Wine: Good, Bad, or Necessity?

Randy from South Park saying, "I'm not having a glass of wine, I'm having six. It's called a tasting and it's classy"

Vino. Cab. Chard. Mommy’s Happy Juice. Daddy’s Trying to Get His Groove on Juice.

Wine has many names and is a staple in many liquor cabinets and on dinner tables throughout the US. Wine is deeply entrenched in not just American culture, but even more so in many European and South American cultures.

In France, adults generally drink wine in the middle of the day. Colleagues often go out for lunch together instead of going home, and a glass or two of wine is considered common practice. French dining etiquette says that one should wait to have their glass refilled by someone else at the table.

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Ok France, I see you. I want my glass refilled all the time.

The health benefits of red wine have been debated for a really long time. Health and nutrition experts have argued that drinking wine can be part of a healthy diet because:

  • Grapes are rich in antioxidants such as resveratrol and proanthocyanidins
  • Resveratrol has been linked with fighting inflammation and preventing blood clots
  • Red wine may reduce the risk of heart disease by helping retain “good” HDL cholesterol and reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol
  • Red wine may help reduce insulin resistance
  • Red wine may help reduce the risk of depression

Who gives a shit?

All the benefits of red wine sound great, right? But who gives a shit? I don’t know anyone who grabs a bottle of wine and thinks “I really need to drink this to get my daily dose of proanthocyanidins, reduce my risk of depression, and reduce the risk of oxidative damage of LDL cholesterol.”

If you do know someone who does, punch them. Then give them some wine.

You drink wine because:

  • It helps you relax
  • You enjoy the taste
  • You are being social and/or trying to get drunk

Red wine, like anything else, is neither good nor bad. If you are drinking 3 bottles per day, it may have some negative consequences. But on its own, red wine is just red wine. It’s not out to get you, nor is it your best friend.

Picture showing proportions of water, sugar, and alcohol in a glass of wine

photo credit: winefolly.com

Breaking it down

Let’s break down red wine in order to understand it and then we will discuss how to incorporate it into your eating whether you are trying to lose weight, gain weight, or just trying to feel better.

A glass of wine is typically 80% water, 15% alcohol, and 5% carbs (sugar). Obviously this changes if a wine has more alcohol or is much sweeter. But this is a good depiction of what most wine is.

If you have been reading this blog, then you know that every gram of carbohydrate provides 4 calories. Therefore, by logic, wine should have that many calories if it is only 5% sugar(carb) by volume.

But if you do a quick google search on “calories in wine,” you’ll notice that your glass of Pinot Noir only has 4 grams of carbs, but 150 calories? Wait a second, 4g of carbs x 4 cals/gram = 16 calories. Where do the other 134 calories come from? The math doesn’t add up here!

Alcohol also provides energy, although it doesn’t provide nutritional value. Each gram of alcohol provides 7 calories. Hence, what we are really concerned with is the grams of alcohol in our wine, not just grams of carbs. The more alcohol dense the wine is, the more calories it will have.

Because I am a gentleman and a scholar, I have spent a lot of time researching this for you to make it a cinch. The table is going to show the most consumed types of wine, calories from alcohol, calories from carbs, and total calories in a 6 ounce pour.

** You’ll notice that wine types will appear more than once. This is due to the alcohol content. I.e. A pinot noir can have an ABV of 11% or 16%.

Wine Type

ABV %

Examples

Calories from Alcohol

Calories from Carbs

Total Calories

Sweet White - Low Alcohol

6-9%

German Spatlese Riesling, Moscato d’Asti, Chenin Blanc

90 cals

40 cals

130 cals

Sweet White - High Alcohol

9-12%

Moscato, Ausclese Riesling, Silvaner, Malvasia

130 cals

70 cals

200 cals

Dry White - Low Alcohol

9-12%

Pinot Grigio, Pinot Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Albarino Vinho Verde, Picpoul, Vermentino

100 cals

20 cals

120 cals

Dry White - High Alcohol

12-14%

Chardonnay, Sauvignon blanc, Torrontes, Muscadet, Pinot Blanc,

150 cals

10 cals

160 cals

Red - Low Alcohol

11-13.5%

Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, (any other dry under 13.5% ABV)

140 cals

10 cals

150 cals

Red - High Alcohol

11-13.5%

Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, (any other dry above 13.5% ABV)

160 cals

20 cals

180 cals

Sparkling Wine

12.5%

Brut Champagne, Brut Cava, Most sparkling wines with the word “Brut”

140 cals

20 cals

160 cals

Sweet Dessert Wine (** 3 oz)

14-21%

Port, Tawny Port, Sherry

150 cals

100 cals

250 cals

A New Approach

Even though my chart is wonderful, how do I incorporate this into my day to day life?

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Instead of avoiding alcohol altogether, I encourage you to include it. Add it to your plan a few times a week. If you have a few glasses of wine during the week, you are not as likely to binge on it and when you do go out on the weekend.

Plan and track it from your carbohydrate allotment in myfitnesspal using on of our wine tracking entries.

As a general guideline, here is how you should do it:

Goal

Guideline

What Allotment

Limit

How to Track

Losing Weight

Dry Whites & Light Alcohol Reds

Carbs

1-2 glasses per day

Strengthlete Wine Tracker

Gaining Weight

Any

Carbs

1-2 glasses per day

Strengthlete Wine Tracker or Strengthlete High Alcohol Wine

Maintaining Weight but losing fat and gaining muscle

Dry Whites & Light Alcohol Reds

Carbs

1-2 glasses per day

Strengthlete Wine Tracker

What to Expect

If you include alcohol in your plan, expect that results will be a slower. There is no doubt about it. If wine or alcohol is something you truly enjoy, do not cut it out. Instead, incorporate it regularly by planning for it and tracking it. Although it will slow down your progress, you won’t have the binge itch after hitting a weight loss milestone.

So many of us will lose 10, 15, 20 pounds and be so excited about it that we will go out and celebrate by getting absolutely smashed. The problem is that the second you reintroduce liquor after some time away from it, it rarely lasts just one night. It will typically carry over for a few nights or even a few weeks. This can be devastating to your progress not just physically, but mentally.

It is really hard to get motivated to lose more weight when you lose 20 pounds in 10 weeks and put 7 back on in 1.

The approach I prefer is instead of losing 2 pounds per week while eliminating alcohol, try losing 1-1.5 pounds while keeping alcohol in your diet, and being more steady and low stress.

There is no one size fits all

Finding an eating plan that works for you is not a one size fits all solution. In fact, it is likely to change over time for that same person. What worked for you 6 months ago may not work for you today. Just because someone else does not incorporate wine in their plan doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t.

This is obviously easier said than done. But like most things in life, the right mindset is more important than being perfect. The right mindset will allow you to make progress, even when circumstances aren’t perfect.

Having a glass of wine should not destroy your plan. Your plan should be flexible enough to handle a glass of wine and still make progress. If you love wine and deprive yourself of it, at some point, you will find yourself saying “fuck it, I’m gonna have some wine.”

To learn more about my anti-diet approach to weight loss, download my guide below.

Free Guide: Take Eating Back

Restrictive Dieting is sooo 1995. Join an underground movement of people who have taken off the weight and never looked back.

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