Who doesn’t love chocolate? Okay, quite a few people, but for many chocolate is divine. It’s also seen as a ‘guilty pleasure’ – as if you need to run a marathon just to justify demolishing a block. But actually, could chocolate be the perfect fuel for your next long-distance race? We review the new 80Noir Chocolate, created with runners in mind.
Chocolate as running fuel?
Meet Carole Armitage. Having struggled with low blood sugar, Carole found chocolate was her go-to when it came to staying energised. It helped her compete in badminton for England. Now Carole is an ultra-awesome ultra-runner and has found that chocolate serves her just as well when it comes to running.
Believe it or not, chocolate is a really good fuel and recovery source when it comes to running. Chocolate, when separated from the excessive sugars and artificial additives, is packed with antioxidants (which negate inflammation), theobromine and soluble fibre. Chocolate also has a nice hit of iron (a mineral lost during running), can reduce stress by increasing serotonin levels, and boosts your immune system (which, again, we disrupt during running).
But not all chocolate is created equally. A gooey, peanutty bar (that may or may not have had a running-themed name at one point!) is unlikely to serve you well during a run, but 80Noir Chocolate? This chocolate is conceived by an ultra-runner who has fuelled herself on chocolate for years. It has been created with the help of registered nutritionist Emily Wood (Bsc, Dip CNM, mBANT) and follows something called the ‘Functional Medicine Model’ (well worth a Google).
But what is this powerhouse range of choco-fuel like? Well, for the good of science I tried the 80Noir Chocolate range and this is what I discovered.
The 2 for 1 Chocolate Bar
This bar is awesome in that it can be eaten generally as a chocolate bar or melted in to a hot beverage (water, milk or a non-dairy alternative) to make a yummy hot chocolate.
However you take it, this bar is delicious. Chewy, rich, and creamy, it melts in the mouth with complete ease and provides a lovely smooth release of flavour.
Although this chocolate is 79.3% cacao, it doesn’t have that dreaded overly bitter taste that can so often turn people off dark chocolate. Instead, it offers a taste that is not too sweet, but not going to leave you questioning just how good dark chocolate is for you.
An absolute winner for boosting you during the day.
Daily Booster Bar
Speaking of boosts, this is the bar that is made for the job. This bar is also 79.3% cacao and has no nuts (for those who have allergies). It’s vegan-friendly – as is the entire range – and is intended to give a nice slow release of energy as opposed to the quick-release insulin spike which comes from other chocolates and sugars.
Fair warning – this bar has salt on it and it tastes incredibly salty. So much so that I actually struggled to enjoy it. Granted, the salt woke my taste buds up, which helped me enjoy the punchy flavour of the chocolate, but it also overwhelmed it to a degree.
Probably not my go-to, even if it is good for a boost.
Apple Pie Bar
‘Yummy’ may not be a professional term, but I’m sure as hell using it when it comes to this bar.
This bar is best used for pre-exercise and has a little spice that gets you ready and raring for a workout. It has the apple flavour, for sure, but it’s that type of grounded, earthy flavour that makes you feel like you’re getting back to the soil rather than further away from it. This natural aspect of the Apple Pie Bar is so inspiring that you almost feel motivated just from eating it.
I had it before a marathon and I can certainly say that I felt the difference.
This one does contain nuts.
Funky Monkey Bar
This is a post-exercise bar intended to replenish you after physical exercise, a hard day’s work, or even just give you a boost after an emotionally rough day.
Bananas line this bar but so do nuts, which is something those with an allergy will need to consider.
Bananas are full of fibre, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C and other antioxidants and phytonutrients, with the potassium being of particular use after a hard run.
This bar tasted more nutty than banana-esque (another professional term), but kept the smooth deliciousness of the entire range and was a great recovery tool.
Little buttons that can be melted in to a hot beverage either 30 minutes before a workout/run or 10-20 minutes after.
There’s a reason chocolate milk is so sought after post-exercise and this recovery drink takes that to the next level.
Keeping within the entire range, this recovery drink has a subtle bitterness, but nothing too overwhelming or distinct, which works brilliantly with the smooth creaminess of the drink. Again, this drink served me exceptionally well during use and was an easy way to get both nutrition and hydration sorted before and after hard sessions.
How did these products perform? Well, if I told you that I ran the Giant’s Head Marathon (and a 6.5-mile race the day after) fuelled primarily on this range, would you believe me?
Well I did, and the whole event felt like an absolute breeze as a result.
I can’t remember the last time a marathon felt so joyously effortless and not once did I fret about nutrition. In fact, I felt like I didn’t even need as much additional sugar during the run; chocolate kept me going and helped me avoid any peaks and crashes.
Having tried the 80Noir Range and feeling the incredible benefits I can’t help but feel converted to the chocolate way of life and, who knows, if our paths meet at a race you might find me munching down on some cacao across the miles.