Maybe you saw the published findings in the journal Cell in 2006. Scientists concluded from a study that overfed mice stopped gaining further weight when they were given resveratrol—a powerful antioxidant found in red wine, grapes and other foods. The mice also became fit and healthier, and the aging process was slowed down when they took the resveratrol. The mice given the resveratrol, in fact, ran nearly twice as far on a treadmill than did the mice without resveratrol. Resveratrol supplementation “significantly increased the animals’ resistance to muscle fatigue,” concluded the researchers.
I’d say that pretty much means that resveratrol rocks when it comes to health benefits—at least for those mice and even for some humans in another study. Maybe that’s why researchers continue to see if these weight and fitness results are consistently manifested in humans, although studies have already indicated that resveratrol speeds up metabolism to help burn more calories throughout the day. That makes scientists hopeful that resveratrol may help support a healthy weight and unhealthy weight gain as well as exercise/performance perks.
Interestingly, resveratrol is already believed to support healthy aging as well as cardiovascular, cellular, blood sugar, eye and even bone health. Now we may be able to add fitness to the mix since it’s believed to help by boosting endurance, improving energy levels and supporting a healthy weight. James Smoliga, Ph. D., assistant professor of exercise physiology at Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania, says, “Looking at the research so far, though more is needed, resveratrol has unprecedented promise for improving people’s physical endurance and helping them control their weight.”
Here’s how it works. Apparently, resveratrol activates enzymes that help muscles use oxygen more efficiently, thereby producing a performance boost known to runners as higher VO2 max. That translates into this: the higher your VO2 max, the longer and more intense of a workout you can manage. “When you process energy more efficiently, you increase endurance,” says Smoliga.
Additionally, researchers believe that resveratrol stimulates enzymes called sirtuins, which positively control important bodily functions, including DNA repair, cell life, aging and fat production. Felipe Sierra, Ph.D., director of the division of aging biology at the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health, says, “Sirtuins may also increase mitochondria, the powerhouses inside cells where nutrients and oxygen combine to make energy.”
The tested mice, by the way, had bigger, denser mitochondria, so their charged muscles could better use oxygen. As far as humans. . . one of the few completed human trials resulted in the group that took resveratrol expending less effort while exercising, even though they all exercised at the same intensity level. Smoliga led the study and noted that the resveratrol-taking people also had significantly lower heart rates during exercise—the equivalent of the results of three months’ light-to-moderate training—apparently just from taking the resveratrol.
Smoliga comments on how resveratrol interacts with blood sugar, too. “Studies show that resveratrol boosts our muscles’ ability to absorb glucose from food. This means that more calories go into muscles and fewer go into fat cells,” he explains.
So, if you’re looking for all of these health benefits—and possibly more—then give resveratrol a try. In short, resveratrol rocks!