6 Ways to Use Chocolate on a Ketogenic Diet
Chocolate is one of my all-time favorite foods. I think that almost everyone has had some kind of delicious chocolate experience at some point in their lives. Well most people don’t know this, but chocolate in its raw form is actually a potent superfood. There are ways to use chocolate on a ketogenic diet that are delicious and take the health benefits of a high-fat diet to the next level.
There are several foods that I advocate eating on a regular basis, especially on a ketogenic diet. These are things like avocados, coconut products, herbs, spices, chocolate, and more. The reason these things are helpful on a ketogenic diet specifically is because they either help mitigate common ketogenic side effects or they just have a health boosting effect that goes along well with a ketogenic diet.
Benefits of Chocolate
Chocolate is loaded with nutrients and extremely powerful antioxidants. Chocolate can not only improve your mood but may also improve lipid profiles, improve blood flow, boost creativity, protect your body from inflammation, and more.
These benefits are attributed to very specific compounds that are naturally occurring in chocolate. The more raw form your cacao is, the more intensified these benefits will be so look out for highly processed forms (more on this shortly).
The super antioxidant that is found in green tea that really brought it to the forefront as a superfood, is also heavily concentrated in raw cacao. In fact, it is actually a class of antioxidants called catechins that have several benefits in the body.
In addition to being a powerful antioxidant, catechins help to regulate several processes in the cell such as methylation and autophagy. Catechins are able to enter into the cell and exert beneficial effects on various structures, such as the mitochondria. Catechins may improve fat burning, immune system function, and even help fight cancer (1).
One of the most consistent findings with these compounds is the beneficial effect on cardiovascular health. Catechins help prevent oxidation of LDL, increased nitric oxide release, and effectively lower blood pressure (2).
The combination of mildly stimulating and neurotransmitter modulating compounds in chocolate actually make it effective for boosting mood and relieving mental fatigue (5).
These compounds include PEA’s, theobromine, and anandamide. Together, these compounds increase dopamine, endorphins, and effectively boost mood. Anandamide is particularly interesting because it is something that is already produced inside our bodies. It is a feel-good molecule that resembles cannabinoids found in cannabis that stimulate uplifted feelings.
Don’t worry, chocolate will not make you high, it will just provide a subtle boost in your mood and creativity!
Finally, cacao may actually have neuroprotective effects as the powerful catechin compounds localize in brain tissues and help mitigate the extremely deleterious effects of neuroinflammation. This means daily chocolate consumption may be powerful protection for many neurological conditions.
There are multiple studies showing that the regular consumption of cacao may actually improve metabolic health. In fact, one of the primary studied benefits in this regard is the effect that cacao has on improving insulin resistance and downregulating inflammation caused by obesity (6).
Taken with a ketogenic diet, these benefits are likely amplified.
The majority of Americans are deficient in magnesium from a functional standpoint. Many people don’t consider this but cacao is actually a great source of dietary magnesium. While I wouldn’t rely on it solely to meet daily needs, it is definitely a great food to have in the diet for this reason (among many).
A note on quality. Chocolate comes in all kinds of processed forms. In order to derive maximum benefits, you want to look for a raw cacao powder or 85-100% cacao bar that contains no sugars. There are also great snack chocolates like these chocolate wafers that could be used for many things. This is important because highly processed chocolates will not give the same benefits.
In fact, there is a very subtle spelling change that fools a lot of consumers. When looking for chocolate products, you want to see raw cacao (not cocoa) on the ingredients label. This tells you that the chocolate is in a close to its unprocessed form.
Ketogenic Chocolate Recipes
Okay. So, now you know how awesome chocolate is. I personally consume chocolate almost every day in various forms. We have plenty of recipes, however these are some of my favorites that I recommend.
As I mentioned before, you want to buy a high-quality organic raw cacao powder, cacao nibs, or buy a high percentage dark chocolate bar that contains natural ketogenic sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit. Although it has a slightly different nutrient makeup and benefits, cacao butter can also be an excellent addition to the diet.
Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream
This is a simple recipe that fills a gap that many people miss on a ketogenic diet, ice cream. Go to the store and pull almost any ice cream from the freezer and you will see just how much sugar is in that stuff. While demand is growing and their might be a ketogenic friendly ice cream hitting the shelves relatively soon, this is a great homemade version.
You simply combine coconut milk, raw cacao, and a bit of natural sweetener like chocolate stevia. Pop that in the freezer, remove, and process in the blender to make a delicious high-fat ice cream. You can find this recipe here.
Keto Chocolate Cake
What’s ice cream without a slice of cake? Yes, you can make a decadent chocolate cake that is healthy and ketogenic. Seriously, you could live off of this cake as it is high in protein, high-fat, and loaded with nutrition.
Using coconut flour as the base, we automatically eliminate the heavy carb load that most cakes have. Next, utilizing stevia as a natural sweetener eliminates the sugar found in most baked goods. Finally, all you need is some raw cacao, coconut milk, eggs, and you’ve got yourself a cake. Top with a decadent avocado chocolate frosting and you’ve got yourself the perfect cake. You can find this recipe here.
Many people don’t think to combine avocado with chocolate, but you’d be surprised. These truffles are delicious fat bombs that are a great after-dinner treat or daytime snack alike.
I will often keep these in the fridge and have a couple when I get hungry. They keep me full and give me that chocolate boost to maintain energy and productivity throughout the day. Consume them within a day if kept in the fridge or store in the freezer for a longer shelf-life. You can find this recipe here.
Keto Collagen Squares
If you want a chocolate ketogenic snack that provides additional benefits for your skin, hair, and nails; look no further. The coconut oil and MCT oil helps improve ketone production while adding in bone broth protein powder provides connective tissues benefits.
You can find this recipe here.
Coconut Keto Fudge Brownies
Brownies are one of my favorite foods of all time. We have a great ketogenic version of this classic recipe that supports ketone production and actually stabilizes blood sugar.
Chocolate Avocado Pudding
This is one of my daily go-to meals. It takes no time at all to make and serves as a meal full of nutrition that keeps me full for hours. Additionally, because it is preprocessed in the blender, it is extremely easy to digest. Digestion is an energy intensive process so this is a great strategy to maintain high energy levels throughout the day.
Simply combine coconut milk, avocado, cacao, and a keto friendly sweetener and you’ve got yourself a meal. Typically, I will also add a scoop of chocolate bone broth protein and a bit of mct oil. This further promotes ketone production and turns this into more of a meal. You can find this recipe here.
Chocolate Keto Fudge Pops
If you are looking for more of a cool, refreshing, treat, you have got to try making keto fudge pops. This is a simple combination of full-fat coconut milk and raw cacao with a natural sweetener. Personally, I like to use chocolate bone broth protein in these for the added benefits of bone broth.