Are beans allowed on a low carb or keto diet? Beans and other legumes are very beneficial and nutrient-dense but there are so many different types of beans, that you might wonder which, if any, are allowed on a low carb diet.
There are several different popular varieties of beans eaten around the world. Here are some of them listed with the carbs, protein and fiber content found in one cup, boiled:
Black-eyed peas - Carbs 35g, Protein 13g, Fiber 11g. This is very common in West Africa.
Black beans - Carbs 41g, Protein 15g, Fiber 15g. This is used in a lot of Latin American dishes.
Soybeans (or Soya beans) – Carbs 17g, Protein 29g, Fiber 10g. Soybeans are native to East Asia but basically found everywhere.
Adzuki beans (or red mung bean) - Carbs 57g, Protein 17g, Fiber 17g. This is also native to East Asia. They are smaller than other beans and are commonly used in desserts due to their sweetness. Hence, the very high carb count.
Kidney beans - Carbs 40g, Protein 15g, Fiber 11g. These beans are usually red in color and shaped like a kidney (though it could also be white or light speckled).
Garbanzo beans (Chickpeas) - Carbs 45g, Protein 15g, Fiber 12g. Chickpeas are featured quite heavily in Middle Eastern dishes.
Navy beans (Haricot beans or White pea bean) - Carbs 47g, Protein 15g, Fiber 19g. Fun fact: the name "Navy bean" was actually coined by the US Navy because it has always been a staple to sailors since the mid-1800s.
Pinto beans - Carbs 45g, Protein 15g, Fiber 15g. This is a very popular bean variety in the U.S and is commonly used in the Mexican burrito, or eaten whole or mashed.
Lima beans – Carbs 39g, Protein 15g, Fiber 13g. This is commonly found in South America.
In Nigeria and in most West African countries, the primary legume we consume as beans is called the black-eyed pea, also known as black-eyed bean (despite the name, it is actually beans and not a type of pea).
The black-eyed pea is very nutritionally dense and is a major source of carbs, protein, fiber, folate, magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc, iron and many other important vitamins and minerals.
There are two slight variations of the black-eyed peas - honey beans (also known as African brown beans) and cowpeas (sometimes used interchangeably with black-eyed peas).
While honey beans have a distinctly sweet flavor, cowpeas have more of an earthy flavor.
Are beans healthy?
Yes, beans are very healthy! Here are a few things most beans have in common:
- They are very filling due to their high fiber content, and are very good for digestive health.
- They are very high in vitamins and minerals and help with lowering blood pressure, improving heart health, among many other health benefits.
- They can be adopted in a wide variety of sweet and savory dishes.
- They are quite high in carbs though the glycemic index of the carbs is very low. This means that it will take a while for it to be digested and metabolized in the body, so you don’t get the insulin spikes associated with afternoon crashes.
Are beans allowed on a low carb diet?
If you're on a moderately low carb diet, some beans might be allowed but it depends on which one. Black soybeans and lima beans are two options that might work well, in moderation, on a moderately low carb diet (25-50g per day).
Most of the other types of beans are way too high in carbs and will quickly put you over your carb limit.
Are beans allowed on a keto diet?
Unfortunately, due to the high amount of carbs in beans, it will not work for a keto diet. The nutritional values given were for only one cup and that will be enough to put you over your carb allotment for the day.
If beans are healthy, why can't I have it and lose weight?
It depends on what your end goal is. If you're on a standard, non-keto diet, and you exercise and limit your calories, beans will work for you.
However, if you are on a keto or low carb diet and you want all the benefits which include weight loss, hunger control, reduced inflammation, and better insulin control, the goal is to train your body to burn fat for energy and not carbs.
Consuming carb-dense foods such as beans will make your body switch to burning carbs instead and that will undo all the benefits of a low carb diet. There are so many other delicious recipes you can make on a keto diet that will make you not miss beans so much!