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My clients often ask me: are beans fattening? If you have the same question, I have written this article so you can learn how and when to eat beans to preserve their non-fattening qualities in this article.
Sometimes it’s difficult to make a healthy food choice. It is not your fault. One cannot possibly know everything about each food.
On one hand, there is so much to know about so many foods that unless you are a nutrition expert you often feel lost.
On the other hand, there are many misconceptions about certain foods that it makes it difficult to distinguish between what is true and what it is not.
One of those tricky foods are beans. But there are many others. If you want to learn how to use Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load to determine if a food is fattening, you can learn how to do it with my FREE Online Course.
So when My clients ask me whether beans are fattening, I always tell them that it depends.
The good news though is that there is an easy way to eat and cook beans in a weight management friendly way.
But before I go deeper into answering this question I’d like to make sure that you know the basics about beans.
The “Beans Basics”
Beans are legumes…
A friend of mine who was born in Romania thought for quite a while that “legumes” is just a fancy word for “vegetables”, because the Romanian for "vegetables" is just that, "legume".
Although all legumes are vegetables, as you might have guessed, not all vegetables are legumes.
The latter are plants of the Leguminosae family, or the seed or fruit of such plant.
I'm sure you are familiar with many types of legumes already: Beans, lentils, peanuts, peas, chickpeas, etc.
…with some unique and valuable characteristics
Regarding the nutrition value of beans (and legumes in general), I don’t like giving numbers that you’ll forget soon, so I'd rather give you a big picture perspective on this, which I hope will stay with you.
The beauty of legumes is that they are:
- low in fat
- moderate in carbs
- high in protein.
They are high both in insoluble and soluble fiber, which is what makes that their glycemic index low.
A low glycemic index means that eating legumes won’t make your blood sugar levels spike fast.
Therefore, there won’t be any quick insulin rise, which means that your sugar metabolism (and cravings, and hunger) are going to stay under control. That’s far more important to manage your weight than just the number of calories.
Although there is a small difference between how much soluble fiber is in each type of legume, in the end all of them have a low glycemic index, and that’s what it really matters.
The other wonderful thing about legumes is that they are high in protein, which makes them a perfect food to be used as a protein source.
It is a common misconception that beans are fattening, when in fact you can eat beans to lose weight. It is just a matter of cooking them properly and sticking to the healthy portion sizes.
How to eat beans to preserve their non-fattening qualities
Avoid beans at night
Although their glycemic index is low, legumes are still a source of carbs. Therefore, you shouldn’t eat them at night, when your weight management friendly hormones are about to work.
If you are wondering, how a weight management friendly dinner looks like, check this article.
Cook your beans wisely
You also need to be smart about cooking your beans. Any recipe that includes just some vegetables and some oil (olive oil, please!) is fine. But as soon as you have a recipe that asks for lard, beacon or similar you’ll be adding too many calories that you don’t need.
So, if you stay away from any additional ingredients that are rich on calories you’ll be fine.
Stick to healthy portion sizes
Since your meal should be balanced to keep you satiating till the next meal, it should consist of carbs, vegetables, and protein (except dinner).
Generally, a healthy portion size of beans equals to one cup.
You might think that that’s too little, but remember that you still have to account for your vegetables and maybe protein in your meal.
As legumes are a source of protein, you can make the legume count as your protein healthy serving size. Which means if you are not having another protein in your meal you can have two healthy portion sizes (2 cups) of beans with clean consciousness.
For example, if you are having a legume soup, or a legume dish with some vegetables, and you are not having anything else in that meal, you can have 2 to 2 ½ healthy portions, making beans count as both - carbs and protein.
(Do you know how much is a healthy portion size of your favorite food? If not, check out this printable guide to healthy portion sizes.)
And finally, are beans fattening?
So, if someone asks me “are beans fattening?” or “are beans bad for me?”, my answer is this: Beans are a healthy source of protein and fiber, which will help you lose weight if eaten in a smart way:
- Don’t have them at night.
- Don’t add too much fat to your recipe, just a tiny bit of olive oil.
- Don’t have more than the recommended portion size.
Beans are a healthy source of protein and fiber that will help you lose weight if eaten in a smart way.
Since beans are rich in insoluble fiber, they help you adsorb the sugar from the fruit, yogurt or even that chocolate piece that you add to your meal, so the blood sugar levels won’t rise that much.
In case you don’t have it yet and if you want to learn more about glycemic index and glycemic load to learn how to manage your blood sugar and insulin levels, cravings and hunger, and about everything you need to learn to be able to manage your weight, you should get a copy of my book here.
P.S. By the way, the Romanian for “legumes” is “leguminoase”. In case you were wondering ;)
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Over to You!
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Are there any other foods you have questions about?
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