No, Drinking Wine Will Not Solve All Your Weight Problems
It’s fitting that on the day arbitrarily proclaimed National Drink Wine Day, an article validating the life choices of Cabernet junkies everywhere is making the Internet rounds.
The story, which has been picked up by bastions of journalistic integrity like Total Sorority Move and Look, is often packaged with cheers-inducing headlines about how drinking wine before bed will make you skinny. And while there is some research to support those claims, take a deep breath before you buy a personal box of Franzia for tonight.
The articles seem to draw on a 2010 study by a Harvard and Brigham and Women’s Hospital researcher, which found that, of 20,000 normal weight women, those who drank regularly were less likely to gain weight and become obese than those who did not. Red wine seemed to have the most pronounced effects. Drinking, the study found, may replace calories from food, causing people to consume fewer overall; it also appeared to affect metabolism and energy output.
The fine print, though, is that experts still cautioned against using alcohol as a weight loss plan. “Displacing 200 calories or so from food with alcohol probably has a detrimental effect on diet quality and on overall health,” David Katz, director and cofounder of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, told Time. “If you look meticulously at nutrient intake, there might be important deficiencies there.” Even if that weren’t the case, drinking mainly helps with weight loss because it quells your appetite for food. But if you’re downing a bottle of merlot and eating normally (which you should), you’re not going to cut calories.
The TSM article also mentions a 2015 Washington State University study about how a compound in wine, a polyphenol called resveratrol, can turn white fat to calorie-burning brown fat. The study does, indeed, say that—but it also says wine contains a fraction of the reservatrol that grapes do, and that polyphenol consumption is best increased through eating more whole fruit. “Many of the beneficial polyphenols are insoluble and get filtered out during the wine production process,” lead researcher Min Du said in a statement about the research.
Further, reservatrol has been a source of controversy for years. Studies have shown that it can help with weight loss, anti-aging, disease prevention, heart health, and more—but other researchers have said those results may only be possible in a lab environment, and not in humans living under normal circumstances.
The moral of the story: That holiday pour of red probably isn’t something to feel too guilty about—but it’s also probably not going to give you the flat abs of your dreams. Hey, you win some, you lose some.