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Does Wine Make You Gain Weight?

Some research suggests that drinking wine can make you gain weight. However, other research indicates that wine may actually have some properties that protect against weight gain.

Generally, alcohol consumption can lead to weight gain. While moderate drinking — a glass of wine here or there — will not make you gain weight, drinking several glasses every night or drinking heavily can.

Too much wine can add extra calories. Plus, the effects of alcohol can cause a hangover that may lead you to be less active after drinking. A lack of exercise can lead to weight gain.

What Research Says About Weight Gain and Alcohol 

Alcohol and weight go hand in hand. Drinking in moderation should not cause weight gain. This means limiting your alcohol intake to two drinks or less per day for men or one drink per day or less for women.1

However, heavy drinking can cause weight gain over time. Heavy drinking refers to consuming 15 or more drinks per week for men and 8 or more drinks per week for women.1

So, if you drink several glasses of wine or alcoholic beverages every day, you may notice the number on the scale increasing. This is especially true if you are mixing alcohol (like vodka) with soda that contains a lot of sugar.

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Can Moderate Wine Consumption Help You Lose Belly Fat?

Some studies show that moderate wine consumption may have several health benefits. 

The major compounds in grapes and, therefore, wine are resveratrol and proanthocyanidin, which may be good for the heart. These compounds are commonly found in other fruits like strawberries, blueberries, and apples.13

Studies show that wine can help reduce your risk of mortality from cardiovascular complications. It can also increase your life span.4 In particular, all of the antioxidants in red wine can boost your body’s good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein) and protect against buildup.7

Light to moderate alcohol intake, especially wine consumption, may also help protect against weight gain.5 So while you may not lose weight, a little wine can help you avoid gaining weight.

How Many Calories are in a Bottle of Wine?

Different types of wine contain different calorie counts. For example, white table wine generally has about 128 calories per five ounces. Meanwhile, red table wine usually has about 125 calories per five ounces.3

Dry dessert wine may contain about 157 calories per three and a half ounces. And red dessert wine likely has about 165 calories per three and a half ounces.3

Other factors like additives (such as sugar) can also increase the calorie count in wine and other alcoholic beverages. 

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Beer Belly vs. Wine Belly: Which is Worse?

Both a “beer belly” and a “wine belly” result from drinking too much alcohol. Heavy alcohol use is never considered safe, regardless of what type of alcohol you are consuming.

A “beer belly” or “wine belly” is also sometimes called a “spare tire” or “the middle-age spread.” Abdominal obesity — whether it comes from drinking beer, wine, or poor diet in general — is a major health hazard. 

Abdominal obesity can increase your risk of a heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. It also contributes to health issues like erectile dysfunction.2

Ultimately, drinking too much beer can give you a “beer belly.” Men who consume 1000 ml/d of beer are at a 17 percent higher risk for waist circumference gain compared to those who drink lightly, if at all. 

While there’s no association between beer consumption and waist circumference gain for women, research does show a significantly lower risk for waist circumference gain in women who abstain from drinking beer compared to women who drink very lightly.8

5 Ways to Drink Wine Without Gaining Weight 

Here are five ways to drink wine without gaining weight:12

  1. Drink in moderation if you are going to drink at all (and take it slow)
  2. Drink wines that have less sugar
  3. Choose wines that have less calories per bottle
  4. Make sure to keep up a healthy diet and exercise
  5. Drink one glass of water for every glass of wine you drink (water promotes weight loss and prevents you from drinking as much alcohol)

The most important thing is to watch what you drink. Women who were initially at “normal” weights and consumed light-to-moderate amounts of alcohol experience less weight gain than women who drink more. They also have a lower risk of becoming overweight or obese.11

What Type of Wine is ‘Healthiest?’

Certain wines are healthier than others. For example, red wine may have more health benefits than white wine. Red wine is packed with antioxidants, and it seems to do a better job at cardiovascular protection than spirits.6

Red wine is also known to reduce platelet aggregation, which can prevent blood clots and thrombi.9

Certain wines that have higher concentrations of polyphenol compounds may also be better for you in some ways. However, some wines like merlot or cabernet sauvignon, only carry a fraction of these important compounds from grapes.13

Drinking Wine Every Night? (Signs of Misuse)

Drinking wine, or other alcohols, in moderation is generally considered safe. But if you find yourself drinking wine every night, drinking alone often, or drinking more and more to achieve the same effects, you may be suffering from alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Other signs of alcohol misuse also include, but are not limited to:

  • Allowing alcohol to get in the way of work and/or family obligations
  • Allowing alcohol to negatively affect professional and/or personal relationships.
  • Spending a lot of money on alcohol or experiencing financial issues due to alcohol consumption
  • Making dangerous decisions while under the influence that can result in injury to the self or others (such as drinking while driving)
  • Experiencing cravings for alcohol either to cope with stress or otherwise
  • Finding it difficult to quit drinking or to reduce alcohol intake
  • Noticing mood changes while not drinking alcohol
  • Noticing physical changes from drinking alcohol like weight gain

If the above signs seem to resonate, you are not alone. More than 14 million adults in America struggle with AUD.10

Treatment Options for Alcohol Misuse & Addiction

There are various treatment options for alcohol misuse and alcohol addiction. If you or someone you know is dealing with AUD, know that you don’t have to navigate the road to recovery alone. It is not safe to quit heavy drinking or significantly cut back on it alone.

  • Inpatient and outpatient rehab centers provide support from trusted medical professionals and mental health partners who are with you every step of the way. 
  • Behavioral therapies and counseling groups can help you deal with any triggers that make you feel like drinking. 
  • Support groups can help you connect with other recovering people, as well as learn from people who have achieved sobriety.10

You may also explore alternative faith-based programs, spiritual practices, holistic therapies, and other options. Some treatments and therapies may work better for you than others. 

Help is available. Reach out to a medical professional like your primary care physician to explore your treatment options. Trying to recover from alcohol addiction alone can be unsafe.

Resources

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Alcohol Questions and Answers.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 Feb. 2021. 

Beer Belly.” Harvard Health, 2 Apr. 2018.

Calorie Count - Alcoholic Beverages: Medlineplus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.

DK;, Bertelli AA;Das. “Grapes, Wines, Resveratrol, and Heart Health.” Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, U.S. National Library of Medicine.

M;, Sayon-Orea C;Martinez-Gonzalez MA;Bes-Rastrollo. “Alcohol Consumption and Body Weight: A Systematic Review.” Nutrition Reviews, U.S. National Library of Medicine.

R;, Chiva-Blanch G;Arranz S;Lamuela-Raventos RM;Estruch. “Effects of Wine, Alcohol and Polyphenols on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors: Evidences from Human Studies.” Alcohol and Alcoholism (Oxford, Oxfordshire), U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Red Wine and Resveratrol: Good for Your Heart?Mayo Clinic.

Schütze M;Schulz M;Steffen A;Bergmann MM;Kroke A;Lissner L;Boeing H; “Beer Consumption and the 'Beer Belly': Scientific Basis or Common Belief?European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Snopek, Lukas, et al. “Contribution of Red Wine Consumption to Human Health Protection.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), MDPI, 11 July 2018.

Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

Wang, Lu, et al. “Alcohol Consumption, Weight Gain, and Risk of Becoming Overweight in Middle-Aged and Older Women.” Archives of Internal Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 8 Mar. 2010.

Weight Loss and Alcohol: Medlineplus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.

WSU Scientists Turn White Fat Into Obesity-Fighting Beige FAT: Wsu Insider: Washington State University.” WSU Insider, 18 June 2015.

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