heart health by raising good cholesterol, lowering bad cholesterol, and preventing inflammation in the arteries. It also increases metabolic rate and energy."
And for those troubled by stress eating and emotional eating, Dr. Clower notes: "Cocoa is as good for the mind as it is for the body--consistent consumption can reduce anxiety and improve mood."
Viewing chocolate as an essential daily treat for weight loss success, Dr. Clower prescribes a high percentage of cocoa.
"Those people who lose weight eating chocolate are those who eat it the most consistently," he says of the studies.
"The higher the cocoa content, the more you can eat. If your chocolate is 70-percent cocoa, you can eat one ounce daily; if it's 50 percent cocoa, you should limit it to 1/4-ounce each day."
And the bottom line in his chocolate weight loss diet: Quality over quantity.
"There are two things: quantity and quality. If you eat the best food in the world, but eat buckets of it, you'll be unhealthy," Dr. Clower points out.
"Conversely, if you eat fake food, even in limited amounts, it will still be bad for you. So we need both. It's about eating small, but I also also believe that if it isn't real food, you shouldn't eat it."
In a separate exclusive interview, we asked Dr. Clower to expand his comments on the research.
"The research data show that consistent chocolate consumption is associated with weight control,"he told us.
"Switzerland, for example, eats more chocolate than anyone on Earth, and yet their obesity rate is 7.7%. Compare that to ours."
In addition, Dr. Clower has tested his theory with his corporate wellness clients.
"We find that adding chocolate (quality = high-cocoa chocolate, quantity = controlled) leads to lower portions consumed at the plate (by ½ to 1/3) and drastically reduced need to eat between meal snacks (lowered by about ½). This combination naturally leads to the weight lose we observe (1-2 lbs per week)," he said.
Dr. Clower emphasizes choosing the right cocoa or chocolate:
- If you can get cocoa that has not been “Dutch-Processed”, that will provide between 60 and 90 percent more of the polyphenols that provide the health benefits of chocolate.
- As for chocolate, you want to get solid dark chocolate. And that solid.dark chocolate should be as high in cocoa as you can comfortably go.
Part of his weight loss plan features relearning how to eat.
"We are coached by our culture to believe that one bite is equal to the amount that you can fit in your mouth. It’s measured in metric tons," he jokes.
"However, if you want to be healthy … if you want to eat chocolate, and lose weight doing it, one bite is better," asserts Dr. Clower. He suggests measuring it with the tip of your thumb.
And method counts too. Rather than gobble down that chocolate while you're watching TV and checking your laptop for email, Dr. Clower suggests lingering over it and focusing on the flavor and sensation.
"Make that bite last. If you are having your chocolate, don’t chew it up. Let it linger. When this happens, you end up satisfied on far less food than you normally are. Need a rule? Taste it more, eat it less. Taste it less, eat it more," he concludes.