Can wine be part of a healthy lifestyle? Is wine fattening? I answer these questions and more to give you a full understanding on wine drinking and how it can fit into a healthy lifestyle. Learn the good and the bad when it comes to wine!
I get asked a lot of questions about whether it’s okay to have wine on a healthy lifestyle.
Cuz, let’s face it – many people love their wine and find it tantalizing to the taste buds.
Not only that but for some, it’s a great way to wind down at the end of the day.
And many of those who drink wine can’t imagine a fancy meal without an accompanying a glass of red or white. Or a celebration without an all-around “cheers!” and a clink of glasses.
My opinion, like on most things, is that it’s fine if it brings you joy and is within moderation. But, remember the extra sugar, calories, inflammation, and even dependency, in some cases, when you drink wine. Just keep those things in mind and we’ll touch on them again later.
But there is also a question I get asked the most about wine. Is wine fattening? And my answer is it can be. We’ll look at that in this post, too.
Let’s take apart the facts on drinking wine to help you determine what the best choice is for you personally.
IS WINE HEALTHY?
The jury is really out on that question. Part of the reasoning is that lifestyle and diet play a big part in your overall health. If your diet is not ideal, if you are overweight and don’t exercise, these things, along with alcohol are not a good mix.
However, many studies point out that red wine has anti-inflammatory properties. Of course, this is with moderate consumption and in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle.
And if you want to look at an additional study on whether wine is healthy, these are some of the findings:
- Prevents cardiovascular disease
- Protects against atherosclerosis (build-up of cholesterol and fats in the arteries)
- Protects against high blood pressure
- May work against the development of certain cancers
- Protects against type 2 diabetes
- Prevents neurological disorders
- Protects against metabolic syndrome
Another study added these findings:
- Boosts eyesight
- Aids skin elasticity
- Lowers the risk of kidney stones
Other benefits have been noted, such as red wine is good for brain health, bone mineral density, and again, has anti-inflammatory effects.
To note, some studies state white wine has some benefits, too. In fact, a lot of the goodness found in red wine is seen in white, just in lowered amounts. Where the benefit is about equal is a boost in energy level. When the research pointed to helping the cardiovascular system and lowering cholesterol, though, red wine was significantly better.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RED AND WHITE WINE
White wine: When making white wine, the grapes are pressed. The seeds, stems, and skins are removed before the wine is fermented. White wine is made from either red or white grapes.
Red Wine: Red wine is made by crushing the seeds, stems, and skins of the grapes are pressed together. The skin gives the red wine its color (and the health benefits). Red wine is always made from red grapes.
This simple explanation of the difference between how red and white wines are made shows why red is the wine that is noted as most beneficial. The resveratrol, found in the skins, is known to reduce serum lipids (the serum lipid profile measures cardiovascular risk based on cholesterol and other blood markers).
WHICH WINE HAS THE LEAST SUGAR?
When it comes to sugar content, red and white wine can contain about the same amount per glass.
Of course, we wonder about the sugar content as we know that sugar is bad for you and can lead to fat accumulation. How sugar plays a part depends on the type of wine. Dry wines typically have less sugar because most of the sugar has been removed during fermentation.
Semi-dry’s are next in content, then champagnes, fortified wines, and you guessed it – dessert wines (also known as late harvest) have the highest amounts of sugar. Both wines have vitamins and minerals, with red wine slightly higher in values.
So, if you enjoy wine and do not overdo the daily recommended amount, then go ahead. But, it’s important to limit your consumption.
HOW MUCH WINE IS HEALTHY?
For women, it is considered that one drink per day is safe. For men, the number of drinks is two per day. According to the National Institutes of Health, the maximum amount of wine safe for a woman to drink is 4 ounces, and for a man, 8 ounces. Once a man reaches 65, the maximum should be the same as women. Note, there are sites and research documents that cite 5 ounces as a standard size for a glass of wine.
So, to benefit from protection against cardiovascular disease, for example, you need to follow health guidelines and not overdo it. Overdoing it also means lots of extra calories, easy to consume because when we take in calories via liquid, we don’t realize how much we are drinking.
IS IT OKAY TO DRINK WINE EVERY DAY?
It’s okay to drink a glass of wine per day, but keep in mind that each glass means about 100 to 120 calories.
So, yes – you can drink one 4 to 5 oz. glass of wine a day. It’s important to remember though, that the benefits of alcohol will not be seen if other lifestyle factors are not in place:
- Eat healthy to avoid high cholesterol
- Make sure your diet contains lots of fiber
- Don’t smoke
- Exercise must be a regular part of your day (see my post on working out!)
- Avoid processed foods
- Eat adequate amounts of protein in meals and snacks
WILL WINE MAKE YOU GAIN WEIGHT?
Yes, just like with any other type of food that contains calories and sugar, wine can make you gain weight if you drink too much of it or don’t account for it within the rest of your daily food intake. I do get asked, “is wine fattening” a lot, and that’s why I decided to tackle this post.
Typically, a glass of wine is measured out at 5 oz (slightly more than the recommended amount noted by the National Institutes of Health). If the wine goblets in your house are big, that 5 ounces may look like barely anything in the glass. Five ounces of wine equals about 120 calories.
If you fill that large wine glass half full, you may be unwittingly drinking two glasses rather than the one you thought you were. And if you typically have a second glass, the tendency to loosen up occurs. Your inhibitions are lessened even just a little bit, leading to sometimes poor food choices and even a case of the munchies.
Wine weight is often seen around the middle, at the waistline, just like beer. That’s most likely because women (especially after menopause) and men pack the pounds on the belly, usually before anywhere else. This visceral fat is also related to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
It’s like coming full circle. Too much wine, extra weight, and added disease risk. But remember what I said before. Exercise and keep a clean eating lifestyle, and you’ll be fine having one glass of wine per night.
POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS OF DRINKING WINE
Drinking wine can have side effects. I’m sure you have friends who have mentioned that they sleep so much better since they’ve given up or cut back on wine. Sleep is important. During sleep, the body preserves memory and learning, and also reboots after a fatiguing day. Alcohol can interfere with that in a big way.
What else can happen when we drink?
- Liver damage occurs when alcohol is continually consumed in excess
- There is a risk of alcohol use disorder and alcoholism
- Alcohol can lead to overeating
- Memory loss can occur
- Alcohol has little nutrition to contribute to the body, just calories
- Dehydration is a major effect when you overdo it
- Too much wine every day may cause neurodegenerative diseases
CAN YOU DRINK WINE AND STILL LOSE WEIGHT?
Yes, you can also drink wine and still lose weight. But there are a few things to keep in mind.
- Stick to a healthy diet and forgo fattening foods and snacks, even when a late-night glass of wine calls out for cheese and crackers
- Exercise every day
- Remember, there are healthier drink options out there, like infused water
- At a dinner party, enjoy your 5 oz. goblet of wine with dinner and then switch to a refreshing glass of water
- Don’t skip a meal to indulge in a few drinks instead – it’s a recipe for disaster in many ways
So, here’s the skinny on wine. Is wine fattening? Not really, if you stick to at most, one glass per day. But along with that, you’ve got to eat well (read this post for help!), and keep active. If you are sedentary and eat junk food, wine will only lead to putting on weight.
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