You’re humming along on your diet, losing 1 pound a week. Suddenly you hit a plateau.
Hmmmm…could that nightly glass (or two) of wine have anything to do with it?
Yup. Wine has more calories than you might think.
Pour yourself a typical 5-ounce serving of cabernet sauvignon, and you’re all set to drink 122 calories. Make that 5 ounces of rose, and you’re drinking 131 calories. Or 5 ounces of chardonnay, and you’re drinking 128 calories.
Multiply that by two or three glasses, and those calories add up.
How your body processes alcohol
Alcohol is metabolized differently than food. First, it can’t be stored, and second, it has to be converted from its ingested state to one that is not so poisonous.
It passes through the stomach, and enters the bloodstream and the brain. But ultimately, alcohol must find its way to the liver, which is the only organ that knows what to do with it.
There, it takes center stage. The liver lets alcohol go to the front of the line, before other nutrients, because it simply needs to break it down into CO2 and water and get it out of the body.
The pathways and mechanisms by which alcohol metabolism occurs read like they’re straight from a chemistry textbook. But on the most basic level, alcohol metabolism involves the breakdown of enzymes and the elimination of the byproducts.
Your gender, age, body size and genetics all play a role in how quickly alcohol is eliminated from your body.
Avoiding that slippery slope
Alcohol also clouds your judgment about healthy food choices. This is a problem when you’re watching your weight. Pairing a glass of wine with cheese and crackers, or chips and dip, can seem not only harmless but also like a great idea.
If you really want to cut down on liquid calories, here are five tips:
- Set alcohol aside for a while. Cut out alcohol for a few weeks and see what the scale says. You’ll likely be pleased.
- Cut your consumption. Go from two glasses to one per night. Or drink every other night or just on weekends.
- Reduce your pour. Stick to American Heart Association limits of one 4-ounce glass daily (for women) and two 4-ounce glasses (for men). Measure out 4 ounces in your favorite wine glass so you know when to say “when.”
- Switch up your drink ware. Invest in 3- or 4-ounce wine glasses instead of 5-ounce or larger glasses.
- Have water on hand. Alternate between sipping your wine and sipping this zero-calorie beverage.
Treat your body to a healthy snack instead
For the same number of calories as a glass of wine, you could be nourishing your body with a healthy and tasty snack. Some of my favorites are:
- A caramelized onion frittata
- ½ ounce of cocoa-dusted almonds
- 6-ounce plain yogurt with ½ cup of raspberries
Take a look at your wine consumption, then try some of these ideas to see if they don’t bring you back on track with your weight-loss plan.