Listen up ladies, last week Women’s Health published some news worthy of rooftop yelling: “The Archives of Internal Medicine published that women who had one or two alcoholic drinks a day were actually less likely to gain weight than those who shunned the sauce. And they did it while consuming more calories overall (from food and drink) than both heavy drinkers and teetotalers.”
Seriously. Researchers believe that the bodies of long-term moderate drinkers somehow adapt to metabolize alcohol differently than heavy or occasional drinkers. They use more energy, burning the calories in the drink—or even more than that—while digesting it, says Lu Wang, M.D., Ph.D., the lead researcher of the study and an instructor in medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
“Researchers are still working out the specifics of how and why this happens, but they’ve figured out that for women who drink up to eight ounces of an alcoholic beverage a day, those calories simply don’t end up as extra fat.”
Note: This gift from on high does not apply to those who bank their daily drinks for weekends or girls’ nights. “Your body adjusts metabolically to the amount you drink, and when you don’t drink regularly, your body can’t adjust,” says Wang.
Of course moderate drinkers tend to practice healthier habits in general than teetotalers. If you’re used to having three or four drinks every week as part of your diet, you’re probably compensating for them with fewer calories elsewhere. “These women know how to moderate how much they drink, so it makes sense that they’d moderate what they eat as well,” says Robert Klesges, Ph.D., a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. The Archives study found that these women also exercise more, which knocks off additional calories.