This article has been Fact-Checked by Kendall Kennedy MS, RD, RYT
Putting together a weight loss diet can feel challenging with all the options. Find out whether beans are good for losing weight or not.
The first thing to note is that there are many different types of beans. This article will mainly focus on the popular kidney beans but keep in mind that different types have slightly different effects.
That being said, many types of beans tend to be good for weight loss due to their medium amounts of calories, high amounts of fiber, and nice amounts of protein.
This combination will help you feel fuller without adding that much energy to your diet. In turn, you will likely eat less of foods that are less helpful for weight loss.
At the same time, you do need to keep in mind that just adding beans on top of your current diet without making other changes can lead to weight gain.
Micronutrients in beans
Macronutrients like fats, proteins, and carbohydrates are important when trying to lose weight. Even so, looking at the micronutrients like vitamins and minerals in beans can be helpful too.
These nutrients also play a role in weight loss and general health.
100 grams of boiled kidney beans contain some of the following vitamins and minerals (1):
- Folate: 33% of the DV (Daily Value)
- Manganese: 22% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 14% of the DV
- Potassium: 12% of the DV
- Iron: 12% of the DV
- Copper: 11% of the DV
- Thiamin: 11% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 10% of the DV
- Magnesium: 10% of the DV
And a few other micronutrients in smaller amounts.
There are foods that are more impressive in this area too but it is fair to say that beans contain nice amounts of vitamins and minerals.
In combination with a nutritious diet, you are likely able to hit your daily vitamin and mineral goals with beans.
Fiber in beans for weight loss
Fiber is an important nutrition detail when figuring out whether a plant-based food like beans is good for weight loss or not.
The first reason for this is that fiber helps you feel fuller without really adding absorbable calories to your diet.
Many people struggle with hunger and cravings when trying to lose weight so this makes fiber a valuable nutrient.
Another reason why fiber is generally helpful for weight loss is that it tends to benefit your gut health and microbiome composition.
These things seem to be related to weight loss and general health.
Benefits aside, 100 grams of boiled kidney beans contain around 6.4 grams of fiber (1).
This is a relatively high amount of fiber compared to many other whole foods.
That means beans can really help you feel fuller and potentially improve your gut health.
Protein in beans for weight loss
Many people forget that certain plant-based food sources like beans contain a nice amount of protein.
More specifically, boiled kidney beans contain about 8.7 grams of protein per 100 grams (1).
This is not quite at the same level as the 25.4 grams in 100 grams of salmon (2). However, for a plant-based source beans contain a nice amount of protein.
Protein tends to be a helpful category of nutrients for weight loss because of a few reasons.
First of all, calories from protein are relatively filling. As explained in the fiber section, many people will find this really valuable for weight loss.
Additionally, protein helps you build and preserve muscle mass.
How much you weigh influences how many calories you burn throughout the day. By building/preserving mass in a healthy way with muscle, losing weight becomes easier.
So again, beans are not the highest in protein. However, even small amounts can be helpful for weight loss.
Will beans help you lose weight?
To conclude how good beans are for weight loss you still want to know about how many calories they contain.
100 grams of boiled kidney beans contains around 127 calories (1).
This is higher than most vegetables and fruits but at the same time, still reasonably low compared to many other food categories.
Especially if you consider that the “calories” from fiber are included even though they won’t be absorbed to the same extent.
92.7 of the calories above come from carbohydrates (22.8 g per 100 grams of which 6.4 g fiber). This means beans are generally not suited for low-carb diets like keto
The combination of all the nutrients discussed makes it fair to say that beans will generally be good for weight loss.
Consuming them will likely make it so you eat less of other foods that are less helpful for losing weight. You can also decide to replace less optimal foods with beans to see results.
You do want to keep in mind that just adding beans on top of your current diet without making any other changes could theoretically be fattening.
That being said, in a situation like that, the weight gain will likely come from foods that are more suboptimal for weight loss than beans.
Make sure you prepare them well
Raw and undercooked beans can contain high amounts of lectin which tends to be bad for your health. For this reason, you typically want to make sure you cook the beans enough.
Additionally, soaking your beans in water can help reduce the amount of lectin to a level where this food becomes consumable.