Calories in red wine – to drink or not to drink?

I really like my red wine. I’m on Whole30 right now and life without my glass of Syrah has been… well, painful.

calories in red wine

I mean, I don’t even drink daily. I have a glass of wine a couple of evenings a week if I’m having something for dinner that just has to have a glass of red wine with it.

But is red wine really that bad for us if we’re trying to lose weight? Or could it actually… help? Are there other attributes besides calories that we should consider?

About the calories in red wine

Red wine contains around 70 – 90 calories per 100 grams/ml. So a typical serving of red wine contains approximately:

5 oz red wine = 118 calories

12 cl red wine = 96 calories

16 cl red wine = 128 calories

If you count the carbohydrates instead of calories then red wine contains around 2,5 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams so it really isn’t that big a problem unless you’ve cut out all the carbs.

What’s interesting and surprising as well (at least to me) is that the glycemic index of red wine is zero which means that red wine has no affect in blood sugar. This means that it won’t cause any spikes in your blood sugar. And that’s super important when it comes to weight loss: remember, it’s the blood sugar spikes and insulin that prevent us from losing weight.

Will you gain weight from drinking wine?

Well, when you look at the calories and carbohydrates then red wine really doesn’t contain that much of them. If you have just a glass of wine occasionally it shouldn’t make a difference.

Having said that, if you have a glass – or two – a night then it quickly adds up and before you know it you’re getting 1000 calories a week from just alcohol. If you haven’t changed anything else in your diet it would mean that you gain around 7 kg / 15 pounds of fat a year.

What’s the story: is red wine good or bad for us?

Is it just me or does it seems to you as well that the studies on red wine are so contradictory? One day you read about how good red wine is to your heart – the next day you should avoid it at all cost. Why is this?

It really does seem that – like pretty much everything – red wine is good for you in some ways and on the other hand it can also cause problems. Especially if have too much of a good thing.

What are the benefits of red wine?

One of the main reasons that red wine is good for you is a compound called resveratrol. It is found in some plants, for example red grapes and blueberries. Resveratrol works like an antioxidant and it protects your body against heart disease and cancer. There are even studies that suggest it could help us fight diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

What’s interesting, from our weight loss point of view, is that resveratrol could help us live longer even if we have an unhealthy high-calorie diet. So we could be fat and merry and live a long life?

Red wine contains contains other healthy antioxidants, flavonoids, as well. The drier the wine, the more flavonoids it contains.

And the other side of the story?

There are some studies that suggest red wine can also increase the risk of cancer. This is mostly the case if you drink too much wine, or any other type of alcohol.

Other possible problems with red wine, such as high blood pressure and liver damage, are also related to drinking too much.

Alcohol can be addictive and addiction starts so slowly, from that one glass an evening. If you notice that you need a glass every night then that’s a warning sign and you should cut back.

Can red wine help you lose weight?

There has been a research where the scientists gave mice (OK, it’s not humans but this is fascinating nonetheless) some resveratrol (remember the plant compound I mentioned earlier?).

Now, even though the mice were on a high fat diet with lots of calories, they gained 40 % less weight than another group of mice that were not given resveratrol.

What happened here was that the mice that were given resveratrol were able to change their ”white” fat to ”brown” fat which burns more calories.

How to cut calories on red wine

If you’re on a diet where you don’t have to count the calories then there’s nothing you should worry about. Just have some wine every now and then if you enjoy it.

However, if you are counting calories and are worried about the amount of calories in red wine here’s what you can do:

  • Make a spritzer by adding sparkling water to your red wine. You can also use calorie free soda although it would be better to stay away from soda to prevent soda addiction.
  • Make sangria by adding sugar free lemonade and fruit. Be careful though – this is so good you might end up drinking half a bottle before you notice it! So if you’re worried you might triple your calories in the end it might be better to have just that one glass of the real thing.
  • I’d rather cut the calories from the food you eat. For example if you’re having steak have vegetables instead of potatoes or a nice goat’s cheese salad instead of pizza. Save the calories for that nice glass of red wine – you could actually save a lot of calories and you won’t get those high blood sugar spikes either.

What does this leave us with?

I believe that red wine in moderation is good for us. When I’m done with Whole30 I will be so happy to reintroduce it to my diet. I think that we should savor it with our food rather than use it for relaxation though. If we use it for relaxation I believe the risk of addiction is real in the long run.

How do you feel about red wine? Do you believe it’s good for you?




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