ARE you a runner who loves chocolate? Do you want chocolates that boost your performance? If so, this chocolate range to improve wellbeing and fitness is for you.
The 80 Noir Ultra chocolate range from runner and chocolatier, Carole Armitage, has been designed for runners who want to continue to enjoy eating chocolate while taking a more conscious and natural approach to their fitness and wellbeing.
Whether you’re looking for a boost before training, or something to help with recovery after training, the range includes booster training bars and hot chocolate that offer a more natural alternative to other bars on the market.
Meet Carole Armitage, runner and chocolatier
The good thing about 80 Noir Ultra is that it’s made by a chocolatier who is also a runner. Carole Armitage is an endurance runner who has completed various marathons including the challenging Man versus Horse Marathon. She is currently training for the Race to the Stones ultra 100k trail marathon, Guernsey 50k and the Ultra Tour of Arran. As a youngster, she played Badminton for England. Carole’s sporting background means she understands not only about training but about nutrition for running and recovery.
Throughout her life Carole has benefited from eating small amounts of good quality chocolate daily. “I struggled with low blood sugar level as a child,” she says. “So, growing up, chocolate became part of my ‘five-a-day’ to help my training and performance both mentally and physically.”
Underwhelmed by the taste and range of energy drinks and bars she tried, Carole turned to chocolate to help her running performance and started to experiment with her recipes. She was working full time, training and becoming a chocolatier.
She spent a lot of time testing different ingredients to see what helped her running performance. “I’ve been testing over the years what ingredients boost my performance, work well with my gut when I’m running distances, keep me centred and focused, and accelerate my post-race or training recovery, and my day-to-day wellbeing.”
From this, Carole created her 80 Noir Ultra chocolate range. The chocolate is designed to work with the body to deliver an optimal boost and when combined with other natural ingredients such as ginger, Brazil nuts, cinnamon and chilli it helps to aid muscle recovery, boost energy and soothe stress.
Chocolate and fitness
Carole is passionate about chocolate, health and wellbeing. Through her chocolate range she highlights that there can be a positive association between chocolate, health and fitness.
Chocolate might not seem like the healthiest of foods, but studies have shown that dark chocolate can have an impact on running performance and general health and wellbeing. It can help to reduce bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as improving cognitive function. For runners, the nitrates in chocolate can help boost athletic performance in a similar way to beetroot juice.
If you don’t want to cut out chocolate from your diet, this range helps you to take a healthier approach to the sweet treat, focusing on good quality, more natural chocolate.
As a runner who loves chocolate, I was keen to try them out.
The taste test
I started by trying the variety pack, which included the: Apple Pie Bar, Daily Booster Bar, Funky Monkey Bar, and the 80 Noir Ultra Chocolate Bar.
The first thing I noticed was the portion sizes, which are much smaller than the bars I had been eating. But what I’d not considered was the richness of the chocolate. It is made from a minimum of 79% cacao (with beans sourced from Venezuela, Cuba and Tanzania), which makes a huge difference to the taste. When I tasted the chocolate, the portion sizes felt just right. They’re also portioned to provide just the right amount of daily chocolate (15g).
Each bar tasted delicious. The chocolate was rich and smooth and didn’t have the bitterness that you sometimes get with dark chocolate. Carole combines her chocolate with other natural ingredients such as ginger, Brazil nuts, cinnamon, flaxseed, chilli and even Blue Cornflower. It’s also dairy free so is vegan friendly.
Enjoy chocolate before or after training
The great thing about the chocolate is that it’s designed for before or after training. The Apple Pie Bar was my favourite because it’s a pre-exercise bar. So, whether you are clocking up the miles on a run, doing an energetic spin class or lifting weights in a strength class, the Apple Pie Bar provides a boost before training.
I usually struggle to eat before training in the evening because of stomach cramps, but with the Apple Pie Bar I didn’t have any problems. The cinnamon and star anise help aid digestion and can provide relief for indigestion, heartburn and stomach cramps that may be experienced during workouts.
It also includes ginger, which is a great anti-inflammatory and may help reduce muscle soreness and pain, especially if you are working on tired legs. The carbohydrates in the cacao and apple help with energy.
I found the bar was just what I needed before a training session. It helped with my energy and got me through the session without any stomach cramps.
I always make sure I eat straight away after training as it helps the body to recover. I usually have a protein shake or glass of milk, as well as something to eat. But sometimes, immediately after a hard session, eating is the last thing I want to do. The Funky Monkey post-exercise bar was delicious, and just enough for immediately after a hard session.
It includes a mix of carbs and protein to improve athletic performance by replenishing muscle glycogen immediately after a workout. Brazil nuts are high in selenium, which helps reduce cellular damage. Omega three fatty acids found in linseeds have been found to increase the rate of muscle synthesis in people of all ages as well as reducing inflammation that can occur with excessive exercise. The dried banana also helps your body to rebuild its glycogen stores, helping to repair damaged muscles. I loved this nutty, post-training snack. I could eat it immediately after a session, before then having a protein-based meal later in the evening.
The 80 Noir Ultra Chocolate Bar is also suitable for after exercise. It can be eaten as a bar or added to milk or water for a drink. I really liked this with milk for after a training session, or as a relaxing treat. All you do is add 60ml of hot milk or water, so it’s just the right amount of chocolate without feeling like you’ve overindulged. The bar is also a perfectly sized pick-me-up for during the day.
Daily Booster and Wellbeing Bar
This booster bar is designed to give you a little boost when you need it most. For me, that’s during the afternoon slump. It’s also designed to help you beat the blues and/or to energise you through a long training exercise. With the additional raw cacao, it is small but has got a positive punch.
I tried the chocolates over a few weeks of training, cutting out my unhealthy chocolate (which I ate a lot of) and replacing it with the 80 Noir Ultra Chocolate range, sticking to the daily recommended guidelines as part of a balanced diet.
As well as enjoying the chocolate, I felt better for making a change, and for incorporating chocolate into a balanced, healthier diet that worked to improve my training, recovery and wellbeing. I was eating the recommended amounts of chocolate and no longer overindulging.
The range has been tested and endorsed by registered nutritionists and trialled by all levels of runners from 5kers to ultra-marathon runners. As a runner and chocolate lover, I would recommend it.
“I believe that when good quality chocolate is enjoyed in the recommended amounts it can be eaten daily as part of a well-balanced lifestyle to improve performance and wellbeing,” Carole adds. “I wanted to create a beautiful and delicious chocolate range that makes a difference to how you feel every day. I’ve seen that it is possible to enjoy chocolate and be fit and healthy. Looking after yourself doesn’t have to feel hard.”
The 80 Noir Ultra range is available online on the Carole Armitage website here.
Find out more about the health benefits of chocolate here: Is chocolate good for runners?