Legumes, also called pulses, are a family of plants grown for their seeds. Legumes include peas, lentils and beans. Legumes are interesting because they have useful weight loss properties. For example, researchers added tinned baked beans in tomato sauce to the normal diet of diabetic subjects to see if it improved blood sugar control. The results showed that blood sugar control was improved. However, amazingly the subjects lost weight without any other other dietary changes.
Refined Carbohydrates Cause Weight Gain
Refined carbohydrates are produced when starchy plant material is stripped of its fibre and micronutrients. When eaten this type of carbohydrate is devoid of the minerals required for correct metabolism of the starch. The absence of minerals such as chromium gradually causes insulin resistance and this leads to weight gain. The absence of fibre exacerbates the problem as it causes the liver to be overloaded with nutrients, contributing to fatty liver and belly fat.
Legumes Are Slowly Absorbed
One of the reasons that legumes may cause weight loss is because they improve blood sugar control. Legumes help control blood sugar because they are digested relatively slowly. Adding beans to a mixed meal also slows the digestion rate of the other foods. Legumes are digested slowly because the cells in the legumes have tough cell walls. Human enzymes cannot penetrate these cells and so the starch contained within is only slowly released following chewing.
Legumes are High Protein Foods
Legumes are relatively high in protein and this may explain some of their weight loss effects. Protein contributes to weight loss because it has the ability to increase satiety. This results from a slowing of the passage of food from the stomach. More food in the stomach for longer causes a feeling of fullness, which inhibits appetite. The slow digestion of protein also contributes to the blood sugar lowering effects of legumes caused by their fibre.
Beans, Beans, Beans
If you are trying to lose weight and are not already eating legumes, you should try to incorporate them into your diet. Frozen beans are an excellent source of nutrition because freezing maintains the nutrient content of the plant material. Adding beans with no other dietary changes will improve health and could cause weight loss. Eating beans as part of a high quality diet should be effective at causing weight loss long term without the need to restrict calories.