Have you ever finished dinner, but then find yourself craving a snack around bedtime? You’re not alone – lots of folks struggle with the urge to eat after 8pm.
Unfortunately, so many of the snacks we reach for – potato chips, cookies, leftovers, ice cream – pack on the pounds, making it very difficult to slim.
Now, researchers have published a new report praising the slimming powers of a most unusual midnight snack: red wine.
So was I.
But a 13-year Harvard study of 20,000 women found that those who drank half a bottle of wine (that’s about two glasses) at or after dinner had a 70% reduced risk of obesity compared with non-drinkers. 
How is this possible?
Isn’t Alcohol Supposed to Make You Fat?
It’s true that red wine is not a low-calorie food. In fact, a five ounce glass has 125 calories; about as many calories as a small piece of cake.
But the calories in wine and the calories in that piece of chocolate cake that’s gently whispering to you from your fridge are not created equal.
To understand why, I need to take you all the way back to the 1880’s.
It was during this time that an American chemist named William Atwater decided to test how much energy was in different foods.
To test this, he put different foods one by one into a furnace and burned them down to ashes. He then measured how much heat each food gave off. Atwater termed these units of heat “calories”.
Atwater measured nine calories per gram coming off of high-fat foods and four calories per gram from carbohydrates and proteins.
Alcohol, as you know, is highly-combustible. So when Atwater tested it, it lit up like the Fourth of July. Hence the high calorie value ascribed to it today.
Now a growing number of nutritionists aren’t convinced the Calorie Theory is all it’s cracked up to be.
Atwater’s error, they say, was to assume we use the energy in food as if our bodies were a furnace – and that if we don’t burn up all that energy, it will go straight to our belly and backside as fat.
But what about nuts like sunflower seeds and walnuts? Ounce for ounce they’re some of the most calorie-packed foods we can eat, yet studies show they don’t cause us to put on weight.
Enter the Glycemic Index: the measure of how much glucose (a form of sugar) different foods produce in the bloodstream.
Your body converts glucose into energy – yay! But, any glucose not turned into energy gets stored as fat – boo!
The GI Theory is beginning to overtake the Calorie Theory as the explanation for weight gain. Foods that have a high GI score – like our piece of chocolate cake – produce a large amount of glucose which, you’ll remember, gets stored as fat if it isn’t burned as fuel.
However, high-calorie foods like nuts produce little glucose, which gives them a low GI score, and helps to explain why eating them doesn’t pack on pounds.
Alcohol produces zero glucose. So, alcohol on its own won’t affect your weight. Yes, red wine does have other ingredients (mainly fermented grapes), but grapes have a low GI score, which is why red wine isn’t fattening.
You can see how from a nutritional standpoint red wine won’t cause weight gain. And I can see how drinking a glass or two a night could lead to weight loss – particularly if a low GI score glass of red wine is substituted for a high GI score snack like cake.
Does Dr. Charles Advocate A Red Wine Diet?
Here’s my take:
I do love a fine glass of red wine – in moderation.
And I’m impressed with the health benefits associated with red wine.
For example, a study published in the International Journal of Obesity showed red wine to have high concentrations of resveratrol; a natural phenol thought to have powerful antioxidant properties… and… could potentially help to manage weight. 
But, for all of its positive qualities, I don’t personally recommend drinking a glass or two of red wine every night.
Once or twice a week? Sure. But every single night? No thanks.
One reason I believe wine drinkers were found to have a lower risk of obesity than non-drinkers is because enjoying a glass of red wine is an act that causes you to slow down and relax.
When you have a nightly siesta to look forward to each evening, it becomes MUCH easier to make healthy choices throughout the day. (Like saying “no” to a slice of cake at lunch.)
Make sure to reward yourself with a treat and some well-deserved relaxation every single night.
If wine is your thing, enjoy a glass.
If you’re trying to scratch your late-night-snack itch, try a low GI score snack like juicy grapes, luscious cherries, or sweet blueberries.
Reward yourself daily (with or without wine) and you’ll have a much easier time losing weight.
What do you think?
Do you have any favorite ways to manage your cravings? Let us know in the comment section.
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 “Wine Bedtime Snack Can Help You Lose Weight, Study Claims”. The Atlanta Journal Constitution. May 12, 2015. [Study Link]
 S Pal, M Nassaides, J Mamo. “Polyphenolics and fat absorption”. International Journal of Obesity. (2004) 28, 324 – 326. [Study Link]