The Chocolate Workout

Christian Mason, National Operations Manager at Virgin Active gives us the downlow on gorging on chocolate this Easter.

Is chocolate really that bad for us?

Chocolate can have both positive and negative effects on your body. Small amounts of chocolate are fine from time to time as long as you are staying active and have a well balanced diet – it’s all about moderation!

Chocolate is very high in sugar and fat, with the average sized chocolate bar containing around 55 grams of both. This is approximately 300 calories, including 51% fat and 43% carbohydrates, with an average of 30.5 grams of sugar - equal to two tablespoons! The average person will need to spend 20 minutes on the treadmill, running at a speed of 11kmph, to burn off these calories alone.

Regularly eating a large quantity of chocolate, in conjunction with a bad diet and no exercise, can result in obesity and decreased fitness levels that can lead to further health problems. Chocolates high in saturated fat can increase cholesterol levels leading to heart problems whilst chocolates high in sugar may result in diabetes, if eaten in large quantities over a prolonged period of time.

Which chocolate is best?

If you are going to indulge, dark chocolate would be the way to go. Chocolate that is closest to its original form is best, while those that have added ingredients increase the calorie, fat and sugar content therefore making it harder to burn off.

A key point is the higher the cocoa content, the less room there is for cocoa butter, sugar, lecithin, vanilla, milk, nuts and other ingredients that makes chocolate less of a vegetable and more of a high sugar, high GI snack.

There are potential health benefits of eating certain types of chocolate in moderation. Cocoa or dark chocolate can aid the circulatory system and is high in antioxidants which will help fight against free radicals in your body, which increase the ageing process and can be responsible for tissue damage. Another positive affect from limited amounts of dark chocolate is helping to prevent heart disease through the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, considered a major factor in coronary disease.

Good or bad effects of eating chocolate depend upon the individual and the different variants of the chocolate. Eating organic dark chocolate can be good for your health and you can have dark chocolate and drinks based on raw chocolate without too much worry. However, it’s always better to avoid chocolates rich in sugar or extra fat.

How long would we have to train to burn off an Easter egg?

A 100 gram Easter egg roughly contains 765 calories, 26 grams of fat and 62 grams of carbohydrates. To burn this off you will need to run on a treadmill at 11kmph for 45 minutes.

A 500 gram Easter egg roughly contains 2550 calories, 130 grams of fat and 310 grams of carbohydrates. The average person would need to spend over two hours of running at 12kmph on a treadmill to burn this off.

It is extremely difficult to burn off these amounts of calories if you do not have a balanced approach to both diet and exercise.

How can we burn off chocolate?

High intensity workout sessions, with a combination of cardio and compound resistance work, will help you burn calories fast. Exercising 2-3 times a week for 30-60 minutes will be a good start depending on your goals, age, exercise experience and current fitness level.

It is always best to see your doctor to get clearance to start training, or visit a personal trainer who can guide and educate you on what types of exercise will be best suited to you.

Boxing, circuit-style training, interval training, skipping and swimming are all great calorie burners or even better ask your personal trainer to design you a program based around these exercises. Compound movements such as push-ups, squats, lunges, burpees, squat presses, weighted step-ups and any functional movements incorporating the entire body will also help.

Group exercise classes at Virgin Active such as Body Pump, Spin, Body Attack and Body Step are all good high intensity classes that will ensure you burn off those unwanted calories over Easter.

Virgin Active is a leading global health club with world class facilities, a fun and friendly environment, great Virgin customer service and value for money. In addition to the three existing clubs, a brand new club in North West Sydney is opening soon, at Norwest Business Park. For more general information and founding member deals at the new club go to

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