Does red wine help you lose weight? It sounds too good to be true, but the answer might surprise you!
This is NOT a drill. I repeat, NOT a drill.
Emerging research shows that drinking 1-2 glasses of red wine before bed can actually encourage weight loss or prevent weight gain.
Yes, you read that right!
According to scientists: drinking wine helps lose weight.
It sounds too good to be true, but there is a substantial amount of research to back up the claim!
The Wine Weight Loss Connection
A Harvard study on the subject of wine and weight loss followed 20,000 women over the course of 13 years. At the end of the study, scientists found that participants who drank two glasses of wine a day were 70% less likely to be overweight.
Red Wine and Weight Loss
When it comes to calories and carbs, there is little difference between a glass of red wine and a glass of white wine.
However, red wine contains more of a compound called reservatrol, which is praised for it’s ability to help prevent both disease and obesity.
What is Reservatrol?
This part gets kind of complicated, but it is also the science behind the whole wine weight loss thing. I’ll break it down as simply as possible, but if you want a more detailed explanation, Wine Spectator does a great job of that here.
Reservatrol is a specific polyphenol found in wine. Polyphenols are a type of antioxidants — chemical compounds that help protect the body from damaging free radicals.
Free radicals are naturally occurring particles in the body, however, things like smoking and exposure to environmental pollutants speed up their creation. (source) Too many free radicals can lead to premature aging and a higher risk of disease.
Because reservatrol combats free radicals, it is thought to have a wide range of health benefits, such as:
- Inhibiting the growth of cancerous cells
- Preventing cardiovascular disease
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s
That alone is pretty exciting stuff, but the same is true of antioxidants in general. As another source of antioxidants, coffee is purported to have similarly amazing health benefits.
How Does Red Wine Help You Lose Weight?
Again, the magic ingredient here is reservatrol, which may contribute to weight loss in two ways:
- Converting fat cells to a type of fat that is easier to lose
- Reducing appetite
Researchers at Washington State University discovered that reservatrol converts white fat cells into beige fat cells. Believe it or not, all fat cells are not created equal!
White fat cells are larger and expand to store energy…and weight. Beige fat cells are easier to lose, and may actually help fight obesity.
Drinking reservatrol-containing red wine may transform those stubborn fat-storing cells into fat-fighting cells, leading to weight loss.
While that alone is pretty incredible, further studies suggest that moderate red wine consumption can also act as an appetite suppressant.
In 2012, researchers tested the effects of reservatrol on honey bees and found that not only did bees consume less food, but they lived 33-38% longer than bees who did not ingest reservatrol.
The appetite suppressant effect was most powerful in the nighttime hours.
Another theory is that drinking wine at night is a substitute for late night snacking. A glass of wine might contain fewer calories than a bowl of ice cream, for example.
Therefore, drinking wine in place of your usual after dinner dessert would contribute to a lower daily caloric intake, and perhaps weight loss.
Why Red Wine?
Grape skins are the source of polyphenols in wine. During the wine-making process, red wine is in contact with grape skins for a longer period of time than white wine, so more of those polyphenols make it through to the finished wine. This is also why red wine is darker in color.
While white wine does contain some amount of reservatrol, red wine is a much better source.
Better still, contends Professor Min Du (of the WSU study), are fruits and some nuts. These usually contain more reservatrol than wine, and without any of the negative effects from alcohol.
What About Reservatrol Supplements?
As to be expected, there are plenty of supplement makers looking to cash in on the reservatrol craze.
However, the experts behind most of these studies strongly encourage getting your daily dose of reservatrol from food or wine instead of supplements.
Foods containing reservatrol provide a host of other health benefits and are more of a complete nutritional package. Plus, you don’t always know what goes into supplements.
Food sources of reservatrol:
When it Comes to Wine and Weight Loss, The Key is Moderation
Excessive alcohol consumption negates the benefits of red wine, so it’s important to enjoy responsibly. In fact, excessive drinking can actually increase the risk of chronic disease.
The US dietary guidelines define excessive drinking as:
- Women: 4 or more drinks in one day or more than 8 drinks per week
- Men: 5 or more drinks in a day or more than 15 drinks in a week
If you’re looking to enjoy the health benefits of red wine, stick with 1-2 glasses and avoid drinking every single day. Try alternating a glass of wine one day with food-based reservatrol sources the next.
And of course if you’re pregnant, under 21, or on certain medications, this weight loss trick isn’t the way to go.
Before I became a blogger, I worked in event management and wine service, so I’ve always been a fan. But the news that drinking red wine can help you lose weight is just the icing on the cake!