We’ve all been there, and some of us more often than we’d like to admit. We’ve eaten a decent sized, hearty meal, and we’re getting ready for bed, and then they hit us: those little cravings, those hunger pangs, those temptations that see us creeping down to the fridge and picking at leftovers or rummaging around for sweets.
The problem with late night cravings is twofold: firstly, as we’re going to bed, we don’t have the opportunity to really burn off any calories.
Secondly, why don’t we ever crave something healthy? Nobody has ever raided their cupboards after dark for a stick of celery… it always tends to be something a little on the naughty side.
If this sounds familiar - and I’m sure it does - then you’ll be delighted to hear that scientists and nutritionists may well have come up with something of a dream solution, something to curb the fears of an expanding waistline due to greedy night-time habits.
Studies have recently come out that show that the perfect nightcap for good health and weight loss is a decent glass of wine.
That’s right: everybody’s favourite alcoholic beverage could well be the answer to the midnight snack conundrum - something delicious and indulgent, which isn’t going to see you loosening your belt at the end of the week.
Wine really is good for you
The myriad health benefits of wine have been discussed and argued over for a long time, and plenty of published and peer-reviewed studies have confirmed that wine is really very good for you in moderation, covering a wide range of different areas of wellbeing.
Many would argue that the evidence has been in front of our noses for centuries: countries where wine drinking is an embedded part of the culture (excellent examples include places like Bordeaux and Sardinia) have higher rates of longevity and overall better health among their senior citizens ,than those with a beer or spirits-based drinking scene.
However, the research into weight loss is relatively new, and sure to bring a smile to many people’s faces.
How can wine help you lose weight?
The principle behind these findings is a relatively simple one. Case studies have looked at individuals who have shedded several pounds over the course of a couple of weeks, simply by treating themselves to a glass of wine before bed.
This has come about due to the fact that alcohol is a natural appetite suppressant, and glass of wine curbs cravings for sweet foods and unhealthy foods in the late evening, as well as promoting better sleep patterns that’ll see you dropping off earlier than usual.
There is also a significant psychological side to this, too. If you like wine - and who doesn’t? - then you’ll feel more satisfied and happy with your choice of evening indulgence, meaning your brain will not crave the chemical rush it would otherwise receive from unhealthy, sugary snacks.
Red wine seems to be more effective than white wine (indeed, in almost all health related research into wine, reds trump white every time), and so a good glass of Bordeaux, Rioja or Shiraz before bed will leave you satiated and chilled, and uninterested in stuffing your mouth with anything else.
The hard evidence
One particular study was carried out by Harvard University, which led to some really compelling results. This was no small study, either - it had a sample size of 20,000 women. It found, with no uncertain terms, that those women who drank a glass or two of wine per day, considerably lessened their risk of obesity, and several women who took part in the research saw the result as nothing short of life changing.
One particular woman was quoted as being highly impressed by the fact that despite the fact that wine does contain calories, these don’t seem to make any sort of impression on the figure popping up on the bathroom scales. Several women claimed that they would replace a dessert or a sugary snack with a glass of wine several nights per week, and that they saw a difference in their weight within a relatively short time period. Furthermore, several of these women also claimed that they felt more relaxed in the evening, less prone to anxiety or worry, and found themselves generally sleeping better, too.
As with all delicious things in life, though, the obvious key to this is moderation. Having a glass of wine, or even two, is a great way to put a stop to those cravings, and could have plenty of other health benefits on the side.
However, we must keep in mind that as with all alcoholic drinks, having any more than just a couple of glasses of wine before bed is going to result in you consuming more calories than a chocolate bar or handful of sweets, and is going to end up causing that inevitable side effect of drinking - a nasty hangover.
Stick to a glass or two, and instead of struggling with the alarm clock in the morning, find yourself waking up fresh and alert, after having a good night’s sleep, safe in the knowledge that you’ve done your body a big favour.
If you're a newbie or you just simply want to explore new wines to add to your 'nightcap drink list', here's our wine palate quiz that will match you with your top 3 wine types according to your personal tastes!