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Bean Diet: The Good Carb Diet Plan

Updated on April 14, 2011

The Bean Diet is an effective approach to creating a “Slow Carb” or "Good Carb" diet plan that is low glycemic index and while not necessarily low carb, it follows similar principles.

As the name implies, the basis of the bean diet is to use beans to supply much of the “Good Carbs” in the diet plan in replace of other carbohydrate choices. At the most basic level, you are replacing energy dense starches with energy dense beans. It has been the most effective diet plan I have used.

Interestingly, Tim Ferriss recently published his book 4-Hour Body, and he advocates a "slow carb" diet based upon beans as well. But you read it here first :).

(weight loss aides and vitamin supplements can also be beneficial)

Bean Diet Variety
Bean Diet Variety

The Advantages of this Diet

  • It is a “Good Carb” diet that keeps your energy-up and your cravings down
  • It helps you fill satiated - you don't feel hungry as much
  • It is designed to keep your metabolism burning all day long
  • It is very heart-healthy in addition to promoting weight loss
  • It is very convenient and easy to follow.
  • You don’t have to analyze what you are eating. You adjust the diet by simply eating more beans or less beans.

Why Beans?

The diet is centered around beans for several reasons.

  • They are “Good Carbs” (low glycemic)
  • They help you feel full
  • Their soluble fiber makes them heart-healthy
  • Their protein content makes them extra nutritious
  • Their potassium content is good for regulating blood pressure
  • They can be very convenient to prepare
  • There are different kinds which can lend to more variety

Good Carbs

So called “Good Carbs” are foods in which the carbohydrates tend to be digested slower and more steadily. This results in less spikes in blood sugar levels which is beneficial to weight loss. Steadier blood glucose levels lead to better appetite control and more energy, both important factors when dieting. A spike in blood sugar on the other hand causes your body to start the process of converting sugar into fat.

Low Carbs vs Good Carbs

Cutting down on carbs altogether is one approach to preventing spikes in blood sugar levels, but cutting down too much will result in blood sugar levels being low even though they stay steady. This saps your energy and can lead to cravings. Good carbohydrate foods that contain slow carbs can help keep your energy levels up while at the same time keeping your blood sugar on an even keel. If you only eat good carbs and keep your total carbs below 100-150 grams per day, then you will get similar benefits to going low carb. This may be easier for some people.

Ground Turkey works well with Bean Diet
Ground Turkey works well with Bean Diet

The Basic Diet Plan

The plan is pretty simple. Every meal (except maybe for the last of the day) includes:

  • A protein (beef, fish, turkey, chicken, eggs, etc…) Eggs are kind of "superfood" and should be included regularly (don't worry about the cholesterol - in the vast majority of people, eating cholesterol has little bearing on blood cholesterol.)
  • Beans (Black, pinto, navy, kidney, etc…)
  • A portion of fat (coconut oil, butter, avocado, olive oil, etc…) Note that omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, found in most vegetable oil, should be avoided.

Protein helps a lot with satiety, so be sure not to skimp on protein.

Green vegetables such as broccoli or spinach should be included as well and will help bolster the plan, but they are not necessary every meal (spinach really is a "superfood" too, high in important compounds like mangesium and betaine). One of the focuses of this plan is to keep it convenient so that it is easier to stick to. Most non-starchy vegetables can be eaten fairly freely.

If you need something sweet, try fruit. It is amazing how sweet fruit tastes once you start avoiding sugar.

Ideally the last meal with beans should be 4-5 hours before going to bed, but you can do a low-carb snack later on the evening if you need to.

Canned beans can provide convenient variety on the Bean Diet
Canned beans can provide convenient variety on the Bean Diet


Homemade are probably better for you for various reasons (soaking helps breakdown unwanted compounds found in the beans, and the plastic lining of cans can possibly bleed out toxins), but canned beans can be very convenient which may be more important for short term dieting. With the canned variety, drain off the excess fluid in the cans; studies have also shown that rinsing the beans well can remove 30%-40% of the sodium.

Canned beans actually taste pretty decent. You can add your own fat such as coconut oil or butter, and then dress them up with salsa, fresh cilantro, or other herbs/spices. You can also mix in your protein prior to microwaving a particular serving to make quickie chili or casserole. What I do is microwave the beans with some coconut oil, the pour in some cajun seaoning and mix it all together.

Another advantage to canned beans is that a single can does not have that many servings, so you eat a different style of bean every day if you need some variety instead of just cooking up one type that will last all week.


Limiting your fat intake too much can actually be counter-productive in dieting. If your body is not getting enough, it will react to protect the stores it has and make it harder to burn fat. The common belief that eating fat makes you fat, while pretty well ingrained, is basically wrong. You can follow the Bean Diet and get a large portion of your calories from fat and still quickly lose weight.

Fat (along with protein and fiber) helps make any carb into a "slow carb". A balanced meal with fat, protein, and fiber slows down the digestion of accompying carbs. Not so slow carbs can become part of a "slow carb" meal.

Consuming some fat also helps you feel more satisfied after a meal. Some studies have shown that people who are allowed to eat unlimited fat naturally eat the right amount of calories, while people who restrict their fat intake and replace it with carbs tend to naturally eat more calories than they need.

The key with fats is to avoid vegetable oil (virgin olive oil is okay as long as you don't cook with it) since most of these are omega-6 fats and to of course avoid hydrogenated fats like margarine since these are trans-fats. As far as saturated fats go, these are not really unhealthy. The same people telling you that saturated fats are unhealthy are the very same people that demanded that restaurants use trans-fats to begin with.

Coconut oil in particular is actually very healthy since it is a medium-chain fat that gets burned fairly quickly. Ranchers once tried to use coconut oil to fatten their cattle, but instead it made them skinnier (human studies have supported the weight loss properties of coconut oil as well). Do you know what ranchers settled on to fatten cattle? Grains...

It also a good idea to include some omega-3 fats like fish oil in your diet as well. The longer chain forms like EPA and DHA found in fish oil is preferred over the ALA found in flax seeds.

Diet Tips

  • Avoid sweets and anything that tastes sweet, including artificial sweetners. Even if there are no calories, you body may (or may not) react hormonally to anything that tastes sweet.
  • When you do happen to eat starch other than beans, construct a balanced meal to turn it more into a "slow carb" meal. Add some fat, a lot of protein, and some fiber.
  • Schedule your "cheats" after a big workout, especially a resistance training workout. Or, schedule your workouts to match your cheats - if you know you are going out to dinner, do some pushups, situps, deep-knee bends, etc... before hand. Muscle building exercises prior to a high-carb meal will help redirect the carbs more to muscle building instead of fat accumulation.
  • Try to develop the mindset that food is fuel for your body. You want the best fuel, not necessarily the tastiest.
  • Some people do better with 4-5 smaller meals a day, 3 to 4 hours apart, but there is no scientific evidence that this is more effective. It may be psychological that people feel more satisfied if they eat more frequently.
  • If you have to go long periods between meals and need a snack then try macadamia nuts (they are much lower in omega-6 than other nuts)
  • Some people prefer to eat bigger portions of beans in the morning, and taper off the beans at the end of the day - the idea that you want fire up your metabolism in the morning. Other people do better with an approach that if you are not hungry in the morning, then don't eat. If you are not hungry, then don't eat period.
  • For occasional variety and special occasions, such as dining out or holiday dinners, a carb blocker pill may an effective way to keep the carbohydrates as "good" as possible. You can read more about the carb blocker diet pill here.
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Exercise a few times a week
  • The biggest difficulty in dieting is often working through sticking points or plateaus. Some of the techniques used to combat this is using "cheat" days or shifting/rotating your carbs around (i.e. one day more carbs in the morning, the next more in the afternoon, or ramping your carbs down for several days then ramping them back)
  • Caralluma Fimbriata Slimaluma diet pills may help to suppress appetite

Mainentance / Lifestyle

The basic essence of the Bean Diet is to replace starches (bread, pasta, white rice, potatoes) with beans. Once you reach your desired weight you can introduce more starches back in your diet, though there is mounting evidence that wheat may have many negative factors in addition to its starch content. Potatoes and white rice might be the best options (they are "empty" calories, but they are also "clean" calories that do not have many of the problematic compounds found in most grains.)

Sugars should still be avoided as much as possible. Try to limit them to special occasions. An occasional fruit can be a good alternative to processed sugar, but most fruit is high in sugar. Even an apple will taste very sweet once your body gets adjusted to having no processed sugars.

Too many processed foods (which include sugar and flour products like bread and pasta) is probably the biggest problem with modern eating and leads to a whole host of health concerns. Cutting down on these and other starches and replacing these with beans, nuts, avacodos, vegetables, and an occasional fruit well go a long way in not only keeping the weight off but also keeping the doctor away.

Something as simple as having some macadamia nuts in between meals can go along way to improving overall health, but it can also help regulate appetite all day long and make it very easy to maintain your weight.

The Paleo Diet can be a good approach to healthy nutrition and more information about maintenance and a healthy lifestyle can be found here.

Bean Diet - the Simple Good Carb Diet Plan

The Bean Diet is a very simple and easy to follow "slow carb" or “good carb” diet plan. The Bean Diet keeps your energy up and your cravings down. With the Bean Diet you don't have to analyze so much what you are eating - you just use beans to replace starches and sugars.

Additional Links:

Diet Help and Weight Loss Tips


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    • profile image

      Keith David 

      6 years ago

      I acquired more a new challenge on this weight loss issue. One particular issue is that good nutrition is highly vital if dieting. An enormous reduction in junk food, sugary food, fried foods, sweet foods, red meat, and white colored flour products could possibly be necessary. Holding wastes organisms, and poisons may prevent objectives for fat loss. While selected drugs in the short term solve the problem, the bad side effects are not worth it, plus they never offer more than a short lived solution. This is a known fact that 95% of fad diets fail. Thank you for sharing your opinions on this web site.

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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      How much weight can you expect to lose and how fast?

    • profile image

      Maureen LeVay 

      7 years ago

      Where can I find the book? My address is 61 Albert Ave Milltown N.J. 08850 Thank You

    • profile image

      deborah wartelle 

      7 years ago

      6 days and 9 pounds gone!!!!!!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I've switched from the Atkins Diet to the Bean Diet after being on Atkins for over a year. I did loose 30lbs plus on Atkins, however after being on Atkins for a year I found myself getting very lethargic even on the 4th phase. So I switched to the bean diet and feel much better and even lost an additional 10 Lbs.

    • profile image

      Bethany Culpepper 

      7 years ago

      I've been trying to integrate more beans into our diet - they're inexpensive and - as you pointed out - so healthy. Bean soup this week.

    • StarCreate profile image


      7 years ago from Spain

      Great hub, beans are great, and slow-carb rocks! I am going to link back to this. I am a bit amused by the person above saying 'I don't like beans' - that's like kids saying 'I don't like vegetables', as they're dismissing just as broad and varied a category of foodstuffs with their statement and just don't realize it.

    • InfinityVal profile image


      8 years ago from NNY

      Interesting. Beans are good for you, full of fiber and filling.I can see how this could work.

    • Appletreedeals profile image


      9 years ago from Salisbury, Maryland USA

      Ugh! I don't like beans but your hub presented a lot of interesting stuff. Nice Job


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