Is Chocolate Protein Powder Good For You?
Written by Ben Carlisle
Last updated on: Sep 18, 2022
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Yes, chocolate protein powder is good for you. It has all the benefits of a protein powder with added chocolate flavouring. Chocolate protein powder can assist with building muscle, post-workout recovery, weight loss and increasing protein intake. The added chocolate flavouring just enhances the supplement for those who enjoy the taste.
In addition to the benefits associated with any protein powder, studies have found chocolate based snacks may even help individuals combat anxiety and stress (1).
There are many chocolate protein supplements on the market, but they all have different nutritional profiles. When considering which supplement to purchase it is important to check; the protein content, levels of the nine essential amino acids and any additional ingredients. Chocolate flavoured whey protein powder is the most popular form of chocolate protein powder. It is a great choice for those looking to develop muscle mass, improve post-workout recovery and increase satiety.
Chocolate flavoured pea protein powder is a fantastic plant-based alternative to whey. Research analysing two groups, where one took whey protein and the other pea isolate found no difference in the increase of muscle thickness and strength between the two groups, over a 12-week period (2). Both whey and pea supplements have a high protein content and are complete protein's containing all nine essential amino acids.
Due to a high protein content, protein supplements improve satiety. This means after consumption, individuals will feel fuller. This is extremely helpful to people trying to reduce their body weight as they have to maintain a calorie deficit, and feeling fuller means a lower probability of consuming too many calories. Chocolate protein powder can be used for meal replacement drinks. This is particularly useful for weight management as they are low in calories, carbohydrates and fat but high in protein.
The type of chocolate protein powder an individual should choose will depend on their own specific situation. Specifically, their goals, lifestyle choices, personal preferences and any allergies they may have.
Chocolate Protein Supplements To Promote Muscle Growth
Whey protein is the best known and most popular supplement for those looking to build muscle mass and strength. Whey supplements are available in a variety of different chocolate flavours. Whey protein is produced from the milky by-product of cheese. Whey protein concentrate is the most widely used type of whey protein supplement. However, with extra processing whey isolate can be produced which gives a higher protein content with lower carbohydrate, fat and lactose levels. As all whey proteins are derived from dairy they are unsuitable for vegans (3). Whey protein is a complete protein, rich in branched chain amino acids (BCAA's),vitamins and nutrients (4). Whey protein has high levels of the BCAA's; leucine, isoleucine, and valine. BCAA's, especially leucine, have anabolic effects on protein metabolism by increasing the rate of muscle protein synthesis and decreasing the rate of protein degradation in resting human muscle (4).
Pea isolate powders are also widely available with chocolate flavouring. This supplement is great plant-based alternative for those looking to build lean muscle and strength. It is derived from yellow split peas, and during the manufacturing process the pea is isolated from the pea. Pea isolate has a high protein content, is rich in iron and BCAA's. The high levels of BCAA's help promote muscle protein synthesis. Research suggests pea isolate is comparable to whey when it comes to muscle gain. Another benefit of pea isolate is it is hypo-allergenic. Despite being a complete protein, pea isolate has low levels of methionine (5). However, this is not a problem as individuals taking this high protein supplement can consume methionine elsewhere in their diet. Plant based foods rich in methionine include; quinoa, nuts and beans.
Egg white protein is another great supplement to help promote muscle growth. Although often unflavoured it is possible to get this powder in a chocolate flavour. Egg white protein has a complete essential amino acid profile and is rich in BCAA's. This makes it an ideal supplement to gain muscle and increase strength. Researchers found egg white protein supplementation over an 8 week-period caused a significant increase in the resistance muscle strength of the individuals analysed (6).
Chocolate Protein Supplements To Improve Recovery Time
Whey protein shakes are the best choice when it comes to post-workout recovery. Muscle recovery is especially important to athletes, bodybuilders and gym enthusiasts. The high BCAA levels in whey protein are known for stimulating muscle growth, but there is also evidence to show this can assist with recovery time, repair tissue and play a role in preserving lean muscle mass.
Research on men under the age of 30 discovered whey protein isolate supplementation was able to stimulate a quicker recovery from exercise-induced muscle injuries (7). Further research into the effect of whey protein supplementation on physically fit females found it could support fast muscle recovery in those who were experiencing exercise induced muscle damage (8).
Pea isolate has also been found to be beneficial with post workout recovery with supplementation for 5 days after intensive eccentric exercise showing an intermediate effect mitigating the efflux of muscle damage biomarkers. However, the study found whey protein was more effective at promoting recovery (25). If you are looking for a chocolate protein supplement to improve your recovery time, the best option is whey protein. However, if you want to avoid animal protein sources, pea can be used to improve post-workout recovery.
Chocolate Flavoured Protein Shakes To Assist With Weight Management
Although chocolate is not normally associated with weight management, chocolate protein shakes can be of assistance. The calorie count of chocolate protein shakes across a variety of brands, is not dissimilar to other protein powders (both unflavoured and other flavours like vanilla and strawberry). Additionally, the fact chocolate protein is already flavoured, there will be no need to add anything to sweeten or flavour it. This prevents having to add further calories to the supplement before consuming it.
A protein shake is a great choice of meal replacement drink. Not only is this an easy way to increase protein intake, it promotes satiety and contains less calories than a full meal would. Pea protein isolate, whey protein concentrate and whey isolate have a lot of researching showing how they help with weight management. One study shows how supplementing a meal with a whey protein shake can aid weight loss whilst also helping to maintain your lean body mass (9).
Whey protein supplementation has a positive effect on satiety and fullness when consumed by overweight and obese individuals. The same research also found whey to be superior for improving satiety when compared to carbohydrate and casein protein supplementation (10). Further research has found whey protein supplementation to be effective at reducing the weight of overweight and obese individuals. The reduction in weight was found to be a decrease in body-fat without an effect on lean mass. The researchers also commented on the clinical potential whey protein supplementation could have for treating obese individuals (11).
For those looking to lose weight whilst following a vegan diet chocolate flavoured pea protein is a great alternative to whey. Vegan chocolate protein powders are made from chocolates raw form; cacao beans. Research has found pea protein powder, combined with its fibre and resistant starch components, is able to help suppress appetite and glycemia. Another study found pea and dairy-protein to be comparably effective in triggering satiety signals (26). Recent research has argued pea protein hydrolysate is more effective at increasing feelings of fullness and the desire to eat when compared to both whey and milk protein (12). However, for a conclusive answer on this subject more research still needs to be undertaken in this field.
There are also a range of diet protein supplements available on the market. A diet protein powder is typically uses whey, pea or soy protein for the supplement protein content. What makes a diet protein supplement different to a standard protein shake is it has added ingredients. These ingredients have shown evidence of assisting with weight loss and improving body composition. The most commonly added ingredients include l-carnitine, green tea, taurine and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Most diet protein supplements are available in a chocolate flavour.
Research has found l-carnitine aids metabolism and helps transport fatty acids into your cell’s mitochondria (13). For this reason many believe protein powders containing l-carnitine, increase the speed at which results are achieved when trying to improve body composition and reduce weight.
Green tea extract is included in a concentrated form, which contains high levels of catechins and moderate levels of caffeine. Research has shown consuming green tea can increase your bodies expenditure of energy over a 24-hour period (14). CLA is a fatty acid. There are studies which show obese patients who took CLA supplementation over a 12-week period experienced accelerated weight loss (15). Taurine has been shown to help burn fat, research found taurine makes a small but significant increase in fat oxidation. It was found taurine ingestion was responsible for a 16% increase in fat burning over a 90-minute period (27).
Any low calorie protein shake will help anyone attempting to lose weight. Boosting protein intake will boost satiety, helping appetite control. It will also help with the preservation of lean muscle mass which will help with body composition. The choice of whether to use a a diet protein powder with added ingredients to boost weight loss will come down to personal preference.
The Protein Content Of Different Chocolate Protein Powders
It is important to know how to calculate the amount of protein you need to consume each day, to help you when adding protein powder to your diet. The current recommendation is 7 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight (16). As you consume protein your body breaks it down into amino acids (17). There are nine essential amino acids. The human body needs these amino acids for optimum health but cannot produce them, therefore they must be consumed.
There have been numerous studies analysing the concentration of protein in different types of protein powder. Whey protein isolate has been identified as the purest protein source available, whey isolate can have protein concentrations of 90% and above (18). This means a 30 gram serving of whey isolate powder can contain in excess of 27 grams of protein. Pea isolate powders have been found to have protein concentrations of between 77 and 81% (19). This protein content is comparable to whey protein concentrate, making pea protein the best of the plant protein powders.
Soy protein powders contains all nine of the essential amino acids. However, the protein concentration for this plant protein can cary drastically across brands. One study found the protein concentration of this plant based to range from 61 to 91%. This is a fluctuation of between 18.3 and 27.3 grams of protein per 30 gram serving. For this reason, if you do want a soy protein powder, it is very important to determine the protein content of the supplement before purchasing.
Additional Health Benefits Of Chocolate Flavoured Protein Powders
Different chocolate protein powders come with their own unique nutrtional profile. The attractivness of these nutritional profiles will vary by indivudal, depending on their preferences, goals and dietary requirements.
Pea isolate powders are a great alternative for those who suffer from milk intolerance as this supplement is hypo-allergenic and free from the 8 main types of allergens (20). Additionally pea is a plant based protein suitable for vegans. Pea isolate is rich in iron and can help fill the nutritional gap many of us face when it comes to this essential mineral. Studies have shown nearly 50% of women in the UK do not meet the recommended daily iron intake (21).
Whey protein can help those who suffer from high blood pressure. As many as 1 in 3 people suffer from high blood pressure and whey protein supplementation has been found to help lower patients systolic and diastolic blood pressure (22). There is also evidence to show whey protein powders ample supply of the amino acid cysteine, provides the body with antioxidant properties and can assist with combating of a range of diseases (18).
The characteristics of these protein powders show a protein supplement can provide additional health benefits to people who suffer from some of the most common allergies and health conditions.
Can Chocolate Protein Powder Improve Mental Health?
The saying ‘chocolate can make you happy’ is one which you have probably heard before. There is also scientific evidence to support this. There have been scientific studies into the consumption of chocolate and its ability to improve mood. One study showed individuals with pre-existing anxiety traits had their high anxiety levels eased following the consumption of milk chocolate. Individuals who had lower anxiety traits were more responsive to mood improvement following the consumption of dark chocolate (1). Many believe, the presence of the amino acid tryptophan in chocolate is responsible. This is because tryptophan has been linked to the production of serotonin. Serotonin is also released following workout as are endorphins, both of which improve mood and lower the risk of depression (23).
Further research highlighted the importance of a protein rich diet because of its ability to improve brain function and mental health (24). The study goes onto explain lower levels of the amino acids; tyrosine and tryptophan are associated with low mood and aggression. The research suggests the chocolate based supplements such as shakes and protein bars used in combination with working out can be mood enhancing.
Chocolate Protein Powder Can Be A Great Supplement To A Healthy Diet
Chocolate protein powder is a great way to get more protein into your diet. Protein powder is not a replacement for a healthy diet but a complement. It is important to get as much protein as possible from protein rich foods and use a protein supplement to help reach you daily protein requirements. The type of chocolate flavoured protein powder you should take will depend upon your own personal preferences, but any protein powder will help with the development of muscle tissue, post-workout recovery and body weight management. Studies have also found some protein powders have additional health benefits and research suggests chocolate based supplements may enhance mood.