Whether or not the caffeine in chocolate will affect energy levels or sleep depends on the person consuming it. “Regular coffee drinkers likely won’t notice a boost in energy or alertness from chocolate,” Gorham says, “but if you are sensitive to caffeine, you may.”
The reason chocolate likely won’t impact coffee drinkers is because a standard cup of coffee contains 96 mg. of caffeine, which is four times more than a serving of dark chocolate, registered dietitian nutritionist Molly Knudsen, M.S., RDN says. Since milk chocolate contains even less caffeine, it’s very unlikely that it will impact energy or alertness, even in non-coffee drinkers.
it’s also fine to enjoy dark chocolate and coffee on the same day, since 400 mg. of caffeine is considered to be a safe daily intake for adults, according to Knudsen. If caffeine causes anxious or jittery feelings, spacing out your consumption (or microdosing) may be helpful.
Even though the caffeine content in chocolate is relatively low, Knudsen recommends getting a chocolate fix in during the day, rather than at night. “In the afternoon, a small piece of dark chocolate may be just what you need to realign your focus and attention for the rest of the day,” she says. Eating it closer to bed, on the other hand, may disrupt sleep quality.
While milk and white chocolate contain less caffeine than dark, it doesn’t make them healthier options, Knudsen says—even for those trying to cut back on caffeine. Both white and milk chocolate tend to be higher in added sugars and unhealthy fats, she explains. They also lack the antioxidants and heart health benefits of dark chocolate.