Ask Adam. I’ve Heard of Having a Beer Belly. Is There Such a Thing as a Wine Belly?


2 minute Read

Ask Adam. I’ve Heard of Having a Beer Belly. Is There Such a Thing as a Wine Belly?

Illustration By Danielle Grinberg

Send questions to: advice@vinepair.com.

I’ve heard of a beer belly. Is there such a thing as a wine belly? Or a liquor belly?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes. While I’d love to tell you that belly fat is only reserved for those who choose to pound beer, any sommelier or mixologist will attest that if you drink in excess — whether it’s wine, vodka, or beer — you’ll wind up with a larger belly than you might wish.

When you imbibe, your body breaks down alcohol before it breaks down anything else. This means that, if you consume a bottle of wine with steak and potatoes at dinner, your body will work on the alcohol before getting around to burning the calories from the meal. And so you may wind up with some leftover calories that your body just doesn’t get around to burning off.

I’m afraid it doesn’t end there, either. Alcohol especially decreases fat burn in the belly. Which then results in a beer, wine, or spirits belly. Oh, and it decreases the fat burn more for women than men. Life is extraordinarily unfair.

There are some scientific studies that do claim that, out of all the alcohol available, the one with the least impact on our belly fat is red wine. In fact, some doctors believe the resveratrol in red wine reverses belly fat, but that’s if you only have one glass of red wine at night.

So if you’re going to drink alcohol and avoid the belly, recognize you’re probably going to need to lower your caloric intake when you do, and exercise a bit as well.

Why are drinks like hard tea, hard fruit punch, and hard seltzer water labeled ‘beer’?

I hear you. These products don’t look like beer or taste like beer, so why are they called beer?

The answer is government regulation. The TTB, or Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, is part of the United States Department of the Treasury, which regulates and collects taxes on trade and imports of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms within the United States. It defines what gets labeled what. According to the TTB’s definition, anything produced from either a brewed malt (“clear malt”) or brewed sugar (where 100 percent of the fermentables are derived from non-malt sugar) base, with carbonated water and added flavor, is considered beer. All of these hard seltzers, teas, sodas, and fruit punches are brewed from one of these two bases, so, by the TTB’s definition, they are beer.

What’s the best cocktail to order if I’m on a diet?

Your best bet is probably a vodka and club soda. Clear spirits have the lowest calories and club soda adds the fewest additional ones. It’s not a super-delicious cocktail, but I guess you aren’t really looking for that if you’re dieting, are you?

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