Answers to the question many of us would like to know:
Does Wine Make You Fat?
No, but alcohol tricks your brain into making unhealthy decisions. Time to arm yourself with 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
Despite the fact that 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. Basically, our body stops what it’s doing and prioritizes alcohol calories first before addressing other calories (fat, carbs, sugar etc). Much of this work is done in the liver 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.
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:
BLOOD SUGAR DROP: Drinking dry wine actually causes your blood sugar to drop. This is because your body focuses on metabolizing the alcohol calories first before food calories. The result is that your brain sees this information a little blindly and responds with ‘uh oh, we need more blood sugar. Go eat something!’
TRICKS YOUR ‘PRIMITIVE’ BRAIN: Alcohol causes a temporary effect on a part of your brain that causes you to feel hungry, aroused and have to pee at the same time. These activities are controlled in your hypothalamus (high-po-thall-lam-us) which is an early part of the human brain located above the brain stem. It regulates everything from sex drive and body temperature to appetite.
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
A 2004 study published in the Alcohol Journal led by Princeton University scientists suggest 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 own 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.
Read More About Wine and Your Health
Access all our articles, infographics and more on drinking and health. Drinking smart starts with knowledge.
Special Thanks to Doctor Edward Miller for providing additional research.
Why you crave: Science behind Why You Crave After Partying
Detailed information about the hypothalamus
Inhibitory effect of alcohol on ghrelin secretion in normal man
Alcohol Consumption, Weight Gain, and Risk of Becoming Overweight in Middle-aged and Older Women