Can I Eat Beans At Night?


Beans should be a regular part of a healthy diet because they contain the number important micronutrients, like potassium, magnesium, folate, iron, and zinc. However, times of the eating is also important. In this article I will explain everything you need to know about beans and should you be eating them at night.

Can I eat beans at night?

You can eat beans at night as long as it’s not the majority of your daily food intake. Nighttime eating of small (150 calories) servings of beans isn’t harmful to the body, and it can promote positive physiological changes. Eating large mixed-meals can lead to weight gain and impaired glucose tolerance.

In other words, eating a small amount is good for you. But eating too much can mess up your sleep, circadian rhythms and impact sugar levels.

But did you know that eating beans can help you sleep at night?

Do Beans Help You Sleep?

So many studies emerge that look at the associations between nutrients and the quality of sleep. Beans, especially soybeans and lima beans seem to be in the lead of promoting a good night’s sleep.

Do beans help you sleep?

Beans do help you sleep because they have a high amount of carbohydrates and tryptophan, which is the precursor for serotonin and melatonin. Carbohydrates lower the cortisol levels, where insulin transports tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier to be converted to serotonin.

So eating small amount of beans at night not only can help you lose weight (more on that soon) but it also helps with the duration and the quality of sleep.

What makes beans so unique?

  • All Beans contain fiber that has been associated with deeper and more restorative sleep.
  • Beans and legumes contain selenium that is been linked with longer sleep.
  • Beans contain magnesium, which works as a natural muscle relaxant that controls the sleep cycles in our body by regulating melatonin.
  • Soybeans and kidney beans have tryptophan which is the main driver behind the manufacture of melatonin and serotonin.
  • Adding calcium-rich foods, together with beans, profoundly impacts the use of tryptophan by the brain.
  • Black beans are high in folate which converts homocysteine to methionine, which is associated with better circadian rhythmicity and melatonin metabolism (source).

As you can see, having beans as a part of your night snack can help you with better sleep.

But it also can help you with lowering your hunger pangs, increasing resting metabolic rate the following day, and influence your protein synthesis.

Is It Bad To Eat Beans At Night?

Eating food at night in large amounts can have a big impact on the quality and duration of your sleep, your satiety, appetite, and energy expenditure, which lead to overeating. But what about the small quantity?

Is it bad to eat beans at night?

It is not bad to eat beans at night because beans are small, nutrient-dense, low-energy foods with high-quality proteins, and eating a small portion of beans at night can stimulate overnight muscle protein synthesis. In fact, post-dinner night snacking can lead to greater energy expenditure.

So the big difference comes with the amount of food you eat.

  • A small 150 – 200 calorie serving of beans just before bedtime can help you to burn more calories and lower your total food intake.

One study compared people eating a small amount of food just before bedtime with regular eaters. After 4 weeks, a group of night snackers lost 3x more weight and lower the total calorie intake (source).

  • A large 1000 – 1200 calorie meal just before bedtime can lead to overeating, fat storage, and lower energy expenditure.

TEF (thermic effect of food) which is the amount of calories we burn to digest, absorb and transport nutrients from food is the lowest at night.

This means if the majority of your food is coming just before bed, you can gain weight.

Also, food eaten at night is less satiating and leads to greater caloric intake (you eat more food because you don’t feel satisfied) compared to food consumed in the morning hours (source).

I used to work split shifts. And sometimes I would finish my work late at night. At this time, my nutrition was horrible because I didn’t have time to eat properly.

So I would eat the majority of my food just before going to bed.

That was the time when I’ve struggled with my weight the most.

Does Eating Beans At Night Make You Fat?

Multiple studies show that small snacks at night can be really beneficial for the resting metabolic rate and muscle protein synthesis. This means, if you eat a small amount of food (like beans) that is rich in proteins, you will increase your metabolism the next morning.

Does eating beans at night make you fat?

Eating beans at night in a small amount doesn’t make you fat because beans have a low glycemic index compared with other carbohydrate-rich foods. They also have a high amount of fiber and resistant starch (amylose), which makes them more satisfying compared to other carbs.

But you need to remember that quantity is a king. More doesn’t means better here.

And just because a small meal that contains beans can help you with the fat burning, eating more, or almost all of your food before bed will have adverse effects.

Also you want to make sure you doesn’t live on beans during the day.

Here’s why.

Is Eating Too Much Beans Bad For You?

All those benefits of beans seem very tempting and make you wonder are you eating enough beans as you should. But what happens if you start eating beans in excess?

Is eating too much beans bad for you?

Eating too much beans may be bad for you because beans contain a number of bioactive substances, including lectins, phytates, enzyme inhibitors, and phenolic compounds that lowers protein digestibility, mineral bioavailability, and reduces nutrient absorption.

So like with everything else.

You need to have a balance.

Eating beans in excess can get you two steps back instead of moving forward.

So having a small amount, even daily is better, rather than living on beans.

Vegans and vegetarians may have a hard time with overconsumption of beans because they are one of the most protein-rich sources.

So without any additional protein supplementation, they have to rely purely on beans, lentils, and chickpeas.

Which can be fine in the short time. But after a while it can have a adverse effect.

Are Beans Good For You To Lose Weight?

Beans are good for you to lose weight because they are rich in fiber, starchy carbohydrates, and proteins, which makes them low-calorie dense and more satisfying than many other carbohydrates. Eating foods that are satisfying helps to lower postprandial glucose.

In other words, eating beans make you lose weight and control your sugar levels.

Is It Good To Eat Beans For Dinner?

It is good to eat beans for dinner because they provide a wide variety of nutrients. As a part of the mixed meal, beans present a more complete amino acid profile because processing can cause modification of lysine, which makes it unavailable for protein synthesis.

That’s why eating just beans will have the minimum effect on the protein makeup unless it’s been mixed with other food sources like grains, cereals, or nuts.

Can We Eat Green Beans At Night?

You can eat green beans at night because green beans have a low amount of calories and are rich in multiple micronutrients. They are a great source of magnesium which acts as a muscle relaxant, calcium, which enhances melatonin production, and folate that improves circadian rhythmicity.

Is It Bad To Eat A Whole Can Of Beans?

It is not bad to eat the whole can of beans because beans are rich in several macronutrients (proteins and carbohydrates) and micronutrients (iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and folate. Eating a can of beans, together with rice, chickpeas or quinoa makes up a healthy, low-calorie dense meal.

Conclusion

Eating beans at night in the relatively small amount is healthy, can promote your sleep, increase energy expenditure and lead to decrease of overall calorie intake.

One of my favourite beans meals is combination of chickpeas, beans and tomato sauce, all blended together and served as humus.

This type of meal has extremely high satiety, and when mixed up with spices, it can be a game changer for anyone who is looking for a satisfying meals while being in a calorie deficit.

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is an exercise physiologist (MSc), nutrition coach, Ashtanga teacher, and fitness blogger. He shares his successes and failures to help busy men and women squash down 20, 50, or even 100 pounds of fat without leaving their home.

Recent Posts