Can Moderate Drinking Help You Lose Weight?

For a long time the accepted wisdom around losing weight was a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. That line of thinking has come under a lot of scrutiny in recent years. The answer seems to be that no, not all calories are treated equally. The human body isn’t a simple machine that gains or loses weight based on calories in vs. calories out. That leads us to some interesting research from Japan, via The Telegraph, on how moderate alcohol consumption can actually help you lose weight, despite the caloric content of alcohol:

Next, one important hormonal factor that determines how prone we are to storing fat is our insulin sensitivity. Put very simply, when a person has poor insulin sensitivity they are more prone to storing fat as their bodies are less efficiently able process carbohydrates. Interestingly, scientists from the Department of Medicine and Clinical Science at Kyushu University, Japan, have claimed that “alcohol improves insulin sensitivity”. If true, it suggests a small glass of gin between courses could actually give your waistline a hormonal advantage in its battle against the bulge.

Before we go any further we should point out that sugary alcoholic drinks, including wines high in residual sugar, carry more calories than pure alcohol — not that anyone is drinking pure alcohol (hopefully?). While neutral spirits like gin and vodka, served without sugary mixers, would be good candidates if the research is accurate, we’d like to recommend some wines that are low in residual sugar — to help you in your dieting efforts. The basic principle is, the dryer the wine, the lower the sugar content should be; lower alcohol wines carry less calories as there is simply less alcohol.

On the white wine side you could go for Muscadet (a seriously underrated wine), Sauvignon Blanc, or Grüner Veltliner, among others. If you’re looking for a red wine good options are Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

A final word of caution: mass-produced wines tend to have higher residual sugar than you would expect. This is for two reasons: First, Americans, broadly, tend to think our tastes run dryer than they actually do, so mass-produced wines are designed to deal with this perception issue. Second, as large producers often need to work with different grape sources from year to year, they tend to use various additives to achieve a uniform taste. So, now you have a reason to try some new wines, from smaller producers…while aiding your weight loss efforts.

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