Is Wine Belly Real? How can you lose it?
The cliché image of a ‘beer belly’ is something most of us want to avoid. But more and more people drinking wine nowadays. Surveys suggest that a third of alcohol drinkers in the UK prefer wine to any other drink. These people are finding that weight gain is not far removed from drinking beer.
There is a growing concern about the rise of the ‘wine belly’ that is fast replacing the beer bulge. Obesity has risen by 65% in men and 25% in women since 1991.
The pandemic has seen a rise in both heavy alcohol consumption and worldwide weight gain. While there are certainly other culprits, such as high-fat snacks, alcohol likely plays a role.
But how and why does drinking wine lead to a wider waist, and how worried should we be?
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Are Wine Belly and Beer Belly the Same?
Yes, the reasons for both are the same – too many extra calories. A small glass of wine contains 90-120 calories depending on whether it is white or red and how sweet it is.
How Fattening is Wine?
Compared with beer, wine is slightly higher in calories, but it is more alcoholic, so the average drinker will probably consume the same calories for either.
The average person will need 1500-2500 calories every day. This is based on several factors, including height, weight, muscles, and activity level.
If you are ‘breaking even’ through your eating, then a couple of glasses of wine a week will only cause slight weight gain. This might be hard to notice as it is a subtle weight gain, but it becomes obvious first around your waist, causing a wine belly.
However, if you are drinking a bottle of wine a day, you are adding 600 or more to your diet. That is the same as having a whole extra meal!
Why Does Wine Make You Gain Weight Around the Belly?
There are several reasons wine causes us to gain fat around the belly:
- Empty calories – all the calories of food without any nutritional value
- It isn’t food – we don’t think about it being as fattening as but two glasses is more than a Mars bar
- Age – the average age of a wine drinker is 50, and until 65, it gets progressively harder to lose weight
- Gender – women both drink more wine (10%) and gain weight throughout their bodies. This means they have to work harder to look like they lost weight.
Isn’t Wine Healthy?
The scientific community and government health watchdogs are divided on this issue. This is because a large number of smaller-scale studies show that wine may improve heart health in middle-aged people. Some even linked it to a lowered risk of cancer.
Then the Lancet report emerged to stun experts. It was the longest and most comprehensive study ever done on the effects of all forms of alcohol. This study spanned 26 years and 195 countries, and the results were clear.
The conclusion was that ‘no level of alcohol consumption improves health’. In fact, it found that overall, alcohol consumption is more damaging to health than dangerous drugs such as heroin and cocaine.
Included in this study was the impact that weight gain can have on health. This includes wine and beer belly as some of the most common alcohol weight gain issues.
Wine Belly and Menopause
The natural weight gain seen by women between the ages of 40 and 65 (the age when weight loss begins) is partly hormonal. This said, hormones cannot cause this on their own.
Hormones during menopause cause a drop in metabolism. However, if your metabolism is slower, you can eat less and still stay the same weight.
Alcohol, including wine can lower your metabolism more when you drink too much. Your body focuses on metabolizing alcohol and sends fat processing to the back of the queue.
How to lose my Wine Belly?
The issue with wine belly is really one of control and moderation. This includes moderating your wine intake and also food. Making sure you get all the nutrition you need for the right calories to fit your body is key.
For example, if you need to eat 2000 calories a day, stick with high nutrition and low-fat options. Then adding a glass of wine once or twice a week shouldn’t cause you issues with weight gain.
You can try calorie counting but make sure to include your wine in those calculations. Make sure that you aren’t sacrificing vitamins and nutrients for alcohol. This can leave you feeling low and listless, causing you to gain more weight from inactivity.
Is it Bad to Drink Wine Every Day?
Again, moderation is key, especially when talking about wine belly fat. If you are not exceeding your daily calories and staying healthy, it probably won’t be an issue.
However, a break from drinking at least a few days a week is important. Your body needs to recover. This is one of the hidden causes of wine belly. You are tired and run down from drinking too regularly, and so are less active, burning fewer calories.
Wine Belly and Heavy Drinking
Given the 600 or more calories you can take on from drinking, say, a bottle of wine a day, it is clear that heavy or binge drinking is a problem. Not only does it damage your health by causing weight gain, but it also gives you less energy and strains your body.
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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3767933/ Effects of Alcohol on the Endocrine System
https://www.thelancet.com/infographics-do/alcohol-gbd Health risks of alcohol
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5673154/ The rising prevalence of obesity: part A: impact on public health