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From Our Lips To Our Hips

By Debra Meiburg MW

Sun-soaked days of mojito cocktails, glistening water and hedonistic Michelin-starred meals are drawing to a close; it’s time to squeeze back into last season’s jeans. It doesn’t take long to decide the first dietary casualty has to be the liquid calories. No more sugar-laden cocktails or frothy pints of lager, that’s easy, but do we have to give up wine?

It is a simple matter of calorie mathematics: numbers-in had better not exceed numbers-out. It is a sad fact that alcohol is one of the world’s four main calorie sources, the others being protein, fat and carbohydrates. Alcohol doesn’t contain fat, but it certainly packs its share of numbers: one gram of alcohol equals seven calories.

When it comes to alcohol calories, wine is the dieter’s preferred choice because it has a lower percentage of alcohol than spirits. By way of comparison, a four-ounce glass of dry red wine is about 90 calories, whereas a 2.5 ounce shot of rum is 120 calories. If you add mixers to spirits – juice, sugars and creams – or double shots, the calories can tally up quickly. A pina colada runs about 300 calories and even a seemingly light gin and tonic scores 171 calories.

Beer, of course, has lower alcohol levels than most wines, so would appear to be a better bet. But – other than my Aunt Lillian – who would stick to a four-ounce serving? Besides, beer is burdened by additional calories that provide its malt flavors, whereas the calories in dry-wine come solely from alcohol. Another dietary advantage of wine is its refined pace: wine is sipped more slowly than beer. Wine is also considered a healthier alternative, being blessed with antioxidants that help protect against heart disease and many cancers while raising “good cholesterol” levels.

When it comes to wine selection, opt for wines from cool climates as they have lower alcohol levels and therefore fewer calories. For example, a bottle (25 ounces) of dry German Riesling from the cool Mosel Valley has about 280 calories whereas a Chardonnay from the sunny Barossa Valley has about 580 calories. To do the math, multiply 1.6 by the number of ounces poured and by the percentage of alcohol level stated on the label. For example, a four ounce serving of Champagne with 12% alcohol levels multiplied by 1.6 equals 76 calories.

Dry wines contain far fewer calories than sweet wines, so you might want to take a one-month breather from Port, Sauternes and Australian stickies. For example, a four-ounce glass of Sauvignon Blanc has about 85 calories, whereas a glass of dessert wine can weigh in at 250 calories, depending on its sweetness levels.

The best weight management strategy? Pour a glass of wine and put on your dancing shoes. The faster your moves on the floor, the faster you’ll burn the calories. That’s simple math.

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