The question on everyone’s mind, “Why Do Bodybuilders Drink Red Wine?”
Bodybuilders have been known to consume red wine (and other alcoholic beverages) in order to “help” their physiques.
Now, before you start chugging away on bottle after bottle in an attempt to get more muscular, it’s important to understand why.
In fact, the main reasons are actually for the negative effects that alcohol has on the body.
So, allow me to explain these in more detail.
Why Do Bodybuilders Drink Red Wine?
Bodybuilders may drink red wine just before a show, so this isn’t typically a permanent part of their diet. Alcohol works as a vasodilator, which means that it causes the blood vessels to relax and expand. So, this will give that “vein popping” appearance that bodybuilders crave. Alcohol is also a diuretic, which will help to dehydrate a competitor. This means there is less water between the muscles, so the skin is tighter, which increases the “ripped” look. The main reason bodybuilders choose red wine is because of the antioxidant, resveratrol. However, this can be found in higher quantities in various non-alcoholic ingredients.
1. Red Wine Only Before a Show
Firstly, let’s get one thing straight – alcohol will not turn you into a muscle-bound hunk.
So, if you’re thinking, “If it’s good enough for a bodybuilder then it’s good enough for me”, you’re on the wrong track.
As with pretty much everything in life, alcohol in moderation is fine.
But, drinking to excess will harm both your body and your mind.
So, when I talk about bodybuilders who drink red wine, those who do will do so literally just before a show.
In fact, it’s not unheard-of to knock back a glass or two literally minutes before you step out onto the stage.
I can pretty much guarantee that a competitive bodybuilder will go the vast majority of their time without a drink.
The reason for drinking alcohol just before a show is purely for aesthetic purposes.
However, these are things that in normal circumstances are actually bad for your health
And this is why the red wine typically only ever comes out the night before competition time.
2. Alcohol Increases Vascularity
Alcohol, when consumed at certain levels, acts as a vasodilator.
Basically, this means that alcohol causes the blood vessels to relax and widen.
There are actually medications that specifically work as vasodilators.
These are usually taken as they prevent the muscles on the walls of your arteries and veins from tightening and narrowing.
So, in effect, a vasodilator ensures that blood flows through the body more easily.
However, from a bodybuilder’s perspective, the veins widening simply gives the effect of the body being more vascular.
This is the vein-popping look that most bodybuilders want when they’re on stage.
With that being said, an excess of alcohol acts as a vasoconstrictor.
This will shrink the veins, while increasing blood pressure.
So, there’s a fine line between drinking alcohol to increase vascularity or overdoing it and having completely the opposite effect.
For a bodybuilder taking part in a show they will need to ascertain the exact amount of alcohol to consume to give them that vein-popping look.
This immediately tells you that they’re not drinking red wine for pleasure or for any perceived health benefits.
It’s simply to make their veins thicker and wider, which is more appealing during a bodybuilding competition.
There are of course competitors who steer completely clear of red wine or any other alcohol.
The few minutes of aesthetic appeal is just not worth their time.
3. Alcohol is a Diuretic
Red wine, and alcohol in general, is a diuretic.
So, in effect, it makes you pee more.
If water isn’t replaced into the body this will dehydrate you.
Basically, this will mean that there is less water between the muscles, and therefore the skin becomes tighter.
And it is through dehydration that a bodybuilder can achieve the ripped look.
Something that all bodybuilders do prior to competition is to decrease their water and sodium intake.
And often this is done to dangerous levels.
So, a bodybuilder will literally starve their body of water in order to dehydrate themselves, thus producing a more toned and ripped appearance.
The same can be said of sodium, and this will include cutting out ingredients such as eggs and tuna.
The lack of sodium will actually flush out any excess water in the body, which in turn allows the muscle tissue to expand.
I’ve included a video below of a discussion between Kevin Levrone and Ronnie Coleman.
Ronnie previously visited Kevin in his room the night before competition and was amazed to see him swilling down a concoction of coffee and vodka.
Kevin’s aim was to consume large amounts of the two substances in order to drain out the last bits of water weight from his body.
So, once again this proves that alcohol isn’t consumed for any perceived health benefits.
Kevin Levrone & Ronnie Coleman
4. Don’t Be Fooled By Resveratrol
The main reason that red wine is the alcoholic drink of choice is because it contains resveratrol.
In fact, red wine has almost been lauded as a health drink in recent years due to its resveratrol content.
I have even read articles stating that drinking red wine could be just as good as, if not a replacement for, going to the gym.
What utter rubbish.
Resveratrol, which is an antioxidant, is indeed a healthy ingredient.
The health benefits include that it can improve bone mineral density and increase muscular strength.
This is of course great for your physical performance in the gym.
However, of all the ingredients that can provide you with a top up of resveratrol, red wine probably has the least overall health benefits.
I guess the reason that red wine received so much media attention is because it also focuses on the “pleasure” aspect of doing something “healthy”.
The plant compound resveratrol is mainly found in the skins of certain grapes and berries.
The reason red wine is favoured over white wine for resveratrol is because the skins of dark red and purple grapes are fermented for longer.
With that being said, grapes and grape juice will also (obviously) contain resveratrol.
You will also find the ingredient in peanuts, blueberries, mulberries, and cranberries.
So, you could actually eat 3 separate portions of grapes, peanuts, and berries throughout the day.
In order to get the same resveratrol effect you would probably need to drink a bottle or two of red wine a day.
And I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that consuming that much alcohol on a daily basis will not make you more muscular and stronger.
So, as you can clearly see there are very few health benefits to bodybuilders drinking red wine.
In fact, it has more to do with the ill-health “benefits”.
Alcohol is both a vasodilator and a diuretic.
Therefore, it will make your veins literally pop out, while also dehydrating you and making the skin around your muscles tighter.
So, a bodybuilder’s red wine (or any alcohol, as proven by Kevin Levrone) consumption is simply geared towards competition time.
The main reason that red wine is the alcoholic drink of choice is because it typically contains more resveratrol than other beverages.
However, you can certainly receive the great benefits of this antioxidant without turning to alcohol.
Hi, I’m Partha, the founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I’m someone who’s been passionate about exercise and nutrition for more years than I care to remember. I’ve studied, researched, and honed my skills for a number of decades now. So, I’ve created this website to hopefully share my knowledge with you. Whether your goal is to lose weight, burn fat, get fitter, or build muscle and strength, I’ve got you covered.