If your favorite life mottos revolve around wine (rosé all day!), you might dread the thought of giving up your favorite reds and whites when trying to lose weight. But do you really need to put a cork in your sipping habits? How many calories are in a glass of red wine or white wine? And is it possible for wine to pair well with your weight-loss goals?
“Wine can fit into a healthy eating pattern when attention is paid to how often and how much you drink,” says Sarah Schumacher, MS, RDN, CDE, of UW Health, the integrated health system of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Here’s what you need to know about wine and weight loss.
How Many Calories Are in a Glass of Red Wine?
Red wine calories vary according to the vino variety — but not by much. Pinot Noir comes in at the low end, with 121 calories per 5-ounce glass. The reds with the highest calorie counts are Burgundy (127 calories per glass) and Zinfandel (129 calories per glass).
How Many Calories Are in a Glass of White Wine?
The number of calories in white wine depends on variety too. Riesling is at the lower end, with 118 calories per glass. At the higher end, you’ll find Chardonnay (123 calories per glass) and Moscato (also 123 calories per glass). In between, you’ll find Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. And while it’s not technically a white or a red, rosé falls in the middle too — a 5-ounce serving of the pink drink will set you back 126 calories.
Which Wine Is the Healthiest?
In terms of calorie consumption, there’s no clear winner. The difference between Riesling and Zin won’t exactly make or break your weight-loss plans. Pick your favorite, but pay attention to serving sizes and how often you’re refilling your glass.
Both red and white grapes contain antioxidants — but so does grape juice and, while we’re at it, whole grapes. Research also suggests that red wine in particular may have heart-healthy benefits, and white wine may support lung health.
But before you raise a glass (or three!) to your health, keep in mind wine isn’t a cure-all. Some of the science behind wine’s health benefits is still inconclusive.
For example, you’ve probably heard the hype about resveratrol, a plant compound in red wine that’s been touted for protecting your brain, cardiovascular system, and cells. But research suggests you probably can’t drink enough wine to get the recommended amount of resveratrol. (And no, that’s not a challenge!)
In other words, there’s no concrete evidence that any single variety of wine is the healthiest — so if you love Chardonnay, don’t feel like you need to switch to merlot for the added health benefits.
“Honestly, there aren’t enough antioxidants in a glass of wine to do anything — so drink what you want,” says Megan Kober, RDN, of Nutrition Addiction.
One exception: Kober notes that red wine has more headache-inducing tannins, so you may want to opt for white if you’re prone to migraines.
Should I Drink Wine When Trying to Lose Weight?
There’s some research that suggests light-to-moderate alcohol consumption may be linked to a lower risk of obesity. And one study found that resveratrol has the potential to reduce appetite — at least in bees.
Still, that doesn’t mean wine is a weight-loss tool. A glass of wine, no matter how healthy, still counts toward your caloric intake for the day. Like any other treat, it should be enjoyed in moderation. “Wine can contribute to weight gain like anything else that someone may choose to eat or drink in excess,” Schumacher says.
Is Wine Okay When Trying to Gain Weight?
Drinking wine is one way to add more calories to your diet, but it’s not the ideal source of calories when you’re looking to add healthy mass.
“Wine — or any alcoholic drink, really — is considered ‘empty calories,'” Schumacher says. “It’s not a contributor of healthy carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, or minerals, so you’re getting minimal nutrition with the calories.”
Can I Drink Wine Before a Workout?
You may want to put your workout plans on pause immediately after drinking. Alcohol can impair your reaction time, which can make exercise more risky. Just as alcohol can impair your reaction time when driving, wine can be a dangerous pairing with exercise.
Research suggests that alcohol (wine included) can also interfere with the metabolic process during exercise. And because alcohol is a diuretic, drinking wine before your workout may increase your risk of dehydration.
How to Pair Wine With Your Weight Goals
There are a few things you can do to make sure that bottle of Cab doesn’t derail your weight-loss plans. Focus on moderation — think glasses, not bottles. And don’t sip on an empty stomach. “If you know you’ll be having some wine later, make sure to get a good amount of protein at each meal,” Kober says.
If you want to scale back a bit without feeling deprived, Schumacher suggests using a smaller wine glass to limit your portions, mixing sparkling water with wine to decrease calories, and drinking a glass of water after each glass of wine to slow down subsequent pours.
Want to know how wine stacks up against other alcoholic beverages? Check the infographic below to see how many calories you’re consuming in your drink of choice.