It’s the holiday Season. Parties and celebrations are plentiful, and there's no shortage of food and drink. Just one glass of wine can't hurt, right? We've all read the headlines about red wine being beneficial to our health...right? I particularly loathed that study headlining that “a glass of red wine is equivalent to one hour of exercise”. When you put it that way, you can get a month's worth of exercise at one family holiday event. Score!
Since these blogs usually start out with common misconceptions...or in some cases, straight up lies...let’s take a closer look at this wine proclamation. First and foremost, CALORIES. A single bottle of wine contains between 600-700 calories, or about 100-200 calories per glass (depending on the size of the pour). These calories aren't inducing any strength gains or fat loss.
If you look at the study more closely, however, you'll see it's really assessing the chemical Resveratrol, which is naturally found in red wine. Resveratrol boasts many benefits including improved insulin sensitivity, heart function, muscular performance, and even effects on blood fats. Just sip on the red and avoid all the sweat.
While this still sounds great, what the headlines don't spotlight is that this study was conducted on rats. More specifically, the control group (sedentary rats with no resveratrol) was compared to sedentary rats receiving resveratrol, exercised rats with no resveratrol, and exercised rats with
resveratrol. The rats were measured on endurance capacity and skeletal muscle performance (force production, fatigue resistance, etc), and the findings revealed that the sedentary rats with resveratrol did indeed outperform sedentary rats without the chemical. The difference was slight between these groups, but as you might expect (and making for a less sexy headline) the sedentary rats were FAR behind the exercise rats. Alas, a glass of red wine a day shouldn't keep the exercise away.
Another important note is the dosage size in this study: it was equivalent to 24mg/kg. For a 200lb person, that equates to about 2,182mg of consumption required to match the results in a human. Red Wine only has about 2-7mg of resveratrol per LITER (far from the typical pour of 175-200mL per glass), and you'd have to drink about 311 bottles of wine (on the low end) to see those same results as the rats. This might be appealing for some, but I think we can all agree the side effects (and hospital visits) and calories of drinking that much wine far outweigh the "costs" of getting a workout in.
Sorry, folks. I know it's tough to take in, but Yahoo News doesn't always tell it like it is...some studies are just too good to be true. This, unfortunately is one of them. Red wine is a fantastic treat, but it will not help you tackle your fitness goals. The easier road is to hit the gym first and then double-down on the benefits with a glass or two of red line at the next party. Your liver will thank you!