Chocolate protein powder is a very popular choice of protein supplement. It can be used for different purposes. Including, to assist muscle growth, improve recovery time, to help with weight loss and boost overall health.
There is scientific evidence to suggest foods which contain chocolate can even help fight anxiety and stress (1). There are many different types of chocolate protein powder on the market, which use a variety of different protein sources. With this in mind it is always advisable to check the ingredients, the main protein source as well as any other added nutrients and vitamins before deciding which powder is the right one for you.
Whey based chocolate protein powder is a good option for those seeking to boost muscle mass and improve their recovery time. For those wanting to choose a plant based protein powder, pea isolate is a fantastic alternative to whey (2). This is due to them both containing good levels of the branched chain amino acids vital for promoting muscle growth. In addition to this chocolate protein powders also help improve feelings of fullness and suppress appetite, making them a great choice for those wanting to lose weight.
What Are The Different Types Of Chocolate Protein Powder Available?
There are a variety of different types of chocolate protein powders available. Ranging from pure protein powders, through to ones with added ingredients.
Whey Protein Powder
Whey is the best known form of protein powder. It is readily available in chocolate flavor due to the fact whey protein doesn’t have much of a taste. Whey protein powder is made out of the milky by product of cheese, called whey this process does mean it is unsuitable for vegans (3).
Whey protein powder contains high levels of the essential and branched chain amino acids (BCAA's), whilst also being rich in vitamins and nutrients (4). These levels make it a great choice of protein powder for those looking to build muscle mass as it contains particularly high levels of the BCAA’s leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which are known to play an important role in protein synthesis (4).
Whey protein powder comes in three different forms: whey isolate, whey concentrate and diet whey. Interestingly, whey isolate has been identified in studies as the purest source of protein available from a protein powder. It can contain protein concentrations of 90% or higher (5). In addition to this, whey isolate contains less lactose and fat so can be softer on the stomach than the other whey protein powders.
Whey concentrate is generally between 70-80% protein and its higher levels of milk sugar (lactose) as well as its higher fat content means it is often viewed as this better tasting of the whey protein options. The last form of whey protein is hydrolyzed, this is where the whey has been broken down. This process enables the whey to be absorbed more quickly by our bodies, causing a greater spike in the bodies insulin levels than isolate whey can (6).
For those who are conscience about how their whey was farmed, whey powder is also available in the form of grass fed whey. The term grass-fed simply means the whey has been produced from grass-fed cows which are pasture-raised and able to roam freely. In addition to this, they have been raised only on fresh, nutrient rich grass throughout the year, and pasteurized hay in the winter.
Chocolate Casein Protein Powder
Both whey and casein at the main types of protein found within milk. However, casein makes up between 70- 80% of the protein in milk (7). Like whey powder, casein is also chocolate flavored to make it more enjoyable to drink.
Casein protein is extracted from skim milk. The first step if for the fats, carbohydrates and whey to be removed. Next, the remaining milk curds are cleaned and drained. They are then left to dry before being ground into powder.
Our bodies break down this protein into amino acids; this process is much slower in casein than whey. Studies into the different protein sources have discovered the amino acids found within casein stay in our bodies for between 4 and 5 hours after being broken down (7). In contrast the amino acids produced from whey protein last around an hour to 90 minutes.
You may wonder why they have different absorption rates, it’s due to the acidic environment within our stomachs, which cause casein to mass together and for a gel. Our bodies then have to work for longer to digest and absorb this protein. Due to its reaction within our stomachs, casein is often referred to as a slowly digested protein.
Why is it important to compare the amino acid production rate? Well, scientists concluded when this experiment was undertaken by young men, the results where indicated the slow digested dietary protein (casein) induced a greater protein gain than a fast one (whey protein) (8). However, when the experiment was undertaken by an older age group, in contrast to the young subjects, a "fast" protein may be more beneficial than a "slow" one in elderly subjects and it will help to limit body protein loss (8).
An added benefit of the slower, steady release of amino acids casein protein provides is its ability to increase whole-body protein synthesis rates (9). One study revealed when casein protein was taken before bedtime the body effectively digested and absorbed it, resulting in a rapid rise in circulating amino acid levels, which were sustained throughout the remainder of the night. For this reason casein is seen as ‘anti-catabolic’ as it aids in the prevention of muscle breakdown.
Chocolate Pea Protein Powder
Pea protein is one of the most popular and effective plant based protein powders. Pea protein is composed mostly of yellow split peas, which is what gives the powder its beige tone. During the manufacturing process, the split peas are firstly left to dry out. Next, they are ground into a powder before finally being added to water- which removes the starch and helps increase their digestibility. The end result is pea protein powder.
Pea protein is a great alternative for those who are unable to consume dairy, whether for allergen reasons or lifestyle choice. This plant based, hypo-allergenic protein powder is a rich source of the branch amino acids whilst also matching whey protein powder in its ability to support the building of muscle, strength and body composition (10, 11, 12).
Scientists have uncovered the protein qualities found in pea powder when paired with its fiber and resistant starch components, give it the ability to help suppress appetite and glycaemia (13). Interestingly one report went as far as arguing pea protein hydrolysate was more effective at increasing feelings of fullness and the desire, than its animal-based rival’s milk protein and whey protein (14).
One thing to remember if you choose to take chocolate protein powder is it unfortunately contains low levels of the amino acid methionine (15). However, this can be compensated through adding foods rich in methionine to your diet, such as nuts and beans.
Chocolate Diet Protein Powder
Chocolate diet protein powder is hugely popular amongst those seeking to lose weight. It often uses whey concentrate or whey isolate as its source of protein. It has all the same benefits found it regular whey protein (which are outlined above) but it comes with added ingredients which are believed to promote fat burning and improve body mass index (BMI). These extra ingredients include green tea extract, l-carnitine, taurine and CLA powder; which diet why protein powder you select will determine the combination of this added ingredients.
The most popular forms of diet protein powders are: diet whey protein powder and whey protein blend. Both are good options for those seeking to enhance their weight loss, as their low calorie count and ability to aid satiety will help you to achieve your calorie deficit goals. Interestingly, 90% whey protein isolate is also often classified as a diet whey protein powder. This is due to its low calorie count and the fact it provides less than 1 gram of carbohydrate per serving.
Chocolate Diet Whey Protein Powder
Diet whey protein contains a protein content of about 70% and is made from a mixture of whey protein concentrate (milk) and whey protein isolate. It includes the added ingredient L-Carnitine, which is a low-molecular-weight compound obtained from the same diet as the essential amino acids’ lysine and methionine (16).
L-Carnitine not only aids acid metabolism, but also helps to transports fatty acids into your cell’s mitochondria (17). This knowledge creates the thought by using a protein powder which contains l-carnitine you are able to improve how quickly improvements to body composition are made and reduce your weight. Another study into the effectiveness of this theory found this school of thought was particularly true in adults who have elevated BMI’s. Normally, the serving of L-Carnitine within diet protein powder is 1.5%.
Concentrated green tea extract is also included in this particular diet protein powder. It contains high levels of catechins and moderate levels of caffeine. Studies into the effectiveness of green tea extract have found it can increase your bodies expenditure of energy over a 24-hour period (18), with encouraging, but limited, evidence to suggest green tea is able to enhance fat oxidation in women when partnered with a brisk 30-minute walk (19). The amount of green tea within diet whey protein tends to be about 1%.
Chocolate Whey Protein Blend
A whey protein blend is typically the cheaper type of chocolate diet protein powder available.
It is produced using a mix of whey protein concentrate, milk protein and soy protein isolate. The other ingredients which make up the powder include CLA (Conjugated linoleic acid), acetyl l-carnitine, green tea and acai berry.
Animal studies into the effectiveness of CLA have shown it can help to reduced body fat mass. However, there is currently not enough human lead research to ascertain whether it has the same weight loss effects on humans (20). With this said, one particular study discovered some obese patients who took a CLA supplement over a 12-week period did have a quicker weight loss journey than those not taking CLA (21).
This particular diet protein also includes the added ingredient of the South American fruit acai berries. These berries contain a lot of nutritional and many health benefits, including a high level of antioxidants (22). In addition to this, it is also claimed acai berries can assist with weight loss, however it is important to note there is very little scientific evidence for this.
90% Diet Protein Powder
This diet protein powder is a mix of whey protein and milk protein concentrate as well as soy protein isolate. As the name indicates it contains 90% protein content. Its powder is a combination of whey protein concentrate, milk protein concentrates and soy protein isolate. It also has green tea and carnitine, but in lower doses as it has additional ingredients which make up the overall percentage. There are acai berries 1.4%, CLA 1.5% and taurine 3%.
This new ingredient taurine is not used in the other whey diet protein powders. Taurine is an amino sulfonic acid, which occurs naturally in the body. Whilst it doesn’t aid with the production of protein it is believed to assist in the burning of fat and this is why it is often included in protein powder supplements. One study discovered taurine ingestion was responsible for a 16% increase in fat burning over a 90-minute period (23).
Chocolate Vegan Diet Protein Powder
For those who are sensitive to dairy, or follow a vegan life style there are alternative options to animal-based diet protein powders. Typically, a plant based protein powder will get high protein levels by using split peas or soy beans and include the same weight loss promoting ingredients as the types of diet whey protein outlined previously: green tea, acai berry, flaxseed and l-carnitine.
Chocolate Vegan Blend Mass Gainers
A vegan protein powder for mass gain typically uses pea and rice protein. The reason for this is to give high levels of all the essential amino acids. Mass gainers have higher calorie, protein and carbohydrates contents than typical protein powders to assist with maintaining a calorie surplus to gain muscle and weight. The type of carbohydrate used in these supplements vary with maltodextrin often being used. Mass gainers nutritional profile make muscle and weight gain easier. But make it harder to keep maintain current body fat levels.
Chocolate Whey Based Mass Gainers
Whey based mass gainers tend to be the most common form of mass gainer. Depending on the specific protein powder, the protein source can be derived from any of the following protein sources; whey concentrate, whey isolate, milk protein or casein protein. These protein sources may be used alone or in a combination. The combination of whey and casein is often used. This allows the body to absorb a mixture of fast and slow release protein, which ensure a constant flow of nutrients and protein to the muscle and prevent muscle deterioration.
Mass gainers tend to come in either chocolate or vanilla flavor and are sweetened using stevia. Manufacturers purposely give mass gainer powder a higher calorie count as well as protein and carbohydrates content than other protein powders. This is to ensure those taking the supplement are able to maintain a calorie surplus, which in turn makes it easier for them to gain muscle and weight.
Typically the carbohydrate used is maltodextrin; a white powder which has been made using either rice, corn, wheat or potato starch. Despite the fact it comes from a natural source maltodextrin is highly processed. Whilst mass gainers nutritional profile make muscle and weight gain easier, it is important to note, they can make it more difficult for the body to maintain current its fat levels.
Benefits Of Chocolate Protein Powder
Chocolate protein powder comes with an array of benefits. It can be used to aid those seeking to build muscle, improve recovery time post workout, aid weight loss, boost overall health and even help to fight anxiety and stress (24).
You might wonder how chocolate flavoring can improve anxiety and stress. A study into the effective of milk chocolate on mood showed patients with pre-existing anxiety traits felt their anxiety level was eased after eating chocolate. Interestingly, the subjects who had lower anxiety traits were more responsive to mood improvement following the consumption of dark chocolate (24).
Many feel the presence of the amino acid tryptophan in chocolate is responsible for the change in mood. This is because tryptophan is linked to the body’s production serotonin. Serotonin is also released following workout as are endorphins, both of which improve mood and lower the risk of depression (25).
In addition to this, one study highlighted the importance of a diet rich in protein because of its ability to improve brain functioning and mental health (26). The study goes onto explain patients with lowered levels of amino acids experienced the side effect of low mood and aggression (24). This finding suggests taking a chocolate protein powder supplement to boost your protein levels and help to achieve any fitness goal could also have a positive effect on your own wellbeing.
Different brands and compositions of chocolate protein powder come with different added nutrients and ingredients which can help aid consumers in closing any nutritional gaps consumers may have in their diets, for example iron deficiency.
How To Choose The Right Chocolate Protein Powder
There are a wide range of chocolate protein powders available, so which one is the right one for you? When answering this question you need to think about your personal health goals. Are you trying to lose weight or build lean muscle or bulk muscle mass?
Flavoured protein powders are a good alternative to a meal as they will provide you with a high-quality protein and amino acid content and the feeling of being full up whilst also providing less calories than a meal would.
If you are aiming to lower your weight, a diet whey protein powder, whey isolate or whey are great options. In addition to this, studies have shown whey protein powder has properties which have a positive effect on the body’s feelings of satiety and fullness (27). There is research to show by supplementing a meal with whey protein powder you are to lose weight whilst also helping to maintain your lean body mass (28).
If you follow a vegan lifestyle or have intolerances chocolate flavoured pea isolate is a great choice. Whilst some may worry chocolate typically contains dairy, vegan chocolate protein powders are made out of chocolates raw form- cacao beans. Studies have shown pea protein powder, combined with its fibre and resistant starch components, and is able to help suppress appetite and glycemia providing the body with the feeling of being full for a sustained period (3).
Diet protein powders are also a great choice, as they come with added ingredients which manufacturers feel boost weight loss and improve BMI and are low calorie. These additional ingredients and their benefits are explained above.
Muscle protein is in a constant state of change. During exercise muscle is continuously be broken down and our bodies use our protein stores to build and repair this muscular damage and fuse the broken muscle fibres back together. It is in this process our muscles increase in strength and size.
Often you will hear athletes and body builders refer to their anabolic state. Whilst the anabolic state has no specific definition, the term tends to refer to the circumstances when the bodies rate of muscle protein synthesis exceeds the rate of muscle protein and thus the body is able to gain muscle mass (10).
Factors such as how often you repeat lifting the weights as well as the amount of weight you are lifting will in turn influence how quickly muscle mass is gained (29).It is interesting to note, whilst weight lifting and resistance training alone can improve a body’s muscle mass, cardiovascular exercise is also a great way to boost muscle growth.
Many weightlifters, athletes and fitness fanatics will boost their body’s ability to quickly and efficiently regrow these muscles by taking a protein supplement. Whey protein provides high levels of the essential and branched chain amino acids (BCAA), whilst also being rich in vitamins and nutrients (30). Whey protein is a great choice of protein powder for those looking to build muscle mass as it contains particularly high levels of leucine, isoleucine, and valine which play an important role in the maintenance of tissue and prevention of catabolic actions during exercise (4).
Similarly, to whey protein powder pea protein also comes in chocolate flavour and is a great vegan alternative for those looking to build their strength and muscle mass (2). It does come up low in its levels of methionine, which will need to be compensated through including foods rich in methionine to your diet, e.g. nuts and beans (31). However, it is important to note there is a clear difference in goals between those looking to improve lean muscle gain and those aiming to bulk.
If your aim is to improve your lean muscle mass whey isolate or pea isolate protein is a good choice for you. Try to avoid any proteins with added carbs such as mass gainer as this can increase your body fat. You are looking to use chocolate protein to gain the extra protein and amino acids to help your muscles regenerate and improve. Whilst, you will want to have a calorie surplus to help you with this goal try to find this additional calories through clean, healthy eating. Finally, remember to combine resistance training into your workout.
For those with the fitness goal of bulking the best chocolate supplement for you is whey mass gainer. You will want the extra protein and carbohydrates it provides. You also want to aim to be in calorie surplus as this will help you to build the extra muscle. As with lean muscle mass you will want to combine resistance training into your workout.
Choosing A Chocolate Protein Powder
As you can see chocolate protein powder still has all the added benefits of other protein powders. Chocolate protein powder can be used to aid those seeking to build muscle mass, improve lean muscle mass, aid weight loss and to boost overall health.
When selecting your chocolate protein powder it is important to check the nutrients and protein levels available as this will guide you into knowing which one will best suit your goals.
For older athletes a whey supplement mixed with casein can be a good choice due to caseins slower digestion rate, which one study shows could help prevent body protein loss.
If your goal is to lose weight try a chocolate whey diet protein, as it is low in calories and contains green tea extract, l-carnitine, taurine and CLA powder, which are believed to promote fat burning and improve BMI. In addition to this, by selecting a chocolate flavoring you are able to easily supplement a meal with a protein shake without having to add any flavouring of calories to your shake and thus ensure you are in calorie deficit.
Typically whey isolate or pea isolate protein powder are good choice for those looking to improve lean muscle mass. Those looking to gain bulk muscle mass should select a whey based muscle gainers.