From the Greek meaning 'heavy with wine'
A blog devoted to science and reason
Written after a glass or two of Pinot Noir.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dr. Oz's Diet Advice

I was really bored yesterday, August 6, 2012.  Flipping through the channels, I came upon the Dr. Oz show, and I wondered what woo he was pushing today.  Sure enough, he begins the show with metabolism boosters.  

I immediately began to wonder whether a person can really boost their metabolism by simply drinking tomato juice spiked with a little Tabasco sauce and lime juice, but then he said this.

"And while wine snobs may not approve, adding ice chips to your red wine forces your body to burn calories, as it has to use its own energy to warm the liquid to body temperature."

Let's see what science has to say about this.

One learns in both physics and chemistry courses that to raise the temperature of any substance it takes an amount of energy equal to Q = mcdT where m is the mass of the substance, dT is the final temperature minus the initial temperature, and c is called the specific heat. The specific heat takes into account all the complicated physics and chemistry of how energy is distributed among the atoms and molecules.

I went to my freezer and looked at a ice cube - technically it's not a cube, it's a rectangular solid, but I'm being pedantic.  I don't have a kitchen scale, so I'll determine its mass by measuring its dimensions.  My cube is 5 cm by 3 cm by 3.5 cm or about 53 cm3.  The density of ice is 0.998 grams per cubic centimeter, so I can calculate its mass by multiplying the density by the volume.  Therefore, my ice cube's mass is 53 grams.

The ice will melt and cool the wine as cold as 0ºC.  After you drink the wine, your body will warm the liquid to body temperature, about 37ºC.

The specific heat of water is 1 calorie per gram per Celsius degree.  So your body will use 
Q = (53 g)(1 cal/(g ºC))(37ºC–0ºC) = 1961 calories.
But I have to correct something here.  A food calorie is different from a calorie.  A food calorie, also called the Calorie (notice the capital C), is equal to 1000 calories.

So your body has to expend almost 2 Calories to warm the cold wine.  I think you can burn 2 Calories by breathing for a whole minute.

UPDATE: Oops! I made a mistake here.  Your body has to warm all the liquid, not just the melted ice.  If you have a standard serving of wine, 6 oz., then your body expends 8.5 Calories.

You can do a little better by eating the ice, since your body has to melt the ice, too.  I''ll spare you the details, but that takes a whopping10 Calories! Assuming you drink the wine, too.

Even if you live a sedentary lifestyle, you will burn at least 1200 Calories every day by just existing. This is your metabolic activity. If you are active, your metabolic activity can be as high as 3000 Calories.  

If you want a little dieting advice, I share with you the only diet proven to work.  

The Thermodynamic Diet

The 1st law of thermodynamics states that one cannot create nor destroy energy.  All that can be done is to convert energy from one form to another.  Your body converts chemical energy in the food to kinetic energy (energy of motion) and thermal energy (you may call that heat, but that's technically incorrect).  Any energy not converted into these two forms may be converted into another form of chemical energy; that is, weight gain.

So the thermodynamic diet is burn more calories than you ingest.


  1. So you are saying if I drink a bottle of wine with ice cubes I still add more calories than I subtract? Darn I thought Dr. Oz gave me an excuse for drinking iced wine.

    1. Each glass of wine contains about 100 calories. Take heart though; one never needs an excuse for drinking wine - iced or not. In Vino Veritas.