Two studies have come out that seem almost too good to be true: Researchers have found that a compound in red wine may mimic exercise in the body and boost workout performance. Like, whoa. Who wouldn't want to forgo the gym for a glass of wine with girlfriends? Or toast a glass to a better performance? But before you go donating your sneakers to charity and buying red wine in bulk, this research may be, in fact, too good to be true—at least in the real world.
The compound in red wine that seems to be a magic exercise elixir is called resveratrol. According to the studies, resveratrol may improve physical performance, heart function and muscle strength. That said, there are two big hiccups to the research: One, that the studies are done on rats and not humans, and two, that it takes a lot of resveratrol to see the benefit.
In the study that looked at resveratrol and workout performance, researchers used the equivalent of 146 milligrams of resveratrol per kilogram of body weight per day. In one glass of red wine, there is a about 0.29 to 1.89 milligrams of resveratrol per 5 fluid ounces (a serving), says Lauren Schmitt, registered dietitian, certified personal trainer and owner of Healthy Eating And Training Inc.
"That being said, a human being could never consume that dose from red wine and exercise safely," she says. "A resveratrol supplement would be necessary."
While you can supplement with resveratrol—you know the drill—the real thing is always best instead of a supplement.
"Do not rely on supplements to get your body in the best shape possible," Schmitt says. "Find a physical activity you enjoy and make it part of your routine. Over time, your exercise performance will improve and your heart will thank you."
When you do feel like having a glass of wine (in moderation, of course!), do so. But do it because you want to—not because you think it'll help you run a faster 5K. In fact, too much alcohol may cause a decrease in workout performance because it can make you fatigued, sleep-deprived, dehydrated, or physically impaired. Alcohol also suppresses the body’s ability to use fat as fuel, which is one of the reasons people engage in physical activity, Schmitt says.
"On a night out, you may want to choose red wine for it’s health benefits, but I would not rely on it for your workout," she says.
Now you know the facts! Do you drink red wine? Let's discuss!