Thin Zin?

Here's how to fit wine into the New Year's diet.

It's that time of year when the treats we've enjoyed at Thanksgiving, holiday parties, and New Year's Eve show up around our waistlines. The guilt from this six-week indulgence can be as overwhelming as the shock that even your fat jeans don't fit anymore. But fear not. Although eliminating wine from your daily routine might be tempting, it can, indeed, be incorporated into a healthy diet. Here's how: Make one of your New Year's resolutions "Moderation."

Yes, it's a word we hear ad nausem, but moderation bears many interpretations. In our case, it means one 5-ounce glass per day. Ideally, with food. Maybe you've heard of "empty calories"? Wine is one of those empty-calorie foods, meaning it has no real nutritional value, kind of like potato chips. And it's just as difficult to have just one. However, unlike chips, hidden inside that 100-calorie glass are geeky-sounding, good-for-you substances like polyphenols and resveratrol, which reportedly help keep cancer, strokes, and heart attacks at bay. Evidence of wine's positive effects on the human body continues to mount.

Thus, the popular one-glass-a-day advice could certainly help most of us, and who can't make room for 100 calories into their daily routine? Just walk up another few flights of stairs and you're golden. But beware the high-alcohol grogs. A wine with 15 percent alcohol (like Zinfandel or Cabernet from California) contains 120 calories per 5-ounce pour while a wine with 12 percent alcohol has 96. Legally, a winery must list the alcohol-by-volume content on each bottle so you'll know what you're getting into.

But adding more than one glass to this scenario gets a little harrowing. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, most of the alcohol you drink gets converted into a substance called acetate by your liver. To fuel your body, your system seeks out carbohydrates first, then burns acetate before turning to fat. A recent study found that drinking the equivalent of two shots of vodka reduces the amount of fat your body burns by 73 percent for several hours afterward. So, if you're facing a plate overflowing with fatty meat next to pasta drowning in cream sauce, the four glasses of tasty Chianti might not be doing your waistline any favors. Following this logic, eating low-carb, high-protein while drinking "professionally" might be your best bet. That's what I do and it seems to work.

Gluttonous temptations surround us 24/7, so it's easy to wallow in decadence. Moderation really is king when it comes to wine, weight loss, and responsibility. Wine, or any alcohol, should be consumed with food, to balance blood sugar and to maintain our wits. It might be more difficult to moderate, but, in the end, your body will thank you. M

Recommended Wine

Bogle 2008 Merlot California

So rich and concentrated, it's like drinking a Merlot in Zin clothing. Intense cherry cola, ripe plum, toasty coconut, and sweet blueberry wash over your tongue, kinda leaving you wondering where the Merlot went. If you like your juice to smack you around a little bit, grab one of these affordable bottles. $10.
3 Stars

Heron 2009 Pinot Noir California

Lighter and flirty, it sports higher acidity than many other fuller-bodied Pinot Noirs from California. It's elegant and restrained yet zesty and fun at the same time. Red cherry, tart cranberry, spicy vanilla, and slightly mushroomy. Stellar for a $15 Pinot Noir. $15.
4 Stars

A to Z 2007 Riesling Oregon

This dry Riesling tastes Germanic in style: Medium-bodied and fruity with loads of slate minerality on the first part of the sip, then slips into flavors of unripe peaches and lemon. Finishes crisp, dry, and refreshing. Incredible quality and perfect for the price. $15.
5 Stars

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