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Table 5 The effect of CF supplementation on exercise performance

From: The effects of cocoa flavanols on indices of muscle recovery and exercise performance: a narrative review

Reference Participants Nutritional Intervention Supplementation period Exercise stimulus Measure(s) Key outcome(s)
de Carvalho, Fisher [49] 13 trained males
Age 21 ± 2 years
Stature 180 ± 0.05 cm
Mass 87.02 ± 8.03 kg
CF: CHO + protein cocoa beverage, 306 mg CF per beverage
CON: cocoa based CHO + protein beverage, 0 mg CF
7 days, beverage consumed twice daily Five sets of 20 drop jumps from 0.6 m, 10 s between jumps and 2 min interset rest Yo-Yo intermittent test  ↔ between groups
CF group ↑ 9.85% compared to baseline
CON ↓ 5.8% compared to baseline
Decroix, Tonoli [43] 12 well-trained males
Age 30 ± 3 years
Stature 177.9 ± 8.8 cm
Mass 72.8 ± 7.8 kg
O2max 63.0 ± 3.5 ml·kg−1 min−1
CF: cocoa drink, 900 mg CF (EPI: 185 mg, CAT: 20 mg)
CON: placebo, 15 mg CF (EPI: 0 mg, CAT: 0 mg)
Acute dose 1.5 pre-exercise Two 30 min time trials 60 min apart, performed at a ~ 75% peak power output (i) Time trial
(ii) PPO
(i) ↔ between groups
(ii) PPO ↑ after 25 min in the 1st time trial for CF
Decroix et al. [45] 14 well-trained males
Age 31 ± 3 years
Stature 180 ± 5 cm
Mass 73 ± 7 kg
O2max 62.9 ± 5.8 ml·kg−1 min−1
Peak Power Output 366 ± 45 W
CF: Capsule, 530 mg CF (EPI: 100 mg, CAT: 21 mg)
CON: 1,764 mg maltodextrin
Consumed daily for six days and then a seventh on the day of testing 20 min steady state cycling at 45% peak power output
20 min time trial beginning at 75% peak power output
Completed in normoxic and hypoxic environments
Time trial  ↔ between groups
Fraga, Actis-Goretta [41] 28 trained males
Age 18 ± 1 years
Mass 74 ± 1 kg
CF: 105 g chocolate confectionery, 168 mg CF (EPI + CAT: 39 mg)
CON: 105 g cocoa butter chocolate, < 5 mg CF
Sub-chronic, 14 day consumption Soccer training sessions twice per week and one match per week O2max shuttle run  ↔ between groups
Patel, Brouner [85] 9 trained males
Age 21 ± 1 years
Stature 177 ± 9.4 cm
Mass 76.0 ± 9.3 kg
O2max 41.89 ± 5.4 ml·kg−1 min−1
CF: 40 g dark chocolate, 259 mg CF
CON: 40 g white chocolate
Sub-chronic, 14 days consumption 20 min cycling at 80% of gas exchange threshold followed by a 2 min maximal sprint time trial Time trial A 17% ↑ in distance covered was observed following CF supplementation
Patel, Brouner [86] 15 healthy (10 males, 5 females) participants
Age 30 ± 7 years
Stature 176.8 ± 8.6 cm
Mass 80.3 ± 8.4 kg
O2max Males: 51.1 ± 3.5 Females: 41.6 ± 5.5 ml·kg−1 min−1
CF: dark chocolate, 1060 mg CF, 764 mg CF, or 406 mg CF
CON: 88 mg CF
Acute ingestion, 2 h pre-exercise 2-min incremental cycling warm-up until 80% of GET then maintained for 40 min. Followed by an incremental test to failure (i) O2
(ii) PPO
(i) ↔ between treatment
(ii) ↔ between treatment
Peschek, Pritchett [79] 8 well-trained males
Age 25 ± 6 years
Stature 182.1 ± 6.3 cm
Mass 73.4 ± 7.0
O2max 64.4 ± 7.6 ml·kg−1 min−1
CF: Cocoa based CHO protein beverage with added cocoa, 350 mg CF
CON: cocoa based CHO protein beverage, 0 mg CF
Acute ingestion of two beverages separated by 2 h post-exercise protocol 30 min downhill running at a − 10% gradient at 70% O2max 5 km time trial  ↔ between treatments
Sadler, Draijer [89] 17 healthy (11 males, 6 females) participants
Age 45 ± 6 years
Stature 162 ± 0.1 cm
Mass 68.2 ± 17.7 kg
CF: capsule containing 100 mg CF (EPI + CAT: 22 mg) Four capsules taken daily (two in the morning and two in the evening) for seven consecutive days
Four capsules consumed 45 min prior to arrival at the lab on the day of the protocol (7th day)
6 min cycling at 80% GET threshold × 3 and 1 bout of cycling at 60% of the difference between GET and O2peak until exhaustion (i) tO2
(ii) ET
(i) 15% ↓ in CF group than CON
(ii) ↔ between treatments for ET
Stellingwerff, Godin [88] 16 healthy males
Age 30 ± 6 years
Stature 179.9 ± 7.8 cm
Mass 72.8 ± 6.0 kg
O2peak 56.3 ± 5.7 ml·kg−1 min−1
CF: 561 kcal dark chocolate, 240 mg CF (EPI: 89 mg, CAT: 24 mg)
CON: chocolate ~ 0 mg CF
Acute ingestion 2 h pre-exercise Cycled for 2.5 h at ~ 45% O2max, followed by 15 min time trial Time trial  ↔ between treatments
Taub et al. [50] 17 sedentary (9 males 8 females) participants
CF:
Age 50 ± 3
Stature 168 ± 3
Mass 78.8 ± 5.6
O2max 22.9 ± 1.9 ml·kg−1 min−1
CON:
Age 50 ± 2
Stature 175 ± 5
Mass 92.2 ± 9.7
O2max 24 ± 1.7 ml·kg−1 min−1
CF: 20 g dark chocolate, 175.2 mg CF (EPI: 26 mg, CAT: 4.6)
CON: 20 g placebo chocolate
Chronic (3 months daily intake) Cycling exercise including O2max (i) O2max
(ii) Power
(i) Significant ↑ in CF vs CON
(ii) CF significant ↑, CON ↔ 
  1. CF, cocoa flavanols; EPI, epicatechin; CAT, catechin; CON, control; CHO, carbohydrate; PPO, peak power output; tV̇O2, time constant of the fundamental phase of V̇O2 kinetics; ET, exercise tolerance; ↑, increase; ↓, decrease; ↔ , no significant effect/change