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Drinking Wine & Weight Loss

author image Timothy Banas
Timothy Banas has a master's degree in biophysics and was a high school science teacher in Chicago for seven years. He has since been working as a trading systems analyst, standardized test item developer, and freelance writer. As a freelancer, he has written articles on everything from personal finances to computer technology.
Drinking Wine & Weight Loss
A glass of wine on a table next to a salad plate. Photo Credit consulgian/iStock/Getty Images

All alcoholic drinks contain calories, and wines -- red, white, sparkling and dessert -- are no exception. If you are trying to lose weight, you need to take into consideration the wine you drink. Depending on the number of glasses you drink per day and other dietary factors, you may even need to cut back.

Calories and Weight Loss

To lose weight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention you must burn more calories than you consume each day. Your body burns a certain number of calories each day through metabolic activities, and any exercise you do in addition will burn more calories. You will lose approximately one pound of weight for each 3,500 calories you burn in excess of what you take in. Many people who are trying to lose weight count food calories in this way, but they forget to take into account calories from their drinks. Milk and juice contain extra calories that can short-circuit weight loss. Because people often consume alcoholic drinks, such as wine, for leisure and not with meals, it sometimes doesn't even occur to them to think about the calories they contain. This is a mistake, because alcoholic drinks often contain a large amount of calories.

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Red Wine Versus White Wine

One gram of pure alcohol contains seven calories. A five ounce glass of red wine usually contains a few more calories than white wine -- 125 calories versus 121, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. This is because red wines usually contain a bit more alcohol than white wines, though not much more. Calories can vary by brand and type of wine as well.

Sources of Calories in Wine

It can be difficult to determine exactly how many calories is in a specific glass of wine; this information is rarely on wine labels. Since the calories in wine come from alcohol and sugar, you can, as a general rule, assume that a particularly sweet or particularly strong wine contains a few more calories than average. Sweet dessert wines, for example, 236 calories per five ounce glass, according to the USDA.

Effect of Alcohol on Metabolism

According to Dietitian.com, alcohol is a well-known appetite stimulant. As such, it may speed your metabolism a bit and help your body burn calories more quickly than normal. This, in turn, may offset some, but not all, of the extra calories contained in alcoholic beverages like wine. While this may sound great, it turns out that if you already have a healthy appetite, the appetite stimulating effect of wine and other alcoholic drinks could cause you to eat more food than you normally would and thus gain weight. The fact that alcohol also lowers your inhibitions can compound the problem; in an inebriated state, you might not care so much about weight loss in the face of the immediate pleasure of eating food.

Offsetting Calories in Wine

Even though drinking wine might stimulate your metabolism, you cannot depend on this effect to burn all the extra calories you get from wine, especially if you drink multiple glasses. If you do drink multiple glasses per day, you should eliminate something else from your diet to offset those calories or increase the amount of exercise you get. For instance, you could eliminate non-diet sodas or high-sugar juices from your diet to offset the wine calories. It is inadvisable to eliminate healthy, nutritious foods in favor of wine. However, if you tend to eat candy bars or high-calorie, high-fat snacks, you could eliminate those.

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