Have Your Wine And Lose Weight Too

Several years ago, I had a guest on my podcast, (it may have been Amy Kubal, RD) and we were talking about the two most problematic areas of a diet that we see most often.

If memory serves, I think it came down to alcohol and cheese.

Let’s talk about alcohol.

Many of my clients enjoy their drink of choice. For some that’s beer, others might be liquor (like my wife and I) and others like wine.

I find wine to be the most unique of the bunch primarily because the flavor profile changes so quickly once you open a bottle.

Those changes typically provide the motivation to finish a bottle on the same night that you open it and rarely ever consuming it beyond the second day it was opened.

The average bottle of wine is between 500-700 calories.

Let’s split the difference and say 600 for conversation’s sake.

I’ll use the example of a hypothetical adult woman who would like to lose some weight (fat) and still be able to consume wine.

This woman calculated her daily caloric intake and believes she needs to be at 1600 a day to lose fat at a moderate (not fast) pace.

She also would prefer the flexibility to consume a bottle of wine each evening (not uncommon).

That leaves her with 1000 calories for food.

If I were in her shoes, I would want to keep protein intake relatively high and I’ll set a target of approximately 100g of protein per day. That will take up about 400 calories.

She now has 600 calories left for fats and carbs.

I really don’t like to see very low fat intakes for the purposes of hormonal health, and the health of the skin, hair, nails and gut motility. I’ll set fat at no less than 20% of the daily total. That means 320 calories or no less than 35g of fat per day. The remaining 280 calories would come from carbohydrates and that breaks down to roughly 70g of carbs per day. This would qualify as a low(er) carb diet but not ketogenic.

Assuming that the initial total of 1600 calories is accurate for fat loss and is accurately accounted for, our hypothetical client has a blueprint for wine consumption, decent protein intake, and a manageable remainder for carbs and fat.

Is it ideal? No. But it can work for the purposes of fat loss.

I would love to see this same person cut the wine intake by half (or more), which would look like 300 calories for alcohol and 300 calories to put back into carbs and fats.

The fact of the matter is that alcohol is a known toxin and it simply has little nutritive value. I won’t belabor that.

If you identify as our hypothetical client, my most affectionate suggestion is that you reduce your consumption by as much as you believe that you can. Rather than consuming a bottle a night, try splitting it with a friend/loved one or seeing if you can spread consumption out during the week (one day with, one day without, etc.)

Ideally, I would love to see you consume most of your diet via whole, minimally processed foods: plenty of lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and some poly/monounsaturated fats.

If having a serving or two of your favorite alcoholic beverage helps you stay adherent to your food plan, remember that calories rule the roost. Hold yourself accountable to not only what you drink but what you may potentially consume via food when you drink as well.

Also note that this post isn’t “just” about alcohol. Many of my clients abstain from alcohol but would love to be able to fit in a cookie a day, a serving of ice cream a day, etc. You can use the same principle as we applied to the bottle of wine: take a given portion (say a 500 calorie cookie) and work it off of your daily total.

There are a lot of effective methods for fat loss. This article aimed to give you clarity and options for success.

Author’s Note: If your alcohol consumption is becoming problematic, please consider abstinence, Rational/SMART Recovery, a support group, a counselor/therapist with background in substance use or try working with an app like Sunnyside.

(Photo courtesy of Terry Vlisidis)