One question I get asked from time to time is:
"Does red wine have a negative effect on running performance?"
Well, I actually have some good news.........it can actually help you run better.
Now before you go dump out your Gatorade and fill up your hydration vest with Pinot Noir, let me pour out a bit of wisdom here so you can decide for yourself.
There are obviously several downsides to drinking alcohol especially in excess, but for now, we're going to look at the real benefits that exist.
Reason # 1 - Resveratrol
Resveratrol is an antioxidant produced by some plants and is found in red grapes. This compound has been researched more and more as of late and it's proving to enhance overall energy levels and endurance. In a Canadian medical study performed in 2012, it also showed evidence of aiding in post-workout recovery.
This powerful antioxidant is also touted for its anti-aging benefits and its ability to possibly improve physical performance, heart function, and muscle strength.
The one challenge, however, is that the amount of Resveratrol in red wine is on the low side, so you would have to drink a large volume of wine to max out the benefits, which would obviously be counterproductive.......don't get any dumb ideas.
In an article I wrote last year, I discuss the Resveratrol supplement. It's worth a read if you're so inclined and you can find it here:
Reason # 2 - Cholesterol
Alcohol in moderation has been shown to increase the levels of "good" cholesterol in the bloodstream, preventing "bad" cholesterol from clogging arteries and causing heart attacks. It also relaxes the muscles in the arteries, which lowers blood pressure.
According to a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, wine consumption was associated with a significant increase in HDL cholesterol "good cholesterol", with participants seeing their levels improve significantly. In addition, participants saw their LDL, or "bad cholesterol," levels decrease by 9%.
Reason # 3 - Heart Health
While you will always find two sides to the story, research continues to point to evidence showing that red wine can promote heart health and be good for the ticker.......a key piece of a runners anatomy.
Antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart. Red wine can slow down the progression of atherosclerosis (buildup of fats, cholesterol, and plaque in the artery walls).
Also, there has been a proven linkage to red wines ability to protect the heart cells from tissue damage, inhibit platelet build up, and relax the coronary arteries.
The Dad Speech - You knew this was coming but for those of you that need the reminder, the key here is moderation. Take a common sense approach when it comes to drinking alcohol. You can definitely enjoy a glass of wine but keep in mind, it shouldn't be used to proactively improve performance, rather treated as something you can enjoy when consumed responsibly.
It goes without saying that you need to consider your overall nutritional plan as calories in red wine can sneak up on you. The average glass packs about 300 calories, so don't get carried away.
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