A deliciously healthy and rich in protein chocolate chia pudding. The chocolate gives it a slightly tart and bitter taste, which is amazing with fresh berries or bananas. It is quick and easy to make, and great for on-the-go breakfasts and post-workout fuel!
All you need to make this is 6 ingredients, a couple of minutes of hands-on time and a few hours chill time! It almost can't get any simpler. Make a batch, let it sit in the fridge while you're working out, working, watching TV or chilling (no judgment here!).
Chia seed puddings are perfect as a healthy breakfast option because you can switch it up with any flavor you like. For example this chocolate version, or coconut and banana pudding or lemon and chamomile chia yogurt bowl. Vastly different but all are so good!
Health benefits chia seeds
Chia seeds are loaded with fiber, high quality protein, omega 3-fatty acids and antioxidants. It’s one of the few plant based foods that actually contain omega 3.
- Fiber: helps you feel full longer, which in turn can aid weight loss. They expand 12 times their size, which helps you feel full. Also great for your gut health.
- Protein: as mentioned below, protein helps to repair musles
- Omega 3, fiber and protein can help reduce the risk of heart disease
- Antioxidants: protects your cells against free radicals
- Rich in calcium make chia seeds great for your bone health!
Health benefits of this chocolate chia pudding
- Chia seeds (see above)
- Light coconut milk: coconut milk contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which researchers have linked with weight loss. One of these MCTs are lauric acid, and is converted in the body into a highly beneficial compound called monolaurin, an antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial. This helps fight viruses and infections.
However, it is still a lot of fat and calories and so I use a light one in this recipe. Remember that even though ingredients are high in calories, they can still be good for you (in moderation)! Coconut milk is rich with vitamins and minerals.
- Low fat cottage cheese: the main benefit is its high protein content, which digests slowly, and keeps your blood levels stable, and is great for muscle repair (as mentioned below). I also use it in my protein mug cakes!
- Vanilla: You need some sweetness to the pudding too, and that's done with honey and vanilla. It makes it taste sweeter without actually adding any form of sugar. Which is great, but you don't want to go overboard with vanilla either as it can be over-powering. 1 teaspoon is enough.
- Honey: Yes, it's sugar, but also good for a lot of things. Its exact combination of fructose and glucose actually helps the body regulate blood sugar levels. It's high in antioxidants and vitamins and a good source of simple carbohydrates. So we'll keep it in.
What to eat after a workout (post-workout meals)
When you're working out, your muscles use up their glycogen stores for fuel. Some of the proteins in your muscles also get broken down. After the workout, your body goes into repair mode.
To speed up the repair process, it's important to fuel right! It is particularly important to eat carbs and protein after your workouts.
- Protein helps repair and build muscle. It's recommended that you consume 0.14–0.23 grams of protein per pound of body weight (0.3–0.5 grams/kg) very soon after a workout.
This chocolate chia pudding has 14 grams per serving, if you need to eat more - simply eat a larger serving or add a scoop of vanilla or chocolate protein powder to the pudding!
- Carbs help to recover your glycogen stores. You need more carbs if you do endurance sports like running, and less for bodybuilding. Consuming 0.5–0.7 grams of carbs per pound (1.1–1.5 grams/kg) of body weight within 30 minutes after training results in proper glycogen resynthesis.
This pudding already has some carbs, but the ratio should be 3:1 carbs to protein and thus adding a banana would help. A medium banana has about 27 grams of carbs. Drink a glass of orange juice or chocolate milk as well and you should be all set!
So what do we eat after a workout?
Rich in protein and fiber chocolate chia pudding with sliced bananas! Bananas are high in carbs and due to their potassium content, bananas may help lower blood pressure and improve heart health.
That is also why this coconut chia pudding is layered with bananas and peanut butter. Another healthy and post-workout friendly meal.
Other recipes that are good for post-workout meals are
- scrambled eggs + whole wheat bread rolls
- honey whole wheat banana bread (add a scoop of protein powder for extra post-workout friendliness)
- healthy banana pancakes (same to these!)
- strawberry rhubarb oatmeal bars (use whatever fruit is in season)
- spiced pumpkin soufflé (contains a lot of eggs = high in protein!)
You don't need protein powder, but there's no harm either
This pudding is high in protein without any protein powder! If you want extra protein to your chocolate chia pudding there's no problem to add a little whey powder either, but I rarely have it on hand. 1 scoop of protein powder will give 20 grams extra protein.
Do not feel you have to run out to get a big bag of protein powder for this recipe. That was exactly what I wanted to avoid. I'm often on the lookout for recipes that naturally have high contents of protein, and this does a fairly good job without any help from protein powders.
It has 14 grams of protein per serving, and as a post-workout meal, that is on the lower side (it should be around 20). However, you can just eat more or serve it with fruit that is high in protein.
High protein fruits are guava, avocado, apricot, kiwi, blackberries, oranges and bananas. So don't worry too much about the protein powder!
Is chocolate chia pudding good for weight loss?
I want to rephrase this. This chocolate chia pudding is healthy and filling and therefore could be good for weight loss. However, it is not particularly low kcal! I don't count calories, but rather good ingredients.
If you want to make it more low kcal, you can, however the consistency will be more runny. You can replace the light coconut milk with water (or low fat milk), although I would probably add a bit less.
Why did my chia pudding not set?
Your chocolate chia pudding may be a bit runny if you added more liquid than necessary. You get a good pudding consistency with 4:1 ratio. You also need to give the pudding time to absorb, I think 2 hours in the fridge is good, but overnight works too. 20 minutes in a pinch.
In my coconut chia pudding I use 5 tablespoon chia seeds with 1 cup of coconut milk, however in this recipe I like it a bit thinner. Here I use 4 tablespoon chia seeds to an entire can of coconut milk.
If you feel like the consistency is too thin, you can add more chia seeds and let them absorb for at least 30 minutes, but preferably 2 hours. The consistency I'm going after in this recipe is more like a mousse pudding and not a gelatinous pudding. Perfect with lots of berries on top!
How long does it last in the fridge?
This is actually great for meal-prep! You can keep the pudding covered for up to 5 days in fridge. Keep them in small containers and you can just quickly grab one before heading out the door in the morning!
How to Make Protein Chocolate Chia Pudding
This recipe is adapted from Ancestral Nutrition.
Mix chia seeds with the coconut milk, cover and set in the fridge for at least 2 hours. The chia seeds need time to expand in the coconut milk in order to make it a pudding-like feel.
As I mentioned above, this chocolate chia pudding has more a mousse pudding consistency, and not a gelatinous pudding consistency. If you want to have a thicker pudding, there's no problem in adding in more chia seeds and let it rest in the fridge before consuming (at least 20 minutes more).
Add the absorbed chia coconut milk to a blender and add in the rest of the ingredients. Start with 1 tablespoon honey, and work your way up to the desired sweetness. Remember that fresh fruit on top of the pudding give sweetness too.
Serve with all your favorite fruit. I love to serve with banana, pomegranate, kiwi and berries! Leftovers can be stored covered in the fridge for up to 5 days.
If you liked this recipe, I think you will like these as well:
- Energizing Green Smoothie with Grapes and Avocado
- 6 Kinds of Energy Bites
- Chocolate Coconut Overnight Oats
- Date Caramel Breakfast Quinoa
- Whole Wheat Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
- Coconut Chia Pudding with Peanut Butter and Banana
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This recipe was originally published on Nov 13th 2017, but updated on Aug 26th 2020 for better photos and content.