Beans for Weight Loss: Fact or Fiction?

Row of spoons with different dried pulses
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Beans have been a food staple for so long that it’s easy to forget about them. But let’s bring beans back to the forefront. they’re filling, they’re high in protein and fiber, and they might even help you drop pounds. 

People who eat beans have healthier body weights than non-bean-eaters. An overview of studies from 2008 found that those who regularly consumed beans had better body weights and waist circumferences than those who didn't.

Eating beans makes you feel full. Australian researchers came up with something called the “satiety index” which was essentially a study on which foods make you feel the most and least full. They found that beans are one of the most satisfying and filling foods.

Beans are associated with lower BMIs. Another roundup of studies concluded that those who eat pulses (beans, lentils, peas) as part of their regular diet have a lower body mass index than those who don't.

It’s not surprising that people who eat beans on a daily basis feel fuller than those who don’t. After all, beans are loaded with fiber, a nutrient that’s associated with satiety. For reference, a half cup of either black beans or pinto beans has a whopping 6.5 grams of fiber. And eating satiating foods is definitely good if you’re trying to lose or maintain weight because it’ll likely prevent you from feeling between-meal hunger pangs and mindlessly munching on high-calorie snacks.

Beans are also packed with protein - around seven grams per half cup. Protein is key for weight loss because it makes you feel full. Eating protein is also good for burning fat because it boosts your metabolism and helps you feel energized. 

The idea that eating beans leads to healthier body weights and lower BMIs is debatable.

There’s definitely a correlation between eating beans and weighing less, but that doesn’t mean that eating beans causes you to weigh less. It’s possible that people who eat beans on a regular basis are simply healthier overall than those who don’t. 

If you’re going to add beans to your diet, watch those portions. A half cup of black, kidney, or pinto beans has around 110 calories. Eat enough of them and the calories will definitely add up, especially if they're served with fattening ingredients. 

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