This article was written by Meghan Rabbit and provided by our partners at Eat Clean.
Talk to any dietitian about proven ways to drop a few pounds and hitting the sauce—whether it's béchamel or brandy—isn't likely to be among his or her suggestions. However, your next happy hour is about to get a lot happier: It turns out there's actual science that proves moderate drinking can give you a weight-loss boost. Of course, this isn't carte blanche to get hammered; the research also shows that moderation is key. Still, the evidence points to the fact that having a glass or two of wine, beer, or your spirit of choice may actually help keep your weight on track.
Consider one 13-year Harvard University study of 20,000 women, which found that those who drank two glasses of wine a day had a 70 percent reduced risk of obesity compared to non-drinkers. And just in case you think that research was conducted by a bunch of scientists who really love their rosé, another long-term study by the National Center for Disease Control looked at more than 7,000 people over 10 years and found that alcohol consumption didn't increase the risk of obesity.
So bottoms up! Here, six science-backed ways drinking can help you start shrinking:
1. It Can Slow the Growth of Fat Cells
In addition to the resveratrol and antioxidants in red wine, it turns out that it also contains a chemical called ellagic acid, which new research from Oregon State University found to slow the growth of existing fat cells and prevent the growth of new ones, essentially helping the body burn fat better. In fact, the findings suggest that drinking red wine might even help people better manage obesity and related metabolic disorders, such as fatty liver. Usually order a bottle of white rather than red? You won't get the benefits, as ellagic acid is only found in dark-colored Muscadine grapes. Instead, buy a bunch at the grocery store or down a glass of grape juice.
2. It Triggers Your Body to Burn Calories
You know that buzzed-up feeling you get when you take a few extra-big gulps of wine when you get home from work? Well, that alcohol that hits your blood stream actually boosts your heart rate, which helps fire up your metabolism. Even better, you get this effect for about an hour after you take your last swig, according to Harvard Medical School researchers, and even longer if you're drinking a microbrew. The flavonoids in super-hoppy beer have been shown to increase muscle mass, which fires up the body's fat burners.
3. It Raises Your Body Temp
You're out at the bar and suddenly start to feel a little flushed. Is it your date's irresistible wit and charm—or that second vodka soda with lime? Blame it on the vodka since alcohol raises your body temperature. The downside of this is that your cheeks might turn red or you'll feel as if you're having a mild hot flash. The upside? Thermogenesis (a.k.a. the production of heat in the body) naturally boosts your calorie burn.
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4. Your Bod Adapts to Booze When You Drink Regularly—in Moderation
According to one study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, women who have one or two alcoholic drinks a day are less likely to gain weight than teetotalers. Experts think it's because our bodies somehow adapt to metabolize alcohol differently when we drink regularly versus occasionally. Researchers at the University of Denmark, who studied 43,500 people over the course of six years, found similar results: Those who drank infrequently ended up gaining weight while daily drinkers had the least amount of weight gain.
5. It Might Inspire You to Eat Less
Contrary to the thinking that drinking makes you more likely to overindulge at dinner or mindlessly snack before bed, there's some evidence that moderate drinkers actually practice healthier habits than those who shun booze. Think about it this way: When you know how to moderate how much you drink, it's more likely you know how to stop when you've had one too many servings of anything—whether it's a margarita, mashed potatoes or matcha soft serve.
6. It May Help Regulate Insulin
Sounds crazy, but research shows your nightly wine habit may actually stave off diabetes. Here's why you should believe it: Ethanol—the stuff that gives alcoholic beverages their alcohol content—actually improves your body's response to the hormone insulin, which regulates blood sugar and prevents glucose from making a beeline into your fat cells. According to one Harvard School of Public Health study, one to two alcoholic drinks a day may reduce your risk of diabetes by 36 percent. We'll cheers to that.
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