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Do you enjoy having a nice glass—or a few nice glasses—of wine in the evening? Do you often gather with friends to catch up over a bottle—or two? The occasional drink is a common routine for many people, and wine can seem like a classier option. There have even been rumors that it can be good for your health. However, wine is not without its drawbacks. If you thought you could avoid a larger gut by avoiding beer, you may be surprised to see your midsection growing anyway! What is this phenomenon? It turns out that “wine belly” is a thing, and too much wine can lead to extra fat around the belly—just like with beer.
Let’s look at why wine belly happens, and what you can do to win your “battle of the bulge.”
Wine Belly vs Beer Belly
So does wine cause belly fat? If so, how is it different than a beer belly?
Wine belly and beer belly are actually the same thing. All forms of alcohol contain calories, and it is well known that consuming extra calories can help you put on extra weight. Not all drinks are created equal: Light beer, for instance, contains an average of 103 calories per serving. Regular beer contains roughly 153 calories.
Most wines fall somewhere in between, averaging 121 to 129 calories per five ounce glass. This means that wine is slightly better than most beer. But imagine knocking back enough glasses of wine to keep pace with a couple of beer buddies. In the end, would it make a huge difference?
Then, there are disparities in gender, drinking, and weight gain. Wine seems to be more popular among women. Beer bellies are often associated with male drinkers, and it’s true that men tend to develop belly fat more quickly. On the other hand, it appears that women store more fat in their bodies overall. This is especially true after menopause.
It can also take more time for women to lose extra weight from their abdomen. As a result, even if men can develop a gut more easily, consuming excess calories is not a good idea for women either. No matter who you are or what beverage you prefer, excessive drinking is likely to give you some kind of belly.
The Cultural Effect
One reason why the issue of “wine belly” is often overlooked is that wine has become so socially acceptable. The phenomenon of “mommy wine culture,” for example, has made it seem normal for women to drink large amounts of wine to cope with stress, or just to socialize. At the same time, wine has received a lot of positive press for containing polyphenols—antioxidants which may protect against heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems. With this combination of cultural approval and perceived health benefits, it’s easy to feel as if you can drink all the wine you want.
Unfortunately, upon closer scrutiny it turns out many of the benefits of red wine are a myth. As we’ve covered recently, the polyphenols in red wine are likely too low to have any real impact. And even if they weren’t, the potential negative health effects of alcohol (including liver disease, hypertension, and heart damage) would quickly outweigh the benefits. “Mommy wine culture” also seems to be masking an increase in alcoholism among women. If your wine belly is growing, it might be a warning sign that you are drinking more than is healthy.
Your Secret Weapon: Moderation
So, how does someone get rid of the belly fat that’s caused by drinking too much wine?
The good news is that you don’t have to cut wine out of your life completely to eliminate a wine belly. Studies indicate that light, occasional alcohol consumption doesn’t have a big impact on your weight. The main issues are heavy drinking and binge drinking: four or more glasses on one occasion, or more than 7 glasses per week overall. If you’re able to consistently moderate your wine consumption, you’ll be consuming fewer calories and will have a better chance of getting rid of the wine belly for good.
If you find that your wine consumption has gotten beyond this, there are solutions that can help you cut back. Ria Health can help you achieve moderation again through a combination of counseling, medication to reduce cravings, and handy digital tools. Best of all, the whole thing can be done privately through your smartphone. Learn more about how our program can help you say goodbye to wine belly, and establish an improved relationship with alcohol.