March 9, 2010

"Dieters are often advised to stop drinking alcohol to avoid the extra calories lurking in a glass of wine or a favorite cocktail."

"But new research suggests that women who regularly consume moderate amounts of alcohol are less likely to gain weight than nondrinkers and are at lower risk for obesity.... Although alcohol is packed with calories (about 150 in a six-ounce glass of wine), the nondrinkers in the study actually gained more weight over time: nine pounds, on average, compared with an average gain of about three pounds among regular moderate drinkers. The risk of becoming overweight was almost 30 percent lower for women who consumed one or two alcohol beverages a day, compared with nondrinkers."

This only applies to women, for some reason. I'm thinking that the urges satisfied by a drink or 2 correspond to the consumption of food. Even if a nice glass of wine is 150 calories, that's a lot less than a bowl of chips or a plate of cookies. Plus wine is sipped. That's slow. It's those foods that trigger wolfing that are going to make you fat.

60 comments:

New York said...

Little eating tricks have little to do with obesity.

Each body has a "set point" of fat percentage and defends that amount of fat by driving appetite or managing energy expenditure.

http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/12/body-fat-setpoint.html

http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2010/01/body-fat-setpoint-part-ii-mechanisms-of.html

Hoosier Daddy said...

Mrs. Hoosier was watching the Newlywed Game over the weekend and she said one of the questions for the wife was:

Would your husband be more intimidated by a woman who 1) made more money 2) is more sexually experienced or 3) could drink more than him.

I was like, sheeeeit, give me all three and I just found my soul mate.

ricpic said...

Yeah, but on the other hand the high poobahs of science are now telling us that alcohol consumption (even moderate) weakens the body's defenses against cancer. I kid you not. Stop worrying about all the conflicting directives from on high. Go ahead and drink. Because a day without vodka is a day without sunshine.

John Salmon said...

I wonder if they tracked smoking in the study-an awful lot of people drink and smoke at the same time. They may stay thin, but they're gonna die younger.

We're being told a lot lately that "moderate" drinking is oh so wonderful for you, but how many people actually drink that way? That's one or two drinks a day for men, just one for women. And this ignores the cancer risks associated with booze.

madawaskan said...

Wolfing?...

Ann Althouse said...

@ricpic Well, that's no problem. We just believe the studies that tell us what we want to hear. Discrepancy erased!

David said...

This is probably a spurious result; that is, some factor not included in the study drives both moderate drinking and slimness in women. Income immediately comes to mind, but it would be an incredibly poor study if it didn't try to correct for that.

bagoh20 said...

I don't know about set points. I lived with a Mexican woman who was an excellent cook and I gained 50 pounds quickly and kept it on for a decade. After we went our separate ways, I lost it all with little effort and never gained it back. To me weight control is best managed simply by portion control and activity. Avoid high fat items, stop eating when you have had enough and get out and have some active fun. My fat friends simply keep eating when I have already stopped and generally don't move much.

There really are no sacrifices nessessary. Controlling your weight is a funner, more interesting and less expensive lifestyle, simply involving the addition of more living in the place of consuming and sitting.

traditionalguy said...

The culprit may be sitting and not walking around, which is the internet age's collateral damage. Dogs get walked and so should we.

Blue@9 said...

My favorite diet is the liquid dinner. Eight ounces of vodka or whiskey contains way less calories than a steak or burger.

David said...

I just checked, and they don't control for income or SES, meaning this is another meaningless study.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

This only applies to women, for some reason.

You still look fetching when slightly sloshed.

Blue@9 said...

Each body has a "set point" of fat percentage and defends that amount of fat by driving appetite or managing energy expenditure.

This just sounds like a variation of the "I'm just big-boned" excuse. Even if it were true, you can certainly move the set point with diet and exercise. I lost 30 pounds in the past year. I wasn't fat to begin with, but now I look like I did in college. I'm not hungry, I didn't starve myself, I still cook with butter and eat candy. I just ate smaller portions at meals and set a goal to run a half-marathon last year.

Salamandyr said...

I think Althouse has figured out the correlation. If I am having a martini, it's unlikely I'm also having a bowl of ice cream; and a glass of wine can provide an equal or better accompaniment to table conversation than a second helping.

New York said...

Each body has a "set point" of fat percentage and defends that amount of fat by driving appetite or managing energy expenditure.

This just sounds like a variation of the "I'm just big-boned" excuse.


At the links posted, there is discussion of research that indicates that restricting carbohydrates, intermittent fasting, and High Intensity Interval Training all have an impact on metabolic behaviour.

traditionalguy said...

But beware of a red Zinfandel, which is a stimulant to your appetite.

prairie wind said...

If anyone ever figures out the perfect pairing for cookies and ice cream, I am sunk.

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

Prarie wind...that would be Moscato d'Asti.

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Triangle Man said...

So the "set points" in the US have been increasing dramatically for the past 40 years?

Beth said...

I've noticed a marketing trend for chocolate lately that pairs it with wines. Will that shoot this theory all to hell?

Because it's a good pairing: shave a nice, dark, chunk of chocolate and alternate bites with some pomegranate seeds and a sip of a Cote du Rhone. Wow.

Michael McNeil said...

So the “set points” in the US have been increasing dramatically for the past 40 years?

Smoking has been dramatically decreasing in the US for the past 40 years.

Pogo said...

Every few years, nutrition science tells us something that is almost completely the reverse of what was previously said.

Yet the experts declare sternly that this new finding is Science and The Newest Data and thus Really Important.

Me?

I plan on starting smoking at 60, maybe add in some hard partying, too. Shit, ain't gonna be no health care dollahs for me, so why try to live right, and spend my declining years eating sticks and twigs? For what?

Screw dat.

ALP said...

I recently replaced my nighttime snacking with a small glass of red wine. My experience so far leads me to agree with this wholeheartedly - not only can I nurse a small glass of wine for nearly an hour, it also kills my appetite.

t-man said...

Coincidentally, when a man drinks, women around him appear to lose weight and become more attractive.

Largo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason (the commenter) said...

Stupid study, the women weren't drinking in the first place because they knew they had a weight problem! If they had been drinking they might have gained even more weight.

On the other hand are the women who know they don't have to worry about their weight (from genes or lots of exercise) who don't worry about drinking and might have become even thinner if they quit.

Largo said...

I wonder, was the study skewed by Absolute Outliers?

Like Patsy?"

Pogo said...

Jason, true.
But why take the risk?

Bluto: "My advice to you is to start drinking heavily."

Scott M said...

@ALP

I recently replaced my nighttime snacking with a small glass of red wine. My experience so far leads me to agree with this wholeheartedly - not only can I nurse a small glass of wine for nearly an hour, it also kills my appetite.

What you're not telling us is the "glass" is a 5 liter wine box...lol.

Seriously, though, this is a great idea. Getting the munchies around 10pm or so. A glass of wine would also help me get to bed earlier. Years of radio gave me the body clock of a barn owl. Unfortunately, though, I can't turn my head all the way around to go along with it.

traditionalguy said...

Food and wine tastes paired together are medicine for the soul. Those who abstain have to get their medicine in the form of Carbs (a/k/a foods used to fatten pigs for market).

Alex said...

If you are in serious weight loss mode you cut out the drinks completely, as alcohol are immediately metabolized by the liver into sugar and stored as fat.

Alex said...

Conservatives are cheap and only drink box wine. They know nothing of the finer points of wine drinking, those troglodytes.

Henry said...

David -- According to the article, they did control for the usual suspects:

The study isn’t posted online yet but should be after 3 p.m. And yes they controlled for those factors. This is a major study published in a highly regarded medical journal. The authors note that it raises a lot of questions but the findings also make sense in the context of a previous research.

Interesting that the test subjects were all 39 or older and weight normal at the beginning of the test. After 13 years, 41% were classified as overweight or obese.

Stopping aging would appear to be the best way to halt obesity.

Cassie said...

Now, if we could just find a study linking bacon consumption to smooth skin...

XWL said...

"This only applies to women, for some reason."

Working theory, it's the extra sex tippling women are likely to have over non-tippling women.

Sex burns calories, women who drink are more likely to have sex, and more likley to be less selective (thus increasing opportunity for a little vigorous activity). This also explains the gender difference. Men, typically, don't need alcohol to be less selective when searching for someone to enjoy some vigorous activity, so extra drinking isn't going to lead to more calories burned, so to speak.

Ann Althouse said...

For the record, I have never bought wine in a box, but I think it's stupid to be prejudiced against boxed wine. I think it's a method for keeping air out of the container, and it's especially useful for people who don't finish a bottle in one sitting. The question is the quality of the wine in a box. But I've never bought wine that way. I buy wine in half bottles, and I drink a half of that and finish the bottle in 2 days. That gives me one glass of wine with dinner.

I am continually amazed by the ridiculous, puritanical liberals who tsk about drinking wine, a practice that I associate with a healthy, comfortable, affluent lifestyle and pleasurable dining.

Henry said...

Screw caps on wine bottles are also highly practical.

traditionalguy said...

The existence of good wine is how we know God loves us. Marmite is not the test.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Professor, in the foodie world, boxed wine has achieved a bit of a rebirth of late, and a lot of "experts" are recommending it.

In my experience, it's not as good as a good bottle (at least the almost but not quite the cheapest stuff that we usually get), but it's as good as the usual cheap bottle.

I keep 2 boxes on hand for cooking, for which it's perfect. If I need, say, a half cup of white, I don't have to worry about opening a bottle and having leftovers go to waste. It keeps that way for months, it's cheap, and it's certainly good enough for a non-special occassion glass if you're wanting one.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Since we already know that activities like money-grubbing, flying around in private jets, and owning multiple houses have a completely different status when done by liberals, why should it surprise us to learn that wine-drinking belongs in the same category?

knox said...

Maybe they're drinking soft drinks instead of alcohol. That probably ends up being a lot more calories.

I've known a lot of people who don't like alcoholic beverages, but drink more soda a day than I do in a week.

And don't forget the people who drink *diet* sodas and are still obese.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Beth said: "Because it's a good pairing: shave a nice, dark, chunk of chocolate and alternate bites with some pomegranate seeds and a sip of a Cote du Rhone. Wow."

That sounds divine! But actually, when you think about it, that's probably a lot better than, say, a slice of cheesecake or an ice cream sundae (particularly if you're talking about restaurant sized portions).

A little dark chocolate goes a long way, and isn't really high in calories. And it's a lot more satisfying than a big, starchy dessert like cake.

Actually, that's my theory for weight control in a nutshell. Eat really good, high quality food, slowly. Savor it so you don't eat too much and don't waste time with things that are mediocre. I don't know if you can lose on that, but you can certainly maintain.

David said...

Henry:

I find it hard to believe that they wouldn't control for SES (it's such an obvious explanation for the results -- wealthier women are more likely to drink wine and to be slimmer). But here's the study and here's the relavant table.

They never say that they correct for income or SES and they don't it in their results, although they show other controls, like race and age.

Like I said, it's hard to believe that they didn't, but they don't say that they did -- unless I've just plain missed it, twice.

traditionalguy said...

The calories in a glass of wine do not "Lurk". They jump up and yell at you that life is good.

Sheila said...

Perhaps this is true...
As a recovering alcoholic & for the first time overweight...I feel a need to share with others, the severe, permenant health implication moderate drinking carry's.
The 5 silent & current afflictions are:
-Destroyed Liver
-Blindness
-Deafness
-Heart Attacks
-Grand-Mal Seizures
NONE of these carry any forewarning signs, nor, as of today's date, have any cures.

Now...do ya think perhaps this sort of posting(s) may draw a far more derogatory after effect ? Hmmm ?

Blessings to all... blessings !

Alex said...

Shiela - please share with us what you drank for 30 years to get to that state. Somehow I doubt people drinking a glass of wine every night causes liver disease.

Henry said...

David, I stand corrected. Tara Parker-Pope claims that the study controlled for income levels, in response to the first comment, but she doesn't have a link.

A.W. said...

I think this study was released by the International Society of Men Dedicated to Getting Women Drunk.

Theo Boehm said...

By the time my father was my age, he had been dead five years.

Drinking vodka with Thunderbird chasers out in the garage will do that to you.

He was an alcoholic who drank away his job, his family, and his life. Considering everything he had been through, in some ways I can't blame him.

How would you like to have been 20 feet away from a Kamakaze explosion, picking singed body parts and bits of brain off your uniform, and come home to do the same for 17 years on California freeways as a Highway Patrolman?

They hadn't quite invented Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder yet. It was, "Get on with your life, and raise your family in this wonderful Post-War world." My father tried, God knows he tried. But in the end, the bottle was his only relief. And his death.

Seeing this, I resolved never to seek existential solace in ANY externality, whether drugs, liquor or meaningless sex.

But wine and beer have been part of food since prehistoric times, and being a traditionalist, I believe in the ancient pleasures of a good table and glass of wine.

There is a real difference between moderate pleasure and desperate need, and, if my father taught me anything, it was to know which is which.

Pogo said...

Bless you, Theo; that was wonderful.

Alex said...

Theo - very well put.

traditionalguy said...

Theo...I am sorry for your Dad's inner hurts and suffering. Hard liquor is an anesthetic that does not go with food at all. I am sure he was pleased to have a son like you.

ALP said...

Scott M:

"What you're not telling us is the "glass" is a 5 liter wine box...lol."

Hilarious! Let me assure you, it is a normal size wine glass with approx. 4-5 oz. of wine. However, I have been drinking enough to graduate to the Costco sized 1.5 liter bottle of wine... (Yellowtail Shiraz)

Ann Althouse said...

We've been counting calories and measuring portions, and I would suggest that if you think you are drinking 4 ounces of wine, you should measure. There's a good chance it's more like 6.

bagoh20 said...

Why would an open box of wine keep longer than an open bottle?

Ann Althouse said...

"Why would an open box of wine keep longer than an open bottle?"

Because the boxed wine is inside a plastic bladder with a tap that doesn't allow air to enter. The bag deflates as it empties. Without air in contact with the wine, it is preserved as if it were never opened.

Beth said...

Theo, that was moving.

Beth said...

Screw-tops and boxes are good, updated technology. Why be snobbish about sticking with a middle-ages cork technology that can cause wine to sour, when you can assure quality with a screw-top, or one of those textile "corks"?

Althouse - I have the opposite problem. I don't particularly enjoy wine, but I've tried to follow the recommendation to drink a 4 oz. glass per night. I always short that, without meaning to.

The good news is that I recently read that sparkling wine has the same benefits as red wine. I love sparkling wine.