Does drinking a glass of red wine really equal an hour of working out at the gym?


This subject has been circulating widely on social media lately, similar claims about beer have been made. I hate to be a “Debbie Downer”here, but it’s way too early and inconclusive to make such a claim about wine… that is, unless you are simply going to the gym for the express purpose of drinking wine. If so, please let me know, because I’ll join you!

This latest boost is due to a study out of the University of Alberta in which researchers found that “that high doses of the natural compound resveratrol improved physical performance, heart function and muscle strength in lab models.” *

What they don’t mention is that this study was performed on RATS, not humans, and they were given relatively enormous amounts of resveratrol: “researchers used the equivalent of 146 milligrams of resveratrol per kilogram of body weight per day. In one glass of red wine, there is a about 0.29 to 1.89 milligrams of resveratrol per 5 fluid ounces (a serving), says Lauren Schmitt, registered dietitian, certified personal.” So, with some loose averaging and rounding, a 140lb woman might need to try an average of 5,000 glasses of wine to get this effect. Depending on how stressful a week has been, I know some women who may still be tempted to give this a try.

But really- resveratrol has spiked in popularity in recent years as a supplement for those searching for a sort of an elixir of youth. It is just one of many, many substances that has been isolated in red wine, as well as fruits/berries, nuts, and chocolate, and other sources. In wine, it tends to be higher by concentration in certain varietals, like pinot noir grapes, which flourish in damp, cool, misty environments. These conditions on the surface of the grape skins cause the plant to produce more resveratrol to control mildew and mold growth. To be honest, there have been a few cases in which I have recommended occasional glasses of pinot noir to help men with certain health conditions as part of a full program, and I have found it helpful.

Enjoying red wine in moderation can be great for the heart, but has to be weighed against the potential for increase in breast cancer in women, and possible disruptions in sleep caused by having alcohol in the evenings. Nuts, cocoa, and berries are other fantastic dietary sources of not only resveratrol, but also host many other forms of important polyphenols that contribute to health, wellness, cardiovascular support, muscle support, and slowed aging.

Best advice is to skip the resveratrol supplements, and instead (if your doctor approves), relax and enjoy a nice glass of wine once in a while with some good company and a delicious bit of dark chocolate. And snack on some nuts and berries.

As for the new wave of encouraging consistency to workout and yoga classes by following with a beer or glass of wine and some social time once a week? Anything that encourages more consistent activity, relaxed socializing, and enjoying a tasty treat sounds like a win:win.

By Cora Rivard, N.D./ Seasons Natural Healthcare, LLC

Journal Reference:

*V. W. Dolinsky, K. E. Jones, R. S. Sidhu, M. Haykowsky, M. P. Czubryt, T. Gordon, J. R. B. Dyck. Improvements in skeletal muscle strength and cardiac function induced by resveratrol during exercise training contribute to enhanced exercise performance in rats. The Journal of Physiology, 2012; 590 (11): 2783 DOI:

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