With a new year comes new fitness goals. I know so many people who are on various diets or trying to get back into some type of workout routine after a crazy year that led to plenty of stress eating and drinking. Let’s just chalk that up to having to function through a global pandemic.
Regardless, staying in shape is no easy feat. It takes a lot of discipline, especially when it comes to what you eat and drink. I have one friend who always asks me what low calorie wine she can drink so that she won’t feel guilty about consuming alcohol while trying to lose weight. My response, ‘Girl, you focused on the wrong calories!’
I mean this is coming from a girl who would rather drink than eat her calories! Okay! So, I don’t know what to tell you.
All jokes aside, I know that drinking alcohol can be counterintuitive if you’re trying to lose weight. Our bodies digest alcohol differently than food. In case you didn’t know, excess alcohol is sent through a complex metabolic process. The body will burn the alcohol first as energy and store the other nutrients as fat. And, that’s when we have a problem, Houston.
With so many amazing wines out there, it’s hard not to have a glass or two after a long day of work or when you’re just catching up with friends. I get it. Believe me! The struggle is always real over here to maintain my personal weight range, while doing what I love—drinking and sharing wine with you. Well the good news is that you can still enjoy a glass (or two) while staying fit. I wanted to equip you with the knowledge to make smart choices, so I’ve pulled together seven ways you can modify your wine-drinking habits to avoid completely sabotaging your fitness goals.
1. Know Which Battle to Fight (Carbs vs. Calories vs. Alcohol)
The first part of the battle is understanding the parts of wine that you should be tracking if you’re monitoring what you’re putting into your body. I always hear people talking about carbs and calories, so let’s start there and let me talk about one more area that you should know.
- Carbohydrates: Carbs are often vilified when it comes to dieting. You’ll be happy to know that many wines have zero carbs. For background, in wine carbs come in the form of grape sugars left over (also known as residual sugar) after the fermentation process is complete. A wine that ferments totally dry has no carbs because theres’s no leftover sugar. So, you might want to stay away from sweeter wines if weight loss is a priority.
- Calories: Knowing the caloric content in wines is important. The highest calorie wines tend to have the highest alcohol content. Most red and white wines range anywhere from 110 to 175 calories per five-ounce glass, but there are some sweet wines that go up to 300 calories per glass per glass. A few options are Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and dry bubbly.
- Alcohol: Alcohol contains seven calories per gram, so no matter what, you’re going to consume calories if you drink. Most wines range between nine and 16 percent alcohol. Wines with higher alcohol levels include varieties like Shiraz, Pinotage, Zinfandel, and Grenache. They’re naturally high in sugar.
You can see that you’ll want to focus on wines that are low in calories, as well as have a lower alcohol content and ones that don’t have a lot of added sugar.
2. Stay Away from Wines that are High in Residual Sugar
Speaking of sugar, a good rule of thumb if you’re counting carbs is to look for wines with three or less grams per liter of residual sugar. This is a low number and results in just 2.25 carbohydrates or less in an entire bottle.
3. Look at the Quality of Wine You’re Drinking
The quality of wine matters. I know many of my readers aren’t spending hella money on wine and neither am I. But, one thing to be cognizant about is that a lot of mass produced, commercial wines tend to have more residual sugar to improve the taste. They even may add a little sugar to their dry wines. This is because just a touch of sugar adds quite a bit of body and texture as well as accentuating the fruit flavors. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re watching your weight it’s something that you might want to pay closer attention to.
These types of value wines normally range from about 5-30 g/L of residual sugar, which is above the recommended amount mentioned above. This is why you might want to invest more in quality wines even if you have to spend a little more. And, if you’re having to spend more on wine, that may also prevent you from buying or drinking as much, which actually isn’t a bad thing if that’s your goal.
4. Watch Your Pour
We often hear the phrase “everything in moderation,” especially when you’re drinking alcohol. But, when you’re mostly drinking at home these days, it’s easy to become a little heavy-handed on your pours.
Don’t fill your glass up to the rim…lol. A standard pour is typically five ounces, so keep it there or under. Also, the American Heart Association recommends that women drink no more than one drink and men no more than two a day. This is because women have less alcohol-disgesting enzymes than men, which makes it more dangerous for us to consumer more. Lucky us! With that being said, I’d also limit the frequency that you’re consuming wine. After a lot of stress drinking in the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve been working to limit my drinking to Friday – Sunday, with the occasional Wine Wednesday. I’m a work in progress, but I definitely try to listen to my body and she is not afraid to tell me when she’s had enough, especially as I get older the bounce back isn’t as easy…i.e. today is Sunday and after a couple of glasses yesterday, we definitely won’t be partaking in any libations.
5. Understand that Alcohol Makes You Think You’re Hungry
I dunno about you, but when I drink a lot I often find myself wanting to sober up with food. And most often that’s going to be something unhealthy and fatty like some McDonalds’ fries.
I know for a fact that I don’t make the right food decisions when I’m drinking alcohol and now I know why. I found out that drinking wine initiates your hypothalamus and amygdala. These two basic brain centers control things like emotions, body temperature regulation, hunger, and libido. Therefore, it’s very common for people to think they are hungry if they have a drink. In this way, alcohol can act as an appetite stimulant. So, if you’re sticking to your diet, be sure to keep this in mind.
6. Drink Water In Between Drinks
Water and I have a struggling relationship. I just won’t let it into my inner circle like I should. It’s important to know that water should be your bestie everyday, but even more so when consuming alcohol. If you think about it, water has zero calories and will make you feel full hence making you slow down on your alcohol intake…hopefully. Not only that, but it will help flush out your system and also help lessen the next day’s after drinking effects.
7. Try Alternatives like Wine Spritzers or Natural Wines
I haven’t tried these marketed low-calorie wines like Skinny Girl Wine, so I’m not going to talk about those. But, one of the easiest and best ways to cut down on calories is to make a wine spritzer. Take half a glass of wine and pour it over ice. Top it off with club soda. Club soda has zero calories. A typical wine spritzer is roughly 100-120 calories. Natural wine is also an option. I’m talking about my favorite brands like Donkey & Goat and Broc Cellars that make wine in its purest form using sustainable practices, no artificial additives, no sugar/carbs, low sulfites…the list goes on and on. I’ll have a post dedicated to natural wine in March, but you get the gist of what I’m talking about.
I hope this post will make you feel less guilty about consuming wine on your fitness journey. If you want to go hard core, then do it. I’ve seen firsthand the wonders that not drinking will do for your body, but giving up alcohol isn’t realistic for everyone. I believe that you can have your wine and still work out too. And, of course we know that your diet plays an important role as well. However, with these seven pieces of advice, I hope that you can make more informed decisions about the type and quantity of wine you’re putting into your system, so that you can still meet your fitness goals. Until next time…glasses up!