Are beans fattening or good for weight loss?
There are many different types of beans, including adzuki, kidney, pinto, mung and black turtle, each with their own unique colour and flavour. Beans are a nutritionally rich & versatile food and are enjoyed all around the world.
You may be wondering whether you should be eating them when you are trying to manage your weight. The short answer is yes.
What causes weight gain?
A calorie is a unit of energy and all foods have calories, but in differing amounts. You consume calories via the food that you eat, and burn them off through daily activities and exercise.
The equation for weight management is simple: calories in – calories out. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will begin to gain weight over time. This is because the excess calories are stored as fat around various areas of your body.
The number of calories that a person needs to consume will depend on their age, gender, height, weight, activity levels and overall goals. If you want to maintain your current weight, you should aim to eat the same number of calories that you burn. If you want to lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories than you burn.
You can use the calculator on this page to estimate the number of calories you should be eating.
This calculator will never show a number below 1000 calories per day. Please speak to a qualified health professional before attempting to eat less than that.
For example, a 25 year old lady who weighs 70 kg (154 lbs), is 170 cm tall and exercises 4 times a week should eat approximately 2300 calories to maintain her weight, 1800 calories to lose weight and 1400 calories to lose weight fast.
A cup of cooked kidney beans has 225 calories whereas a cup of cooked adzuki beans has 294 calories. On an 1800 calorie diet, a cup of cooked beans would account for roughly 15% of total calories. This means that beans can definitely be part of a weight loss diet.
That being said, they should be eaten in moderation. Any food if eaten in abundance will lead to weight gain, and the same is true for beans. Eating a cup or two of cooked beans is perfectly fine, so long as you manage your daily calorie intake. On the other hand, eating 5 or more cups of beans on top of all of your other meals will most likely lead to weight gain.
The key here is portion management. In general, it is one’s overall diet and not just a single food that determines whether they will gain weight or not.
How beans can be beneficial for weight loss
Beans are an excellent source of protein & fiber; a cup of cooked kidney beans provides you with 15 g of protein and 13 g of fiber, both of which are highly beneficial to weight loss.
Protein has a high satiety, which means that it is able to satisfy your appetite well. Because of this, it can help you to eat less, thereby reducing your overall calorie intake. Indeed, numerous studies have shown that protein assists with controlling hunger and managing weight.
This study found that increasing protein intake from 15% to 30% of total calories resulted in 441 fewer calories being consumed. And this study showed that a high protein diet reduced cravings & late night desire to snack in overweight men. Even though there are many protein rich foods available, beans can be especially handy for those individuals who choose not to consume animal based products.
Fiber also helps fill you up. When you eat it, it absorbs water and swells, thereby adding bulk to your stomach, keeping you feeling satisfied for longer. This study found that by making one small change and increasing your fiber intake, you can help your weight loss efforts. Besides nuts & seeds, beans are some of the best sources of fiber available.
There have been a number of studies that have investigated how beans affect weight loss.
This study found that eating one serving a day of beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils could contribute to modest weight loss. Eating around three quarters of a cup of these foods (also known as pulses) each day led to 0.34 kg being lost. Though small, the findings suggest that including pulses in your diet can help with weight loss.
This study analyzed a large amount of dietary data and determined that bean consumers had better body weights and waist circumferences when compared to non-bean consumers. They also had a lower systolic blood pressure and better nutrient intake levels.
And this study involved 30 obese men and women who consumed a hypo-caloric diet for 8 weeks. Some of the participants ate a diet that included legumes (lentils, chickpeas, peas or beans) whilst others did not include lentils. The legume diet resulted in greater weight loss.
From these studies, it is clear that beans should be a part of your diet when trying to lose weight.
Are beans healthy?
As mentioned above, beans are nutrient rich foods. For example, a cup of cooked kidney beans provides you with significant amounts of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, copper, zinc, vitamin K and the B vitamins. All of these vitamins & minerals are required for numerous bodily functions.
Observational studies have also shown that their consumption can help to reduce one’s risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol levels and improve blood pressure.
Also, because of their versatility, beans can be included in a number of healthy recipes. They can be added to salads & soups, topped over baked potatoes, used to make burger patties and combined with eggs at breakfast time.
With that being said, beans are known to contain substances known as anti-nutrients. These substances can interfere with digestion and the absorption of other nutrients. Some key anti-nutrients are phytic acid and lectins.
Many types of beans should not be eaten raw because doing so can lead to poisoning. It is therefore important to prepare them well before eating. Some techniques used to reduce the levels of anti-nutrients in beans are soaking overnight, sprouting, fermenting and thoroughly cooking them at high temperatures.
Beans can definitely be a part of weight loss diet. It is important to consume them in moderation however and to also prepare & cook them thoroughly before eating.