Dieting doesn’t have to mean giving up your wine. Learn some healthy dieting tips for enjoying your weekly glass.
So you’ve decided to go on a diet to attempt to lose weight, get healthier, or take a step into a better lifestyle. That’s commendable, but almost every diet places a strong prohibition on wine or other alcoholic beverages. Enjoying a glass of wine every now and again has some health benefits, such as boosting heart health and eliminating free radicals that contribute to aging.
Luckily, you can have the best of both worlds. Just because you’re on a diet for a certain length of time doesn’t mean you have to give up your daily or weekly glass of Zinfandel on your night out. We’re here to give you some tips on how to follow a healthy diet while still enjoying your wine.
Save Wine For Nights Out
Drinking alcohol is a social behavior in most cases, and it’s best enjoyed with friends or family. The benefits of socialization aside, it’s better to save your wine drinking for restaurant visits to curb the amount you drink. This is because people tend to gravitate to things that are convenient, and if you have a bottle stashed away at home, you’re more likely to drink.
If possible, you should avoid purchasing wine to keep at home during your diet, and just order a glass or two when you go out on your cheat days. Savoring a glass of wine lets you enjoy its taste more, and you don’t have to worry as much about excessive drinking or spending too much on the wine. You should generally drink no more than a glass of red wine per week.
If you partake too often, the calories in wine will offset any work you’re doing in your diet or exercise routine, damaging the health benefits you would get from the diet. As we’ve mentioned, the need to go out to have wine provides the incentive to socialize, which is healthy on its own.
Monitor Caloric Intake
You can expect a glass of wine to have around 100 calories, but you should still check the bottle before pouring. The calories in wine vary between types, based on the grapes used, the fermentation process, and the other ingredients added. It’s important to remember that your body will process the wine differently than it will other food; you won’t digest all of it.
Alcohol could be considered a macronutrient because it contains calories. Here’s a breakdown of the common macronutrients, including alcohol, by calorie count per gram:
- Protein: 4 calories/gram
- Carbohydrates: 4 calories/gram
- Alcohol: 7 calories/gram
- Fat: 9 calories.gram
When you drink wine, your body will metabolize it differently. Because alcohol is technically a toxic substance, your liver focuses on dealing with it before allowing your body to deal with the fat in the foods you eat. Therefore, you have to be careful because alcohol slows down your thermogenic, or fat-burning, processes.
If you’re drinking in a restaurant and serious about calorie-counting, you can ask your server to bring you the bottle of wine, which should have nutrition information listed on it. You can determine how many calories are in a single serving and plan your meal accordingly. Menus also include calorie counts for their items.
Exercise Before You Drink
Exercise increases your metabolism, helping to counteract some of the negative effects we previously touched on about alcohol’s effect on thermogenesis. Take a brisk walk for up to half an hour before your meal or whenever it is that you plan to drink wine. Walking also helps to curb your appetite, lessening the likelihood that you’ll overeat.
While you take your walk, make sure to drink plenty of water. Alcohol can dehydrate the body, which can lead to negative effects on your health. You need to stay hydrated because it also makes you feel slightly fuller. If you get dehydrated from drinking wine, you’ll likely want to eat more to counteract it. Yes, the food contains liquid just like a drink does.
The idea of exercising before a meal seems counterintuitive, but getting healthy requires you to exercise. If you eat a heavy meal, you’ll be more inclined to rest afterward instead of going for a workout. Even a light walk around the block is enough to get your metabolism revved up to burn through food and wine effectively.
Avoid Drinking At Night
Just as you would with a meal, you should avoid drinking wine or any other alcoholic beverage within about four hours of the time you plan to go to bed. This is because the calories in wine will not be able to burn. At night, your body’s metabolism slows down in preparation for sleep. When your metabolism slows, you burn fewer calories than you just took in from food.
If the goal of your diet is to lose weight, the process is simple, though not necessarily easy: take in fewer calories than you use through daily activity. Everything you do burns calories, including your body’s automatic processes and your brain’s functioning. Even if you relax all day, you’re still burning calories.
The average adult maintains weight at a calorie intake of 2,000 to 2,500 calories per day, depending on activity level, age, genetics, and other factors. The amount that is burned is called the base metabolic rate. There is no way to calculate this exactly, and it fluctuates. You can make a basic guess and work through trial and error.
Having your glass of wine in the late afternoon or early evening works best because you still have some time in the day for physical activity. Of course, this is assuming you sleep during the conventional hours. You should still avoid drinking before bedtime, regardless of when that is for you.
Drink Wine With Food, Not Separately
Wine can increase your appetite, thus making you more likely to eat more than you should. Drink the wine during your meal, not before it or even by itself. Not only does pairing wine with food work better with your diet than drinking wine by itself, it also makes the food taste better. Wine specifically is served with some foods, like steak, to enhance their flavors.
On another note, it’s better to drink alcohol with food already in your stomach. The alcohol will metabolize more slowly, so you won’t become as intoxicated and be likely to make poor or impulsive decisions, like forgoing your diet entirely in favor of an appetizing dessert. Wine lowers inhibitions and discipline, which are both necessary to maintain a restrictive diet.
Choose Red Wine Over White
If you want to drink wine on a diet, go with red wine. There are plenty of reds, both sweet and earthy, to suit just about any palate. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon are two of the most prominent sweet wines. A good earthy wine to try is Pinot Noir. Several reasons exist why you should choose red wine over white.
First, red wine has been shown to be healthy for your heart. People who drink around two to three 5-ounce glasses of wine per week have a 30 percent lower risk of heart disease. This is because the compounds in red wine are thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. In other words, they help to reduce the inflammation of heart tissue and blood vessels.
Red wine also can increase HDL, the so-called “good cholesterol.” Cholesterol is a type of protein that your body uses to break down fat and create certain hormones. HDL stands for “high-density lipoprotein.”
Finally, red wine has a compound called resveratrol. It can reduce the decline of cognitive function by blocking the production of certain proteins that create inflammation in the brain. This chemical also contributes to red wine’s ability to reduce inflammation in muscle, joint, and heart tissue.
Avoid Cheap Wine
If you’re going to drink wine at home, it’s better to buy an expensive bottle, at least as far as your budget will allow. Not only is expensive wine usually better, but it also lets it feel more like a treat or like something you should only enjoy on occasion rather than reaching for it on a whim. Because it costs more, you’ll likely drink less often and make the bottle last longer.
Just because you go on a diet to lose weight, build muscle, or just become healthier doesn’t mean you have to give up your wine. You should treat it like you would anything else when you go on a diet. The calories in wine are relatively insignificant, but they still count. You simply have to control your portions and watch your intake.
Complete restriction of any food or substance when dieting makes the diet less likely to last and be effective. Controlling portion sizes and coupling this with a moderate exercise regimen and other healthy lifestyle choices makes it more likely that your food choices will positively affect your health.
You should also avoid using wine as a means of coping or self-medication. Practice deep-breathing exercises, meditate or seek a local support group if you find yourself drinking wine to cope with the stresses of the day.