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Can Drinking Red Wine Help You Lose Weight?

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Even on the strictest of diets it’s nice to be able to have the odd alcoholic tipple every now and then.

Red wine has been under much investigation of late due to studies suggesting it may help with weight loss. Many believe that a small glass on a daily basis can help to boost health and may promote some positive changes to your body composition too.

But can red wine really help you lose weight? In this article we’ll take a look.


What’s In Your Red Wine?

Red wine is made from the pulp of red or black grapes which are then fermented, filtered and bottled. This drink contains alcohol of course. At 7kcal per gram that’s quite a lot of calories just from alcohol alone.

As a means of comparison, carbs and protein will give you 4kcal per gram and fat will add 9kcal per gram to your diet.

There are a number of different types of ‘red’, including Merlot, Cabernet sauvignon and Shiraz. Typically, the alcohol content ranges from 5-15%.

The Muscadine grape – a choice of red wine grape from Central and North America – contains a number of health-boosting bioactive compounds. One of these compounds is ellagic acid – a polyphenol that has been found to slow down the growth of fat cells and inhibit the increase of new ones [1].

Another important bioactive compound found in the skin of the wine grape is called resveratrol. This antioxidant has been reported to improve artery health, reduce inflammation and risk of cancer [2]. It has also been shown to provide therapeutic potential for type 2 diabetes and obesity by targeting the gene SIRT 1 – an important regulator of energy and metabolism [3].

The health effects of alcohol are dose-dependent. Excessive alcohol drinking has been associated with increased risk of cancer and obesity, as well as cardiovascular and metabolic metabolic disease, whereas light to moderate drinking tends to lower disease risk [4].

It is difficult to pinpoint what exactly ‘moderate‘ drinking is, based on the fact that red wines come in a variety of different strengths and origins. In the US, moderate would be no more than 1-2, 5-ounce glasses of red wine at around 12% alcohol by weight.

It has been suggested that if the calories gained from alcohol are not compensated for, red wine can be a big contributor to obesity, but a small amount is not associated with weight gain [5]. A large review study went one step further and suggested that light-to-moderate alcohol intake, especially wine intake, may be more likely to protect against weight gain, whereas consumption of spirits is positively associated with weight gain [6].

So could a small amount of this deep red drink help to boost weight loss? Studies say possibly… 


resveratrol-red-wine

What The Research Says – Can Red Wine Boost Weight Loss?

Here is a breakdown of the most important studies you need to know about:

#Study 1: [7]

Published in Internal Medicine, this study of over 19,000 middle-aged women found that normal-weight volunteers that consumed a light to moderate amount of alcohol  gained less weight and had a lower risk of becoming overweight and/or obese during the 13 years of follow-up.

Although red wine wasn’t looked at exclusively, the study analyses found that it had the strongest association with weight loss, with white wine also having a significant, but much weaker association too.

#Study 2: [8]

This study aimed to determine whether alcohol consumption affected the likelihood of weight gain using just under 16,000 post-menopausal women as volunteers. The results found that moderate drinkers were more likely to maintain a healthy weight than those that abstained from alcohol. Additionally, those that drank wine had a lower risk of becoming overweight in comparison to liquor or beer drinkers. 

#Study 3: [9]

In this study, rats were split into two groups – both were given a high fat diet and some were also given 0.1% resveratrol. The rats that were fed resveratrol gained 40% less weight. They were also found to have higher levels of brown fat – a type of fat that is thought to burn calories, not store them.


red-wine-health-benefits

Summary

Red wine has been found to hold a number of potential health benefits. It contains bioactive compounds such as ellagic acid and resveratrol that have been found to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease, as well as help fight obesity.

Studies show that alcohol has a dose-dependent relationship with weight gain. Light to moderate drinking can help to reduce the risk of weight gain compared to non-drinkers, and may even help to boost weight loss.

The key word really is moderation – more does not mean better. Whilst studies have found that occasional drinking can assist in weight loss, over-consumption will likely lead to weight gain. Don’t forget that alcohol itself is nearly as calorie dense as fat and therefore can contribute to a positive energy balance if the calories are not factored in.

If you aren’t already a wine drinker then there’s no need to start – in reality drinking red wine won’t make a massive difference to your weight but may help. There are many other lifestyle modifications that will benefit you more – healthy food, physical activity are much better changes to make. Water, green tea and coffee would also provide some great health benefits that may outright those of red wine.


References

  1. Okla, M et al. Ellagic acid modulates lipid accumulation in primary human adipocytes and human hepatoma Huh7 cells via discrete mechanisms. J Nutr Biochem. 2015; 26(1): 82-90
  2. Marques, FZ et al. Resveratrol: Cellular actions of a potent natural chemical that confers a diversity of health benefits. Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2009; 2125-2128
  3. Timmers, S et al. Therapeutic potential of resveratrol in obesity and type 2 diabetes: new avenues for health benefits? Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2013; 1290: 83-9
  4. Zhou, Y et al. Alcoholic Beverage Consumption and Chronic Diseases. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2016 May 24;13(6)
  5. Traversy, G et al. Alcohol Consumption and Obesity: An Update. Curr Obes Rep. 2015; 4(1): 122-30
  6. Sayon-Orea, C et al. Alcohol consumption and body weight: a systematic review. Nutr Review. 2011; 69(8): 419-31
  7. Wang, L et al. Alcohol Consumption, Weight Gain, and Risk of Becoming Overweight in Middle-aged and Older Women. JAMA Int Medicine. 2010; 170(5)
  8. Thomson, CA et al. Alcohol consumption and body weight change in postmenopausal women: results from the Women’s Health Initiative. Int J Obes (Lond). 2012; 36(9): 1158-64
  9. Wang, S et al. Resveratrol induces brown-like adipocyte formation in white fat through activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) α1. Int J Obesity. 2015


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