Which Splurge Is Better For You: A Glass Of Wine Or A Brownie?

Here’s what you need to know if you’re trying to lose weight.

BY DANIELLE PAGE February 27, 2017

Weight loss is all about balance, right? Sure, you eat healthy most of the time, pack your lunch, meal prep like a boss, and incorporate fresh fruits and veggies into your diet. But at the end of a long week of workouts and packed lunches, a girl needs to live a little. Can I get an amen?

Now, the only thing left to figure out what you're going to eat. The two contenders: a glass of wine or a chocolatey brownie (though we're not saying you couldn't have both). Here's the rundown of the pros and cons of each to help you make an informed decision if you want to live your best life while also reaching your weight-loss goals. 

Team Brownie

The good news: Chocolate does have health benefits, says Susan Bowerman, R.D. "Cocoa flavanols are considered heart healthy because they help to lower blood pressure and fats in the blood," she says.  

Unfortunately, those pros are outweighed by the high fat and sugar content of most brownies. "An average brownie packs about 14 grams of sugar," says Kelly Johnston, R.D. "Because a brownie is also highly processed, it loses almost all of the nutritional benefits we can typically get from quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content." A typical two-inch square brownie has approximately 130 calories, 14 grams of sugar, 22 grams of carbohydrates, five grams of fat, and less than two grams of protein, says Johnston. Not many redeeming qualities.

Team Wine

In moderation, a glass of vino has positive health effects. "Red wine contains polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that can boost immune function and improve flexibility of blood vessels," Johnston says. Plus, research suggests that red wine’s natural compound resveratrol improves blood sugar control, and lowers cholesterol levels and blood pressure, in addition to sharpening memory, and promoting anti-cancer effects. Not bad for a cheat day choice, right? A five-ounce glass of red wine also clocks in surprisingly low, at just 125 calories, less than two grams of sugar, four grams of carbohydrates, and zero fat. And it's worth noting that sipping on a glass of wine will likely last longer than the few bites it takes to get through a brownie. The only catch is that you have to cap it at just one glass, which takes serious willpower.

The Verdict

Based on calories, fat, sugar, and carbs, the clear winner here is a glass of wine. But as Rene Ficek, R.D. points out, if that glass of wine isn't going to satisfy your chocolate craving, you're better off going with the brownie. "As a dietitian, my advice would be to eat whatever item you want more!" she says. "If you are choosing a splurge treat, choose the one you will be most satisfied with." 

Another option? Pair a five-ounce glass of wine with dark chocolate that has at least 70 percent cocoa content, says Andrea Conner, R.D. It's the best of both worlds, unless Duncan Hines is calling your name.