For the month of June, I was excited to be part of the CocoaVia Blogger Project with Thrive Magazine. Many of you who follow me on social media and my blog www.theirishbalance.com will know by now that I love fitness, and that I am a massive advocate for the power of food in health. This 30 day trial involved taking the CocoaVia cocoa food extract supplement daily, and sharing with my followers an honest series of reviews of how I felt the supplement affected my training, whether positively, negatively, or not at all! It was a very well timed experiment for me, as I had set specific resistance training and running distance goals for the summer, and was interested to see how CocoaVia might affect that.
I of course did a little reading before signing up to the project. The only other supplement I use is vegan protein powder, so I was keen to learn a bit about CocoaVia. One serving of CocoaVia (three capsules per day) delivers 375mg of cocoa flavanols. I had, as a total nutrition nerd, heard and read about the purported health benefits of dark chocolate prior to the trial, but was interested to read about WHY these claims are made. I learnt that cocoa flavanols are the beneficial phytonutrients found in cocoa, which are, based on research to date, proposed to support our circulatory system by promoting healthy blood flow, by increasing the nitric oxide levels in our bodies (which acts on our blood vessels to dilate them), based on a minimum intake of 200mg per day. CocoaVia report the processing that produces their supplement contains preserved flavanol levels lost in many cocoa handling practices.
So, the big question – what did I think? I’ll start by saying that I had absolutely no negative side effects or consequences from taking CocoaVia, in terms of palatability, digestibility or training quality. Secondly, it’s important to say that I specifically made sleep quantity, adequate rest between workouts, and nightly meditation a priority in recent months. Therefore, any improvements in training could never been pinned to one factor. However, I will happily say that over the month of June, I felt absolutely fantastic. My weekly workout schedule is as follows – 4-5 resistance training sessions (three lower and two upper body sessions), 1-2 short runs, 1-2 rest days and yoga 2-3 times per week. I have a very active day job as a doctor, and walk everywhere (10,000 steps a day minimum!). It’s busy, and I love it! I felt energised, focused and motivated throughout the trial. I even noticed progression in training by Week 3, managing to achieve my goal of an unassisted chin up! I also progressed my lower body heavy lifts too. Interestingly, I did notice improved mental alertness too, which was very helpful as I was organising wellness-oriented events for my doctor colleagues as well as my day job in June, so I needed focus!
Time for a final word for my review. I really enjoyed the trial, and am delighted to have been involved. I don’t think my improved training performance and mental alertness over this trial was solely due to CocoaVia – but combined with my best efforts to lead a healthy lifestyle, I think it definitely helped.