Here is the lie your glass of red wine is telling you: I shall make thee thinner (assuming your glass of red wine, like most, is a Shakespearean actor).
As much as we want to believe the French Paradox, we also kind of have to accept the basic facts of metabolic chemistry, i.e. when you consume alcohol, your body will metabolize it before anything else. It’s like, if a weird but awesome jerk came into a bar, the bouncers would get him out before they’d escort out some drunk karaoke-ers over-singing En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind” (and god bless us, every one).
“Drinking presses ‘pause’ on your metabolism, shoves away the other calories, and says ‘Break me down first!” Or so Pamela Peeke told CNN. Basically meaning your body will deal with alcohol before anything else, so even if you have a delightful salad, your body is going to muck around with the vodka tonic before it does anything to the avocado or organic arugula. Yes, you paid $4.67 for the organic arugula, but your body is paying more attention to the $.95 of vodka in your drink.
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And yes, it kinda gets worse. “Alcohol especially decreases fat burn in the belly,” says Peeke. Also, and no surprise, it sucks more for women, who “experience a widening waistline as they age,” (no sh*t). “This usually coincides with overall weight gain and a reduction in lean muscle mass,” per Livestrong.com. Not that everyone on earth doesn’t gently, and then slightly less gently, expand at the waist just before hitting the cusp of middle age (don’t freak out, you earned it, life is short, eat Cheetos, etc.).
Truth be told, from what we can tell, wine doesn’t have any more impact on the waistline than any other alcoholic drink. In fact, red wine might actually be recommended for beating back the belly fat. Per this dude from Dr. Oz, a daily glass of red wine may well counteract the production of belly fat. “The resveratrol may interfere with fat synthesis, and other red wine polyphenols may inhibit aromatase, an enzyme made by belly fat that converts androgens to estrogens.”
Then again, Suzanne Somers (who we can all trust because, well, the Thigh Master) says something a bit different at least when it comes to white wine: “I call this ‘Chardonnay Syndrome,’ and sadly, getting sucked in can make you fat! White wine is sugar, and unless you need it as instant energy, your body will store sugar as fat — along with whatever else you are eating with it. The pounds inevitably creep on, usually through the belly and butt area. “
Somers—wait, can we just call her Suzanne?—makes a key point there. Women tend to gain weight in the waist area, the place where potential partners look a lot because the world is cruel and stupid. Intake of calories may just be the culprit—and wine calories add up pretty quickly, especially when they’re white and delicious.
But with red wine, you may be ok, who knows. But what’s most important is to drink with the knowledge that wine has calories, just like any other enjoyable (interesting) comestible. And then, god help us, do crunches.