Drinking Wine For Weight Loss: Fad Or Fact?

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Drinking Wine For Weight Loss

Wine has antioxidants like quercetin which lowers LDL cholesterol. Its low sugar content also helps in weight control. But because wine has calories, weight loss is possible only if you drink in moderation – 5 oz wine for women and 10 oz for men in a day – counting the wine calories within your diet. Don't drink before bed; it will likely affect your sleep quality. Also note that wine is no substitute for fresh fruits and veggies which contain more nutrients and in larger quantities. Nor is it a replacement for exercise.

Wine, especially red wine, always crops up in features and research studies for its possible health benefits. But drinking wine for weight loss as advised by many – how much of this is fact and how much is wishful thinking? Let’s find out.

Red Wine Could Keep You From Gaining Weight

The good effect of red wine might be more pronounced in women.

A much-quoted Harvard study tracked a group of 19,220 older and middle-aged women of normal weight for 12.9 years. At the end of the period, it found that those who drank about 2 glasses of alcohol daily had a 33% chance of becoming overweight, while those who didn’t drink at all had a 43% chance. Red wine accounted for maximum weight control, while white wine had a weaker but significant effect.1

Interestingly, gender has a role in how your body processes alcohol. Women who drink moderately have been seen to expend more energy and have lower BMI, while men do not show a consistent relation.2

White Wine Could Reduce Body Fat In Obese People

Even if on a weight loss diet, you can choose white wine over grape juice, counting the wine calories within your daily calorie limit.

A study on how moderate intake of white wine or grape juice affects the weight of an obese and overweight group showed that both help. The test subjects saw a loss in body weight and had a reduction in waist circumference, body fat percentage, blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride numbers.

But while the differences in other benefits were not significant, people in the white wine group lost around 1 kg more than the grape juice group. The thing to note here is that the participants were on a weight loss diet (1500 Cal) and the juice or the wine did not add calories. Rather, they made up 10% of the diet.3

What Makes Wine Good For Weight Loss?

It May Not Be The Resveratrol Known For Fat Burning

The jury is still out on what makes wine good for weight loss. While many credit the red wine antioxidant polyphenol resveratrol, the argument is not foolproof.

Found in grape skin and seed, and by extension in red wine (negligible in white wine), resveratrol is thought to hold the answer to your evening drink helping burn fat.

A Washington State University study on mice found that when the animals were given high doses of resveratrol, they put on 40% less weight compared to mice in the control group.

Red wine has too little resveratrol for it to have a pronounced fat-burning effect in humans.

The researchers found that resveratrol helps the body change white fat into beige or brown fat. Brown fat helps burn lipids faster to produce energy. Resveratrol works by boosting the expression of the AMPK gene that is responsible for burning dietary fats.4

But NHS UK says that the results of this animal study may not be applicable for human beings. Moreover, the amount of resveratrol in the red wine you can drink is too little to have any effect. A standard 5 oz glass contains just 0.4 mg.5 6

Also, as seen in the white wine versus grape juice study, weight loss cannot at all be attributed to resveratrol as white wine has even less of it than red wine does.

Resveratrol May Not Help Control Your Calorie Intake

A 2012 study on honey bees found that the bees on resveratrol had less interest in sugary food. The total amount of food they ate was also lower.7

A glass of wine as nightcap could keep hunger pangs away. But it could also disrupt your sleep.

This theory has been used by many to advocate drinking wine during bedtime. They believe that a couple of glasses before you doze off could keep the midnight hunger pangs away.

While resveratrol does curb appetite in bees, its effects on humans remain to be seen. Before you sip on a glass of vino to keep the calories off, know that wine itself is not zero calories either. A 5 oz glass packs in 125 Cal.8 Perhaps eating a bunch of grapes is a wiser choice.

It May Be The Quercetin That Lowers Cholesterol

While red wine quercetin can lower cholesterol, onions, apples, and berries offer more quercetin.

High cholesterol and unused extra insulin are major risk factors for weight gain. Red wine contains quercetin, a potent flavonoid that can help lower your cholesterol levels.9 In a study, overweight individuals who took quercetin alone or in an alcohol-free version of red wine extract could lower their bad LDL cholesterol.10

In addition, resveratrol helps raise HDL cholesterol and lower insulin resistance in type 2 diabetic patients11 though the amount in red wine might be too little. However, quercetin is known to work well in combination with resveratrol, which may explain the beneficial effects.

Do note that getting quercetin and many other helpful nutrients through onions, apples, and berries might be more beneficial for your health.

It May Be Because Of Red Wine’s Low Sugar Content

One major advantage wine has over other alcohols, however, is that it isn’t loaded with sugar. In fact, a glass of wine is way down on the glycemic index, with a score of 15. This means that it doesn’t break down into a lot of glucose too quickly. Which also means that it doesn’t generate much fat by itself.

Even if you’re diabetic, you can include red wine in your diet of foods that do not raise the blood sugar levels too much too quickly.

Moderate intake of wine with your meals does not have any adverse effects on your blood sugar control even if you are diabetic. Researchers attribute this to plant chemicals like phytates and tannins in red wine.12 Which is why it has even been suggested as being beneficial for those with type 2 diabetes.13

In the white wine versus grape juice study too, the researchers suggested that weight loss was more in the white wine group because it has fewer carbs than grape juice. While this does not necessarily mean wine helps in weight loss, it does mean that wine can keep you from gaining weight.

Drinking Wine Is Not The Best Option For Weight Loss

The caveat in drinking wine for weight loss is that your body focuses on burning it more than your food. So you store fat from the food.

If you love your wine, even the little benefit wine may have in triggering weight loss is heartening. But if you are a teetotaler, this doesn’t mean you should rush into the nearest store to get yourself a bottle of wine.

While wine, as a fermented product, may have antioxidants in an easy-to-absorb form, many of these may be filtered out during wine making.

Eat A Variety Of Fruits And Vegetables

There are more helpful chemicals in grapes or berries than in the wine produced from them.

Researchers caution that you could get more of these nutrients from alternative sources. For instance, grapes contain more resveratrol than red wine does. They also contain vitamin C which is lost during wine making. Likewise, berries contain more quercetin and have more health benefits than a glass of red wine.

Reportedly, Dr. Min Du, the lead author on the resveratrol study at Washington State University, himself recommends having grapes, strawberries, and blueberries over drinking red wine to get your dose of polyphenols.

Choose Red Grape And Berry Wines Over White Wine

There’s no clear answer on whether red wine helps more than white wine in weight loss. But red grape and berry wines have more polyphenols than white wines do and can offer more health benefits.

Among red wines, Pinot noir and Merlot have the highest amount of resveratrol.14

One study evaluated the relative content of the three flavonols quercetin, kaempferol, and myricetin in Finnish berry wines. While red berry and red grape wines contained varying levels of these flavonols, white grape wines had none, and gooseberry and white currant wines contained only quercetin in very small amounts.15

Watch Your Wine Intake

  • Be moderate: Don’t go beyond the moderate limit. Moderate drinking is defined as up to 1 unit of alcohol a day for women and 2 for men – 1 unit is equal to 5 oz wine.16 Though the Harvard study found 2 glasses of wine a day helps in weight control, there may be other effects.
  • Count calories: Don’t let wine add on to your calories. It is always advised to eat high-protein meals along with your drink. So, if you are watching your weight, drink moderately and plan your meals so that you don’t exceed the calorie limit.
  • Work out: Don’t stop exercising. Like we discussed, the scanty store of resveratrol in red wine alone cannot keep the fat off. Physical activity was a major contributor in keeping participants in the Harvard study from gaining weight.

Don’t Drink At Bedtime

Wine may fill you up and keep hunger pangs away. It also has melatonin, the sleep hormone, which should allow you to sleep better. But as an alcohol, it can also disrupt your sleep, depriving you of restful and body-repairing sleep.17 As a diuretic, it will wake you more often. More dangerously, in the long run, you may get dependent on the nightly tipple for sleep.

So enjoy your wine, but be rational and responsible. Overdosing will reverse all good benefits.

References   [ + ]

1.Wang, Lu, I-Min Lee, JoAnn E. Manson, Julie E. Buring, and Howard D. Sesso. “Alcohol consumption, weight gain, and risk of becoming overweight in middle-aged and older women.” Archives of internal medicine 170, no. 5 (2010): 453-461.
2.Flechtner-Mors, Marion, H. K. Biesalski, C. P. Jenkinson, Guido Adler, and H. H. Ditschuneit. “Effects of moderate consumption of white wine on weight loss in overweight and obese subjects.” International journal of obesity 28, no. 11 (2004): 1420.
3.Flechtner-Mors, M., H. K. Biesalski, C. P. Jenkinson, G. Adler, and H. H. Ditschuneit. “Effects of moderate consumption of white wine on weight loss in overweight and obese subjects.” International journal of obesity 28, no. 11 (2004): 1420-1426.
4.WSU scientists turn white fat into obesity-fighting beige fat. Washington State University.
5.Drinking ‘plenty of red wine’ won’t help you lose weight. NHS Choice.
6.Food Composition: Resveratrol. Phenol-Explorer.
7.Rascón, Brenda, Basil P. Hubbard, David A. Sinclair, and Gro V. Amdam. “The lifespan extension effects of resveratrol are conserved in the honey bee and may be driven by a mechanism related to caloric restriction.” Aging (Albany NY) 4, no. 7 (2012): 499-508.
8.Basic Report: 14096, Alcoholic beverage, wine, table, red. United States Department of Agriculture
9.Chopra, Mridula, Patricia EE Fitzsimons, John J. Strain, David I. Thurnham, and Alan N. Howard. “Nonalcoholic red wine extract and quercetin inhibit LDL oxidation without affecting plasma antioxidant vitamin and carotenoid concentrations.” Clinical Chemistry 46, no. 8 (2000): 1162-1170.
10.Quercetin. University of Maryland Medical Center.
11.Movahed, Ali, Iraj Nabipour, Xavier Lieben Louis, Sijo Joseph Thandapilly, Liping Yu, Mohammadreza Kalantarhormozi, Seyed Javad Rekabpour, and Thomas Netticadan. “Antihyperglycemic effects of short term resveratrol supplementation in type 2 diabetic patients.” Evidence-Based complementary and alternative medicine 2013 (2013).
12.Gin, Henri, Philippe Morlat, Jean M. Ragnaud, and Jean Aubertin. “Short-term effect of red wine (consumed during meals) on insulin requirement and glucose tolerance in diabetic patients.” Diabetes Care 15, no. 4 (1992): 546-548.
13.Zunino, Susan J. “Type 2 diabetes and glycemic response to grapes or grape products.” The Journal of nutrition 139, no. 9 (2009): 1794S-1800S.
14.Resveratrol. Linus Pauling Institute.
15.Vuorinen, Helena, Kaisu Määttä, and Riitta Törrönen. “Content of the flavonols myricetin, quercetin, and kaempferol in Finnish berry wines.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 48, no. 7 (2000): 2675-2680.
16.Dietary Guidelines 2015–2020. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
17.Roehrs, Timothy, and Thomas Roth. “Sleep, sleepiness, and alcohol use.” Alcohol research and Health 25, no. 2 (2001): 101-109.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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