Tel Button

Calories, Schmalories

by David on December 29, 2006

So, of course we’re all suffering through the usual barrage of fitness ads and diet program come-ons that arrive with the new year. We know in our hearts that this is the year we’re going to get serious about exercising, watch what we eat (and drink!) and lose those extra pounds. Yeah, right…

Inevitably, we ended up talking about this stuff at family gatherings over the holidays. And then we got to talking about the ever-increasing alcohols in wine when they asked me what I’d been writing about at work lately (see post called “Are High Alcohols a Trend?”). My clan was completely oblivious to the trend. I wondered aloud if there’s a connection between higher alcohols and weight gain. You see, over the last several years, little by little, I’ve put on a few pounds that I can’t seem to shake. My eating habits haven’t changed and, if anything, I get more exercise now than ever.  Mom says I’m probably just getting old (Thanks, Mom!).

So now, it’s stuck in my craw and I’ve got to find out how much the calories increase as the alcohol rises. Most sites just tell you that a 4-ounce glass of wine has about 80 calories, but they don’t account for the variability of the alcohol. Then, as I became increasingly obsessed, I ran across this nifty formula from Multiply 1.6 x the percentage of alcohol x the number of ounces.

A few strokes on the calculator later I’ve learned that if you drank a 4-ounce glass of Napa Valley Zinfandel that was made in the ’70s and was probably about 12% alcohol it had 77 calories. If you drink a 2004 Zinfandel that’s maybe around 15 or 16% it has around 100 calories. If you share a bottle of this Zinfandel with your significant other on a daily basis you’re taking in 80 calories more today than you were in the 70s.

So, unless you’re exercising 80 calories-worth more than you were back in the day, you may be putting on weight as a result. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, if you eat 100 more food calories a day than you burn, you’ll gain about 1 pound in a month. 12 pounds a year? !!?� !*%%#!!! At least that hasn’t happened (yet!)

One of the many reasons I love my sister is that, like some other people, she thinks wine isn’t fattening (YES!) This completely charming group of people say that cutting wine from the diet never results in weight loss for them. Oh, how I want to believe! This additional information, from wineintro is somewhat encouraging: “Unlike most foods, alcohol is processed by your liver. What the liver does is take in the alcohol and convert it to acetate… And your body enjoys burning acetate as a fuel source. So while this acetate won’t make you fat, your body is now choosing to burn that acetate instead of burning the fat you already have in your system.” Hmmm… Kinda sounds like it all comes out in the wash.

I see 3 very simple options:

#1: Drink less wine (hmphh!)

#2: According to, all I have to do to offset the extra 80 calories is to take a brisk walk for 15 minutes. Now THAT’S do-able!

#3: Believe my husband when he says he likes the extra curves. ;-)

I think I’ll go with door #3. How about you? Happy New Year!!!

Previous post:

Next post: