Don’t we all love that glass of wine during or after our dinner? For some, it is impossible to end the day without taking one or two glasses of wine. Often, you hear that it is good for your health. But what implication does it have on your weight? Does wine make you fat, or is it just another popular baseless rumor?
It majorly contains polyphenols usually found in the seeds and skin of grapes. While this substance makes it good for your heart, anything taken in excess can be harmful to you. So yes, drinking wine in excess can cause weight gain, just as is the case with excessive beer intake.
Why Does Wine Make You Fat?
Let us delve into the details about wine, its effect on weight, and how to enjoy this drink we love without it negatively impacting weight.
1. It Changes Your Body’s Metabolic Priority
Wine is made by fermenting grape juice. Grapes are picked, crushed, and then put in vats to ferment. Like other alcoholic beverages, it is packed with empty calories (calories with no nutritional value). Many think that of all the types of alcoholic drinks, wine is the best. But the truth is that it has both benefits and downsides.
The biggest downside is that adding wine to a meal changes the body’s metabolic priority. The alcohol is metabolized first, slowing down the metabolism of proteins, fats, and carbs (7). Alcohol metabolism takes precedence because the by-product of alcohol is acetate which is a toxin. The body, therefore, prioritizes getting rid of acetate. After alcohol is converted into acetate in the liver, it enters the circulation, and only a small percentage is converted to fatty acids. Heavy drinking can cause your body’s metabolism to slow down, resulting in weight gain.
Some of its health benefits could include:
- It is rich in antioxidants.
- It can help to keep the heart healthy.
- It can increase HDL (good) cholesterol.
- It may lower the risk of developing cancer.
- Could reduce the risk of developing neurodegenerative conditions and keeps the memory sharp.
- It could reduce the risk of depression.
- It may help relieve inflammation as it has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Promotes growth of healthy gut bacteria.
Exactly how does wine make you fat? Besides the fact that it contains calories, other main reasons why this drink can make you gain weight include:
- It affects appetite and the feeling of satiety.
- The body stores it quickly.
- It stimulates the formation of fat deposits, especially around the belly.
- It decreases fat burn in the abdomen.
2. Some Wine Is More Fattening Than Others
Generally, sweet wines contain more calories than the dry variety, with the sparkling variety being the least calorific. Red wines also have more calories compared to white and rose wines. Wine, just like other types of alcoholic drinks, has a negative effect on weight.
Have you ever heard of the French Paradox? The French Paradox refers to the observation that the French have lower heart disease rates despite taking many calories and saturated fat. Red vin de table is thought to be the reason behind it. According to Dr. Oz, a glass of red wine may help counter the making of belly fat. (7) “The resveratrol may interfere with the synthesis of fat, and other polyphenols may inhibit aromatase (An enzyme secreted by belly fat that converts androgens to estrogens.)”
Does white wine make you fat? Suzzane Somers gives a precise analysis when it comes to white wine and weight: “I call this ‘Chardonnay Syndrome,’ and sadly, getting sucked in can make you fat! White wine is sugar, and unless you need it as instant energy, your body will store sugar as fat — along with whatever else you are eating with it. The pounds inevitably creep on, usually through the belly and butt area.” (14)
Here is a list of common brands and the amount of calories they contain per 5 ounces (Approx. 148 ml) (8):
- Zinfandel – 129
- Barbera – 125
- Pinot Noir – 121
- Chardonnay- 123
- Pinot Grigio – 122
- Riesling – 118
- Sauvignon Blanc – 119
- Syrah – 122
- Sangiovese – 126
- Burgundy – 127
So to avoid putting weight or growing a belly which we all dread, do not overindulge. A glass or two a day should do the trick.
Do you ever find yourself eating a whole pizza after a night of drinking? Wonder why this is the case? Well, drinking makes you hungry for two main reasons. First, wine or any other type of alcohol lowers your blood sugar levels. This is because the body pauses metabolizing calories from food. The body then prioritizes metabolizing the calories from wine. The brain responds by prompting you to get something to eat to boost your sugar levels.
Second, your brain tricks you into believing that you are starving. According to a study published in Nature (2), the hypothalamic Agouti-related peptide (AgRP) neurons deal with hunger and are usually activated by starvation. These AgRP neurons are also activated during intoxication, making the brain think that the body is starved. The immediate response after that is getting something to eat, be it pizza or chicken.
4. The Psychological Effect – Your Brain Associates Wine with Snacking
You may have noticed that you get an increased appetite when you drink your wine before or during your meal. The bag of chips or slice of pizza tastes better when you are drinking, and you cannot just get enough. So if you open a bottle of wine, your brain tends to associate it with snacking. And hardly is it ever something healthy like a salad or a stalk of celery.
The easiest way to explain this phenomenon is that our defenses regarding portion control and picking healthy choices are compromised while drinking. (6) The biggest downside to this is that the calories in these unhealthy foods alongside the wine’s empty calories eventually lead to weight gain.
5. The Hangover Effect – Craving Greasy Food after A Night Out
Eating fatty food after a night out is like a post-drinking ritual. But what exactly is the science behind it? Do the eggs, pizza, tacos, or chicken wings help? Unfortunately, it doesn’t but only makes the situation worse. Eating greasy foods before drinking can slow the absorption rate, but eating after drinking and especially the morning after is of no use.
After a night out, the body is dehydrated and low on sugar, making you feel hungry. The grease will not absorb the alcohol; it could leave you feeling worse than before, especially if you have woken up with an upset stomach. Instead of eating pizza or tacos, make something healthy to eat like a piece of toast with salad and hydrate.
How To Drink Wine Without Gaining Weight?
If drunk correctly, you can still enjoy your glass of wine without gaining extra weight. Here are a few tips for healthily enjoying wine:
Eat Before You Drink
Before sitting down to enjoy your favorite wine, eat something with protein, healthy fats, and fiber. This helps reduce cravings and control blood sugar levels. That means you will not binge later on after your drink. Drinking at least half an hour before eating has been shown to increase your appetite (1).
Eating before a drink also affects how your body absorbs alcohol. Alcohol is absorbed more quickly by the small intestines. So if you have a full stomach, alcohol will stay longer in the stomach thus be absorbed more slowly (13).
Know The Calorie Count In The Wine You Drink
It is essential to know how many calories are in the foods and drinks you consume. Much as wine has many incredible benefits, it also contains many empty calories that can result in weight gain or diabetes. On average, a glass of wine contains about 83 (Per 100ml/100g) calories (4). Calories in a glass of red wine are about 85 (Per 100 ml/100g) (5).
In order to drink and not gain any extra weight, do so in moderation. For women, one glass of about 5 ounces should be enough, whereas, for men, two glasses of wine should be enough for one day.
Avoid Drinking Late At Night
Just like carbohydrates, alcohol interferes with the quality of sleep. After you drink, you start feeling drowsy and fall asleep quicker. However, the quality of sleep is reduced as you get about 5 to 10 minutes of Reduced Eye Movement (REM) sleep (3). REM sleep is the most restorative part of sleep during which we dream and when a vital part of the learning process occurs. Addiction to alcohol as a sleep aid is also common. Therefore, it is best to avoid any form of alcohol hours before you sleep.
Alcohol increases blood sugar levels, which is why you often wake up in the middle of the night to find a snack. In order to enjoy your wine without gaining weight, drink it at least 3 hours before you go to bed. A great way to avoid the temptation is not drinking wine at home; instead, walk to a nearby bar.
Hydrating in between glasses of wine helps you cut back on the alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it makes you get rid of water through your urinary system. That is why you pee a lot when you are drinking. For this reason, it is essential to drink water as you enjoy your alcohol to avoid becoming dehydrated. Drinking water might sound basic, but it is crucial to reduce the strain on the kidneys and the liver.
Drink Red Wine (Dry)
Red wine has shown to be healthier than other types. It contains a lot of polyphenols, including proanthocyanidin, a super antioxidant. Proanthocyanidins majorly increase blood flow by strengthening blood vessels, increasing blood vessels’ flexibility, and improving vision (13). Ensure that the alcohol level when making your purchase is below 13.5% ABV (alcohol by volume). Red wine is known to have many potential health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart diseases (11), and reducing the risk of developing osteoarthritis and neurodegenerative diseases (9).
Now that red wine seems to be the healthier option, you might be wondering, ‘does red wine make you fat?’ The secret is still in moderation. If you consume your red wine in moderation, eat healthily and work out regularly, it is unlikely that you will gain weight. However, if you are careless and overindulge, then you will be bringing havoc upon yourself.
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Does Wine Make You Fat Like Beer?
So, does drinking wine make you store fat?? If you thought that you might avoid a belly by taking wine instead, you are mistaken. As it turns out, wine belly is an actual thing. But how different is it from a beer belly?
Wine belly and beer belly are, in fact, similar. All alcohol types, be it beer, gin, or liquor, contain calories, and the extra calories lead to weight gain. So wine is no exception. Heavy beer has an average of 153 calories, while a 5-ounce glass of wine contains 121 to 129 calories, making it slightly better (4). But if you take a whole bottle, which would be about 600 calories, then that is a lot of calories for one sitting.
The Bottom Line
Drinking too much wine, be it sweet, dry or sparkling, will lead to weight gain as you accumulate extra calories. Remember, too much of anything is poisonous. If you have to drink wine alongside your meal every evening, keep it at a minimum. Just one or two glasses from your favourite bottle should be enough to unwind after a long day at work. Do not forget to eat before you drink and hydrate. Much as wine has many health benefits, overindulgence puts you at a greater risk of obesity and weight gain. So now that you are better informed, make the smarter choice and stick to the principle of moderation.
If you are interested in healthy meal plans, you may be curious about other methods of supporting your body health.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 7 Tips to Drink Wine and Stay Thin (2014, winefolly.com)
- Agrp neuron activity is required for alcohol-induced overeating (2017, nature.com)
- Alcohol and a Good Night’s Sleep Don’t Mix (2013, webmd.com)
- Alcoholic beverage, wine, table, all (2019, usda.gov)
- Alcoholic beverage, wine, table, red (2019, usda.gov)
- Drinking Alcohol Linked to Unhealthy Diet (2010, webmd.com)
- Dr. Oz’s Ultimate Diet (2021, webmd.com)
- How Many Calories Are in Your Wine? (2017, webmd.com)
- Proanthocyanidins: A comprehensive review (2019, sciencedirect.com)
- Red Wine vs White Wine (Differences, Which Is Healthier?) (2020, vinovest.co)
- Red wine: A drink to your heart (2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Role of substrate utilization and thermogenesis on body-weight control with particular reference to alcohol (2000, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- What Happens When You Drink Alcohol (2018, nidirect.gov.uk)
- Wine, Belly Fat, And Women (2016, vinepair.com)