Red wine is good for you! So all your wine-snob friends say as they toss back another glass of Napa Valley Merlot. But is it really? The famous “red wine replaces diet” study has been all over the internet lately, and 24-year old April Storey became a viral sensation with a “workout video” that shows her doing pushups while drinking red wine through a straw (here is the link). I'm not much of a drinker myself, but all of this news about the benefits of red wine made me curious, and so I decided to take a closer look.
There is some truth to the theory that red wine is good for you. It contains a chemical called reservatrol which has been shown to improve muscle mass, reduce bad cholesterol, and protect the lining of your blood cells. But drinking red wine is not the equivalent of taking a reservatrol supplement. You need 146 milligrams of it a day in order to augment your muscle mass, and a single glass usually contains about .29 milligrams. Also, the famous Journal of Psychology article that made everyone think they could drink instead of working out was based on a study conducted on rats, not people. So if you're not a big wine drinker there's no reason to think you're missing out on health benefits, especially if you don't like the taste.
If you are a big wine drinker and you're using this study to justify your wine consumption, you might want to think again. Consuming excess alcohol causes high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes, and it also wrecks your workout routine. It turns out that in high quantities alcohol actually reduces the effectiveness of exercise because it dehydrates you and causes fatigue—just ask anyone who's tried to go the gym with a bad hangover and see how well it worked out for them. Not to mention the fact that wine is, you know, addictive? There's a thin line between being a conoisseur and having a drinking problem, and if you get in the habit of drinking a glass of wine every day you might find it hard to stop even if you want to.
At the end of the day, there's nothing wrong with having a glass of wine after your workout, and if you're out at the bar it's probably a healthier bet than a beer or a sugary cocktail, but you should be drinking wine because you enjoy it, not because you think it will make you healthy. As with everything else, it turns out the key is moderation. So go ahead and enjoy a nice Pinot Noir with dinner—just keep the drinking-and-jogging to a minimum.