Did you know that eating beans for weight loss is a smart strategy to melt away pounds? Not only are beans incredibly nutritious, they also bring feelings of fullness in a unique way that is beyond that of other foods.
If you want to add more beans to your diet but aren’t sure how to get started (or are concerned about digestive issues), this post will walk you through how to do it.
Why Are Beans Good for Weight Loss?
Beans have been described at the perfect weight loss food.
I follow the recommendation of Dr. Joel Furhman that people trying to lose weight should aim for 1/2 cup – 1 cup of beans per day.
In fact, research has proven that beans contribute to a feeling of fullness not only during the meal they are eaten, but even promote fullness for hours afterwards. This is called the “second meal effect” or “lentil effect” of beans.
Beans are low in calorie density meaning beans can be eaten to satiety without concern of weight gain. Beans are also low in glycemic index and promote stable blood sugar.
In addition to their wonderful health and weight loss benefits, beans have been used in cultures all over the world and can be found in a huge variety of recipes. (We share lots of great ideas below.)
Beans are also incredibly frugal. I’ve started eating beans daily and I love that I can add to my nutrition, lose extra weight, and just spend pennies per serving.
How to Stop Gas After Eating Beans
Do you struggle with gas, bloating, or flatulence after eating beans? While research has show that much of this is not as true as people think, if you find yourself with digestive trouble after eating beans, rest assured that there are steps you can take.
Here are ways to reduce digestive upset when eating beans.
- Rinse canned beans well. In addition to reducing salt which makes them healthier, washing beans well helps reduce gas and bloating.
- Cook dried beans well. Rinse and soak dried beans before cooking to cut down on bloating.
- Pressure cooking, such as in an Instant Pot, helps reduce gas.
- Add a pinch of baking soda or kombu (a type of seaweed) to the cooking water.
- Start with small serving sizes and gradually increase. If you rarely eat beans, your gut microbiome may be lacking the healthy bacteria to digest them. Start with eating 1 tablespoon of beans per day and gradually increase 1 tablespoon at a time until you can easily eat 1/2 cup or more. Your gut biome will repopulate and you’ll find you can eat beans easily.
- Certain beans are easier to digest, such as lentils and edamame and tend to be the types of beans that cause less gas. Lima beans, kidney beans, and garbanzo beans are harder to digest.
- Take digestive enzymes. Products such as Gas-x and Bean-o can help with digestion.
Which Beans Are Best for Weight Loss?
With the exception of jelly beans, there’s no bad bean when it comes to weight loss! All types promote feelings of fullness and are lower in calorie density.
Choose the beans you enjoy and are easy to add to your diet. Keep a wide variety of beans on hand, both dried and canned.
What Types of Beans Are There to Eat?
Technically there are beans (kidney, red, garbanzo, etc.) and legumes (peas, lentils, soybeans). All of them are healthy choices for weight loss.
Here are some types of beans for you to enjoy:
- White beans (navy beans, white beans, Northern beans, fava beans, canneilli, lima, black-eyed peas)
- Red beans (kidney, red, cranberry, adzuki, anasazi)
- Pinto beans
- Black beans
- Lentils (red, green, black)
- Peas (green, yellow)
- Soybeans (edamame, also made into tofu and tempeh)
- Mung beans
- Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
- Heirloom beans (rare types of beans which can be ordered online)
While green beans are a delicious and healthy food, they classify as a vegetable and not a bean. Click here for 75 ways to enjoy vegetables.
45+ Ways to Eat Beans and Lose More Weight
Use these bean ideas, tips, and recipes to incorporate more beans into your healthy diet.
- Enjoy bean chili. You can’t beat a classic bean recipe like chili. This low calorie (zero WW point) turkey chili is one of the most popular bean recipes on our website.
- White bean chili. For a different twist, try this white turkey chili with white beans. This chili is good with chicken too.
- Use a bean soup mix. This 15 bean soup is easy to make with a bag of beans.
- Three bean salad is a simple potluck or picnic dish.
- Black bean salad. Mix 2 cans black beans, 1 can corn and one jar of salsa. Sprinkle with lime and sea salt. Enjoy with baked chips or eat with a spoon as a side dish or snack. (This is zero WW points on Blue and Purple.) This is sometimes called Cowboy salad.
- Black bean dip. Black bean dip can be purchased or made at home and is delicious with chips, on a tortilla, or over a baked potato.
- Seven Layer Dip. This delicious dip is popular for parties. Make it healthier by using light cheese and plain, non-fat Greek yogurt in place of sour cream.
- Baked beans. Make healthier baked beans at home by replacing some of the sugar with fruit (applesauce, pineapple and apricots are all good) or use vegetarian canned baked beans. Try baked beans over a baked potato for a filling, complete meal.
- Cobb salad. This delicious salad uses garbanzo beans for added flavor and texture.
- Roast garbanzo beans. Toss a can of rinsed, drained garbanzo beans with your favorite seasoning and roast in the oven or air fryer until crispy.
- Hummus. Hummus is a delicious garbanzo bean spread. Purchase or make your own at home. I make mine at home without oil. Serve with vegetables or try on top of potatoes. Hummus can also be thinned with a bit of water and used as a healthy salad dressing.
- Chocolate hummus. Chocolate hummus can be purchased or made at home. Spread on fruit or graham crackers.
- Pasta Fagioli soup. This hearty and healthy soup has flavor in every bite.
- Minestrone. This popular Italian soup is served at Olive Garden restaurants and is easy to make at home.
- Beans on toast. A classic frugal meal is beans over toast. Use vegetarian baked beans and serve over whole wheat toast. Beans are also wonderful on top of rice, potatoes, or sweet potatoes instead of bread.
- Black bean burgers. Purchase black bean burgers or make your own.
- Black-eyed peas. Black-eyed peas are traditionally served on New Year’s Day with greens for good luck in the year ahead. (This is also called Hoppin’ John.) Try these same flavors in a soup with cornbread on the side.
- Make bean burritos. Use canned, fat-free refried beans or smash any bean to make into a burrito with tortillas and salsa.
- Make Mexican pizza. Use your favorite pizza crust (like our 2 ingredient pizza dough) and spread with refried beans. Spread with salsa, sprinkle with cheese and bake. Remove from oven and sprinkle with tomatoes and lettuce. Serve with avocado.
- Add beans to salads. Almost any salad is even more delicious with your favorite beans on top. Garbanzo beans and edamame are two of my favorite beans for salads.
- Tofu. Tofu is made from soybeans and is a delicious meat alternative.
- Edamame in pods. Edamame can be purchased in the pod for a fun snack or side dish. Boil on the stove top or microwave to soften. Sprinkle pods with sea salt. To eat, push the beans out of the pod with your teeth. Do not eat the pod. My kids love when I serve these with dinner or for an after-school snack.
- Shelled edamame. Buy shelled edamame (sometimes fresh but often frozen) to add to recipes.
- Succotash. Succotash is a classic recipe of lima beans and corn. If you don’t care for lima beans, make it with edamame instead.
- Use mashed beans. Mashed beans can be used to thicken soups and stews without changing the flavor.
- Add beans to casseroles. Add beans to your favorite casserole to boost nutrition.
- Replace half the meat with lentils. Lentils have a meaty texture and can be used to replace half the ground beef in many recipes. This is a frugal option, too.
- Use red lentils. Red lentils are different from other lentils in that they cook quickly, with a cooking time similar to pasta. They are often used to thicken soups and spreads because when cooked for an extra few minutes, they make a thick paste.
- Add beans to soup. Add beans to your favorite soup recipe. This vegetable detox soup is delicious with white or red beans of any type.
- Taco soup. Taco soup is a family favorite that is hearty and filling.
- Beans and greens. Beans are delicious with any type of cooked greens like kale, collard greens, or Swiss chard.
- Fat-free refried beans. Purchase cans of refried beans or make your own with an Instant Pot.
- Make red lentil flatbread. Red lentils can be combined with water and made into pancakes, flatbread, and even pizza crust.
- Red bean spread by Dr. McDougall. Use this creamy spread on vegetables, potatoes, rice, or quinoa, or spread on crackers or bread.
- Use bean pasta. Bean pastas, such as Banza, are made with garbanzo, black beans, or lentils. These pastas are naturally gluten-free.
- Use white beans as a base for salad dressing. Find salad dressings with a bean base here.
- Use white beans or peas in smoothies. White beans thicken smoothies without affecting flavor. This is a great way to add protein in a natural way.
- Freeze portions for later. Both canned and cooked beans can be frozen for later use. I like to freeze mine in individual portions so I can quickly pull them out for a meal.
- Use white beans in place of cream. Try replacing some or all of the cream in recipes with blended white beans.
- Curry. Many curries include lentils like this easy Instant Pot Lentil Potato Curry.
- Dahl. Dahl is an Indian sauce that is served over brown rice, potatoes, or sweet potatoes. Here’s a Dahl recipe to try.
- Add beans to burgers and meatballs. Add a portion of mashed beans to burgers, meatballs, and meatloaf.
- Black bean tostadas. Bake or air fry corn tortillas until crispy. Top with mashed black beans and your favorite taco toppings.
- Add beans to gyros or quesadillas. Use beans instead of meat or add beans in addition.
- Greek Garbanzo Bean Salad. Try this delicious cold salad with Greek flavors.
- Black bean brownies. I admit I was totally skeptical about the idea of beans in brownies, but these brownies are delicious and you can’t taste the beans.
Will Green Coffee Beans Help Me Lose Weight?
While researching beans and weight loss, I discovered that some people believe that roasted green coffee beans or green coffee bean extract will promote weight loss.
I do not recommend green coffee beans or extract and so far, research has shown that it’s not helpful for weight loss. In addition, these extracts can be harmful because of the high caffeine content.
Instead, enjoy servings of beans in a natural way and see your weight decrease from including this healthy food in your diet.
With these 45+ healthy ideas, you will have no shortage of ways to include beans in your diet to help you lose weight. Beans are highly nutritious, filling and as an added bonus they are frugal, too.
How do you eat beans? Share about it in the comments below.