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Calories in beer vs wine: Which is better for weight loss?

Diving into the age-old debate: wine vs beer.

Written by
Lucinda Starr
Medically reviewed by
Dr Darran Foo
Last updated
May 15, 2024
6
6
min read
12
citations
Calories in beer vs wine: Which is better for weight loss?
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When it comes to weight loss, you might have been told to stop drinking altogether. The truth is, a drink here or there and in moderation isn't necessarily a bad thing — and we've got the research to back it up.

But, it also depends on the type of alcoholic beverage you're consuming, which has led to the age-old debate wine vs beer: which one is better to drink for weight loss?

The calories in wine vs beer do differ, with wines being better for your overall health because of all the residual sugar that remains in beer after the fermentation process.

So, if you're looking for answers about the wine vs beer debate then we're rounding up everything you need to know about the distinct differences between these 2 alcoholic beverages, which one offers more health benefits and which types of alcoholic drinks are the best for weight loss.

What's the deal with calories in alcohol?

Calories from alcoholic beverages are called 'empty calories' meaning they don't offer any nutritional value and are consumed in addition to the calories you eat throughout the day [1].

Your favourite alcoholic beverage, whether it's wine, beer, spirits or cider, is made from natural sugar and starch, which is why alcoholic drinks contain a large calorie content [1].

Plus, if you're mixing your alcohol content with mixers (like Coke and ginger ale) you're adding even more calories to your glass. Alcoholic beverages also contain around 7 calories per gram which have almost as many calories as pure fat [2].

What are the calories in beer vs wine?

The age-old question is beer calories vs wine: which one has more calorie content? Different alcoholic beverages contain varying amounts of calories in them and it also depends on which type of beer and wine you're drinking.

Technically speaking, wine contains fewer calories than beer, with a standard glass of 175ml 12% wine equating to around 133 calories [2].

On the other hand, a pint of 5% beer contains 239 calories [2]. Plus, white wine typically has fewer calories than red wine, but, red wine in moderation shows health benefits and also contains antioxidants that have been shown to benefit heart health [3].

Is wine better for you than beer for weight loss?

When it comes to weight loss, excessive alcoholic beverages of any kind aren't ideal. But, there is a difference in the type of alcoholic beverage you're consuming. Generally speaking, the higher the alcohol content, the higher the energy content, which means more calories.

If you're trying to lose weight, beer probably isn't the best option out there. That's because beer is made with grains and yeast and the calorie difference varies on the type of beer you drink.

Light beers tend to contain lower calories with about 100 calories per can (354ml) whereas dark beers tend to have a higher calorie count with about 163 calories per can. But this can differ from the brand of beer and the ingredients used, so it's essential to check the nutrition information for each beer.

On the other hand, wine has a lower calorie count than beers, but heavier wines (like dark reds) will equate to around the same calorie count as darker beers. The sugar content from wine is also lower than beer because there are leftover carbohydrates contained in beer.

It's also worth noting that drinking in moderation isn't a bad thing when it comes to weight loss and the correlation between alcohol consumption and weight gain is still unclear. But, there are recommended guidelines when it comes to drinking in order "to reduce the risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury". It's recommended that you should drink no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day [12].

But, when it comes to weight, if you're drinking lighter beers or a glass of white wine here and there, it probably won't affect your weight too much [4].

Heavy drinking habits are more associated with gaining weight and when studies did find a positive correlation between alcohol and body weight, it affected men more than women.

If you are looking to lose weight, Pilot's Metabolic Reset Program takes a holistic approach to weight loss with a combination of targeted weight loss and medical science.

We won't ever tell you to completely ditch the booze, but instead, drink in moderation. Pilot's Metabolic Reset Program uses breakthrough medication that introduces hormones naturally produced in your gut to decrease your appetite.

Plus, we provide community support from our medical team, Aussie practitioners and coaches and introduce you to like-minded men on the weight loss journey with you.

We also use personal goal-setting and health coaching to help you make the lifestyle changes to lose weight and keep it off for good, whether that's helping you cut down your alcohol intake or switch to light beer from their darker counterparts.

Is wine or beer worse for belly fat?

Belly fat or a beer belly is a common term used to describe male beer drinkers who can develop visceral fat around their abdominal region. In general, belly fat is more commonly caused by beer and not wine but there are plenty of other things that can contribute to belly fat, including a poor diet and not exercising.

Research does show that body composition (a.k.a developing belly fat) can differ based on the type of alcoholic beverage consumed because different types of alcohol have their own unique nutritional value [6].

Beer and wine do have different impacts on the body, where most beers are correlated with a higher waist-to-hip ratio, whereas wine shows either no associations or a lower waist-to-hip ratios [6].

Red wine drinkers also had the least amount of visceral fat, which is the fat that wraps around the abdomen (a.k.a belly fat) [6].

Health benefits of wine vs beer

Let's start off by saying drinking alcoholic beverages in excess offers virtually no health benefits and can do a lot more harm than good. But drinking in moderation isn't necessarily a bad thing.

In fact, research has consistently shown that red wine offers cardiovascular benefits, especially when consumed alongside a meal in comparison to beer or spirits [7]. 'Wine-drinking countries' (like France and countries in the Mediterranean region) have a lower rate of coronary heart disease than beer or liquor-drinking countries [8].

Red wine contains a bunch of compounds that prevent bad cholesterol called polyphenols, more specifically, one type called flavonoids (which can be found in blueberries, strawberries, dark chocolate and tea) [9].

While beer and wine both contain phenolic compounds, beer contains a far lower amount [10]. Because of the polyphenols contained in red wine, even dealcoholised wine has been shown to reduce insulin resistance and boost nitric oxide levels which can help lower blood pressure among people with heart disease risk factors [11].

What's the most low-calorie alcohol option?

If you're on a weight loss journey and looking to swap your high-calorie count alcohol to a lower-calorie alcoholic beverage, here are the best lower-calorie options out there.

Red wine

Wine calories tend to be lower than other alcoholic beverages and offer a host of other health benefits too. Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir have some of the lowest calories in wine vs other alcoholic beverages and other wines (like a sweet dessert wine).

Vermouth

Vermouth is a fortified wine containing herbs and spices and it's one of the lowest-calorie alcoholic beverages out there, containing a calorie content of 32 calories per glass.

Champagne

Champagne is another low-calorie alcoholic drink, containing around 75 calories per glass plus, the bubbles in champagne can make you feel fuller as a result of carbonation, so you're less likely to order another drink.

Light beers

If you're a beer drinker, swapping your dark beer for most light beers is a good lower-calorie alternative, containing 103 calories in comparison to 163 calories in darker beers.

Vodka soda

Vodka soda is another lower-calorie drink containing about 133 calories in a 225ml glass. As far as drink mixes go, it's one of the lowest-calorie options available.

Ultimately, drinking in moderation isn't necessarily a bad thing when it comes to weight gain. But, if you are trying to lose weight, then cutting back on alcoholic beverages and swapping the type of alcohol content you're drinking to some lower calorie, healthier drinks like lighter beers and red wine can make a big difference.

Photo credit: Getty Images

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