Drinking Wine Before Bed Can Help You Lose Weight: The Claim That's Too Good To Be True

Drinking red wine before bed can help you lose weight? Are we dreaming, or is this the best news ever?

It's absolutely true that wine, especially red wine, has some health benefits when consumed in moderation: Red wine's antioxidants can combat heart disease and lower cholesterol, but is it a miracle diet aid?

Research from Washington State University scientists has been circulating claiming that resveratrol, the chemical commonly found in grape skins, is useful for melting "stubborn white fat" into brown fat that can be easily burned off. That study, published in 2015, has reincarnated recently as stories like this one and that one, which claim that wine can help you melt off the pounds. But not so fast.

"We are using resveratrol as a representative for all of the polyphenols," Washington State University researcher Min Du said. "In reality, it's the total polyphenolic content that is more important. We think you can increase your total intake of polyphenol compounds by directly increasing fruit consumption."

In other words, the health benefits of resveratrol are found most abundantly in fruits like blueberries, strawberries, apples and, yes, grapes. However, common wine varietals like merlot and cabernet sauvignon contain only a small fraction of resveratrol.

"Many of the beneficial polyphenols are insoluble and get filtered out during the wine production process," Du said. It should also be noted that the study tested the health benefits on mice, not humans.

More evidence about this wine-weight loss connection comes from an anecdotal study from Harvard researchers which claims 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. This 2010 study, cited by multiple secondary source articles, found an inverse indirect association between "alcohol intake and risk of becoming overweight or obese, with the strongest association found for red wine."

The study's authors conclude that light to moderate wine consumption for middle-aged women could help prevent excessive weight gain in some— a far cry from the attention grabbing headlines of late.

Whether you drink wine before bed is entirely up to you, but it's probably not as healthy as an hour at the gym.