Dal, a type of dried split peas or lentils, is a staple dish in India that people commonly eat with hot cooked rice or roti. Different types of dal are popular in various parts of India, depending on what is available locally. For example, pigeon peas (Toor dal) and mung beans (Moong dal) are widely used in the south, while yellow split peas or chana dal are popular in the north.
Although each type of dal has its own distinct color and size, they all share one common trait: their high protein and fiber content makes them an excellent choice for weight loss. Eating dal can help control your calorie intake and promote weight loss due to its high satiety value
Types of Dal
In Indian culture, dal refers to any fractional or whole pulse. It is also known as Indian lentils. Dal is both a dish and an ingredient, depending on your use. Dal is the best known naturally occurring vegan and vegetarian protein available today. Research shows that 30% of the calories in dal come from protein, making dal one of the five healthiest food groups.
There are more than 50 different dal groups in India. Here are five basic dals to get you started:
Chana dal, or chickpea, is primarily known for its protein content and nutty flavor. It is an integral part of the DASH diet, likely due to its magnesium and potassium content. Chana dal, including canned varieties, has a glycemic index between 28 and 40. Therefore, it is also suitable for people with diabetes.
Masoor dal is one of the most common types of lentils. These whole or split red lentils take the least amount of cooking time. Masoor dal is superior in providing B vitamins, especially vitamin B9 or folate.
Moong (Mungo) Dal
Moong dal is available in green and yellow varieties. Sprouted moong dal is a nutritional powerhouse. It is the most common mid-meal snack in almost any weight loss diet. Consuming moong dal or sprouted green gram is a great way to prevent unwanted hunger pangs.
Toor Dal (Split Pigeon Peas)
Toor dal or Arhar dal contains three essential amino acids. These are methionine, lysine and tryptophan. You can also use toor dal instead of soybeans to make tempeh or tofu. These are great additions to a vegan weight loss diet. Unlike mature toor dal, immature ones have a slightly higher fat content.
Urad dal is especially popular in the southern region of India. This lentil is suitable for making fermented foods like dosa, idli or vada. For weight loss, urad dal khichdi is the best dinner option. The dish has a high satiety value which prevents late night snacking.
Dal for Weight Loss: An Overview
Dal, also known as dahl or dhal, is a popular dish in many parts of India and South Asia. It is made from lentils and a mixture of spices, sometimes with additional ingredients like vegetables or meat. As a source of protein and fiber, dal can be a beneficial food for weight loss because it can help you feel full and satisfied, reducing the need to overeat and snack on high-calorie foods. Plus, lentils are low in calories and fat, making them ideal for weight loss.
The calorie content of dal may depend on how it is prepared. For example, adding fats like ghee or oil or high-calorie ingredients like coconut milk or cream can increase the calorie content. To keep calories low, use minimal oil and avoid adding high-calorie ingredients. It’s important to remember that weight loss is a complex process that depends on a variety of factors, including diet, exercise, and genetics. Therefore, although dal can be part of a weight loss plan, it should be combined with other healthy habits to achieve optimal results.
Is Dal good for weight loss?
No food including dal can burn fat and make you lose weight. Nevertheless, dal is a nutritious food that you can add to any weight loss diet. Weight loss occurs by going into a calorie deficit. This means that you burn more calories than you consume each day. You can create a calorie deficit by replacing high calorie foods with low calorie options. For example, dal replaces foods high in calories and fat.
A to study shows that women who ate chana dal instead of white bread consumed fewer calories at their next meal. The results conclude that chana dal helps in body weight management by suppressing appetite. So you will be less hungry at your next meal. Therefore, you eat fewer calories.
Other Benefits of Dal for Weight Loss
Low net carbs
Many people trying to lose weight avoid legumes like lentils, thinking they are high in carbohydrates. However, you can still enjoy dal on a low carb diet. Most of the carbs in dal come from fiber, which your body doesn’t absorb. In addition, only 10% of calories come from simple sugars.
According to USDA, 1 cup of dal contains 46 grams of carbohydrates and 18 grams of fiber. However, 18 of the 46 g of carbohydrates are fiber and are not digested. Therefore, net carbs are only about 28g. It’s even less when the serving size is half a cup.
Rich in fiber
Glucose levels that fluctuate dramatically can lead to higher insulin levels. Over time, this can lead to insulin resistance. Studies show that insulin resistance can cause your body to store more fat. However, high-fiber foods like dal help keep blood sugar levels more stable.
Another one to study notes that the flavonoids and fiber in dal improve satiety and reduce the amount of food ingested. It leads to the maintenance of body weight in obese subjects. In addition, lentils rich in polyphenols control postprandial glycemia in obese diabetic patients.
Rich in protein
According to USDA, 1 cup of dal contains nearly 20g of protein. As a result, it helps maintain lean body mass while you lose weight.
Proteins also have a much higher thermic effect than carbohydrates and fats. This means your body burns more calories digesting and metabolizing protein. According to a to studythe thermic effect of proteins is about 20-30%, compared to carbohydrates (5-10%) and lipids (0-3%).
Which Dal is good for weight loss?
There is a lot of debate around which dal is good for weight loss. So, is moong dal good for weight loss? Or is chana dal good for weight loss? All you have to do is choose a dal that is high in protein and fiber. At the same time, you also need to watch the serving size.
Here is the protein and fiber in 100 grams of different varieties of dal:
- Raw moong dal (split mung beans): 23.9g protein and 16.3g fiber (According to USDA)
- Raw chana dal (chickpeas): 20.5g protein and 12.2g fiber (According to USDA)
- Urad dal (Vigna mungo): 25.2g protein and 18.3g fiber (According to USDA)
- Toor dal: 21.7g protein and 15g fiber (According to USDA)
- Masoor Dal: 24.4g protein and 11.1g fiber (According to USDA)
Note from The Fitness Freak
Various varieties of dal can aid in weight loss due to their high protein and fiber content. However, it is essential to watch the portion size. Some good options include chana dal, moong dal, urad dal, and toor dal.
Things to keep in mind while consuming Dal
Dal, in moderate amounts, is safe and does not cause any concerning side effects. However, you also need to prepare them the right way. Raw or undercooked dal can cause food poisoning, diarrhea and vomiting. Also, since dal belongs to the same family as beans, you need to be careful if you are allergic to legumes.
Although you need fiber in your diet, overeating can cause digestive discomfort. Therefore, overeating the dal leads to gas, bloating, flatulence, and indigestion.
Dal also changes its caloric density depending on how you cook it. For example, boiling dal will have a lower caloric density due to water absorption. However, reheating the dal in cooking oil or adding a lot of ghee can change the net calories. So, when you are on a weight loss diet, check the recipes.
Before making any major dietary changes, it’s always a good idea to consult your doctor first. This way you can avoid any potential unwanted side effects. HealthifyMe nutritionists can advise you on the best way to incorporate dal into your diet for maximum benefits, including weight loss. You can also receive suggestions on healthier dal recipe options.
Although ingredients and preparation methods vary, dal is generally considered a healthy food due to its high protein and fiber content. Additionally, due to its highly satiating nature, dal is a weight loss-friendly food that can help reduce calorie intake.
Dal recipes vary from household to household. While some people may cook their dal with lots of oil and butter, others may use minimal amounts or none at all. It is essential to consider how you cook your dal, as this can alter the caloric content. Whether you’re watching your calories to lose weight or want to make a healthier version of dal, the nutritionists at HealthifyMe can help you find the right approach.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q. Can you lose weight by eating dal?
A. No single food will cause you to lose or gain weight. However, dal is a low calorie food high in fiber and protein. Therefore, it can keep you full for an extended period of time and help create a calorie deficit. This calorie deficit ultimately contributes to weight loss.
Q. Does Dal reduce belly fat?
A. The thermic protein effect of dal makes it a super food for reducing belly fat. Moreover, Moong dal is rich in fiber and vegetable protein, which can be very helpful in losing weight. Besides moong dal, eating masoor dal improves digestion. A well-functioning digestive system uses calories and helps with belly fat or overall weight loss.
Q. Can Dal gain weight?
A. Consuming the recommended amounts of dal does not cause weight gain. Instead, their fiber and protein content is great for weight loss. Dal gives you the right amount of nutrition without stacking the calories. However, overconsumption can have side effects.
Q. Can I eat moong dal everyday to lose weight?
A. You can include moong dal in your daily diet for weight loss. It encourages weight loss by making you feel full after a meal and prevent overeating. However, people with digestive problems should not eat fiber-rich dal daily. Heavy dal, like chana and urad dal, forms gas. There are varieties of dal that are light and easy to digest, such as moong dal.
Q. Which dal is high in protein?
A. Moong dal is one of the best sources of vegetable protein. It is low in fat and very high in protein. One hundred grams of moong dal contains nearly 23g of protein. The yellow split moong dal provides 25.5g of protein per 100g serving. Urad dal also provides a similar amount of protein as yellow moong dal. Other types of dal also offer a decent amount of protein. For example, 100g of chana dal contains 20.5g of protein.
Q. Which dal is high in calories?
A. Chana dal and masoor dal are the highest in calories. One hundred grams of chana dal contains 378 calories. The exact amount of masoor dal contains around 356 calories. Keep in mind that calories can vary greatly depending on the preparation. For example, half a cup of moong dal contains 120 calories. This calorie count is bound to increase if you prepare dal with a generous amount of ghee, oil, and other ingredients.
Sources of support
1. Singh, K. & Singh, Anil. (2014). Lentil in India: an overview. 10.13140/2.1.2191.1049.
2. Zafar, TA, & Kabir, Y. (2017). Chickpeas suppress postprandial blood sugar and appetite and reduce energy intake at the next meal. Journal of Food Science and Technology, 54(4), 987–994.
3. US Department of Agriculture data. Data Type: Survey | Food Category: Beans, peas, legumes | FDC ID: 2342902 | Food Code: 41305050
4. Verkouter, I., Noordam, R., le Cessie, S., van Dam, RM, Lamb, HJ, Rosendaal, FR, van Heemst, D., & de Mutsert, R. (2019). The association between adult weight gain and insulin resistance in middle age: mediated by visceral fat and hepatic fat. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 8(10), 1559.
5. Ganesan, K., & Xu, B. (2017). Lentils rich in polyphenols and their beneficial effects on health. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 18(11), 2390.
6. Westerterp KR (2004). Diet-induced thermogenesis. Nutrition & Metabolism, 1(1), 5.
7. US Department of Agriculture data. Data Type: Legacy SR | Food Category: Legumes and legume products | FDC ID: 174256
8. US Department of Agriculture data. Data Type: Legacy SR | Food Category: Legumes and legume products | FDC ID: 173756
9. US Department of Agriculture data. Data Type: Legacy SR | Food Category: Legumes and legume products | FDC ID: 174259
10. US Department of Agriculture data. Data Type: Legacy SR | Food Category: Legumes and legume products | FDC ID: 172436
11. US Department of Agriculture data. Data Type: Brand | Food Category: Mixed vegetables and lentils | FDC ID: 1580041