Wine and Your Waistline: The Flabby Facts
It is that time of year again.
No, not “Christmas” decorations that went up before Thanksgiving and will stay up until the last drop of rampant consumerism has been squeezed from the gift-buying turnip or gratingly insipid carols sung in keys hitherto unknown to the human ear, but the time to watch over how much we eat and drink so we don’t greet the new year looking like the Goodyear blimp with a bad case of elephantiasis.
Since for many of us strong adult beverages—wine, for example—are essential to both enjoying and surviving the holiday season, it’s only sensible to examine their effects on our waistlines (and butts and thighs and chins), all in answer to that age-old question: Does this make me look fat?
This is what we know. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, five ounces of the average dry wine with an alcohol level of between 11 and 14 percent contains between 120 and 130 calories. By comparison, five ounces of beer contains about half as many calories. Five ounces of your favorite hard stuff will slap you with more than twice as many (and probably get you shit-faced to boot).
Then there are carbohydrates. That five-ounce glass of dry California Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon typical contains three or four grams of carbs. If you like the sweet stuff or those monster truck-sized, high-alcohol wines, both calories and carbs go up. . . and up and up and up. What’s more, alcohol slows the body’s ability to burn off carbs, so they’re more likely to be converted into sugar and be stored as flab in your gut, thighs. . . you get the idea.
On the other hand, our average glass of fermented grape juice contains no cholesterol, fat or sodium, which almost (almost) makes it health food. Don’t forget wine’s other benefits too: reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. And it really does make it easier to take the annual holiday madness.