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IAMAUNTYEM Posts: 6,595
11/14/13 2:24 P

At the end of MY day beans are a starch/sugar/carbohydrate, and never a protein. As a diabetic, I test my sugars regularly, and discovered a long time ago that my sugars spike after eating beans as a main course. A non-diabetic, of course, has more choices. In all things, balance is the ticket.


RUSSELL_40 Posts: 16,826
11/14/13 2:15 P

This categorization occurs with lots of foods, and I blame WW. A carb, a starch, a protein, a fat.

Plan your entire day, and see if you are in range for you macronutrients. If you are happy with those, who cares what percentage of the bean is a carbohydrate, or protein? Who cares if it is a vegetable, or a legume?

Personally, I would say.. beans are never a protein. They are only 1/4 protein. As part of a non-meat diet, things like cheese,eggs, nuts, and beans might be the best sources of protein. Your concern should be... Did I get into range with my protein today? Google high protein foods, and just pick ones you like to eat, and stop worrying about labeling what each food is. Your body has no idea that you just ate a bean, much less what it is called. It is using fat, protein, and carbohydrate to fuel your body.

Managing your diet down to the minute details, and worrying about every little thing, is tedious, and makes it way too confusing, which is why people fail on many diets.

11/13/13 7:53 P

I think you gave a great explanation RENATARUNS!
I am not a vegan or vegetarian---but I do include meatless meals on a weekly basis into my family's diet. (Is anyone familiar with the Meatless Monday movement?) Beans are a big part of meeting protein needs for these type meals. It is therefore categorized as a protein food in these meals. Of course it will add carbs to the meal as well; which is easily factored into the total of the meal and the total daily food intake.

For someone who is using the beans as a side dish; they may consider it a starchy vegetable food. They would reap the benefits of these carbs, the fiber and also the additional protein to the meal.

Your SP Registered Dietitian

RENATARUNS SparkPoints: (4,367)
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11/13/13 3:20 P

Beans are beans. Categorizing them as protein or not-protein is a bit beside the point, in part because it depends what else a person is eating. Nutrient-wise, they vary a bit, but most of them are roughly similar. Here are black beans, per 1/2 cup: 20 g carbohydrate (almost all complex), 8 g protein, 1 g fat, 7 g fiber. A bit over 100 calories.

For a regular meat-eater they're not important as protein sources, since there are so many other potential ways to get the needed protein into an omnivorous diet. But they do provide some, along with with many vitamins and minerals (good sources of folate for instance) and a nice amount of fiber. And they're filling.

On the other hand if you are vegan or vegetarian; or even if taking meat out of several meals per week without giving it up entirely, then beans become hugely important as protein sources. (And I start getting annoyed at people who seem to think that my way of eating does not exist!) However, they do not contain all of the essential amino acids, so additional sources of vegetable protein must also be in the diet somewhere (usually grains, which are complementary).

BUCCANEER57 SparkPoints: (0)
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11/13/13 1:59 P

So at the end of the day beans good or bad?

HOUNDLOVER1 Posts: 8,869
11/5/13 10:36 P

I have to agree that it makes no sense at all to count beans as anything but a carb since that's what most of the macronutrients are.
The only reason I could see to count beans as protein as well as a carb is because protein is an essential nutrient, we need to get it from our diet on a regular basis, carbs and fat are not because our body can make them. So beans and other legumes are one way, although I think a very inferior way, to get an essential nutrient. For vegans this may be necessary, for everyone else eggs, meat, fish and dairy are much better sources.

Edited by: HOUNDLOVER1 at: 11/5/2013 (22:37)
MICHELLEXXXX SparkPoints: (12,145)
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11/5/13 9:46 P

On a diabetic exchange diet I would call one serving to be one starch and a half of a protein exchange.

USMAWIFE SparkPoints: (1,019,662)
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11/5/13 9:28 P

11/5/13 9:15 P

I really don't understand why it is a starch for a diabetic but not a starch for the non diabetic. Could you please explain Becky. How can a food that's 73% carbohydrate and only 26% protein be called a protein?

I could see if they had 50% at a bare minimum being called a protein. But they are only 1/4 protein. Throw it on my plate and that's only 1/16 of the plate being protein when it's supposed to be 1/4 of the plate.

Edited by: JUSTEATREALFOOD at: 11/5/2013 (21:51)
11/5/13 8:22 P

The plate method works perfectly for "combination meals" such as yours...
Your bulgar was the 1/4 grain section
Your veggies was the 1/4 vegetable section
Your garbanzo beans and hummus was the 1/4 protein section
While you didn't have a 1/4 fruit section (you may have had more veggies that covered about 1/2 your plate).

Sounds YUMMY!

AZULVIOLETA6 SparkPoints: (0)
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11/5/13 8:12 P

Maybe the whole "plate" idea doesn't make sense to me because I don't eat like an American...the whole concept of a piece of meat and discrete sides with nothing to do with each other seems...odd and bland.

Today I had tabouli, for example, as part of my lunch--bulgar, veggies, spices and garbanzo beans. Hummus too--more garbanzos. Often legumes are part of a salad for me, or something to throw in soup. I grew up eating a lot of rice and beans, or lentils and rice...but I won't just eat a pile of plain beans on the side of a plate.

If you eat a large serving of beans, yes it can cause you to gain weight. I would love to have a huge plate of rice and beans with sazon, but I know that I must severely limit the portion size to more like half of a salad plate. Of course you can get too many legumes and their carbs can make you gain, especially if you are sensitive to carbs.

11/5/13 7:28 P

Beans is one of those fabulous foods that you "get" to categorize based on how you are using it in the meal.

If you are using it as the PROTEIN food for the meal then count it in the meat/protein group.
If you are using it as a side dish then you can count it as a VEGGIE, starchy veggie, or someone with diabetes may consider it in the grain/starch grouping.

Your choice based on how you are using it.

your SP Registered Dietitian

11/5/13 5:40 P

"And once again I guess vegetarians, vegans, and people who eat very little meat just don't exist?"

Sorry but where did you get that from?

Beans are mostly starchy carbohydrate and the OP is looking for the proper place to fit them into their diet. Replacing the starch is the proper place. *shrugs*

Great sources of protein would be things like lean meats, low fat cottage cheese and egg whites because those are all almost 100% protein. Beans are not an ideal protein because they are mostly starch. It's not hating on veggies or vegans, heck I used to be one, it's just math.

HUNGRYWOMAN2 Posts: 14,780
11/5/13 4:58 P

emoticon I am also in agreement that the My Plate is a very difficult nutritional guideline. I have recently been trying it for myself, and it is problematic getting things to fit according to the specifications. I do, however, like using exchanges as that was how I first began my weight loss efforts, I just believe that they should be put in a format more readily understood.

RENATARUNS SparkPoints: (4,367)
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11/5/13 4:20 P

And once again I guess vegetarians, vegans, and people who eat very little meat just don't exist? Beans and other legumes are just about the most protein-dense food that vegans, for instance, have available to them, but you can't fit that into a MyPlate grouping.

To the OP: categorization doesn't really matter. It's just a very, very rough guideline. What you are going for underneath are total calorie ranges and total macronutrient ranges (protein, fats, carbohydrates). There are many ways to meet those ranges, so play around a little and have fun with it. Meals that don't include meat usually are not broken out into nice neat "protein, starch, vegetable" groupings. You get things like minestrone soup (beans, pasta, vegetables), Indian dosas (lentil/rice pancakes) with a vegetable, beans and rice with a vegetable, north african-style stews containing chickpeas and rice and lots of vegetables and so on. You could think of the beans as replacing the meat, but they don't really -- there is also protein coming from the grains, and small amounts from the vegetables as well; fat comes mostly from the cooking oil. What matters is what you get when you add it all up together. So add beans as a side dish alongside meat and vegetables one day; have beans and rice another -- heck go nuts completely one day and serve yourself a sweet potato slathered in beans and cheese and avocado and sweet peppers for lunch (One of my favorites, but two starches, eep!)

I lost 45 pounds eating like that and have been maintaining (with a little meat added back in for other reasons) just fine since June. I think it's a mistake (while trying to lose weight) to make nutrition overly complicated, unless you already have a reason to believe that certain foods are a problem for you.

11/5/13 3:58 P

I don't consider beans a good substitute for protein based on the macronutrient breakdown in my earlier post. Meat is almost all protein and some fat so if you were looking to fit beans onto the my plate 1/4 protein, 1/4 starch, 1/2 non starchy vegetables then the beans should be in the starch position.

Hope that helps :)

_MOBII_ SparkPoints: (21,474)
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11/5/13 2:30 P

To clarify myself, what I am looking for when I make beans is a balance on my plate. Such as beans instead of meat, beans instead of a vegetable, beans instead of potatoes or rice.....or can I just have them as an extra side dish.

I know that beans are good for you, but if they are that full of carbs and starch, will they have the same effect on my weight?

It wasn't so much of a need to categorize, as it was a general inquiry.

AZULVIOLETA6 SparkPoints: (0)
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11/5/13 2:23 P

Why the need to categorize? Just log them and record all of the nutritional aspects.

Green beans have protein too...

I tend to think of legumes as carbs. Good carbs, but carbs nonetheless.

11/5/13 2:20 P

Beans kidney, black etc are legumes not vegetables.

1 cup of kidney beans contains 1 g fat, 12 g protein and 40 g carbohydrate therefore I would consider them a starch.

WHOLENEWME79 Posts: 950
11/5/13 2:15 P

I think this article will help answer your questions:

_MOBII_ SparkPoints: (21,474)
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11/5/13 2:14 P

Not green beans, but kidney beans, black beans, etc.
Are these always a protein or are they ever a vegetable?

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