Calories in Red Wine: Do They Really Matter?


October 7, 2015 Blog » Wine Tips & Tricks » Calories in Red Wine: Do They Really Matter?

Will red wine make you fat? The answer to this question and why calories in red wine aren’t really the problem. In fact, the only thing you should be worried about is in your head…

Calories in red wine aren’t really a problem

Before you start drinking, let’s acknowledge that red wine has calories, primarily in the form of alcohol:

calories-in-wine-chart-by-winefolly
The yellow box shows the average ABV of most wines. Dry wines are in the left column and sweet wines on the right column (measured at 50 g/L residual sugar–equal to about 2–3 tsp sugar). Keep in mind that some wines have very low alcohol and some are high.


Carbs in Wine and Alcoholic Drinks by Wine Folly
 
 
 

The good news is
most red wines are low carb…


The bad news is drinking wine
tricks your brain into thinking you’re hungry…

pepperoni-pizza-overhead-illustration-slice-missing

No one has ever drunkenly craved a salad—and there’s a reason. A study conducted by Purdue University found that moderate consumption of alcohol enhances the taste of salt and fat, which is why bacon and scrambled eggs the next morning seem so satisfying.
Dr. Edward Miller Wine & Health


Back in the 1960’s there was a popular diet called the “Drinking Man’s Diet.” The idea was that a dieter would replace their sugars and starches for alcohol… It was like Atkins + wine. The diet came to be after observing heavy drinkers losing weight despite drinking thousands of alcohol calories each day!

1960s-alcohol-diet-crazy-diets-history
The “Drinking Man’s Diet.” An all-too-familiar fad diet… this time, from the past.

While it’s true that heavy drinkers’ bodies learn to waste alcohol calories and turn them into heat, all that heat makes the food turn into a host of chemicals that seriously affect vital organs (think cancer, liver problems, etc). The study also showed that if you’re just a moderate drinker or on a low-fat diet, you metabolize all 7 alcohol calories per gram. So poop, no help there.


Tips To Stay Healthy and Drink Red Wine

If you’re trying to stay slim, be sure to monitor your serving size. A proper pour of wine is just 5 oz (not the entire 20 oz glass!)

alcohol-in-wine-by-volume


moderate-drinking-definition-wine
Your body should only process a limited amount of alcohol per day. And for many (like women and certain genetics), moderate means just 1 glass of wine. The positive out of this is: now you can drink the good stuff and have it all week!

 

can-of-sardines-illustrated-wine-folly
Have a small protein-friendly snack before drinking a glass of wine. This will help you resist the inevitable craving. Nut mix anyone?

 

will-run-for-wine-hipster-bearded-man-jogging-illustration
Get sweaty and earn your next glass of wine.
Sadly, after the excitement from last year’s headlines (“Wine improves gym performance”) there is now a competing study showing opposing results. So you might not want to pour wine into your water bottle… unless you’re having that kind of day.

Do your own math:
There are 7.1 calories per gram of pure ethanol
Convert grams to ounces by a multiplier of 28.3495
Factor in the density of ethanol at 0.789 g/cm3
Calculation:
7.1 x 28.3495 x 0.789 = 158.81 calories per ounce of pure ethanol
 
Sources
Alcohol activates on your hypothalamus
resveratrol improves performance in rats
resveratrol shows no improvement in performance in a 16 human test
More info about the “Drinking Man’s Diet” via NYT


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By Madeline Puckette
I'm a certified wine geek with a passion for meeting people, travel, and delicious food. You often find me crawling around dank cellars or frolicking through vineyards. Find me at @WineFolly