Fueled by dreams of optimal health and a thinner figure, many people choose to forgo their nightly glass or two of wine. But before embracing such sobering resolutions, I encourage you to re-evaluate the situation. As a certified holistic nutritionist and wine and intermittent fasting expert, I've been researching the connection between wine and health for years. What have I discovered? That wine can support a healthy weight, or even (wait for it)—weight loss.
Yes, you heard that correctly. I'm of the opinion that wine can be part of a healthy weight management or weight loss routine. Here's why:
1. Alcohol metabolism is more complicated than you think.
Guess what! Alcohol itself doesn’t easily become body fat. You heard me right! When we ingest alcohol, the body immediately works to burn it off, oxidizing around 90 to 98 percent. And despite the fact that alcohol contains 7.1 calories per gram (ranking second to fat’s 9 calories per gram), those calories themselves don’t tend to become body fat. In controlled studies where researchers tweak calorie sources, substituting or adding pure alcohol calories often results in negligible or even no weight gain. These effects may be due to alcohol’s thermogenic nature, influence on metabolism, or the fact that there’s no practical pathway for alcohol-to-body-fat conversion.
2. Wine is full of nutrients that help support healthy body composition.
Wine, in particular, can support a healthy weight, thanks to its compounds called polyphenols. You may be familiar, for example, with wine’s famous "resveratrol." This potent health-supportive compound has been shown to act similar to exercise in the body and may encourage the production of "brown fat" in the body, which actually supports metabolism and helps us burn unhealthy "white fat." Another wine compound called piceatannol has been shown to discourage the formation of baby fat cells. And wine’s ellagic acid may boost fat burning in the liver, while compounds called anthocyanins have also been shown to inhibit body fat formation.
3. Drinking studies don't connect alcohol to obesity.
Despite what you might expect, studies often find that light to moderate drinking correlates to lower body weights, often despite increased calories! A 2010 study of almost 20,000 women, for example, found that light to moderate alcohol consumption correlated to lower body weights 13 years later! Another analysis of almost 10,000 individuals found that those who drank moderately featured lower levels of obesity. And it gets even better for wine!
4. Wine is full of polyphenols that promote optimal health.
Beyond its effects on fat cells, wine provides many other health benefits, helping shape a healthy overall metabolic profile further supportive of a lean figure. Studies find polyphenols can help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, while moderate wine consumption consistently correlates to longevity. So raise a glass to not only a fitter figure but a long, healthy life!
So can you have your drink and drink it too? A lot of scientific evidence, and my clinical observations, would point to yes! Enlivening evenings with some vino and spiriting up your food with a nice red cabernet (or whatever type of red you fancy) can definitely hold a solid place in a healthy lifestyle while supporting a healthy weight to boot.
Just keep in mind that whatever you eat with your drink is what may really show up on the scale. So rather than forsaking the glass, focus on healthy, whole food choices supportive of a healthy weight. A nice pinot noir paired with a sensible, whole foods meal can keep your waist and mind lean and light. But a wine-fueled 3 a.m. binge on whatever you can find in your fridge? Not so much.