Lazy days at the beach, coolers stocked with wine and beer, shorts, and swimsuits is all you need for the perfect summer vacation. There is only one problem – extra pounds around your belly, hips and thighs that you have been trying to shed for months.
Trimming the fat spots is not an easy task but you may be sabotaging your goals without even knowing it. Alcohol is often on the list of banned diet items because it’s empty calories. However, not drinking is not a realistic goal.
Understating that the problem is not the calories but the insulin will help, Dr. Charles Nguyen, medical director at the Lorphen Medical Weight Loss Clinic in Riverside, California, says.
This is where the simple riles comes in: When reaching for the cooler, choose wine, not beer.
Every time you eat or drink, your body starts to produce insulin, which helps control blood sugar levels by signaling the liver as well as the muscle and fat cells to take in glucose from the blood.
“The body does not like to have a lot of sugar but the muscles don’t have enough room for it,” he adds. “The extra is going to get stored in your fat cells, which is like the body’s dumping ground.” They can get an unlimited amount of sugar, he says, causing you to gain weight.
In general, Dr. Nguyen adds, if you eat vegetables before your main meal, you will reduce the insulin increase by 50 percent. “Anytime you can minimize the spike, you can minimize weight gain,” he adds.
Certain carbohydrates cause your body’s insulin level to rise. These include anything made of grains – such as beer.
“We look at a lot of things when we try to lose weight but we rarely pay attention to the Glycemic Load of foods,” Dr. Nguyen says.
Glycemic index and glycemic load are important if you want to understand how the foods you’re consuming affect blood sugar and insulin. “The lower the number, the less it affects blood sugar and insulin levels,” he adds.
The carbs coming from barley and wheat, which is what beer is mode of, have a high Glycemic Index, which means they cause a huge insulin spike, leading to more sugar being stored by the body.
So even if you reason that a light beer has only 96 calories, it doesn’t matter. “The grains in that cold one will still spike your insulin level, triggering your body to store fat right in your gut.”
In comparison, wine is made from fermented grapes, a fruit that does not cause insulin levels to spike because they have a low Glycemic Index.
“One glass of wine may have as many calories as one bottle of beer, but the former doesn’t cause an insulin spike, while the latter does,” Dr. Nguyen adds.
Researchers at Washington State University found that when mice were fed a high-fat diet, those that were also given resveratrol—an antioxidant in wine—gained about 40 percent less weight. The reason is that berries, grapes and other fruits convert excess white fat into calorie-burning beige fat.
Dessert wines should be avoided, he says, because they have a lot of sugar which will cause a big jump in insulin levels. One drop of ice wine, a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine, is equal to one grape,” Dr. Nguyen says.
Red and white wines are OK, but you should watch the sugar content. Also, don’t drink more than two glasses. “One is better,” he adds.