Note: I originally contributed to and was quoted in the the article "Wine Belly: Fact or Fiction" by Lindsay Tigar which appeared on the Sunday Edit, which can be read here. Just bringing this topic to the surface again as we enter Summer Kick-Off Weekend!
Wine Belly could best be explained as the belly fat or bloat that is attributed to the over consumption of wine on a regular basis therefore leading to excess caloric intake.
Myth 1: That it’s specifically wine that will cause this increase in abdominal fat, similar to the idea of a beer belly, there are many other factors that come into play and all alcohol has 7 calories per gram…so extra calories from alcohol, coupled with mixers or added sugar all can contribute to an increase in fat around the belly area.
Myth 2: Another common myth is that having a few properly portion-controlled glasses of wine (5oz) per week causes excess belly fat, it usually takes more than a few glasses a week to cause significant “wine belly” and chances are there are other reasons that need to be explored if one has increased abdominal fat or distention (diet, hormones, digestive issues, etc.)
Bonus myth!: The resveratrol in wine makes it ok to drink a lot of it: unfortunately you’d need to drink vats of wine to get considerable benefits from the resveratrol content.
Fact 1: When the body ingests wine, or any alcohol, it puts the metabolism of fat, protein and carbs (aka the macronutrients which make up the food you eat) on the back burner while it processes the alcohol which is an extra “punch in the gut” (no pun intended!) if someone is hoping to lose weight, maintain weight or live an overall healthy lifestyle. Often times people blame their “sluggish metabolism” on their weight issues, while alcohol won’t necessarily slow your metabolism significantly, it’s always ideal for your body to prioritize the metabolism and absorption of nutrients of foods we eat without having alcohol interfering with this process.
Bonus fact!: Alcohol can be dehydrating which can lead to constipation which can lead to abdominal distention intensifying the bloated look of ones belly
Tip 1. Practice mindfulness when drinking and eating. Think about that yucky feeling you get after a night of not only excess imbibing but excess food…that feeling is usually enough of a reminder to try to stay in control of your food intake and to not overdo it on alcohol. Also, remember that a glass of water in between glasses of wine is always a good idea…so many of us are chronically dehydrated that when a glass of wine or alcoholic beverage is placed in front of us we are likely to drink them fast due to actual thirst. Less glasses of wine or drinks throughout the night = less calories consumed, less lowered inhibitions that lead to overeating!
Tip 2: If you are going to enjoy wine, enjoy in moderation…each 5oz glass of wine is going to have about 100-125 calories which should be factored into your calories for the day. Choose the wines that are dryer and lower in sugar (especially if you are following a low carb or Ketogenic diet!) and utilize apps like MyFitnessPal to look up calorie content of wines. Usually more common brands or varieties are listed on there. Dry wines such as chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon and merlot are going to have less sugar than their sweeter counterparts like white zinfandel and port red wines. If sparkling wines are your preference, steer clear of sweet sparkling wines like asti spumante and go for prosecco or champagne that has “dry” or “brut” on the label. The drier the wine, the less sugar and the less calories. Brands like FitVine take the guesswork out of buying lower sugar wines!
Tip 3. While you cannot spot reduce areas of fat on your body, you can strengthen and tone those muscles to improve the appearance. Crunches and sit ups will NOT negate the fat buildup from excess wine or excess caloric intake, but if you are starting to see tighter and more toned abs, this may help you to think twice before overindulging in excess calories from wine and other little “extras!”