Beans are naturally high in protein, which helps to build muscle. They also contain lots of carbohydrates, something people who are trying to lose weight often try to avoid. Are beans carbs, protein, or a combination of both? The answer is that beans are actually a very healthy source of both carbohydrates and protein, and can be effective at helping you shed fat and build muscle.
Good vs. Bad Carbs
When people ask “Are beans carbs?” what they often want to know is whether they contain good or bad carbohydrates. There are two basic types of carbs: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates consist of only one or two sugar molecules, and provide your body with a quick source of energy. Rapidly digested, simple carbohydrates are often considered “bad” carbs because they provide a sudden surge in blood sugar. Complex carbohydrates on the other hand take longer to digest, and will therefore provide you with more consistent energy throughout the day.
Determining Good vs. Bad Carbs
Generally speaking, foods that are high in fiber and low in sugar tend to be complex carbohydrates, while ones that contain loads of sugar and little fiber are likely simple carbohydrates. Other foods that are considered “good carbs” include brown rice, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, and whole wheat pasta. Simple carbs include foods such as white rice, potatoes, artificial syrups, and sugar.
Not all beans contain the same amount of carbohydrates. Here is the carb count for some common types of beans (per half cup serving):
The Glycemic Index (GI) is used to assess how slowly or quickly certain foods raise your blood sugar levels. Foods that are low on the GI scale are those known to release glucose slowly over time. Foods higher on the scale release glucose more rapidly. The glycemic load carries this one step further by taking into account the Glycemic Index of food as well as the amount of carbohydrates it contains. Considered a more accurate predictor of a food’s impact on blood sugar, the glycemic load is determined by multiplying the number of carbohydrates grams in a serving of food by its glycemic index. Eating foods with a low glycemic load is preferred whenever possible.
According to Harvard University, the following beans have a low glycemic load:
Are beans carbs? Yes, beans are not only an important source of carbohydrates and protein, but they are also high in essential nutrients such as folate, copper, manganese, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium. Adding beans to your diet on a regular basis will help you lose weight, build muscle, and maintain your new physique once you have met your fitness and weight loss goals.