When you can’t zip up your skinny jeans, you cut carbs. What about the Merlot that washed them down? Just two glasses of Merlot per day equals 9,000 calories per month or 30 McDonald’s cheeseburgers. That’s 22 hours of spin class!
Before you challenge yourself to cut back to just one glass per night, swallow this. Red wine doesn’t just pile on calories, it disrupts your metabolism, turning carbs into sugar, then into fat. It’s a vicious cycle for women. When you hit menopause, your metabolism slows of its own accord. You gain weight just reading a menu. At the same time, wine “with the girls” smooths out the obstacle course of insomnia, decreased libido, hot flashes, night sweats and irritability. Facebook memes turn women’s dependency on wine into a wink-wink joke. Life without it is unthinkable. But that glass of Merlot is probably slowing your metabolism down to a crawl.
Here’s the harsh reality. In women, wine decreases fat burn in the belly. And you were blaming Pizza Hut. Studies show that when alcohol is in your system, it’s harder for your body to burn fat that’s already there. In other words, say you have a glass of wine with nachos. Your body will automatically turn the wine into carbs before it does anything with the nachos. Just three ounces of alcohol reduces fat-burning by one-third. No matter how many calories you burn off each day, you pile them back on when you wash down your dinner with wine.
Meanwhile, you’ve probably noticed, you eat more when you drink wine. Suddenly, those cheese fries are beckoning. And so is that second helping of lasagna. Drinking wine thirty minutes before you eat increases your appetite, which is why you might want to wait until food is served before imbibing. According to studies, women consume an extra 300 calories on “light” drinking days. Don’t ask what happens when you order a third glass. Alcohol also does a number on your blood sugar which is why, after a night of vino, you crave something sweet.
What’s that you say? You drink exclusively on weekends? It depends on how much. Foregoing wine on weeknights doesn’t mean you can drink a bottle or two of Chateau Susie on Saturday without blowing your diet. Even infrequent binge drinking will expand your waistline.
By the way, check the size of your wine glass. When doctors ask how many glasses you drink per week, they are talking about a five-ounce pour. As soon as a woman goes over ten ounces per day, she is categorized as a “heavy drinker” according to the CDC.
Red Wine Myths
Red wine is a wonder drug that prevents cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, and dementia, right? Um, yes and no. Studies have shown that women who drink five ounces of red wine per day lower their risk of all of the above. But, according to the American Cancer Society, when you give yourself a generous pour or reach for that second glass, your risk of breast cancer increases dramatically. Same goes for heart disease, liver disease, stroke, and dementia. A little wine is good. A little more is trouble.
Many women view wine as a cure for stress or depression. Again, watch that pour. While one study finds that drinking five ounces of wine per day lowers the risk of depression, another study found that exceeding seven glasses of wine a week increases the risk. Bottom line? Wine is a depressant. If you are using it to self-medicate your anxiety, stress or depression, talk to your physician about healthier ways to cope.
The Good News
Red wine contains a super antioxidant called resveratrol found in the skin of red grapes. (White wine is made without skins so it contains none.) Resveratrol is believed to lower the risk of cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. It lowers the risk of dementia by reducing the stickiness of blood platelets, keeping blood vessels open and flexible, and this promotes a good supply of blood to the brain. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that resveratrol may protect the brain from stroke damage. Another study showed that red wine boosted levels of omega-3 fatty acids in red blood cells which protect against heart disease.
Fun fact: red wine may prevent dental cavities by getting rid of bacteria on your teeth, according to research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (ACS).
A 1998 study at Cornell University involving 100 varieties of red wine found that the highest concentration of resveratrol is in Pinot Noir, especially those wines coming from cooler regions such as New York as compared to pinot noir from California. Next come Cabernets and Merlots which contain high levels of another antioxidant compound called procyanidins which reduce triglycerides and LDL, the bad cholesterol.
Here’s the real skinny on white wine. It has fewer calories than red. Light whites have around 140 calories or less per glass, a light red has between 135 to 165 calories, while pinot noir or Syrah can have up to 200 calories per pour. Low-calorie whites include German Rieslings, Italian Lambrusco and French Chenin Blanc. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are among the highest calorie white wines. The lower the alcohol content, the lower the calories. , Wine usually ranges from 9 to 17% alcohol. So aim for 9 to 12%. Want to cut those calories in half? Make it a spritzer!
White wine, like red wine and all alcoholic beverages, does the same double whammy on your metabolism. It slows it down, turns into sugar and fat in your bloodstream, increases your appetite and expands your waistline. Want to give your body a chance to burn off the calories? Stop drinking at least four hours before going to sleep.
Take heart white wine aficionados. Literally. Research has found that white wine has its own cardioprotective qualities due to antioxidants in the grape pulp. Its antioxidant content is also effective for preventing lung disease and breast cancer.
Either way, red wine lover or white wine devotee, when it comes to your waistline, nothing works quite so well as abstinence.
Shoot me now Ernest &Julio Gallo!