There is absolutely no shortage of eye-popping news on the latest fitness and weight loss fads. Every day, you find clickbait after clickbait luring you in to open that article about how the newest breakthrough in medical science can help you lost 20 lbs. in 2 weeks on nothing but a diet of ice cream and donuts.
One of the most viral stories I’ve heard is about a new study that apparently says drinking wine every night can help you burn more fat and slim down – without doing nothing else at all.
It’s easy to see why this one exploded into popularity on social media. After all, who doesn’t want to get their daily dose of vino every night and still get to flaunt a hot and sexy body? Well, a lot of people do. We’re creatures of comfort, after all.
The idea that knocking back a couple of glasses of wine can help you lose weight comes from media stories extolling the results of a Washington State University study, where researchers fed a bunch of lab mice a high-fat diet and supplemented them with large doses of resveratrol.
Resveratrol is one of the many antioxidant compounds found in fruits such as wine grapes and a whole bunch of berries, but it is found in other things as well, such as peanuts and dark chocolate.
According to the study, the mice that received doses of resveratrol gained 40% less weight than those that didn’t. Now, to be honest, this isn’t a huge surprise. A lot of studies have been done showing how polyphenols, including resveratrol, can aid in fat reduction. The WSU researchers say resveratrol works by converting deadly white fat that gets embedded deep in your organs into beige fat that you can more easily burn off.
However, here’s the thing. The mice were NOT actually given wine. They were given doses of resveratrol similar to the same amount that can be extracted from a cup of grapes. In other words, the mice weren’t fed the same things you would find in a typical glass of wine, such as alcohol and an additional hundred calories.
A typical glass of wine has 125 to 150 calories, which isn’t much, really. But if don’t watch what you eat – since so many news outlets are saying you can lose weight just by drinking wine every day, it will all add up and you’ll be wondering you’ve ballooned so quickly. And sure, weight loss isn’t all about calories in and calories out, but alcohol does have adverse effects on your body.
For one thing, science shows that although drinking wine before bed can help you drift off to lala land quickly, the alcohol interferes with your brain and keeps you from dropping into the deeper levels of sleep, which are actually better for you. And we all know not getting good sleep is a surefire way to stress you out and make you pack on more pounds.
So before you start celebrating your newfound excuse to sip a glass (or two) of merlot every night, think again. When it comes to getting the most out of resveratrol, the researchers say it is better to eat the actual fruit itself. That’s because the polyphenol content of wine is actually much lower than what you’d get from real, live, round, luxurious grapes.
“Many of the beneficial polyphenols are insoluble and get filtered out during the wine process production,” says researcher and animal science professor Min Du. “We think you can increase your intake of polyphenol compounds by directly increasing fruit consumption.”
The same applies to another alcohol-fueled viral headline saying tequila can help you cut down your weight. Tequila and wine have vastly different compounds, but the claims are very similar.
So, the story goes that agavins, a natural form of sugar found in the agave plant, which is used to make tequila, can lower blood glucose levels and increase insulin. This could make it a potentially helpful substance for people struggling with type-2 diabetes and weight loss issues. This is supported by the American Chemical Society, which presented the findings in front of 10,000 scientists at its 247th National Meeting.
Now, let’s back up a bit and do our homework. Agavins are fructans. Unlike high-fructose corn syrup, which you should know is particularly noxious, fructans are long, branched chains of sugars that the body cannot recognize. You take them in and you take them out. They don’t do a thing to your blood sugar levels.
When used as is, agavins can be a great dietary fiber that can help make you feel fuller, thus making you eat less. This contributes to the weight loss properties of agavins that bolster this new claim.
But hold your horses. It’s not time to get hammered on Cuervo every night just yet. When processed into other forms, such as agave nectar and tequila, agavins are no longer agavins.
In agave nectar, the long, branched chains separate into individual fructoses similar to the ones you find in high-fructose corn syrup. And in tequila? I’m sorry to rain on your alcohol parade, but agavins just turn into plain, old ethanol. Read: alcohol.
So can tequila help you lose weight? The long and short of it is no. There are currently no studies to support this claim at all. I am, of course, open to further research in the future. For now, however, it is best to say that hitting the bottle, whether it’s some luxurious wine or party-night tequila you’re drooling for, is not a replacement for eating healthy, nutritious food and getting a move on.
Andy Atari is a fitness blogger, researcher, and enthusiast. She writes for the every guy and every girl, the average Joes and Janes of the world who aren’t training to win a competition tomorrow or run a marathon in a week. She believes that everyone can have a fit and strong body, a goal that is not impossible to achieve if you set your mind to it. For more information, check out Andy’s work at FitnessAtrium.com.