Red Wine And Exercise: Is A New Study Hype? Or Truth?

It’s impossible to know which nutritional studies to believe these days. The flip-flopping is enough to drive you to drink an entire bottle of wine, whether it’s beneficial or not.

Today, The Washington Post is reporting (and I’m sure many other news outlets and blogs will or have picked it up) that there’s a new report (yes, shocker, I know) reversing the argument that resveratrol in red wine can benefit your body when combined with exercise. 

According to the story: 

But a new study, published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, raises questions about that theory. Researchers subjected two groups of patients to high-intensity interval training for four weeks, with one group taking resveratrol while the other was given a placebo. They found that those who took the supplement did not see as many benefits from the physical activity as those who had a placebo.

While the study was small — there were 16 participants — researcher Brendon Gurd, a professor in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queens University in Canada, noted in a news release that it’s clear that more research needs to be done on this phenomenon. He said his team found that resveratrol somehow appears to “inhibit the body’s normal training response.”

Normally, I would choose to ignore this, especially since I prefer to believe the opposite to be true. (And by my own purely unscientific evidence: Last year I successfully lost 15 pounds by running 30 minutes 3 days a week – and not once did I cut back on my red wine consumption – in fact, it may have increased since it coincided with my developing passion of this subject.)

So here’s my beef with this article (and why I’m babbling about it here): There were only 16 people in this study (and yes, I realize if the results were the opposite, I’d find a way to argue this in the other direction). But here’s the other issue: They tested this by using resveratrol supplements, not by drinking red wine. And while it’s easy to make the leap that because resveratrol is a key component in red wine, whatever is true for resveratrol would be true for red wine, is leaving out some important details to have a valid argument. (I also want to emphasize that it’s the way this story is headlined and written, which is focusing on the red wine connection, not the actual study.)

Could it be that there are certain chemical reactions that happen inside red wine when the resveratrol from the grape skins come into contact with the yeast or sugars during fermentation? Or other chemical reactions found in the final alcoholic product that could be involved with the health benefits other studies have found? We know wine is a living, breathing beast that changes as it ages or when it comes in contact with oxygen, so how is that benefiting the effects of resveratrol?

Without much science in my background, my theories could be hokie – but I wish this article went deeper and took these questions into account so other science novices like me could attempt to make sense of all this. 

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