Tuesday 17 January 2012

Something's Weighing on my Mind...

While chatting with a friend online recently he commented that I had put on some weight from my wine tasting sessions. Thoughtfully, I put down the brownie I had been munching on as I digested this comment. We've often heard of the phrase "beer belly" being tossed around, but was it possible that wine could be full-bodied in more ways than one? Would today's wine lover become tomorrow's corpulent wino?

As it turns out, the calories in alcoholic beverages are the worst kind, high in energy while being low in nutritional value. If that wasn't bad enough, alcohol is also a poison, so the body naturally wants to get rid of it as fast as possible. This means putting aside other processes such as absorbing nutrients and burning fat.

It's a common misconception that beer contains more calories than wine, when in fact a bottle of wine (750ml) contains around 500 calories, nearly a third more than an equivalent amount of beer. However, the way beer and wine is consumed plays a part. Wine tends to be drunk slowly, and a glass may last the entire meal, while beer is drunk rapidly, and in social occasions which encourages binge drinking. Perversely, the higher alcohol content in wine restricts us from gulping it down like beer and so wine drinkers will end up putting on less weight than beer drinkers.

Exactly how much weight? Well, The Telegraph estimates that the average wine drinker consumes an extra 2000 calories a month, or put another way, the equivalent of eating 184 bags of potato chips a year. A person drinking five pints of beer a week would consume 44200 calories in alcohol a year, or 5 1/2 kilos of fat. Note that these aren't figures for excessive drinking, but well within recommended daily consumption guidelines. It's as innocuous as that glass of wine with dinner, or that jug of Tiger beer when watching football with your mates.

It looks as though even practicing moderation in drinking won't be enough to save us from those extra kilos. The hard truth is that those who consume alcohol regularly will need to balance the increased calorie intake with other activities, whether it be running or some other sport. Perhaps I should take up Wing Chun? Yes, it's certainly time to work in a regular exercise into my weekly schedule.

Just as soon as I finish my brownie.