Resveratrol, an antioxidant found in the skins of grapes, has enjoyed a lot of popularity over the past few years. Not only did research into the so-called “French Paradox” suggest that resveratrol is responsible for protecting cardiovascular health even when people routinely indulge in fatty foods, studies also hinted to the idea that the substance could enhance the benefits of exercise. In fact, these metabolic and cardiovascular benefits of resveratrol were though to be so potent that the supplement has been marketed as an “exercise mimic.”
The problem is, though, that most of these claims have been debunked through more thorough human studies. In a past post, we’d discussed some of the new information we have regarding resveratrol and cardiovascular health.
While that older study dealt with the effects of 250mg of resveratrol on men over 65 years old, this newer research broadened the scope by using active men aged about 22. It’s also important to note that this study used a dose of 150mg – much lower than that used in the past.
For four weeks, the subjects were asked to perform three HIIT-based workouts each week while taking either resveratrol or a placebo. Before and after the training program, all of the subjects were given a muscle biopsy, peak oxygen uptake test, Wingate test, and submaximal exercise test. Essentially, this battery of tests gave the researchers a baseline regarding the subjects muscle composition, oxygen use, power and endurance.
What’s really surprising is that at the end of the study, the placebo group saw a significant increase in power while the resveratrol group actually lost some power. In fact, the group taking the real supplement experienced a significant decrease in each measure that the researchers were watching.
This study stands in stark contrast to the fairly large body of evidence that led to resveratrol’s reputation as “exercise in a bottle.” The truth is, though, that many of the early studies that stirred up all that excitement were animal or test tube trials – which can produce very different results from experiments conducted within the human body. Large reviews of the previous research also suggests that the claims regarding resveratrol’s benefits were greatly exaggerated.
What About Wine?
This begs the question: Is wine bad for your exercise goals, then?
Well, let’s look at the numbers. Remember that the negative effects shown in the above-noted studies were observed in connection with fairly large doses of the antioxidant – 250mg and 150mg. To put that into perspective, an especially dark resveratrol-packed glass of wine could max out at about 2mg. So, with moderate drinking, you aren’t likely to reach the levels of resveratrol needed to really do some damage. These effects are only possible with supplementation.