Does Wine Make You Fat? The Answer Might Surprise You - Wine Turtle
This post was updated on: November 1, 2019

Does Wine Make You Fat? The Answer May Surprise You

Does Wine Make You Fat

Worried about empty calories and whether wine makes you fat? About whether or not that glass of wine with dinner is worth it?  Wine's made of fruit, does that mean it's good for you?

You read this site because you like wine but maybe you, like many others, wonder about the impact wine can have on your body and health.  Here are ten things all wine drinkers should know about wine and their health

1. Nearly ANYTHING Can Make You Fat

Can wine make you fat?  Absolutely.  But so can pretty much anything you eat.  Yup.  Except maybe celery.  Fruit can make you fat.  Reduced fat cheese can make you fat.  Bran cereal can make you fat.  

But wine, on its own, is less of a calorie packer than beer.  It also comes with myriad health benefits that make drinking it, in moderation, a healthy choice!​

Humans gain weight (or get fat) according to a simple formula: if you take more calories in than you burn, you're going to gain weight.  So even if you eat only reduced calorie items, if you eat a ton of them and you don't exercise, you'll gain weight.​  This is why athletes can eat way more.  This is why hikers can munch all along the trail and maintain strong, slim bodies.  

Inherently, ​wine can't make you any fatter than any other item you regularly eat.  It's just about understanding calories.

  • Higher alcohol content wines (like those from warm climates) are generally higher in calories.
  • A "serving" of wine is 6 oz.  Most people pour themselves far larger servings - measure a typical pour to see how much you're actually getting.
  • A serving of wine can have anywhere from 110-375 calories.  
  • Dessert wines pack a super caloric punch!  Generally the serving size is two ounces, and has a little over 100 calories so 2-3 glasses can quickly pack on way more calories than one six ounce glass of wine.

Lighter wines are likely to have fewer calories but their lightness might make it easy to drink more - sometimes it's worth the higher alcohol content, higher calorie option if you're trying to stick to one glass.

Even thought wine is a high calorie drink, there are many health benefits - read on!​

2. Maybe She's Born With It; Maybe It's Merlot!

Resveratrol.  Remember that name.  Resveratrol is your new best friend.  What is it?  A chemical compound found in wine that fights a number of things, one of which is  Propionibacterium acnes - the bacteria that mixes with oil in pores and hair follicles causing pimples.  In fact, topical application of resveratrol and benzoyl peroxide, a common ingredient in acne treatments, is more effective than benzoyl peroxide on its own.  

This is good news for acne sufferers whose skin reacts to benzoyl peroxide with redness, peeling, burning, and itching - which is both uncomfortable and can make people self conscious.  Scientists at the University of California in Los Angeles are working to discover the best way to get the benefits of resveratrol.  One of which we'll look at in #3.

3. Let's Get Physical!

Studies about red wine and health have been very popular lately as scientists find out more about resveratrol (see, we told you to remember its name!).  

A recent Canadian study led by Dr. Jason Dyck found that drinking a glass of red wine provides many of the same benefits as an hour at the gym.  These include: raising the heart rate (thus burning calories at a quicker rate thereby increasing your metabolism), improving physical performance, and increased skeletal muscle strength.  This doesn't mean you should give up traditional (or non-traditional) exercise and just down a few glasses, though.  The effects are counteracted with additional glasses so it really is a single service (about 6 oz.).  

Want to get more resveratrol in your diet?  Eat more dark chocolate, blueberries and other dark fruit, and peanut butter. And think about drinking Cabernet and Merlot - wines with larger quantities of resveratrol in them.

4. What Can Brown Do For You?

So, does wine make you fat?  It can - when it's part of a high calorie diet with less exercise than necessary for making sure calories out are less than or equal to calories in.  But it may also be able to help you lose weight.  

We have two types of fat in our bodies: white and brown, or beige, fat. White fat is dormant and lies along our muscles.  Brown fat is fat that burns calories.  Resveratrol, found in red wine and many fruits, transforms some of the bodies white fat into brown fat.  And that brown fat, in turn, burns off calories thus leading to weight loss.  When part of a healthy diet that includes more calories burned than consumed, red wine can help you increase your metabolism and weight loss.

5. The French Paradox

Close your eyes and picture yourself in France.  Paris.  Chances are one of the images that will come to mind involves you sitting somewhere gorgeous enjoying delicious cheese and wine.  

The French Paradox is the apparent contradiction surrounding the amount of rich foods and red wine enjoyed by the French, and their long, healthy lifespan.  It is believed that the consumption of red wine, walking, and small portions eradicate the types of food being eaten.  The French also eat many fresh, raw foods, which aid in the paradox.  

6. You Make Me Feel So Young

Vinotherapy is an old process that is making a comeback. The rich and famous, and those willing to splurge, are enjoying baths in the by-products of the wine making process (stems, skins).  

Because of the anti oxidant properties it is believed by many that these wine baths keep their skin supple and younger looking and we already know that resveratrol helps fight acne.  The result is a bath that gives the many benefits of wine to the outside of the body!

7. You Gotta Regulate

The link between moderate consumption of red wine and health is growing exponentially as scientists are delving more into the compounds in wine, like resveratrol, with anti-oxidant properties.  In studies were diabetics drank drank a moderate amount of red wine daily blood sugar was more regulated in those drinking wine.  

Heart health in Diabetes Type 2 sufferers who drink red wine moderately are found to be better than those who do not​.

8. Giving Bad Cholesterol the Heave Ho

There are two types of cholesterol in the body: HDL and LDL.  

  • HDL is the good cholesterol.  This type of cholesterol is found in the blood stream and is essentially the street sweeper of the blood.  Whatś it clean up?  LDL - the bad cholesterol.
  • LDL is the bad cholesterol that builds up on the walls of arteries and can lead to heart attacks and strokes.  

An Israeli university study took 220 participants where they asked the 220 participants to do one thing.  Maintain a traditional Mediterranean diet and each night drink only one thing with dinner.  The three groups of participants were assigned either mineral, red wine, or white wine to drink exclusively during the study.  

Those who drank red wine had more HDL when tested.  This also helps us to better understand the French Paradox - since cheese is high in cholesterol and yet the French don't suffer from a large number of high bad cholesterol maladies.

9. Staying Sharp

While not able to reverse the debilitating decline of mental acuity due to diseases like Alzheimer's, studies show that red wine consumption, in moderation, can help keep seniors mental acuity at its peak.  

Resveratrol is found in its highest concentration in wines exposed to the sun for a long time, therefore warm climate reds, especially merlots and cabernets, are the best options for increasing Resveratrol consumption and getting the benefits of red wine.  Mental acuity is sharpness - so while damage cannot be undone, regular, moderate drinking of red wine can help keep people sharper as they age. 

10. For The Longest Time

When combined with a lifestyle that embraces exercise, nutritious foods, low stress and hydration, moderate consumption of red wine can increase longevity.  From keeping us sharper, strengthening our hearts, regulating blood sugar, and possibly helping us to avoid diseases like cancer, drinking red wine balances out the occassional indulgence in rich foods.  Follow the model of the French by enjoying small quantities of rich foods, walking and cycling, eating fresh fruit and vegetables throughout the day and you may just see your health improve.

​Red wine is not a magical substance but it does contain chemical compounds, like resveratrol, with healthy anti-oxidant quantities.  In addition to fresh red fruits, including moderate red wine drinking in your diet, if your doctor says you're healthy enough to drink wine, can help aid in your health.

Nothing in this article should be construed as medical advice.  Always seek the advice of a licensed medical professional when it comes to ​a diet, exercise, or supplement regimen.  Remember to drink responsibly!

About the Author

Although not having any formal training in wine, Tim has developed an irrefutable love of wine and interest in anything related to it ever since he was a little kid. Coming from a family of wine lovers, it was from a young age that he got exposed to wine and the culture that goes with it and has been addicted ever since. Having traveled to dozens of wine regions across the world including those in France, Italy, California, Australia, and South Africa and tasted a large selection of their wines, it is with great joy that he hopes to share those experiences here and take you along on the journey.

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