Legumes beat meat for fullness

Study shows high-protein plant-based food leaves diners feeling fuller for longer – and eating less at the next meal too

Variety of dried legumes in white dishes

Post-Christmas dieters, pay attention. If you’re looking for the best way to feel fuller for longer then it’s time to ditch the meat. A new study from Denmark has revealed that planet-friendly vegetable proteins keep the stomach fuller than animal-based proteins.

The findings show that legumes – beans and peas specifically – leave you feeling topped up for longer, meaning less temptation to snack in between meals or eat sooner than you need to, and also that when you do next eat, you will be inclined to eat less.

The six-week study asked 43 men to have three different breakfasts – all consisting of a protein patty and mash – on a different day every fortnight. The three meals were a high-protein meat patty (veal or pork) with potato mash; a high-protein legume patty (fava beans and split peas) and split-pea mash; and a low-protein legume patty (fava beans, split peas and potato) with a half potato, half split-pea mash.

Of the three meals, the men reported feeling fuller after eating the high-protein legume patty with split-pea mash. They also agreed that the low-protein legume meal was just as filling as the high-protein meat meal.

Eating the high-protein legume meal also meant the study participants were less hungry at lunch, typically eating 12-13 per cent fewer calories – about 95-105 calories – than they did after consuming the other two meals.

The disparity is thought to be down to the fact that legumes are high in fibre as well as protein. While protein is absorbed by the body, insoluble fibre sits in the gut, contributing to that feeling of fullness. The high-protein legume patty contained 25 g of fibre per 100 g, while the low-protein legume patty contained 10 g of fibre per 100 g, and the meat patty just 6 g of fibre.

Published in the journal Food and Nutrition Research, the study’s senior author, Anne Raben, a professor of obesity research at Copenhagen University, added that, “from a global perspective, it would be more ecological to choose the more vegetable-based approach” to eating.

Read the research

 

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