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Snooth User: TerriF

Wine turns to sugar in the body?

Posted by TerriF, Jan 17, 2010.

Please help me out here....a friend just told me that he is trying to drink less wine because he was told that wine 'turns into sugar' in the body.

It has always been my understanding that everything we consume eventually is converted into 'sugar' (glucose) in the body and that this is how the energy enters the cells. Of course there is the complex vs simple carbohydrate factor....but still with everything eventually 'becoming a sugar.'

Maybe their thinking is that wine is a simple carb. I certainly can't equate wine with say, pancake syrup as an example or soda....which are definitely simple carbs. Why would wine be catagorized like this?

Does anyone have any insight on this?


Reply by GregT, Jan 17, 2010.

Carbohydrate = carbon compound with hydroxyl group. So they're carbon, oxygen, hydrogen.

Simple carbohydrates are the simple sugars, which are absorbed by the body very quickly. Complex carbohydrates include starches, "fiber". gums, i.e. things that are made of simple carbohydrates.

Most sugars are converted into alcohol by fermentation, so wine isn't a big source of sugars or carbs, although it may still have some. Stats on that are not hard to come by.

You break carbohydrates down in to glucose. If you have extra glucose, you convert it to glycogen which you need for muscular performance, among other things. But you don't store all that much in your liver and muscles. If you have more than a few hours supply, you convert the rest to fat, because your body stores its reserves as fat, not as sugar. So the end result of eating a lot of carbohydrates is fat. (NOTE - that is not the ONLY way to get fat, low-carb claims notwithstanding.)

But if you just eat enough carbohydrates / complex sugars to keep your glycogen levels adequate and not so much that you need to store it, you stay lean and mean.

Alcohol however doesn't get turned into sugar. It either lowers or raises blood sugar.

When calories from alcohol aren't used for energy immediately , they get stored as fat. When you drink alcohol, first a good part of the it goes directly to your blood. The water in your body and blood dilute it a little. That's one reason men can drink more alcohol than women, even if they're the same size - men typically have more muscle mass and therefore they can dilute more alcohol.

At the same time, your liver starts trying to clean it out. Your liver is responsible for cleaning out toxins but it also helps regulate hormone levels that regulate blood sugar and if it's busy cleaning out toxins, it's not working with the stored glycogen and/or helping regulate hormones like insulin. If you're not producing the correct hormones that in turn regulate your blood sugar levels, those sugar levels go out of whack.

If you just ate, you may end up with too much sugar. If you haven't eaten, you end up with too little. Playing sports depletes blood sugar levels and if you do it while drinking, you end up w sugar levels that are too low. If you're diabetic, you have problems regulating your blood sugar anyway. Adding alcohol into the mix is kind of dumb.

Here's a general bit of info:

And here is a very nice note that directly addresses your question:

Reply by Lagnaf59, Jan 17, 2010.

Does Wine Make You Fat? an article posted by Clinical Nutrition
No. The good news is that moderate (there's that word again) wine drinking most definitely does not make you gain weight. Wine has no sodium, so retaining water weight is unlikely. Wine has no cholesterol, so your arteries are safe. And wine has no fat, so your derrière is safe. According to an article published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, moderate wine drinkers tend to be slimmer than folks who drink absolutely no alcohol.

Wine does have calories due to ethyl alcohol and varying degrees of sugar--sweeter wines have more calories than bone-dry wines. An average 5 oz. glass of wine has about 110 to 120 calories. Compare that to a whopping 770 calories for that Starbucks el grande Strawberry and Crème Frappuccino, which is like eating three McDonalds hamburgers in one sitting.

Reply by justice1, Jan 17, 2010.

Just sit and enjoy the wine and life,

Reply by Lagnaf59, Jan 17, 2010.

Agreed...I am having wine as we speak...Cheers

Reply by John Andrews, Jan 17, 2010.

It is all the food I eat with wine that I think is what is causing me to put on weight. :-)

Reply by GregT, Jan 17, 2010.

That's for sure!

But the question was:

"Please help me out here....a friend just told me that he is trying to drink less wine because he was told that wine 'turns into sugar' in the body."

Which didn't make sense. A little wine is fine. A lot of wine = fat because after all, you are consuming calories.

Anyhow, I'm off to consume some right now. What will go with my sausage, pan fried potatoes, sauerkraut? I'm thinking white, but who knows.

Reply by zufrieden, Jan 17, 2010.

Glad to see the biochemistry of the human body is out there in the mind of GregT. Thanks for the excellent, demotic explanation of the manner in which the body makes use of certain fundamental food items - including alcohol. This took a little effort on your part, so I want you to know that I appreciate that easily digested information. Clarity of expression (as opposed to text shorthand) is not a universal art.

Reply by Winelover48317, Jan 17, 2010.

Enjoy the Wine in Moderation is the best advice, but definitely try various wines, lush Reds and tantalizing Whites, if you want a variety try a rich Malbec wine for strong earthy overtones or a mix of Malbec and Sharaz. Wine is the elixir of life.! Stand in your VAT and stomp grapes between your toes and enjoy your favorite Vino! You only live once so enjoy it all. Add some Chocolate and great movie what can be better….Viva Jeff n Nadine…

Reply by napagirl68, Jan 17, 2010.

My dr. and trainer both say the same thing: calories in, calories out. If you consume a bottle of wine and its 500-600 calories, and you've eaten your daily ration of calories to maintain your weight, well, then you will gain! Many argue about certain calories "costing" less to the body, but the fact is, a calorie is a calorie (unit of energy).. Some food types are more calorie dense than others... ie, a tablespoon of oil is about the same calories as a whole egg and half cup of milk.

I think the reason they call alcohol a "sugar" is that it IS a carb! it is simply a hydroxyl group, bonded to carbon (which bonds to hydrogen).. The formula for ethanol (drinking alcohol) is C2H5OH. It is a carb, similar in structure to sugars. Calorie wise, it is like eating chocolate or syrup, except those are more calorie dense, and pack more punch per weight than say a glass of wine. Example, a glass of wine is similar in calories to a tsp of dense syrup.

A 6oz glass of ~13% alcohol wine is about 80-90 calories. If you have a shot of bourbon, a 1.5 oz shot has ~125 cal. So you see how proof (or alcohol density) relates to calories. This is independed of mixers, which can add LOADS of calories.

PLUS~ I know for me at least, after having a few glasses of wine, I want FOOD.. yummy food like Brie, chocolate, crackers, etc. I believe the cravings that drinking creates are worse than the drinking itself!

Which is why I run my ass off! LOL! I do ~45min cardio 6x a week and strength training to offset my excessive wine/food calories. It really does come down to a simple math problem..

Reply by firedude2894, Oct 15, 2010.

This is a very interesting thread, thanks to everyone who took the time to share their wisdom!

Reply by JMacey, Oct 20, 2010.

I agree Great Thread. Thanks. GregT.

Reply by juniorab, Oct 20, 2010.

I guess since I've been snooping around the forums for the past few weeks, soaking in as much knowledge as I can, this may be somewhere that I can start to give back to the community. I've been in the fitness industry for 15 years, as a personal trainer, gym manager, and won a few shows as an all natural bodybuilder. So I know a little about how things work in the human body. And on top of that I'm also a diabetic.

GregT, has basically answered most of the question. Wine doesn't actually turn to sugar in the body. The wine already has sugar in it mainly in the form of fructose, which is the sugars found in fruit. Fructose is a simple sugar, which means the body can break it down very rapidly and then absorb it as well at a rapid pace. The problem with simple sugars comes when you ingest too much in one sitting. Your body can only absorb so much at one time. Any more, and you are basically overfilling the tank and your body has no chose but to store it as fat.

One of the biggest things for my clients to understand is the difference between complex and simple carbs. They always come to me and say they are basically eating as much fruit in a day as they can, because society tells us that this is healthy. They don't realize that too much of a good thing is also bad. So enjoy a good glass or two of your favorite wine in moderation. Moderation is the key to life!

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