We're closing in on beach season, and, while the MUNCHIES staff is obviously looking on point, don't panic if your bowling ball gut hasn't turned into chiseled marble yet. Put down the goat leg you've been gnawing on since you started the Paleo diet and send your salad back to South Beach: A new study says that eating beans, of all things, can lead to weight loss.
The humble bean, along with lentils and chickpeas—the trio collectively known as "pulses"—can lead to nearly a pound in effortless weight loss if consumed regularly, according to a new meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Of the more than 900 people studied across more than 20 clinical trials, participants who added three quarters of a cup of pulses daily to their diet lost on average 0.75 pounds. There's no need to take on a workout regimen, either. Just eating pulses did the trick.
"These are unique in that they're one of the only foods with protein, fiber and complex carbs," Cynthia Sass, a dietician and the author of "Slim Down Now: Shed Pounds and Inches with Pulses — The New Superfood," told Women's Health. "That trifecta slows digestion, delaying the onset of hunger so you stay full for longer."
Moreover, the fiber in pulses might actually prevent your body from absorbing the calories they contain, according to Sass.
Beans may be staples in other parts of the world, but here in America we eat just six pounds of beans per person per year, according to Sass, compared to 33 pounds of cheese and 74 pounds of red meat. While red meat and cheese in large quantities are pretty terrible for your health, beans are great in large quantities. Weight loss kicked in once people ate more than the daily recommended half-cup.
And it isn't just Sass and the study's authors pushing pulses. The United Nations declared 2016 the year of the pulses a couple of years back to highlight their nutritional value, sustainability, and their key role in feeding the world. Pulses are high in iron and zinc, have a good bit of protein, are rich in minerals and B-vitamins, and are low in fat and contain zero cholesterol. They're also gluten free, and they're cheap. Researchers have even identified beans as a key element of diets among people who live to be 100 or older.
Of course there's the whole farting thing with beans, but Sass says that's something your body will adjust to, and that the magical fruit is worth it. Plus, you've got chickpeas and lentils to choose from, too. So no excuses—put down those dumbbells and rep out some beans to your face instead.