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Wine Doesn’t Make You Fat

If you love a glass of wine (or two) but lament the empty calories you’re taking in, fear not according to a new study.

Recent research published in the March 8 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine shows that women who drink regularly are less likely than non-drinking women to become obese — 30 percent less likely, in fact. Red wine drinkers were the slimmest of the bunch, followed by white wine drinkers — and even those who drank beer and liquor on a regular basis were in better shape then the non-drinkers, literally.

To figure this out, Dr. Lu Wang and colleagues of the Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston studied nearly 20,000 middle-aged women for over 13 years. All of them started in this study with a healthy BMI, and many of them gained weight as time went on. But surprisingly, it was the non-drinkers who gained the most weight. But they’re not entirely sure why this is. “Further investigations are warranted to elucidate the role of alcohol intake and alcohol metabolism in energy balance and to identify behavioral, physiological and genetic factors that may modify the alcohol effects,” they wrote in the study.

This goes directly against what weight loss experts have been telling us for years — that alcohol (or rather its empty calories) pack on the pounds. Make no mistake, booze has calories and lots of them. A large glass of wine can have up to 150 calories, and that can really add up over time. Still, the findings suggest that drinking in moderation may be part of the puzzle to keep our weight in check. It wouldn’t be the first big health advantage for red wine — previous studies have shown it to reduce the risk of heart attacks.

But moderation is the key word here. While the study may promote the idea that a few drinks won’t make you fat, you should still be careful to not overdo it — only small amounts are recommended, and keep in mind that although wine may help you maintain your weight, it probably won’t help you lose it. “Middle-age and older women who have normal body weight initially and consume light-to-moderate amounts of alcohol could maintain their drinking habits without gaining more weight,” Dr. Wang told Health Day reporters.

So just what is light-to-moderate drinking? That works out to one or two drinks a day, maximum. And no, you can save all of those for Saturday night. While light drinking may help keep you slim, other research has found that binge drinking definitely pads your waistline.

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