I have worked hard to stay fit and understand the complex relationship between aging, nutrition, and exercise.
The Problem With Potato Chips
I love to snack, and I love chips, but I'm also constantly trying to stay lean and strong. My workout regimen is pretty strenuous for a man over 40, and I take my health seriously enough to go the Y (my gym of choice) at least three days a week.
So like many health-conscious people, I'm faced with a dilemma—how can I stay lean and strong, while still being allowed to eat something other than broccoli and plain chicken for the rest of my days?
This article is about one answer to that question: bean chips. I'm picky about all of my food, and I won't eat food I don't actually like. What good is healthy food if you don't eat it?
Bean chips are crunchy, salty snacks made with bean flour instead of wheat or corn—they're totally delicious. They're also baked instead of fried, like potato chips, so they're relatively low in fat. Bean chips, like my favorite brand, Beanitos, are not exactly a health food, but they are healthy. The best part —they taste like they're not healthy.
My Favorite Bean Chips
These are the bean chips that I like the best. They're my go-to snack, and I have managed to stay lean and actually lose fat while making bean chips a part of my standard diet. The best part about this Beanitos variety pack is the different flavors you can sample. I really like the chance to try a few of the flavors before I go all in on a larger order. If you're new to bean chips, a sample pack like this is a smart choice, since you want to make sure that you like these chips as much as I do.
The easiest diet is, you know, eat vegetables, eat fresh food. Just a really sensible healthy diet like you read about all the time.
— Drew Carey
Staying Lean as You Age
I have been trying to keep my weight down and stay in shape for years. As we get a ittle older, we naturally start to lose muscle mass and gain fat. Staying active is definitely part of the equation, but there's an old saying, "lean bodies are made in the kitchen," that shows the importance of keeping your diet clean and your calories minimal. This is supported not just by common sense, but also by research, as reported by many sources, including data cited on simplemost.com.
Finding the Right Foods for Your Diet
Science has shown that what you eat is three times more important than how you work out at the gym, but just knowing that doesn't make it any easier to do. In my experience, consistently eating like you should is a lot harder than consistently going to the gym. You need a constant supply of good, clean food choices. That means having access to the right food, which is sometimes almost impossible. I have learned some good habits, but it took years. For example, I now go shopping on Sunday, get home, and immediately cook up a week's worth of steamed broccoli, chicken breasts, asparagus, sweet potatoes, boiled eggs, and a few other staples. Added to good snacks like string cheese and maybe a protein bar or two, this makes it possible for me to eat pretty well even at work.
Diets, like clothes, should be tailored to you.
— Joan Rivers
Why I Have Bean Chips in my Diet
Bean chips, being made from beans, have way more fiber than ordinary chips. Fiber means they take longer for your body to digest. When I snack on bean chips, I stay fuller longer; corn chips, and especially potato chips, have little fiber and burn up fast in your system. They're also high in calories. Bean chips, like my favorite, Beanitos, don't do that to your system. They're a snack that fits into a clean diet.
Cool Story About the Geniuses Behind Beanitos
Healthy Food Doesn't Matter if You Won't Eat It!
Having good food prepared and ready is a big part of eating right, but it's not the whole story. I discovered early on that just having healthy food prepared and ready to go is meaningless unless I actually liked the food I was making. I happen to like broccoli, which I know puts me in the minority, but after a couple of days I get pretty sick of vegetables and chicken. Like most humans, I need a little variety, and a little flavor. I cheat once in a while, and I have learned to accept that fact -- but a little cheat here and there won't destroy your plans. It's even more acceptable if the food you cheat with isn't actually all that bad for you. Through trial and error, I found some snacks and treats that I liked and that weren't pure sugar and refined junk. One of those snacks is bean chips -- snack chips made with beans instead of flour or refined corn.
Bean Chips in Bulk
Spending so much scratch on bean chips led me to look for a better place to buy them, and I finally found Beanitos in bulk on-line. This is by far the best way to buy bean chips. For one thing, the selection is great -- I found flavors that I hadn't even seen at my grocery store, and you can also get variety packs that let you sample new flavors without having to buy a large number of bags. Since finding Beanitos and other bean chips on-line, I have made them a regular part of my "sinful" snacking habit.
Want to learn to eat a lot? Here it is: Eat a little. That way, you will be around long enough to eat a lot.
— Tony Robbins
Beans Are a Nutrition Powerhouse
Dry Beans Provide Complex Carbohydrates
- Complex carbs are naturally occurring carbohydrates that your body burns for energy. They're also called "dietary starch," and even though we're trained to be suspicious of so-called "starchy foods," not all starches are problematic. The complex carbs in beans are the kind that burn slowly and are less likely to spike your insulin levels. Complex, whole, natural carbs like the ones in beans keep you full for longer. I find that a snack with bean chips instead of corn chips keeps me fuller for longer.
- For those who have taken the time to understand the glycemic index, you will appreciate the fact that beans are very low on the index. This basically means that they don't trigger the chain reaction in your body that, over time, can lead to obesity and diabetes.
Dry Beans Provide Beneficial Dietary Fiber
- You know you should eat fiber to keep your digestion train chugging along. I have had gut troubles in the past, so I have to eat a ton of good, natural fiber every day. That means fibrous vegetables, some whole grains, and, yes, beans. The fiber in bean chips makes them a stellar source of wholesome fiber, as opposed to corn or potato chips, which have little or no fiber. It's pretty cool, for me, to be able to have a handful of salty crunchy chips and still be getting a serious amount of fiber.
- Another nice bonus of fiber is that it can act as a kind of scouring pad for the inside of your arteries. People who eat a lot of fiber have lower LDL cholesterol levels, and beans contain lots of fiber. Soluble fiber traps bad cholesterol in your system and escorts it out of your body.
- Did I mention that fiber keeps you impressively regular?
Dry Beans Are A Source of Plant-based Protein
- Dry beans are so high in protein that they have been designated a meat substitute by the USDA My Plate food guidance system (USDA Dietary Guidelines, 2010). According to the USDA Nutrient Database, beans contain between 21 to 25% protein by weight, much higher than other sources of vegetable protein. As I have noted in other articles, people who choose to go with a vegetarian or vegan diet can find it challenging to get enough protein to preserve muscle, especially as they age. This is important to me, since I'm past 40 and I work hard all of the time to stay lean and muscular.
Dry Beans Contain Essential Vitamins and Minerals
- Most types of beans are good sources of potassium, copper, phosphorus, iron,manganese and magnesium. These are all nutrients that many Americans don’t get enough of.
The following sources were used to write this article:
Foster-Powell, K., Holt, S.H.A., & Brand-Miller, J. C. (2002). International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 76, 5–56.
Leterme, P., and Muu ̃ oz, L.C. 2002. Factors influencing pulse consumption in Latin America. Br. J. Nutr. 88(S3): 251–254.
Rizkalla, S.W., Bellisle, F., and Slama, G. 2002. Health benefits of low glycaemic index foods, such as pulses, in diabetic patients and healthy individuals. Br. J. Nutr.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
La on November 09, 2019:
Beanitos has sold, the product has changed, and is basically no longer edible! So sad...
Dianna Mendez on December 18, 2017:
This is the first I've heard of bean chips. You have convinced me to give them a try.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 06, 2017:
A healthy food that tastes like it's not healthy sounds ideal! I eat veggie chips at times, but I don't remember ever eating bean chips. Thanks for sharing the information.