Hive Health Media

Choosing Beans for Their Protein? Think Again!

Beans and Protein. Far too often I see these words paired in a sentence. May it be blogs or magazine, beans (or legumes) are often touted for their protein content. Fact is, beans will always have a carbohydrate to protein ratio of 2:1 or greater.

The info-graphic is intended to show you that not only would you have to eat a mountain of Garbanzo beans to equal a couple meals worth of chicken in terms of protein, you’d also be doing so at the expense of a ton of excess calories.

Infographic chicken breast vs chick peas calories – Chicken Breast Vs. Chick Peas – Protein Content

After viewing this picture, you should really start thinking of beans/legumes as a carbohydrate source that carries along fiber and only a moderate amount of protein.

You can view this food comparison info-graphic and more like it at Food Size.

Jason Crouch is the owner of, an educational blog that aims to teach portion and serving sizes through the use of pictures. Jason is a graduate of the Dietetic Technology program at Gateway Community College in New Haven, CT, an ADA/CADE approved nutrition program. FoodSize can also be found on Facebook for daily updates and commentary.


  1. d

    July 14, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Chickpeas are about 1:3 protein:Carb ratio, that is really not a bad balance at all for most people who are not body builders or train very intensely. If you train a lot and sustain muscle tissue damage ( which is a normal part of training) you want to probably keep your meals at as much as 30% of your calories coming from protein. You will need a lot of protein to repair the muscle damage. In that case, the carb to protein ratio on chickpeas is a bit high in carbs(if thats all you are eating). Its maybe a bit harder to get enough protein, without consuming too many carbs on a strictly vegetarian diet but it is possible, just google for vegetarian body builders. There are also other foods, like lentils where the protein to Carb ratio is closer to 1:2.
    Anyways, chickpeas, with their 1:3 protein:carb ratio are an excellent source of protein for the vast majority of people, without consuming too many carbs, remember everybody needs carbs, and any healthy diet should consist mostly of carbs, just not empty calorie carbs like processed foods and sugars.

  2. Andrew

    June 2, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    Sure, I can see the argument for additional carbs in the beans. But that is a whole lot of chicken! Eat all that and you will be constipated. Not to mention all the hormones/chemicals that will leach into your system as the chicken SLOWLY moves through your intestines. (cause lets face it, no one is eating chicken that roams free in a pasture, eating what nature intended them to eat)

  3. John

    May 2, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    Doesn’t this post sort of ignore the fact that 100g of protein is far in excess of what is recommended daily for the vast majority of people (which is around 50-70g), and thus far more than a “couple meals worth of chicken,” unless chicken is only being eaten once a day? Also, it seems to ignore that many of our other foods that we eat throughout the day also contain small amounts of protein and that our intake of protein is dispersed throughout the day in multiple meals. The amount of chicken shown above would therefore last 2-3 days easy with a balanced diet (and the amount of chickpeas shown does not seem like a lot to eat if you are spreading them over 3 days and 2-3 meals a day, especially when the type of bean can be varied so that the same vegetable is not being eaten every day). Also, this article seems very misleading, because it says that eating beans for protein would be “at the expense of a ton of excess calories,” but completely ignores that many of those “excess calories” are in fact important nutrients that meats do not contain at all. This article seems geared almost entirely to people who are trying to build muscle mass and thus need more daily protein (and it is doubtful that any such people will be trying to do so on a purely vegetarian diet in the first place).

    • peter metcalf

      August 28, 2011 at 6:20 pm

      I agree completely. Even on a vegan diet, an abundance of protein is easy just by eating legumes plus nuts, seeds, or grains. Anyone doing muscle mass building will be burning up the calories, and getting all the protein they need when they eat balanced protein. The idea that you have to eat meat in order to build muscle mass as in body builders is pure hype.

  4. Pingback: Protein sources: Chicken breast vs. Chickpeas | Fitness and Exercise

  5. Build Muscle

    April 15, 2011 at 12:27 am

    How can people stand to not eat chicken and fish? I just can’t bring myself to go vegetarian.

  6. Katie

    April 14, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Wow! I never realized beans were carbs too.

    But what about people who are vegetarians, or simply choosing to eat less meat? How should they get their protein?

    Sure there’s cheese (but that’s usually crossed out for being fatty) and soy products (which our bodies don’t process as effectively as other foods), but what else is there? I don’t want to have to eat nuts if I don’t want animal protein.

    • d

      July 14, 2011 at 12:15 pm

      Any healthy, balanced diet has to contain carbs. You should avoid eating carbs from nutritionally empty foods, such as processed sugars, or most of the processed grains. On the other hand,carbs in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and lentils are all great sources of more complex carbohydrates which everyone needs for energy. Unless you are a body builder, chickpeas are very nutritionally balanced, and a good source of both protein and healthy carbs.

      • Corry

        September 13, 2012 at 2:11 am

        I do put chickpeas in my smoothies for breakfast. it is the best for protein. All you need is an athletic body not bulk in my opinion it look bad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *