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Are Beans Fattening? How to Eat Beans with Clean Consciousness.

Estimated reading time: 4.5 minutes

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:

  1. Don’t have them at night.
  2. Don’t add too much fat to your recipe, just a tiny bit of olive oil.
  3. 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.

Bonus tip:

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 ;)

Knowledge is power! Share this to help your friends eat healthy!

Over to You!

Was this information new to you, or did you know this already?

Are there any other foods you have questions about?

Leave me a comment! I'd love to hear from you!

About the Author

Arantxa Mateo

Arantxa is a trained biologist, nutrition specialist and weight management coach. Born in Spain, she spent 5 years in Australia before moving to the US. Her motto is "Food is a pleasure. Nobody deserves to be on a diet."

Find out more about Arantxa and 32 Mondays >>

Write a comment

Comments: 23
  • #1

    Dorcas (Wednesday, 06 July 2016 04:07)

    Thank you for the information concerning eating beans at night. From today I will avoid eating them at night. I appreciate the knowledge concerning them.

  • #2

    Lara (Thursday, 03 May 2018 12:54)

    I want to thank you for sharing this wonderful information.

  • #3

    Arantxa Mateo (Friday, 04 May 2018 09:03)

    Dear Lara,

    Thanks so much for stepping in and to let me know that the information I am sharing in my blog is being useful to you. I really appreciate it!

  • #4

    Nigel (Monday, 21 May 2018 07:21)

    Many thanks, great information

    Nigel

  • #5

    Arantxa Mateo (Thursday, 24 May 2018 15:42)

    Hey Nigel! Thanks so much for taking the time to write me a "thank you" comment. I really appreciate it!

    Arantxa

  • #6

    Rocky (Thursday, 14 June 2018 18:25)

    Thank you for a very helpful article!

  • #7

    Arantxa Mateo (Monday, 18 June 2018 10:49)

    Hi Rocky! Thanks so much for letting me know that you found the article helpful. I hope you apply all you have learned from it!

  • #8

    Adam (Monday, 18 June 2018 15:53)

    Thanks Arantxa, very helpful info. Stay healthy!!

  • #9

    Arantxa Mateo (Wednesday, 27 June 2018 12:51)

    Hi Adam, thanks for stepping in and let me know that you found the article helpful!

  • #10

    Terri (Friday, 29 June 2018 13:25)

    Thank you for you information it is very helpful.

  • #11

    Arantxa Mateo (Monday, 02 July 2018 02:52)

    Thank you so much Terri!

  • #12

    cat (Friday, 03 August 2018 19:13)

    can i eat beans at 8:00 or 9:00? is that too late? and can i have too much beans. is that possible?

  • #13

    cat (Friday, 03 August 2018 19:16)

    also is there such thing as eating to many healthy foods, vegetables and fruits? and can i have fruits and vegetables at night, like 8:00, 9:00 or really late like 10 or 11 o clock? thanks, this is an interesting article

  • #14

    Arantxa Mateo (Thursday, 30 August 2018 12:07)

    Hi Cat,

    Sorry I missed your question! You should try to avoid foods with high Glycemic Index and Load at night. Everybody has a different daily schedule, so by night I mean 3-4 hours before bed. And yes, there is such thing as eating too much fruit, vegetables and beans! You should respect the services sizes recommended. I suggest you to read one of my posts that explains how much food do you need each day: https://www.32mondays.com/2016/08/12/how-much-food-do-you-need-each-day/

    I hope you find it useful!

    Arantxa

  • #15

    Israel (Monday, 08 October 2018 17:24)

    I read this because I have a vegan burrito recipe that uses lentils, black beans, and pintos. Just wanted to be sure I was on the safe side of things.

  • #16

    Raquel (Saturday, 12 January 2019 12:53)

    I should not have to read an entire article just to get a yes or no answer.
    Are beans fattening Yes or No ?????????????????????

  • #17

    Arantxa Mateo (Wednesday, 16 January 2019)

    Hi Israel,

    Yes, you are in the safe side with your lentils, black beans and pintos, but be careful with the serving size of the tortilla used for the burrito. It tends to be too large!

    Arantxa

  • #18

    Arantxa Mateo (Wednesday, 16 January 2019 12:19)

    Hi Raquel,

    Unfortunately, weight management is a very complex aspect, difficult to cover with a yes or no answer. My philosophy is that if you learn the reasons behind what I am telling you to do, it will resonate more in the future and you’ll be able to remember more easily what you learned. You’ll be able to even get your own conclusions without me telling you what to do. That’s why I give a whole explanation with all I teach. But I do it in a way easy to understand, apply and keep for life, so it won’t take you long to learn and understand the article. At the end, you’ll find 3 very specific points that answer the question “Are Beans Fattening”.

    Arantxa

  • #19

    Mar (Thursday, 07 February 2019 12:30)

    I appreciate the article, but leguminoase is not a word in Romanian. It is also NOT the word for vegetables. Most people romania say fruits and legumes rather than fruits and vegetables. However the word is legume, and there is another actual word for vegetables, and that is vegetale. I just had to share as the read is interesting, but your source was mistaken in their interpretation and english translation.

  • #20

    Doug (Wednesday, 06 March 2019 14:03)

    Articulated perfectly! Great information on beans

  • #21

    Arantxa Mateo (Thursday, 07 March 2019 09:50)

    Doug,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a review. I am so glad you found the article interesting.

    Arantxa

  • #22

    Chef Beansy (Tuesday, 24 September 2019 13:52)

    Good article! Many americans seem to be intimidated by beans but they're a nutritious, affordable way to eat. Studies show that people that eat beans live an average of 4 years longer -- definitely a good reason to add them to your diet. We were bored by the beans we were served in restaurants and weren't up for the msg-filled flavor packets you can find in stores so we created our own EASYBEANSY spice mix geared toward beans. It's a mix of 8 organic herbs & spices and turns out it's delicious on chicken, shrimp & steak too.

  • #23

    Kimberly (Thursday, 26 September 2019 16:49)

    Thank you so much for writing this blog, I really learned more about beans when I actually thought I knew everything, lol!