Wine & Weight Loss

Posted by: samy September 29, 2011 No Comments
Erin, enjoying a healthy glass of red on a patio

by Erin

Let’s be honest: as sommeliers, our jobs are awesome. Eating amazing foods and drinking spectacular wine is great. And the fact that we get paid to do it, is just icing on the cake.

But there is no free lunch. And I’ve paid a price for my wining and dining lifestyle with my waistline. Yes, I have lived to learn why they call it a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.

But this summer, realizing my shape was closer to a Rubenesque burgundy wine glass than the sleek champagne flute I so desire, I gave my muffin top an eviction notice and recruited a personal trainer. And I have paid dearly for her. Both in cash and sweat & tears — and once or twice, a little blood.

After the first two weeks of working out til I nearly passed out, I weighed in 6 pounds lighter and 9 inches had melted off various squishy parts of my body. Elated at the thought that at that rate I could be 24 pounds less in only 2 months, and I went home and celebrated that warm evening with a nice chilled glass of sparkling wine.

When I returned for another weigh-in two weeks later, I was so looking forward to the double digit loss I nearly fell off the scale when I was told I was up two pounds. Hadn’t I just spent the last two weeks literally working my butt off? What, in the name of Bacchus, happened? Wine happened, the gym owner told me. He said wine is pure sugar and if you drink it, you simply will not lose weight that day. That’s not really news to me; I once heard The Biggest Loser tough girl Jillian Michaels say the same thing — give up the hooch and you’ll give up the pooch.

But I didn’t give up without a fight. I cried foul. Absolute BS, a conspiracy that would rival the grassy knoll. I wanted to have my wine and drink it too.

So I went home and started my research on what alcohol does to the body and its affect on weight loss, expecting to find reams of evidence that would convince me — in all kinds of blood and guts glory — that in my search for a leaner, meaner body, my beloved vino and I would have to part ways for a little while.

But much to my shock — and ultimate elation — what turned up was pages upon pages of articles supporting a glass or two of wine a day (for women, anyway) to help aid in weight loss and improve overall health!

(Now, my lawyers are probably breaking a sweat right now, so I should tell you that alcohol can lead to all kinds of problems including increased risk of breast cancer, liver damage, wicked hangovers, birth defects and lots of other horrible maladies, so if you’re going to consume, you should do so responsibly and even consult a physician if so warranted).

But according to a bevy of articles floating around the web, wine, consumed in moderate amounts of one to two glasses a day, can help lower the risk for developing or controlling diabetes, improve heart health, and raise your “good” HDL cholesterol. Not only that — it’s possible that moderate drinking may help keep you thin!

When, in 2010, Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston released the results of a study of 20-thousand women, media outlets went crazy. Time magazine ran the headline, “Study: Women Who Drink Tend to be Thinner.” A Reuters headline read, “Wine may help women keep weight in check.”

The study compared teetotalers to moderate wine drinking women and found that over 13 years, the imbibers only gained 3.4 pounds, while the abstainers saw their weight increase by 8 pounds.

A similar study released in 2011 saw headlines run wild again, with everyone from the UK’s “The Telegraph” to “The Times of India” running stories of how Spanish researchers could not find conclusive evidence that light to moderate wine consumption wreaks havoc on weight.

Both articles noted that with 7.1 calories per gram of alcohol excessive drinking (4+ drinks per day) can lead to obesity, but moderate drinking of only a glass or two a day may actually help keep your weight down!

Courtney (L) & Erin enjoying some sparkling at Domain Chandon in California

But after doing a little happy dance (I estimate that burned an extra 20 calories), I decided I would not celebrate this little victory with a mugful of something oaky. Nope, putting my hands on my steadily shrinking hips, I resolved to sit this one out and carried on my path to a flat belly.

I can’t deny that after living the high-caloric life for so many years, I was in a place I didn’t want to be when I joined the gym. And after 8 weeks of busting my butt, and learning the art of portion control, I am starting to see some results that I like. I may never have a butt like my trainer, who can uncork a wine bottle with her tight posterior, but I am learning the art of moderation. And that is something I can drink to.

Erin first posted this blog in September, 2011, but the sentiment still rings true. And yes, Erin got in a run this morning, and no, that was not Sauvignon Blanc in her water bottle. 

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