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Is chocolate good for sport?
Have you ever met anyone who doesn't like chocolate?

Chocolate chat
A bar of chocolate
Chocolate is made from the seeds of the tropical cacao tree
Evidence suggests chocolate was enjoyed as long ago as 600BC
The first British chocolate factory was set up in London in 1657
In 1831 English firm Cadbury began making chocolate
The Kit Kat is the world's best selling chocolate bar

After all, what's not to like? It's sweet, tasty and generally delicious - which probably explains why the average Briton eats almost 10kg of the stuff every year.

Evidence suggests we've been enjoying it for centuries, and endless research has been carried out to find the reasons behind our chocolate passion.

It could be the ultimate food - if only it was good for us.

As great as it tastes, chocolate is high in fat and sugar and has to be eaten in moderation - particularly if you're in regular training.

It can have a place in a balanced diet, but it lacks many of the nutrients needed for a healthy lifestyle.

So what is it that makes us love sweets and chocolate and how much should we eat?

Sally Jordan is a sports dietician nutritionist at the English Institute of Sport.

When it comes to food she knows it all, so we caught up with her for some chocolate chat.

Are sweets and chocolate completely bad for us?

Feel good factor
Like other sweet foods, chocolate stimulates the release of endorphins - natural body hormones that generate feelings of pleasure and well-being
Scientists reckon you can inherit a 'sweet tooth' from your parents

Sugary sweets like boiled lollies and chews are very high in carbohydrates. After exercise they can play an important part in recovery.

Chocolate, however, also contains fat, so it wouldn't be recommended. It's the carbohydrates that you need to replace lost energy.

But sweets aren't the only source of carbohydrates - breads and cereals are also high in them and most of your carbohydrates should come from there.

So sweets can be okay sometimes - but what about chocolate?

It's fine to have chocolate every now and then - it's an enjoyment food so you don't have to completely deny yourself!

A selection of various sweets in a shop
Like a kid in a sweetshop...

But it's really important to make sure the rest of your dietary needs are being met.

The energy, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals that you need both for growth and for your sport won't come from chocolate or sweets.

But if you're eating a healthy, balanced diet elsewhere you can allow yourself the odd treat.

How many chocolate bars should we eat a week?

How much you should eat really depends on how much you're training. If you're in action every day there might be room for a few sweets after training to help your recovery.

In general, I'd recommend eating chocolate as a treat - perhaps once or twice a week. It's high in fat and sugar so avoid having it every day.


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