Throughout June I’ve been trialling these cocoa food extract supplements from CocoaVia – you may have seen my updates on social media. Now I will hand on heart say that from the very beginning I was hugely sceptical of these, not least because there are just so many supplements out there claiming to be able to perform what seems like minor miracles. And anyway what on earth could a capsule filled with cocoa do for me, I mean come on surely I could just scoff a massive slab of chocolate!?!
What Are They And Why Is Cocoa Good For Me?
The CocoaVia supplements are sold in bottles of 90 capsules and each capsule contains 125mg of cocoa flavanols. Woah, woah, woah hold your horses, what are flavanols when they’re at home? Basically, they’re protective compounds derived from plants that in the right quantity can help the health of our bodies and minds in various different ways. If you want to find out a bit more about them you can read my post – What Are Flavanols And Why Do I Need Them?
Recent research suggests that the consumption of cacao flavanols helps to maintain elasticity of the blood vessels, therefore helping with blood flow and so the theory is that this will help with fitness. Plus healthy blood flow also contributes to brain health, as well as other benefits such as improved sleep, energy levels and even appetite suppression and curbing of cravings.
So back to my question of why not just scoff a load of chocolate, come on I know you must be thinking it too. Well pretty much all of these precious flavanols are destroyed in the process of turning cacao into chocolate. Yes you’ll still get a boost, but nowhere near as much as what you’ll get from these capsules and it’s that extra boost that makes the magic happen.
I took the stance that in order to be able to give these a fair trial I needed to keep my routine the same, which meant eating the same as I usually would (none of this cutting out cake and Prosecco malarkey for me, no siree!) and where possible doing roughly the same level of exercise as I usually would. I took the 3 capsule dose (375mg of cocoa flavanol) every morning with my breakfast and recorded how I felt over the course of a month.
Here’s How I Got On!
For the first week I didn’t notice any changes, but then I presumed that would be the case as the body needs to adjust etc. It slotted into my morning routine absolutely fine and I was popping my three capsules every morning without any slip ups. Come week two however, that’s when I started to notice a few small changes that then gradually got more and more noticeable. And on reflection now that I’ve reached the end of the month those changes have had a beneficial effect on me in various ways, which I shall break down into different areas and expend upon for you all.
Did CocoaVia Improve My Fitness?
It was hard to measure exactly how the supplements affected my fitness, but as a runner and Strava user I was interested to see what the stats said when I compared March’s efforts (no supplement) against June’s (supplement).
Throughout June I managed to notch up a pretty impressive 11 PBs (personal bests), including fastest 400m, 1km, 1/2 mile, 1 mile, 2 mile. And that was based on me running 10 times, compared with the 12 times I ran during May and which saw me gain just 7 PBs with only 2 of those being non-segment based achievements. I mean I’m pretty happy with that. In fact June saw me bash out a sub 30 minute 5K, something I’ve been striving for for a long old while now.
In terms of how I’ve felt fitness wise, I wouldn’t say it’s felt any easier and regardless of what the stats say it certainly didn’t feel as though I was doing better when I was actually running, but what I have felt is more well… up for it! You see I’m a self confessed moaner (I loves a good moan me) especially when it comes to running and at this time of year it’s hot and I’ll be honest there have been times in the past when I’ve binned off the running in favour of a nice cool glass of Pimms in the garden. But since taking these capsules I’ve had a lot more pep about me, a bit more get up and go if you like, and dare I say it I don’t think I’ve moaned – blimey, miracles really do happen!!
Did CocoaVia Improve My Sleep?
Sleepwise, well I only have to climb into bed, my head hits the pillow and I’m out like a light, so it’s not exactly a problem for me. Having done a bit of research beforehand however I discovered that cacao acts in much the same way as caffeine, in that it is a stimulant and can therefore interrupt sleep patterns as well as potentially cause abnormal heart rhythm, heartburn and anxiety. I’m pleased to say that I didn’t experience any of those things, in fact if anything my anxiety levels went down and according to my Fitbit I’ve been having the same amount of sleep each night with the same patterns of interruption.
In answer to the question, no it didn’t improve my sleep but it also didn’t harm it. I eat well, I exercise regularly and therefore I sleep well.
Did CocoaVia Improve My Mental Health?
Cacao contains flavanols, magnesium and a chemical called phenethylamine, which is naturally released in the body during experiences of emotional euphoria and helps to relieve stress and just generally chill you the heck out.
Let me explain how that could help me out at the mo….
I work from home, fitting it in around the school day so that I can drop and pick up the kids from school. Like most working parents I’m busy, and jeez I’m no martyr I chose this way of life and for the main part it’s pretty flippin’ awesome, but it’s exhausting, it’s at times stressful and it don’t half mess with the old grey matter. On top of that it’s birthday season, I’m planning a massive holiday that we’re going on at the end of next month, we’ve got an imminent house build coming up for which we need to move out of our current house and rent somewhere else for 6 months, and I’m fairly certain I’m going through early menopause… so ya know just a few things going on in my world at the moment!
I am also a bit of a control freak, no scrap that I’m a MASSIVE control freak, and so the second I feel out of control the anxiety levels rise and I retreat within myself. Interestingly, even with all of that going on I have miraculously remained calm throughout. I’ve kind of had a ‘cest la vie attitude, which is very unlike me let me tell you. I have had days when I’ve felt a bit jittery, almost like I’ve had one too many cups of coffee and I’m guessing that is down to the capsules. However, whereas that kind of jitteriness would usually only serve to add to my anxiety and stress levels, in this instance I was able to use it to my advantage and if anything it gave me more drive and focus, therefore enabling me to get more done. Believe me my productivity levels have been through the roof this month
Did CocoaVia Curb My Cravings?
My goodness I love chocolate, especially when it’s that time of the month (ladies you sooooo know what I mean) so imagine my shock when this month I didn’t fancy it. And trust me, I tried. I practically force fed a couple of squares down my neck one evening, but nope it just wasn’t the same – it didn’t give me pleasure, I didn’t need it, I didn’t want it. I’m not saying I won’t ever eat chocolate again, jeez that would be an absolute travesty, but I did find it absolutely incredible that simply by taking three cocoa tablets a day it was enough to stop me having those pig out moments.
I admit it – I WAS WRONG! (look I even put it in capitals for you 😉 ) these capsules did actually do something. And sure they’re not exactly a life saver, I can manage without them, but they did what they said they would do. I feel energised, I feel like I can cope with whatever’s thrown at me, I feel proactive and alert and up for it, and as someone who feels like she’s forever spinning a whole load of different plates it feels good to have some kind of control.
So what now?
Well for the purposes of a further test, I intend to record how I start to feel now that the capsules have run out. Has it all been a fluke; a coincidence? Or have these capsules really made me feel so blinkin’ good about myself over the past month? I shall keep you posted…
*These supplements were provided by CocoaVia as a free product for me to try out. This is a sponsored post, but everything that has been written is a true reflection of my experience whilst taking these supplements.