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Vigorous Exercise, Brain Health and Post Workout Recovery. Spiced Cacao Soy Milk.

Updated: Jul 12

cacao exercise brain health

With long-term brain health as a health goal, I get some vigorous exercise into my weekly workout sessions. Most often this is by running a HIIT session, I prefer to do Norwegian intervals.

In Singapore's tropical heat I also like to treat myself to a cooling spiced chocolate / cacao beverage for my post run refreshment. And I am a sucker for chocolate.

So what better after a hard, thirst inducing, exercise session than a beverage that satisfies my craving AND provides proven powerful, brain healthy and synergistic mix of polyphenols from soy, cacao and spices.

As ever, please talk to your doctor or medical practitioner most familiar with your medical history before implementing any changes in diet, exercise or lifestyle, especially if you are under treatment. Links to supporting studies or resources are found at the end of page.


Spiced Cacao Soy Milk

Makes 1 Glass


  • Soy Milk. About 300ml or so.

  • Cacao powder, dark and strong. 1 heaped tablespoon.

  • Spice mix, 1/2 teaspoon. You can use a store bought pumpkin spice. I make my own mix consisting of powered: cloves, nutmeg, Ceylon cinnamon.

  • Optional: a small pinch of salt. (this depends on your workout intensity and sweat rate, read here)

The amounts are all a bit here and there for me. I just kinda throw it in. However, I never take more than the 1/2 teaspoon of spice mix (I use a small measuring spoon) as clove and nutmeg can have near medicinal effects if used in too great a quantity.


Step 1, before your run. Mix 1 tablespoon cacao and a 1/4 teaspoon Spice Mix with a little warm water to make a loose liquid 'paste'. If you don't do this the powder will not mix with the cold soy milk.

Step 2. After your workout, mix the soy milk with the cacao spice paste.

Step 3. Enjoy!

Bonus, Step 4. In tropical Singapore where it takes me forever to cool down, I also enjoy a cup of frozen mixed berries as mouth watering, cooling treats. It is hard to stop at a cup. Any berries will do and, rich in dark pigment anthocyanin compounds, there are brain healthy boost to anyone's weekly diet.

For those who watch their protein intake, at over 10g protein (approx 6g protein from the soy milk and 5g from the cacao powder) this beverage is a useful addition to the daily intake. Soy protein, sometimes maligned for its supposed hormonal effects on men, has also been shown to be excellent for muscle recovery after exercise.


Interestingly, and not surprisingly, longevity guru Bryan Johnson has some very similar ingredients in his daily health protocol.

Enjoy your workouts, treat your body with respect, and enjoy a healthy treat. Prioritise your self-care for the long-term health win!


If you like the thought of a chocolate, berry and nut dessert (healthy, of course!) click on the article below...

brain health dessert

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Related Studies

Palma-Morales M, Melgar-Locatelli S, Castilla-Ortega E, Rodríguez-Pérez C. How Healthy Is It to Fortify Cocoa-Based Products with Cocoa Flavanols? A Comprehensive Review. Antioxidants (Basel). 2023 Jul 3;12(7):1376. doi: 10.3390/antiox12071376. PMID: 37507916; PMCID: PMC10376846.

Razola-Díaz MDC, Aznar-Ramos MJ, Verardo V, Melgar-Locatelli S, Castilla-Ortega E, Rodríguez-Pérez C. Exploring the Nutritional Composition and Bioactive Compounds in Different Cocoa Powders. Antioxidants (Basel). 2023 Mar 14;12(3):716. doi: 10.3390/antiox12030716. PMID: 36978964; PMCID: PMC10045957.

Zeli C, Lombardo M, Storz MA, Ottaviani M, Rizzo G. Chocolate and Cocoa-Derived Biomolecules for Brain Cognition during Ageing. Antioxidants (Basel). 2022 Jul 12;11(7):1353. doi: 10.3390/antiox11071353. PMID: 35883844; PMCID: PMC9311747.

Cui C, Birru RL, Snitz BE, Ihara M, Kakuta C, Lopresti BJ, Aizenstein HJ, Lopez OL, Mathis CA, Miyamoto Y, Kuller LH, Sekikawa A. Effects of soy isoflavones on cognitive function: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Nutr Rev. 2020 Feb 1;78(2):134-144. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuz050. PMID: 31504836; PMCID: PMC7808187.

Nemoto K, Kokubun K, Ogata Y, Koike Y, Arai T, Yamakawa Y. Dark Chocolate Intake May Reduce Fatigue and Mediate Cognitive Function and Gray Matter Volume in Healthy Middle-Aged Adults. Behav Neurol. 2022 Dec 13;2022:6021811. doi: 10.1155/2022/6021811. PMID: 36561325; PMCID: PMC9767741.

De Assis GG, Gasanov EV, de Sousa MBC, Kozacz A, Murawska-Cialowicz E. Brain derived neutrophic factor, a link of aerobic metabolism to neuroplasticity. J Physiol Pharmacol. 2018 Jun;69(3). doi: 10.26402/jpp.2018.3.12. Epub 2018 Oct 18. PMID: 30342429.

Harvard Health spice article



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