Can I Eat Lentils At Night?


Lentils are one of those foods that not many people pay attention to, but offer a lot of nutritional value. In this article I will explain everything about lentils and help you understand should you be eating lentils at night.

You can eat lentils at night because lentils are a rich source of magnesium that is a natural muscle relaxant, folate that helps with melatonin metabolism, calcium that helps to manufacture melatonin from amino acid tryptophan in the brain, and many more nutrients.

Apart from that lentils have a high amount of proteins and starchy carbohydrates that helps with satiety and increase resting metabolic rate.

However, some people stay away from lentils because they believe they cause gastrointestinal discomfort.

Is It Bad To Eat Lentils At Night?

It is not bad to eat lentils at night. Among 23 pulses, lentils have the highest amount of insoluble dietary fibers and starchy carbohydrates, together with bioactive compounds including polyphenols, antioxidants, and flavonoids that have collective antidiabetic, hypotensive, and antioxidant activity.

Some of the health benefits of lentils include

  • Antidiabetic

Because of the rich polyphenol and flavonoid profile lentils have the ability to improve blood glucose, lipid, and lipoprotein metabolism.

Some studies show the regular consumption of lentils (50 g) leads to significant reductions in fasting blood sugar (source).

  • Antioxidant

Studies show that lentils have higher oxygen radical scavenging potential, compared to other legumes like soybeans or chickpeas, and to other veggies like onion, horseradish, potatoes, or wheat germ (source).

Can You Eat Too Many Lentils?

Lentils have the ability to improve blood glucose, lipid, and lipoprotein metabolism. But eating too many lentils isn’t a good idea because lentils, apart from their health-promoting compounds, also contain anti-nutritional components (lectins) that decrease the digestibility of dietary proteins.

Apart from that, some people may be a little bit sensitive to lentils because they diversity gut area with plenty of microbial compounds.

They are high on fiber and starchy carbs, which can create uncomfortable gas and bloating feelings.

Do Lentils Bloat Your Stomach?

Lentils can cause bloating in the stomach because lentils contain relatively high amounts of dietary fiber and resistant starches. Oligosaccharides found in lentils can’t be digested by human intestinal enzymes and need to be broken down by bacterial fermentation.

So eating lentils in excess can cause a feeling of bloating.

But that is the effect of high-fiber and high-starch content.

This means any foods high in starch and fiber will likely cause the same effect.

Foods That Cause Bloating

Here are some vegetables that can promote gas production:

  • Onions
  • Beans
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Brussel sprouts

And here are some fruits that can promote gas production:

Do Lentils Expand In Your Stomach?

Lentils do not expand in your stomach. Lentil contains a high amount of resistant starch (amylose) that irreversibly changes its structure after cooking and becomes highly digestible. This process allows lipase to immediately start digesting lentils and extract glucose once it enters the stomach.

After the cooking process, there are no more changes that happen with the lentils. Here’s ho this looks:

  1. Long hydrothermal treatment (cooking in the water)
  1. Lentils make irreversible structural changes that create the swelling effect from water absorption.
  1. Gelatinization of amylose increases the glycemic index and increases digestibility.
  1. The higher glycemic index makes it an easy job for the enzymes to extract glucose and push the fiber towards the intestines.

Done. No stomach expansion.

Why Do Lentils Make Me Poop?

Lentils can make you poop because they promote the diversity of microflora in the intestine. Also, lentils are naturally high in fiber which plays a significant role in gut motility and speeds digestive transit time by adding bulk to fecal.

A high amount of fiber in the diet can affect bowel movement. A diet that is rich in fiber will likely increase the number of bowel movements, where a diet low in fiber can lead to constipation and bloating.

Below you can see a results chart from one study that compared a group of healthy individuals eating a high-fiber diet and a low-fiber diet.

Adding more fiber make your poop much healthier.

High fiberLow fiber
Stool weight in grams157g51g
Number of bowel movements1 in 19h1 in 33h
Transition time19 hours 48 hours
Pubmed

Is Eating Lentils Every Day Harmful?

Eating lentils every day isn’t harmful. Lentils have been part of the human diet for centuries, they are a great source of protein, providing essential and non-essential amino acids, and are associated with positive health benefits, thanks to multiple bioactive compounds.

Are Lentils Good For Dinner?

Lentils are good for dinner. Lentils are protein-rich plant foods, enriched in intestinal health-promoting bioactive compounds. Thanks to their digestible and non-digestible carbohydrates, they increase microbial diversity with a positive impact on the colon microenvironment.

Your best bet will be to combine lentils with other foods to complete the protein profile.

Lentils are rich in proteins, but they don’t have all of the essential amino acids.

What Goes With Lentils To Make A Complete Protein?

The best foods that does with lentils to make a complete protein profile are:

  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Oats
  • Rye
  • Buckwheat

Conclusion

  • Eating lentils at night isn’t a bad idea. Lentils are a rich source of minerals and vitamins and can help with weight loss goals or if you just look for a healthy night snack.
  • People who experience bloating or gas may have limited the consumption of lentils, or just pay attention to what other foods they consume, because bloating can be caused by any other high fiber and high-starchy foods like beans or other legumes.

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.

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