Lentils are a type of legumes just similar to beans. There are different varieties of lentils including petite estoria, French green, and black beluga, each one with a distinct color.
Lentils are a great way to obtain vitamins, nutrients, and minerals. They are particularly used to source phosphorus, manganese, and B vitamins. This makes lentils a great food item to maintain the health of your heart, enhance the functioning of your digestive system and handle the blood sugar levels.
The uses of lentils are far-stretched. They can be used to make soups, dips, and curries. These lentils make an important part of the Indian cuisine.
Despite the importance of lentils, it is often questioned whether you should be taking them when you are trying to shed some pounds? Do lentils help in weight loss?
Nutritional Value of Lentils
A cup of cooked lentils is said to contain the following nutrients:
Sodium 4 mg
Fiber 16 g
Carbohydrates 40 g
Protein 18 g
Sugar 4 g
In most of the cases, the number of calories in a particular food item tells you about the total energy provided by it. Foods that contain a high amount of water, for example, vegetables and fruits, are usually low in calories. This is mainly due to the fact that water has zero calories in it.
Nuts and seeds, on the contrary, have high amounts of calories as they have high quantities of fat and each gram of fat has 9 calories in it.
The number of calories differs greatly in different food items. For instance, a 100 grams of Endive consists of 17 calories only. On the other hand, 100 grams of flax seeds have higher amounts of it i.e. 524 calories.
You might have noticed that 100 grams of lentils consists of 352 calories, however, this is the number of calories found in uncooked or raw forms of lentils. The value is higher in the cooked form.
If you wish to lose weight, you are required to use lesser quantities of calories as compared to what your body needs and normally uses. You provide your body with the calories via food and these calories burn up throughout the day to keep you energized and active.
RELATED: Weight Loss With Portion Control
If you start consuming calories lower than the daily requirement of your body, the body starts utilizing the fat sources to extract energy for the daily work. This is what eventually leads to weight loss.
On the other hand, if you consume higher amounts of calories, more than what your body demands, the calories are converted into fat and stored in your body, leading to a weight gain.
However, everyone differs in the way their body works. A lot of factors need to be considered while determining the exact amount of weight that you gain or lose.
The number of calories that you need to lose or gain varies according to your current weight, age, gender, height, and the level of your activity. You can find an estimate of how many calories do you need to consume by using online calculators.
For instance, a 30-year-old woman weighing 80 kg has a height of 130 cm and exercises 3 to 5 days a week. Such a woman requires 2300 calories to maintain her weight, 1850 calories to shed weight at a normal weight, and 1400 calories for losing weight at a faster speed.
A 60-year-old lady with the same height, weight, and activity levels will need to take 1660 calories if she wishes to lose weight. This is due to the fact that you start losing your muscle mass and the body metabolism starts slowing down as you keep aging.
A cup of cooked lentils will provide you with 230 calories. This means that it will make up for about 10 to 20 percent of your daily caloric intake, depending upon the size of your body and the overall goals.
1 cup of cooked lentils is said to have the same amount of calories as in a cup of cooked quinoa or cooked brown rice. However, lentils are much higher in protein and dietary fiber, making them an excellent food item to eat when you are trying to shed extra pounds.
Foods that have a high fiber content include vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, and legumes. Lentils are also considered among the best sources of fiber.
A large number of studies have indicated that increasing the fiber intake can help in weight management. For example, a study has found that female nurses in the United States that consumed high fiber diet gained 1.52 kg less than the nurses who consumed low dietary fiber.
Another study has found that making a small adjustment to your daily food intake and increasing the total fiber intake can help you lose pounds fast. This is a simple plan to lose weight as compared to other complex diets which are difficult to follow.
The fiber in the lentils also helps to increase the satiety levels. This means that you feel full more easily and are less likely to continue eating. This, in turn, indicates that you will consume fewer calories and gain less weight. This is also true for proteins that help you reach the satiety point much more quickly.
Studies have indicated that a diet rich in protein can boost your metabolism, increasing the number of calories you burn every day. One particular study has concluded that increasing the total protein intake to 30 percent of the calories will lead to a reduction in daily caloric intake, as much as 441 calories per day, which is amazing.
Another research has shown that consuming a serving of beans, peas, lentils or chickpeas every day can aid in weight loss. This meta-analysis observed 21 different clinical trials involving a total of 940 participants. During a time period of 6 weeks, the individuals consuming this diet on a daily basis lost 0.34 kilogram of weight.
Can Lentils Make you Fat?
It is a common misconception that eating a particular type of food is going to make you fat. This is why a lot of people are afraid to eat certain types of food as well.
However, as explained before, it is the extra calories that make you gain weight in the long run. This means that the type of food does not matter as long as you are consuming it in the right amounts.
A cup of lentils consists of 230 calories, a number which is high. So, eating too many lentils can definitely make you gain weight. For example, eating 5 cups of lentils will provide your body with 1150 calories. This surplus amount of calories together with the calories coming from other food items will allow you to gain weight.
The point being discussed here is the importance of portion management. As long as you do not overeat lentils, they are never going to make you fat. Limiting yourself to one cup of lentils per day is the best way to control weight.
Lentils are highly nutritious and friendly to your waist. They have high levels of dietary fiber and protein due to which they can be beneficial to your health. Lentils do not cause weight gain and can be a part of your weight loss diet if eaten in moderation.