Wine Folly Logo
Lifestyle

Does Wine Make You Fat? Some Illuminating Evidence

- Updated

Answers to the question many of us would like to know:

Does wine make you fat?
Does Drinking Wine Make You Fat
No, but alcohol tricks your brain into making unhealthy decisions. It’s time to arm yourself with the knowledge to drink smarter. By the way, a long term study with over 19,000 women showed drinkers tend to be less obese than non-drinkers as they age.

We digest wine differently than food

Even though wine has little to no carbs and zero fat, it still has calories!

The interesting thing about calories in wine is that we digest them differently than food. Our body stops what it’s doing and prioritizes alcohol calories first before addressing other calories (fat, carbs, sugar, etc.) The liver does this work with enzymes.

So, if you drink too much or drink before eating, your body initiates a 3-step process to metabolize the alcohol before it can switch back to food.

Does wine make you fat illustration by Wine Folly
Wine doesn’t make you fat, but eating pizza when you’re drunk does.

Why does drinking make you hungry?

Why do we end up eating a whole cheese pizza after a night of drinking? The effects of alcohol on the brain causes a skew in how we regulate calorie intake for 2 reasons:

Your blood sugar drops

Drinking dry wine causes your blood sugar to drop. This is because your body focuses on metabolizing the alcohol calories first before food calories. Your brain responds by saying,

“Uh oh, we need more blood sugar. Go eat something!”

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 are so satisfying.
Dr. Edward Miller, Wine & Health

Alcohol tricks your “primitive” brain”

Alcohol affects the part of your brain that causes you to feel hungry, aroused, and flushed at the same time. These reactions occur in your hypothalamus (high-po-thall-lam-us), which is an early evolutionary part of the human brain located right above the brain stem.

A 2004 study published in the Alcohol Journal led by Princeton University scientists suggests that a brain chemical called galanin [secreted by the hypothalamus] could be behind both fatty food cravings and a thirst for alcohol. “There seems to be a cycle of positive feedback,” Princeton researcher Bartley Hoebel said in a 2004 statement. “Consumption of alcohol produces galanin, and galanin promotes the consumption of alcohol.” Dr. Edward Miller, Wine & Health

How to stay healthy and drink wine

Eat protein before you drink

Have some quality protein before you drink. Long sustaining energy calories will help curb your craving while you drink.

Stick to moderate drinking

Unfortunately, a bottle of wine is not a single serving. It’s important to understand your limits. If you’re 140 pounds or under, you should stick to just one drink and only 2 if you’re over that weight.

Avoid the drunk diet

If you do get drunk, it seems reasonable to assume that food (e.g., cheesy bread, pizza, and apple pie) could help absorb the alcohol in your system. The truth is, there’s nothing to stop or slow the long, painstaking process your liver will need to go through to carefully convert every milligram of poisonous acetaldehyde into not-so-bad-for-you acetic acid. Be a friend to your liver and stay up on your fluids by drinking lots of water. Our favorite hangover food is a Pho (pronounced ‘Fuh’) noodle soup. The Vietnamese know what’s up.


the-health-benefits-of-red-wine

Wine vs Health

Access all our articles, infographics and more on drinking and health. Drinking smart starts with knowledge.

See Articles

Wine Folly Starter Set

Save over 35% with the Wine Folly Starter Set

Buy Now

AboutMadeline Puckette

James Beard Award-winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year. I co-founded Wine Folly to help people learn about wine. @WineFolly

Cover Image for Celebrate National Red Wine Day With Some of Our Favorites

Celebrate National Red Wine Day With Some of Our Favorites

August 28th is National Red Wine Day! For inspiration, here are some of our favorite red wine varieties you must try.

Read More
Cover Image for 8 Wine Podcasts Worth Listening To

8 Wine Podcasts Worth Listening To

Wine podcasts are a great way to sneak in some knowledge during our day to day activities. Here are 7 of our absolute favorites!

Read More
Cover Image for 50 of the Most Eye-Rolling Wine Snob Moments

50 of the Most Eye-Rolling Wine Snob Moments

Here are 50 of the most aggravating, insane, and hilarious wine snob moments we could find.

Read More
Cover Image for Wine vs. Health in 2019 (The State of Wine As We Know It)

Wine vs. Health in 2019 (The State of Wine As We Know It)

Each year a fresh set of stories about wine and health is published. Let’s look at the topic of wine and health and where we stand in 2019.

Read More
Cover Image for The Realist’s Guide to Keto Wines

The Realist’s Guide to Keto Wines

Ideally, keto wines should have low alcohol (ideally 13.5% ABV or less) and little to no residual sugar. Here’s Wine Folly’s take on dieting with wine.

Read More
Cover Image for Study Offers A New Look at Alcohol and Your Brain

Study Offers A New Look at Alcohol and Your Brain

A new study has headlines shouting “wine will clean your brain!” So, what does this study really signify? Find out the real story.

Read More