This is a question that has plagued me for years, does drinking wine make me gain weight? Is that just bloat? There are so many mixed opinions on wine, so let's find out the truth together.
Wine is Pretty Calorie Loaded
Wine can have anywhere from an abysmally low 25 calories to an embarrassingly high 400+. Obviously, not all wines are created the same way, and not all wines have the same sugar content. A pinot Grigio will hit you somewhere around 130 calories while a less sweet Sauvignon Blanc will be about 120 per glass. Reds will have the same range with Merlots and Pino Noirs being in the lower 120's and Burgundies being closer to 130.
A nice little trick to staying on the lower side of the calories is to steer clear of dessert and sweeter wines like Rieslings that can have anywhere from 125-240 calories per serving! Dry wines will have less sugar, and therefore, fewer calories. Reds will have more alcohol content (on average) and will take longer for your body to digest.
Wine Slows Your Metabolism
First off, wine is made up of 14% carbs and 86% alcohol. There are no fats or protein, and really, hardly any carbs. So where does that bloat come from? Well, any alcohol will trick your body into breaking it down before any food item. Calories from alcohol cannot be stored in the body, and therefore, must be broken down first. This means that if you are drinking a glass of wine with dinner, all digestion stops when that white or red touches your lips.
Likewise, all metabolic activity ceases and anything fat unable to be broken down will be stored. This process will also increase fat storage around the belly- that bloat!
Alcohol Increases Our Want of Fats
When we digest wine (or any alcohol), our bodies digest the alcohol first and the carbs second. This can lead to a drop in our blood sugar and a feeling that we must eat. And this is what leads you to binge eating after a big night out. Of course, there is pretty little chance of this happening with one glass, unless it is a dry wine which causes blood sugar to drop.
The sad thing is, any alcohol consumption will trigger the same area of our hypothalamus that says we need more fats. A chemical called galanin is produced when we drink alcohol or eat fatty foods. This chemical is also the one that makes us crave it. Therefore, the more we eat or drink, the more we will want to eat or drink.
What About the Bloat?
Yes, unfortunately wine can cause bloat. But, it may be for a different reason than what you are thinking. Alcohol dehydrates the body and increases the visible signs of cellulite, also known as my nemesis. Like galanin, both the bloat and the increased cellulite are tied together. Any alcohol will cause dehydration and inhibit vitamin absorption. This can lead to water retention, known as bloating, and increased cellulite since the skin is not as elastic as usual. Loss of elasticity in the skin can make cellulite easier to see because the fat molecules that are pulling on the connective tissue that is less elastic and more susceptible to that pulling effect.
The Real Kicker
Ready to think all science is just bored people spinning a bottle on what new discovery has been made? Well, here is is. Long and broad scientific studies have found that women in their middle ages who have had a normal amount of wine on a daily basis (one 5-ounce glass) gain less weight and are less likely to become obese than those that did not.
Of course, there are a few things we can do to ensure that one glass per day does not wreak havoc on our bodies. Be sure to drink plenty of water, only drink wine when your body is not digesting other foods, continue your normal healthy diet, and keep working out! All of these little things will ensure a healthy body now, and apparently, a healthy one later in life as well.