This article has been Fact-Checked by Kendall Kennedy MS, RD, RYT
Headlines that claim that a certain drink is good for weight loss are popular. One of those is red wine, is it good for weight loss?
Red wine is an alcoholic drink made by crushing and then fermenting dark-colored grapes. Red wine has been an extremely popular drink for 1000’s of years and it doesn’t look like that will end anytime soon.
Different red wines of course have slightly different nutritional values but there are some commonalities.
Being popular does not mean that red wine is good for your health of course. Red wine gets praised for containing substances that may improve your health and help you lose weight. However, overall red wine will most likely not help you lose weight or become healthier.
The French Paradox
One reason red wine gets a good name in terms of health is because something called the French paradox.
Associational studies observed that the French were consuming more saturated fats and cholesterol heavy foods. At that time it was believed that these things were the reason for heart disease.
Even though they were consuming these “unhealthy” foods the French had lower rates of heart disease. This is why it’s known as a paradox.
To make sense of this these studies searched for another reason to justify these lower rates of heart disease. They also observed that the French consumed more red wine and concluded that this was one of the reasons for their health.
These days it’s not that clear whether or not certain saturated fats and food with cholesterol are that unhealthy. The interest in red wine stayed and there are indeed some beneficial substances in it. Are those enough to justify a glass of red wine?
Nutrients in red wine
Grapes and thus red wine contain several anti-oxidants, including a substance resveratrol. Anti-oxidants can help you deal with oxidative stress but some have other possible benefits in terms of health.
Resveratrol is a promising compound that has been linked to heart benefits like fighting inflammation, reducing blood clotting, and just reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer (1, 2, 3).
This in itself doesn’t justify claiming that red wine is good for your health. The amounts of resveratrol used in these studies comes down to drinking multiple bottles of red wine a day.
The headlines with “alcohol x is good for weight loss” become ridiculous with this in mind.
Good nutrients in something doesn’t mean it’s healthy
This is a twisted reasoning process that happens with food and drinks in terms of health.
Some foods do contain good substances but you are not just consuming that individual substance. You are consuming the other things in that food or drink too. These other substances also have an effect on your health.
For example, in candy bar there might be hiding some vitamins and minerals. These micronutrients are probably good for you. But you are also consuming all that sugar. The candy bar will probably do more bad than good for you in the bigger picture.
It’s the same with red wine. You are still consuming alcohol which is harmful for your health and weight loss efforts.
You can use this info about the nutrients in red wine if you decide on drinking alcohol anyway. Drinking red wine is probably better for weight loss than for example a beer.
Is wine bad for losing weight?
So yes, red wine is bad for losing weight if you were not planning on drinking alcohol. If you do want to drink alcohol red wine might be “healthier” than other alcoholic drinks.
Keep in mind that red wine contains around 85 calories per 100 grams depending on your choice of wine (4).
Alcohol is bad for your health and weight loss for a few reasons. The first one is that it harms your liver. Your liver is an organ that detoxifies food and produces important enzymes for digestion.
Your liver is an extremely important organ that you want to keep healthy.
Alcohol can also disrupt your sleep if you drink it later in the day and the evening. Sleep is extremely important for your health and weight loss. Again something you don’t want to mess with too much.
You can drink red wine and still lose weight but it will harm your progress. If you do decide to drink red wine make sure you drink it not too close to bedtime.
Does wine cause belly fat?
Alcohol, and thus wine, may influence fat distribution. That means your glass of red wine may cause an increase of belly fat compared to gaining the same amount of fat from other sources (5, 6).
Another study that examined 4 weeks of moderate red wine drinking didn’t find a significant difference in fat distribution between the group that drank alcohol and the group that did not (6). You do have to keep in mind that 4 weeks is not that long.
More studies to clarify the relation between alcohol and belly fat are welcome. For now it is better to stay away from alcoholic drinks like red wine if you want to lose weight and belly fat.