Who’s got enough protein and fiber in their diet? This vegetarian bodybuilder does!

black-beans-nutritionIt seems like everything is being called a “superfood” these days.

Chia seeds, kale, turmeric, and spirulina are great examples of this term being generally applied to foods that have a high-nutrient composition. Unfortunately, it’s also being used a bit too generously in the spirit of raising click-through rates on the Web.

Let’s be real here, virtually all vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds are nutrient-dense. They are pretty much all superfoods, hence the amused quotations around the word in the title of this article.

Beans in general are typically high on most nutritionists’ lists. So why did I choose black beans to write about?

  • The deep dark coat on the black bean is a powerful source of three important flavonoids: delphinidin, petunidin, and malvidin. These important substances are super-high in antioxidant activity.
  • In the world of healthy sources of fiber, you cannot get much better than black beans. They have more fiber per serving than any other member of the legume family. Studies have demonstrated that they are good for our digestive system, especially the colon*.

*The fiber and resistant starch of the bean are the source of this protection, because the body does not digest the starch. Your body produces butyrate to aid in the digestion, and this is a compound that has been shown to prevent cancer.

That being said, I didn’t write this article to give the impression that black beans are newly discovered miracle food that will make you grow two inches taller or lose 40 pounds in a week.

However, black beans are much more nutritious than most people are aware of, because brightly colored fruits and vegetables tend to steal the spotlight. I wanted to bring your attention to black beans because they deserve to their rightful place in the spotlight.

They help reduce inflammation, prevent cancers and heart disease, keep weight gain and obesity at bay, and provide excellent support for our digestive system.

This protein-powered bean gives you a longer feeling of satiation, which can help you feel good all day long.

When you want sugars and breads, eat black beans instead because they help with cravings. They are also filling and satisfying, which is ideal for vegetarian bodybuilders who need something substantial in their stomachs.

Fats, Carbs, and Protein in Black Beans

There is zero fat in these tasty legumes. Just one cup of black beans has a respectable 15 grams of high-quality, plant-based protein, and 41 grams of carbohydrates.

As a vegetarian bodybuilder, this combination of macros is optimal. It’s crucial to consume slow-burning, complex carbohydrates and quality protein in the form of whole vegetables, starches, legumes, and sprouted grains. Black beans also help keep blood sugar levels stable, and are a food low on the glycemic index.

But beans make me too gassy!”

It’s true, beans can be harder for some of us to digest than others. It’s about finding your personal tolerance and comfort level. For instance, I know that I can eat 1-2 cans a day and not have an issue. But if I try eating more than three cans, I start to feel the pain. I also know of folks who can’t even eat one taco with black beans without getting gassy.

Some say that if you soak them for a long time and rinse them well before cooking, it helps with the gas. I’m not sure about the validity of this claim, so please email me with your experience with this.

Is this too many carbs for a diabetic?”

Beans are extremely beneficial in an anti-diabetes diet because as I mentioned earlier, they rank low on the glycemic scale. This means that they don’t cause the inflammatory spike in blood sugar levels associated with refined baked goods and grains.

Black Beans Nutrition

A one-cup serving of cooked black beans provides (in daily recommended values):

  • 227 calories
  • 15 grams protein
  • 15 grams fiber
  • 0 grams fat
  • 64% folate
  • 40% copper
  • 38% manganese
  • 35% vitamin B1 Thiamine
  • 30% magnesium
  • 24% phosphorus
  • 20% iron

How to Cook Black Beans

  1. The night before, soak the black beans in a large pot of water.
  2. The next day, rinse the beans, cover with 3 cups of fresh water, and bring to a boil over high heat.
  3. Reduce the heat, and simmer covered for 30 minutes, skimming off any foam.

Two flavorful additions to consider:

  • Sautéing garlic and onion in a little olive oil before adding beans and cooking.
  • Cooking the beans with raw whole onion, garlic, and orange all at once.

Beans and lentils have been, and continue to be, some of the most nutritious foods available worldwide. They are extremely versatile, and can be used in the following ways:

  • Used in/with enchiladas, burritos, and tacos.
  • Made into refried and baked patties.
  • Combined with vegetables and herbs to make savory soups.
  • Mixed in salads.
  • Puréed and served as a dip or spread.

Black Bean Recipes