Beans are one of the best foods you can include in your diet if you're trying to lose weight, and lentils are one of the better choices. Not only do these flat little legumes cook up way faster than other legumes (in just 20 minutes!), they are also low in fat, are high in protein, and help satiate your hunger. Here are four reasons to order that lunchtime lentil soup if you're trying to slim down.
Soluble, For Sure!
Lentils aren't just great sources of fiber; they're high in soluble fiber, the kind that not only lowers cholesterol levels but also binds to carbohydrates so the body absorbs them more slowly, which slows down digestion — aka you feel fuller longer. It also helps in stabilizing blood sugar levels, which help prevent reaching for not-so-healthy snacks. A one-quarter-cup serving of dry green lentils offers 19 grams of fiber, red lentils offer 14 grams of fiber, and the petite French green lentils offer 18 grams. For comparison, the same amount of chickpeas offers nine grams, kidney beans offer 11 grams, and split peas offer 13 grams. See what I mean? Lentils are fiber powerhouses!
Legumes like lentils are also one of the best sources of resistant starch, a type of fiber that gets its name because it resists being digested. Resistant starches can increase your body's ability to burn fat and control your appetite so you feel the need to consume fewer calories. A half-cup serving of cooked lentils offers 3.4 grams of resistant starch — one medium potato offers 2.5 grams.
Related: Vegan Lentil Shepherd's Pie
Protein? Not Too Shabby
Protein is necessary for keeping energy levels high and to stabilize blood sugar levels. Including lentils in your meals can help prevent those mood crashes that make you want to reach for soda, cookies, or candy. A quarter-cup serving of dry green lentils offers 11 grams of protein. And although the red lentils aren't as high in fiber as these green gems, they offer 13 grams of protein. Petite French green lentils offer 13 grams as well. For vegetarians, lentils are one of the highest sources of protein when compared to other legumes and nuts.
Lentils Are Complex
If you read up on how to lose weight, one of the most common tips is if you're going to eat carbs, make sure they're complex (as opposed to simple). Whole grains and vegetables are excellent sources, as well as — you guessed it — lentils. Your body burns complex carbs slowly, to not only satisfy hunger longer but also to offer you a steady source of energy, which prevents mindless noshing and also makes you feel fully energized for calorie-burning workouts.