Drinking Wine And Stay Fit: Does It Really Work?

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Medically reviewed by Kimberly Langdon, MD

how to drink wine and lose weight

For years, there have been headlines declaring drinking wine can help you lose those unwanted pounds. While this sounds too good to be true, there may be a grain of truth to the claim.

Some studies have suggested drinking wine, especially before going to bed, may help you achieve your weight loss goals

How to Drink Wine and Lose Weight?

In addition to a healthy diet and a consistent exercise routine, weight loss can be achieved by drinking 1-2 glasses of wine in the evenings — there is science to back this theory up!

One of the studies on drinking wine and losing weight comes from scientists from Washington State University[1]. They showed that a plant compound found in grapes, resveratrol, can change white fat cells into beige fat cells. 

Another study[2] conducted by the Harvard School of Medicine on 20,000 women showed women who drank wine moderately reduced their risk of developing obesity by 70%. One more study[3] by the Arizona State University on bees triggered a moderation effect on their food intake when given the compound resveratrol.

White, Brown, and Beige Fat Cells

White fat cells are found in connective tissues as visceral fat and subcutaneous fat and convert excess calories into fatty acids. Too many white fat cells[4] in your body lead to an imbalance and disease.

Beige fat cells are found in areas where white cells are (beneath the skin and abdominal cavity) but act like brown fat cells. Brown fat cells burn energy[5] to help your body produce heat when your body’s temperature drops. 

Beige fat cells are transformed from white fat cells through regular exposure to temperatures above the shivering point for at least two hours, regular exercise, and intake of nutritional supplements such as quercetin and CBD.

Brown fat cells not only encourage weight loss but also reduce your risk of hypothermia and increase your body’s insulin sensitivity, therefore lowering your chances of developing diabetes. This means your ability to turn white fat cells into beige cells can help you lose weight[6] and partially prevent obesity.

Health Benefits of Drinking Wine

There has been much debate on the health benefits of drinking wine. However, more and more studies seem to support the idea that drinking a moderate amount of wine can reduce the risks of various diseases.

Here are a few of the known benefits of red wine:

  • Good for your heart. The antioxidants[7] contained in wine help decrease your risk of developing coronary artery disease. Your risk of heart attack increases with coronary artery disease. While not completely understood, this might be because these antioxidants protect against bad cholesterol buildup and increase good cholesterol levels.
  • Lowers blood pressure. A study[8] showed that dealcoholized wine increases the level of nitric oxide in the body, which helps blood vessels relax, therefore reducing blood pressure.
  • Reduces insulin resistance. Another study[9] showed the beneficial effects of wine on insulin resistance. This study took sixty-seven men with a high risk of cardiovascular disease and gave them red wine and dealcoholized red wine and gin in the same amounts. The study found fasting glucose was constant throughout the study, and plasma insulin and HOMA-IR, an indicator of insulin resistance, decreased after giving red wine and dealcoholized red wine in the participants.

Wine and Weight Loss

A diet rich in antioxidants can help you slow damage to your cells caused by free radicals and reduce your risk of developing various diseases. Some antioxidants such as thymoquinone found in cumin, quercetin found in massive amounts in buckwheat tea, and resveratrol found in wine have numerous health benefits and are now showing promise in helping aid weight loss. 

However, wine can also be loaded with sugar and calories, leading to the debate on whether wine can help you lose weight. While different variations of wine have different amounts of alcohol, sugar, and calorie content, most of its calories come from alcohol. 

Wine contains resveratrol and other antioxidants that can help your body reduce inflammation, increase heart health, and control blood sugar. Some human studies[10] have shown moderate wine consumption can also keep you from gaining weight.

Drinking moderate amounts of wine can also improve blood flow because it relaxes your blood vessels, increasing the number of nutrients your cells get along with oxygen, a necessary component in burning fat.

In addition, wine consumption increases two hormones that help you build muscle and burn fat, respectively: testosterone and adiponectin. Not just that, it also decreases estrogen production, the hormone that makes you retain fat, and serum hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), which prevents testosterone in your body from acting on receptors. 

The increase in testosterone and adiponectin coupled with the decrease in estrogen and SHBG helps release stored fat and increases your metabolism.

However, excessive alcohol consumption, especially in men, leads to weight gain. Overconsumption of alcohol can also lead to problems in regulating blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.

There is a fine line between overconsumption and moderation when it comes to drinking wine. To minimize overindulging and getting the maximum health benefits from your glass of wine, here are some tips on the best ones to drink and how to drink wine and lose weight.

Best Types of Wine for Weight Loss

If you’re looking to take full advantage of the antioxidants available in wine, the best ones to consume would be red wines over white. Red wine[11] contains more antioxidants than white wines because red wine includes grape skins, which have the antioxidants during fermentation.

Opt for dry red wines instead of sweet ones because the sweeter wines can contain more sugar than dry wines. It can be difficult at times to determine if a wine is dry or sweet if you base it off of how it tastes, but a wine that has fewer than 10 grams of residual sugar is categorized as dry, and a wine that has over 35 grams of residual sugar is considered sweet.

For red wines, choose rosé, pinot noir, or merlot. These only have 1 gram of sugar, 3 grams of carbohydrates, and 88 calories per five ounces (one glass). Steer clear of sherry and marsala, which have 8 grams of sugar, 14 grams of carbohydrates, and 164 calories in one glass.

But the most crucial tip to keep in mind is to drink in moderation, that’s one glass for women, one to two glasses for men. If you plan on drinking wine, make sure you are still at a calorie deficit to keep your weight loss on track.

Go Ahead and Have a Glass

For decades we have been told to forego alcohol if we want to lose weight because of the belief that it merely contains empty calories and causes us to overeat. This is why it seems too good to be true that there are now studies that prove otherwise and show that there may be multiple health benefits to moderate consumption of wine, including weight loss.

Red wine is high in antioxidants, especially resveratrol, which can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease, reduce blood pressure, and keep your blood sugar levels stable. 

To reap the full benefits of your glass of red wine, stick to one serving which is one glass or 5 ounces (150 ml). Keep track of your calories as well, so you know how many calories you’ve consumed in one day. 

Remember, the way to lose weight is to consume fewer calories than what your body uses. When drinking wine, stick to dry red wines, which are healthier than white wines and sweet wines because they have more antioxidants and have less residual sugar.


+ 11 sources

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  1. WSU Insider. (2015). WSU scientists turn white fat into obesity-fighting beige fat | WSU Insider | Washington State University. [online] Available at: https://news.wsu.edu/2015/06/18/wsu-scientists-turn-white-fat-into-obesity-fighting-beige-fat/ [Accessed 13 Jul. 2021].
  2. ‌Wang, L. (2010). Alcohol Consumption, Weight Gain, and Risk of Becoming Overweight in Middle-aged and Older Women. Archives of Internal Medicine, [online] 170(5), p.453. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2837522/ [Accessed 13 Jul. 2021].
  3. ‌in (2012). Bees decrease food intake, live longer when given compound found in red wine. [online] ASU News. Available at: https://news.asu.edu/content/bees-decrease-food-intake-live-longer-when-given-compound-found-red-wine [Accessed 13 Jul. 2021].
  4. ‌Grundy, S.M. (2015). Adipose tissue and metabolic syndrome: too much, too little or neither. European Journal of Clinical Investigation, [online] 45(11), pp.1209–1217. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5049481/ [Accessed 13 Jul. 2021].
  5. ‌National Institutes of Health (NIH). (2015). Shivering Triggers Brown Fat to Produce Heat and Burn Calories. [online] Available at: https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/shivering-triggers-brown-fat-produce-heat-burn-calories [Accessed 13 Jul. 2021].
  6. ‌ScienceDaily. (2015). Scientists turn white fat into obesity-fighting beige fat: New twist on health benefits of resveratrol. [online] Available at: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150618174205.htm [Accessed 13 Jul. 2021].
  7. ‌Mayo Clinic. (2019). The truth about red wine and heart health. [online] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/red-wine/art-20048281 [Accessed 13 Jul. 2021].
  8. ‌ScienceDaily. (2012). Non-alcoholic red wine may help reduce high blood pressure. [online] Available at: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120906181908.htm [Accessed 13 Jul. 2021].
  9. ‌Schrieks, I.C., Annelijn L.J. Heil, Henk F.J. Hendriks, Mukamal, K.J. and Joline W.J. Beulens (2015). The Effect of Alcohol Consumption on Insulin Sensitivity and Glycemic Status: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Intervention Studies. Diabetes Care, [online] 38(4), pp.723–732. Available at: https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/38/4/723 [Accessed 13 Jul. 2021].
  10. ‌Traversy, G. and Chaput, J.-P. (2015). Alcohol Consumption and Obesity: An Update. Current Obesity Reports, [online] 4(1), pp.122–130. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4338356/ [Accessed 13 Jul. 2021].
  11. Cordova, A. and Sumpio, B. (2009). Polyphenols are medicine: Is it time to prescribe red wine for our patients? International Journal of Angiology, [online] 18(03), pp.111–117. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2903024/ [Accessed 13 Jul. 2021].

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Dara is a full-time freelance writer with experience in several fields including politics, travel, and ophthalmology. When she isn't sitting at her computer, you can find her dabbling in filmmaking and acting.

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