Theobromine: Benefits, Effects, and Uses in Bodybuilding

As is the case with many other supplements, theobromine, a natural compound found in chocolate, has gained popularity in the bodybuilding community for its slew of potential benefits.

However, we all know that a great deal of bodybuilding supplements are nothing more than bottles of empty promises.

On that note, let’s dive into the science behind the theobromine benefits, effects, and uses in bodybuilding.

What is Theobromine?

Theobromine is a naturally occurring compound found in cacao beans – those brown thingies we get chocolate from. 

If you want to get a bit technical, theobromine is a xanthine alkaloid, just like caffeine, so it’s only natural many are willing to try it out and see if it’ll perform as well as its better-known relative.

As such, theobromine has been studied for its potential stimulant, vasodilator, and diuretic effects, all of which have led to its increasing use in the fitness and bodybuilding industries.

Theobromine Benefits

Theobromine offers quite a few potential benefits that would appear to bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts alike, including, but not limited to:

  • Stimulant effects: Theobromine is a milder stimulant compared to caffeine, providing a smoother, more prolonged energy boost.
    Because of it, you would usually get a more sustainable, pleasant (albeit mild) feeling of energy, without the jitteriness or crashes associated with caffeine.
    Due to its gentler effects, theobromine isn’t usually something you’d take before an intense HIIT session, but rather a long run or an hours-long gym sesh.
  • Enhanced fat oxidation: Similarly to caffeine, theobromine may stimulate browning of the white fats and give a little boost to your metabolism, allowing you to potentially harness the energy from fat reserves during workouts. [1]
    This would not only make it a decent addition to those looking to lose weight or cut fat before a show, but also for those looking for a bit of extra boost at the end of their workouts. 
  • Improved blood flow: As a known vasodilator, theobromine can help increase blood flow to the muscles, delivering more oxygen and nutrients to your muscle fibers.
    This could potentially benefit you in more than one way, but you’ll most likely notice is a minor increase in endurance and performance, as well as a more pronounced pump. [2]
  • Reduced inflammation: Theobromine has been shown to possess anti-inflammatory properties. [3]
    While there aren’t (m)any studies examining the effects of theobromine on exercise-induced inflammation, the general belief is that it may help in muscle recovery and reduce exercise-induced inflammation.
  • Improved mood: Finally, theobromine is believed to increase the production of feel-good chemicals like dopamine, potentially enhancing motivation and focus during workouts.
    Unfortunately, despite a lot of anecdotal reports, there aren’t many studies confirming these beliefs. In fact, some disprove them to a great degree. [4]

Another thing that’s vital to understand before we move on is that theobromine isn’t extensively studied for its performance-enhancing properties, and most of what we know, or better yet, think we know, has been extrapolated from research on caffeine.

So, there’s definitely room for doubt…

What Are the Specific Use Cases of Theobromine for Bodybuilding?

Looking back on the aforementioned benefits, there are three specific use cases of theobromine for bodybuilding:

  • Pre-workout supplementation
  • Fat loss supplementation
  • Enhanced recovery

While there aren’t too many pre-workout formulas utilizing theobromine, it would actually make sense to include this compound in some products. Pre-workout supplements geared towards endurance athletes come to mind, but even for pure bodybuilding purposes, there’s room for theobromine.

On the other hand, there are quite a few fat burners containing theobromine. And that’s not by accident. Most fat burners are just concoctions of compounds shown to increase white adipose tissue browning and thus thermogenesis, so it’s no wonder this one finds its way in there.

And while fat burners certainly aren’t for everyone (especially obese looking to lose weight), bodybuilders looking to leverage pharmacology in order to take their bodies to the next level can probably benefit from theobromine and fat burners

Finally, it’s somewhat logical to supplement with theobromine to enhance recovery. The research on its anti-inflammatory properties is rather promising, and when you couple that with its vasodilating effects, there might be a case worth arguing here.

Optimal Dosage of Theobromine to See Effects

The optimal dosage of theobromine to see and feel its effects varies depending on individual tolerance and sensitivity, as well as body weight. 

However, a common dosage range is 250-500mg per day for a healthy adult.

That said, research has shown some negative effects at doses higher than 250mg, so if you want to hop on it, we’d suggest you start with a lower dose and gradually increase it if your body requires you to.

When is the Best Time of Day to Take Theobromine?

There is no best time of day to take theobromine, but it’s probably best you don’t use it in the late afternoon or near bedtime.

For bodybuilders, the best time to take theobromine is typically 30-60 minutes before a workout to take advantage of its stimulant effects, but even this is up for debate due to its long half-life and milder energy release. 

Its relatively long half-life is also the reason why you shouldn’t use it later during the day.

Should You Take Theobromine Every Day for Fat Loss?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as individual responses to theobromine may vary. Also, there’s no scientific data to reference from, so everything regarding this question comes from common sense and observations.

With that little disclaimer out of the way, it’s worth mentioning that some users may find it helpful to take theobromine daily during cutting phases so their body’s more inclined to burn stored fat, meaning you could, too.

Just don’t buy into the whole “burn calories-lose weight while you sleep” BS.

The only way theobromine or any other fat loss supplement will help you lose weight is if you use it to SUPPLEMENT your diet and workouts…

Does Theobromine Have Any Side Effects?

Theobromine is generally considered safe when consumed in moderation. 

However, as we mentioned not long ago, doses greater than 250mg might cause some side effects. 

Anything from irritability, increased heart rate, and lowered blood pressure, to restlessness, headaches, and digestive discomfort could occur.

Is Theobromine Worth Taking for Bodybuilding?

It’s hard to say whether theobromine is worth taking for bodybuilding or not. But, the potential theobromine benefits for improving energy, focus, fat loss, and muscle recovery make it an attractive option. 

Also, its price is very appealing.

So, here is the verdict:

Theobromine is worth it if you’re an A or S-tier bodybuilder looking to make the most out of the natural supplements at your disposal.

Theobromine is probably not worth it if you’re not any of the above.

Our Overall Rating of Theobromine Supplements: 3.5/5

Due to its partial similarity to caffeine, promising research, several potential applications, and pretty much overwhelmingly pleasant and positive anecdotal reports – we give theobromine a 3.5 out of 5. 

While there’s definitely a case to be made here both for and against theobromine, since we’re focusing on bodybuilding, the scales are slightly more tipped in the favor of “yes, it’s good”.


Why is Theobromine in Pre-Workout?

Theobromine is in a pre-workout due to its stimulant effects and vasodilatory properties, which may help improve performance and endurance during a training session.

Does Theobromine Increase Dopamine?

From what we know, theobromine does not effectively increase dopamine. While there’s some correlation between xanthine alkaloids and catecholamines, it would appear that theobromine is the least effective of the bunch in stimulating their release.

Is Theobromine Better Than Caffeine?

Objectively (as possible) speaking, theobromine is not better than caffeine. At the same time, if you’re sensitive to caffeine, theobromine might be better for you.
At the end of the day, it’s individual preferences and circumstances that will determine which is better, and it’s quite hard to answer this question objectively.

Is Theobromine Addictive?

No, theobromine is not addictive. However, that doesn’t mean you should abuse it because building up a tolerance can happen over time.

Will Theobromine Keep Me Awake?

Yes, there is a good chance theobromine will keep you awake. It is a stimulant, and a relatively powerful one, so if you’re planning on getting a good night’s sleep, try not to take theobromine after 3 PM.

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