Is red wine better than exercise?
If the latest headlines are to be believed, then yes it is!
It’s time to cancel your gym membership, throw away your whey protein, and declare Wine O’ Clock.
Because, according to the findings of a recent study published in the Journal of Physiology, having a glass of red wine is better than an hour of exercise. (1)
F**k. All that time, wasted in the gym when we could have been watching Netflix and sarcastically liking our friends’ motivational Facebook memes.
Understandably, fitness enthusiasts around the world wanted to know what the heck was going on.
So today I’m taking a deep look at the findings of this interesting new study, to determine whether the media were correct to run wild with the crazy headlines which ensued in it’s aftermath (link link link link link).
But first I’ll answer the question on everybody’s lips… Is red wine better than exercise?
Of course it’s f**king not!
While I’m at it, let me clear these up too:
- There’s no such thing as six minute abs.
- Sandra from the pub who started selling Juice Plus isn’t suddenly a nutritionist.
- Despite what family members who don’t workout may say, “all that protein” is not bad for you.
The Red Wine Study In Question
Sometimes studies are set up to create mass panic and hit the headlines, in order to garner attention for the publishers.
I’m pleased to say this study wasn’t like that.
It was well constructed, and well executed by a team of researchers from the University of Alberta.
It was the media who misinterpreted the findings, and subsequently told people, “Holy flaps! Quit the gym!”
As you can see from my handy graph, the trial set out to test the effects of resveratrol on exercise performance. They did this by splitting participants (rats) into four groups:
- No exercise + no resveratrol.
- No exercise + resveratrol.
- Exercise + no resveratrol.
- Exercise + resveratrol.
They covered all the bases quite nicely and, looking at the results, we can clearly see that both groups of rats who exercised achieved far superior results to those who didn’t. Period.
That happened regardless of whether they had resveratrol or not!
Interestingly, the group of rats who used resveratrol alongside exercises did perform slightly better than the group who exercised without it, so this means resveratrol does possess some unique performance enhancing capabilities which will need to be investigated further.
Thankfully, this trial got the ball rolling on that.
However, the amount of resveratrol needed to boost performance to the levels seen in the study was the equivalent of 146mg per lb of body weight in the test subject rats.
This equates to 24mg per lb in humans, so a 130lb female would need 3120mg.
Red wine typically contains 4-7mg per glass, so our example female would need a whopping 445 glasses of wine before training!!
It’s obvious the media wanted to skew the findings of this study in order to write a good headline, because these details were conveniently left out of the reporting.
Either way, you’d hit the gym feeling like Rab C. Nesbitt!
Don’t Believe Everything You Read
The press lap up these so-called discoveries.
The “red wine better than exercise” myth is just the latest in a long line of trends which only serve to confuse a nation that’s already finding it hard to lead a healthy lifestyle. (2)
Back in 2013, the bodybuilding world s**t themselves when headlines proclaimed fish oil causes prostate cancer. A year later, we had a widely reported study which claimed that a high protein diet will “kill you”. (3, 4)
These so-called discoveries swirl around for a few weeks before being thoroughly debunked and thrown upon the scrapheap forever.
- Dolinsky, V. W., et al. Improvements in skeletal muscle strength and cardiac function induced by resveratrol during exercise training contribute to enhanced exercise performance in rats. J Physiol. (2012)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System – United States. (2017)
- Brasky, T. M., et al. Plasma Phospholipid Fatty Acids and Prostate Cancer Risk in the Select Trial. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. (2013)
- Levine, M. E., et al. Low Protein Intake Is Associated with a Major Reduction in IGF-1, Cancer, and Overall Mortality in the 65 and Younger but Not Older Population. Cell Metabolism. (2014)