Lentils won’t make you fat, as they’re low in calories, promote satiety, and increase energy metabolism, due to their high protein and fiber content. However, high portion sizes, bad meal timing, certain cooking recipes with fattening ingredients or eating lentils with high-calorie condiments can make you fat.
Lentils won’t make you fat.
They have a few calories!
We gain weight when we consume more calories than we burn. Lentils won’t make you gain weight, as they’re pretty low in calories.
Cooked lentils have only 114 calories per 100g. A serving of lentils has up to 230 calories, which is less than 12% of the total calorie intake on a 2,000-calorie diet.
Lentils are the beans with the fewest calories, second only to fava beans!
Actually, lentils are good for weight loss, as they keep us full for a long time. Foods high in water, fiber, and protein are the most filling. Lentils are high in fiber and protein. Also, a cup has about 140 grams of water!
Cooked lentils contain 7.9 grams of fiber per 100g. A cup contains 15.6 grams of fiber which is about 55% of the recommended daily intake.
All lentil varieties (red, green, yellow, orange, brown or black) have a similar fiber content. The exact fiber content may vary depending on many factors such as growing conditions, processing, and cooking methods.
Fiber deficiency has been associated with an increased risk of obesity.
Actually, lentils are great plant-based sources of protein. Their protein content ranges between 20.6% and 31.4%. It depends on many factors, like the lentil variety, processing methods, and cultivation region.
Most common lentil varieties, such as brown, green, red, yellow, black beluga, and Puy, have a similar protein content.
Green lentils have the best amino acid profile than most common lentil varieties. On the other hand, red split lentils are more bioavailable than green lentils, but lack of many essential amino acids.
A serving provides up to 18 grams of protein!
Lentils aren’t a complete protein, though. Although they’re rich in many essential amino acids, such as leucine, lysine, threonine, and phenylalanine, lentils are deficient in the sulfur-containing essential amino acids methionine and cysteine.
We have to eat lentils with other foods that contain the missing essential amino acids for a high-quality protein source.
Don’t spike blood sugar
Furthermore, lentils are good for weight loss, as they have a pretty low glycemic load of 5. Foods with a low glycemic load help us lose belly fat. They don’t spike blood glucose levels.
They’re packed with vitamins
In addition, lentils are good for weight loss because they have great nutritional value. For instance, they’re particularly rich in iron, which is vital for the transfer of oxygen to the tissues as well as energy metabolism! Iron deficiency may cause fatigue. Obese people have a higher risk of iron deficiency.
What if I eat more than a cup a day?
Eating large portions of lentils without considering overall calorie intake may contribute to consuming more calories than needed, leading to weight gain over time. But this is highly unlikely. Most people will feel bloated before overconsuming lentils.
When lentils cause weight gain?
Lentils won’t make you fat. Even eating more than a cup of lentils per day isn’t fattening.
However, preparing lentils with high-calorie ingredients such as oils, fats, or creamy sauces can increase the overall calorie content of the meal, potentially leading to weight gain.
Meals high in fat are very fattening. Firstly, fat doesn’t promote satiety. Moreover, fat has the highest calorie content. A gram has 9 calories, while a gram of protein or carbohydrate has only 4 calories!
Avoid lentil recipes with added fat
Cooking method is important when trying to cut out calories. For instance, cooking lentils in excessive oil or deep-frying them can significantly increase the calorie and fat content of the dish.
Vegetable oils are the most calorie-dense foods. They’re almost 100% fat. Just a tbsp of any vegetable oil contains about 125 calories.
So, avoid cooking lentils with too much vegetable oil if you want to lose weight. 2 tablespoons have more calories than a cup of cooked lentils!
Adding high-fat creamy sauces, such as those made with heavy cream or full-fat coconut milk, can contribute to a higher calorie and fat intake as well.
Incorporating large amounts of butter, cheese, or ghee into lentil dishes can also increase the overall fat content.
High-fat processed meats, such as sausages or bacon, are high in fat as well. Use them in small amounts if you insist on consuming them.
Added sugar may increase the total calorie content
Using added sugar to lentil dishes is also bad for weight loss. Sweetening lentil dishes with sugar or sugary sauces can contribute to extra calories.
Avoid consuming refined lentil products, such as lentil flour with added sugars. They can contribute to higher calorie intake as well.
Eating too much bread is fattening
Moreover, if you don’t want to gain weight, avoid excess consumption of bread. Eating more than 2 slices of bread per day can make you fat. You should be very cautious with bread portions. It’s easy to overconsume it.
Lentil recipe ideas for a lean body
Here are 7 easy and quick lentil recipes that are nutritious and can support weight loss:
- Lentil salad: Toss cooked lentils, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, feta cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper together and dress with olive oil and lemon juice.
- Red lentil soup: Cook lentils and vegetables in broth, season with spices, and blend for a smooth soup. You can use red lentils, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, vegetable broth, cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt, and pepper.
- Mediterranean lentil wrap: Assemble cooked lentils, whole-grain wrap, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and feta cheese in a wrap, drizzle with your favorite sauce, and roll it up.
- Lentil stir-fry: Sauté vegetables with garlic and ginger, add lentils, and toss with soy sauce. Keep in mind that you should be very careful with the amount of used oil.
- Lentil and quinoa bowl: Assemble cooked lentils, cooked quinoa, mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette in a bowl and drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette.
- Lemon garlic lentil pasta: Sauté garlic, add lentils, tomatoes, and spinach, mix with cooked pasta, and drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil.
- Lentil patties: Mix cooked lentils, breadcrumbs, egg, parsley, garlic, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Form into patties, and pan-fry until golden brown.
Mistakes that make you gain weight
Relying solely on lentils for a majority of your caloric intake may result in an imbalanced diet. A variety of foods from different food groups is essential for overall health and maintaining a normal body weight long-term.
The timing of meal matters
There isn’t a specific “worst’ or “best” time of the day to eat lentils for weight loss. The timing of meals is often a matter of personal preference and lifestyle.
However, some people may find that consuming a large, heavy meal close to bedtime can lead to discomfort, indigestion, or disrupted sleep. In such cases, it might be preferable to eat lentils at lunch or several hours before bed.
A light dinner is preferable for a good night’s sleep which is necessary for burning belly fat and building a leaner body.
Cook lentils with fiber-rich vegetables
Omitting fiber-rich vegetables from lentil dishes may impact satiety and overall meal satisfaction. Also, including a variety of vegetables with lentils can result in a less balanced and nutrient-dense meal.
Healthy soups can be calorie-dense
Consuming lentil-based soups with high-calorie broths or creamy bases can contribute to excess calorie intake.
Who should avoid the consumption of lentils?
While lentils are a nutritious and versatile food, certain groups of people may need to exercise caution or limit their consumption.
People with digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other gastrointestinal conditions, may experience discomfort with certain types of legumes, including lentils. Proper preparation methods, like soaking and cooking, may help alleviate digestive issues.
Moreover, lentils contain purines, which are substances that can be broken down into uric acid. Individuals with gout may need to moderate their purine intake, and this includes being mindful of legume consumption.
In addition, people who take supplements with folic acid should be very mindful of consuming high amounts of lentils, as they’re among the richest foods in folate. In fact, just a serving provides 90% of the daily value!
Although maintaining healthy levels of folate is beneficial for weight loss, extremely high dosages may contribute to many adverse effects, including weight gain. Too much folic acid may cause fat accumulation or inflammation.
Also, individuals taking medications that interact with nutrients found in lentils (e.g. folate, vitamin K, iron) may need to monitor their intake.
While rare, some individuals may be allergic to legumes, including lentils. Allergic reactions can range from mild to severe, so those with known legume allergies should avoid lentils.