Resveratrol May Block Benefits of Exercise

Research suggests that resveratrol supplementation actually impedes response to high-intensity interval training.

Some researchers have suggested that resveratrol, a type of natural phenol and a phytoalexin produced naturally by several plants, might be the ingredient responsible for the positive health effects seen after consuming red wine in moderation.

Companies that market resveratrol supplements have made various health claims, one of which is that the compound can function as an “exercise mimetic” in humans due to its antioxidant properties. While this claim is based upon animal studies that showed resveratrol supplementation improves metabolic, cardiovascular, and exercise functions, a new study published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism refutes those findings.

The study examined the effect of concurrent exercise training and daily supplementation with resveratrol 150 mg in 16 recreationally active young men. The authors randomized participants to either resveratrol or placebo, and measured training-induced adaptations following low-dose high-intensity interval training (HIIT). All participants engaged in HIIT 3 days a week for 4 weeks.

The researchers used several mechanisms to measure fitness at baseline and the study’s end: resting muscle biopsy, peak oxygen uptake test, a Wingate test (flat-out pedaling on a cycle ergometer for 30 seconds against a resistance to determine peak power output and the extent to which output is maintained), and a submaximal exercise test.

According to the authors, only participants in the placebo group ended the study with improved peak aerobic power. Resveratrol supplementation was not associated with increases in aerobic or anaerobic capacity, exercise substrate utilization, or muscle fiber—adaptations.

Based on their findings, the researchers indicated that resveratrol might actually impair the adaptive response to HIIT in humans. While they noted that their results must be replicated before a definitive statement can be made about resveratrol’s role in exercise, they also pointed out that, in this case, findings in animal models might not translate to similar findings in humans.