There are enough studies out there extolling the health benefits of wine to make you think it’s a straight-up health food. For a few days, there was even a spate of overly enthusiastic internet headlines claiming that sitting on your ass and drinking red wine could be just as good for you as going to the gym: “OMFG: Science Says a Glass of Red Wine May Be Equivalent to an Hour at the Gym” (which got an unsurprising 588,000 Facebook Likes) and “Red Wine May Be as Good for You as Exercise, Says the Best News EVER.” Sadly, the results of that study were taken slightly out of context, and by that, we mean that the actual participants were rats, not humans, which seems, you know, important, right? Even with the rats, the researchers’ conclusion was that combining red wine with exercise could “augment the beneficial effects of exercise alone.” That means you still have to exercise. Sorry, not sorry.
Resveratrol, an antioxidant in red wine, has been so lauded for its beneficial effects on fitness that nutrition stores started filling their shelves with resveratrol supplements for those who wanted to get more out of their exercise program without having to go through that awful experience of actually drinking red wine… which seems like of like wanting to have a chocolate cake injected directly into your thighs without the part where you put it in your mouth, but to each his/her own. Then, as nutritional research is wont to do, science reversed its stance and claimed that resveratrol could actually reduce the effectiveness of workouts.
Meanwhile, other research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that moderate consumption of alcohol increases a compound that helps control inflammation in the body and that the grapes in red wine help discourage formation of artery wall plaque. Red wine was also found to increase good bacteria and reduce bad bacteria in your gut.
The back and forth is enough to make you dizzy, so let’s focus on what we know for sure:
1. Wine is delicious.
2. It has calories.
3. We should enjoy a glass with dinner rather than going on a crazy wine bender.
So how do you enjoy a moderate amount of wine and still stay on a healthy path? For starters, be aware of wine’s effects on your waistline. Not only is alcohol metabolized differently than food (your body can’t store alcohol so it focuses on burning it first while other operations like, say, digesting your dinner are put on hold) but it can also cause blood sugar spikes that later lead to carb cravings, which is why you ate that whole bowl of chips and guac after sharing that pitcher of margaritas. And when it comes to calories, not all wines are equal. Know what you’re putting into your body: A sweet dessert wine or sauvignon blanc is going to have more calories than a pinot grigio or dry merlot. PopSugar’s chart lists the carb count for each type of wine as well as the calories. This infographic from Fix.com ranks four ounce servings…
And remember, when you go out to eat and order a nice wine with your meal, the glass you get may be closer to six or even eight ounces, so the calorie counts shown above could be doubled. Still, you’re probably going to fare better with wine than you would other adult beverages. A rum and coke, for example, will cost you 369 calories and a Mai Tai, 260. Depending on the mix, that margarita might have as many as 500 calories. Out. Of. Control. Y’all. If you want to reduce the calories in your wine, especially once cold January evenings turn into hot Atlanta nights, pour half of your white wine over ice, add zero-calorie club soda and boom! a spritzer with half the calories.
For best results, earn your evening glass of wine. Heck, for best results, earn any treat you eat:
A few final words of advice: Since alcohol can increase your appetite, try to drink it with or after a healthy meal rather than before, and try not to drink right before bedtime. It may seem like a glass of red wine helps you fall asleep more quickly, but the quality of that sleep suffers as a result and you’ll wake up tired.
Like most things, wine is fine — and just maybe even good for you — when consumed in moderation and in combination with a regular exercise routine and healthy eating habits… even if it does NOT equal an hour at the gym.
Cheers to that!