According to two studies, one by Washington State University and the other by Harvard Medical School back in 2016, drinking two glasses of wine before you go to sleep at night can actually help you lose weight.
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Every night, to round off her evening meal, Linda Monk pours herself a glass of full-bodied red wine. It’s a relaxing routine, even if it does sound like a recipe for weight gain. After all, as the NHS Direct website points out, doesn’t a glass of wine contain the same calories as a slice of cake? But Linda, 47, has lost 6lb over the past three weeks and is convinced she has her nightly tipple to thank. “My long-held desire to snack on sweets, biscuits and chocolate after my dinner has disappeared and the relaxing effect of the alcohol makes me feel that, despite cutting back, I’m not being hard done by.’ Controversial it may be, but Linda is far from the only one extolling the virtues of wine, albeit in strict moderation, as an aid to weight control, even if it does fly in the face of conventional thinking.
In recent years, the British love affair with the bottle has been increasingly linked to the growing obesity epidemic, with experts such as Professor Fiona Sim, chair of the Royal Society for Public Health, insisting there is no reason why calories in alcohol should be treated any differently from those in food. Indeed, the EU recently backed plans for the calorie content to be clearly stated on the labels of wine, beer and spirit bottles. But there is also a growing body of evidence which suggests that far from making us fat, drinking wine could actually be the key to staying slim. A 13-year Harvard University study of 20,000 women found that those who drank half a bottle of wine a day had a 70 per cent reduced risk of obesity compared to non-drinkers. And the U.S. government’s official alcohol body, the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism concluded that ‘when alcohol is substituted for carbohydrates, calorie for calorie, subjects tend to lose weight, indicating that they derive less energy from alcohol than from food’.
Another study, presented at the European Conference on Obesity in Prague last week, found that a glass of red wine every night increased the levels of the ‘good’ cholesterol HDL. It could help improve type 2 diabetes because it boosted glucose metabolism. This is the process by which simple sugars found in many foods are processed and used to produce energy. Linda is following a diet plan called The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide To Rapid Weight Loss, by lifestyle guru Tim Ferris, which entails eliminating refined carbs and filling up on vegetables and lean protein. And crucially, the author allows a glass of wine a day (he claims to drink one himself), with the idea being that if you’re allowed to indulge occasionally you’re more likely to persevere. Red wine is recommended over white on account of its antioxidant qualities.