Did Tim Ferriss miss a bean alternative?

I will be the first to say that Tim is a very well researched guy, and that his efforts and countless hours spent investigating multiple topics have improved my life, and the lives of many thousands of people. For that I owe him great gratitude, a big thanks and a lot of respect. I was surprised then when I randomly picked up a can at my local grocery store and discovered that it’s nutrition panel was almost identical to the can of beans I was holding in my hand – and what I was looking at was not what anybody would consider a bean, or a lentil.

The Evidence

Obviously I can’t ask a question like this without providing some evidence.

An important note: At the moment 4HBC headquarters is in Australia – this means our nutrition panels have 2 big differences.

1/ They give you values per 100g. So no matter what the food is, you can compare nutrient levels in a 100g serving – this makes it easier to compare between two items that have different ‘serving sizes’.

2/ Fiber is not counted as a Carbohydrate – it is counted separately. So, to get North American fiber numbers – simply add total Carbohydrate + Fiber on these labels.


So, here are the pics – fresh from the cans I had in my hand this week:

beans nutri Did Tim Ferriss miss a bean alternative?


alt nutri Did Tim Ferriss miss a bean alternative?

So, to clarify, we’re talking about these differences per 100g of each product:

  • 71 vs 76 calories of energy – Alternative has 5 calories more per 100g
  • 5.6 vs 6g of protein – Alternative has 0.4g protein more per 100g
  • 0.4 vs 1g fat – Alternative has 0.6g fat more per 100g
  • 12 vs 7.4g Carbohydrate – Alternative has 4.6g less carbohydrate per 100g
  • 1.2 vs 1.4g sugar – Alternative has 0.2g sugar more per 100g
  • 7 vs 6.9g dietary fiber – Alternative has 0.1g less fiber per 100g

Seems pretty similar, huh?

If at this point you’re on the edge of your seat wondering what this can is, then I promise I’ll let you know very soon.

Firstly, I just want to make two points – when I checked a different brand of this product, the nutrition panel was actually quite different – suggesting that there’s quite a bit of variation between growing methods, preparation methods and recipes for canning. That said, this is also the case between different brands of beans and lentils too, so I don’t think that should hold us back.

Importantly though, I’m not sure if the nutrition values are anything like this for the frozen, or the fresh varieties of this particular food type. So, it’d be worth double checking before making any radical changes.

So what was the can I was holding?

baby peas Did Tim Ferriss miss a bean alternative?

orig peas nutrition panel Did Tim Ferriss miss a bean alternative?

Yep. Baby Peas.

And I posted the nutrition panel just in case you didn’t believe it. I know I didn’t at first!


What’s the bottom line, then?

For me, this represents something that needs to be tested, and right now, I’m not the guy to do it. It’s not because I don’t have time, or don’t want to, just that I’m not in a position to lose bodyfat in a relaible way, on which to base a recommendation.

So, I need some people (you!) to test this theory out! If you feel like the logic of the nutrition panels makes sense, and you’re interested in a change, then I’d like you to test this for a few weeks, and report back some results if you want.

For anyone who is sick of beans, or can’t digest them very well, these particular peas definitely seem like a worthy alternative, at least according to their nutrition composition. I would suggest that if beans are a problem, then peas that are similar to these ones in nutrition would be a worthwhile alternative, before you throw in the towel on slow carb.


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33 Responses to Did Tim Ferriss miss a bean alternative?

  • doug sheehan says:

    Does the added sugar in the ingredients bother you at all?

    • Luke says:

      While I pay attention to ingredients list, I think the nutrition panel tells a better story – nothing can hide there, and the portion sizes/amounts are much easier to see than in the ingredients list (where they don’t have to include amounts). Ideally they wouldn’t add sugar to things like this, but probably they wouldn’t sell as well to the general public if they didn’t.

  • Adam says:

    I will be buying in a few cans of these on my next shopping trip! Happy to be a test bunny for a few weeks, as I’ve not been following the diet strictly enough anyway (not having nearly enough portions of beans with my 4 meals). Will report back in a couple of weeks to see if it’s made any difference, and to see what others have discovered – will be an interesting, and more accepted, alternative to beans I’m sure!

    • Luke says:

      Hey Adam that’s great! I’ve been using them for a few weeks now and all seems well, and delicious! How are you going with them?
      Let me know how you’re doing!

  • AJ says:

    Hmmm, you need someone to test it, and I need to lose some lbs, so i’m game..
    Returning home from abroad in a few weeks, but will def give this a go
    thanks dude

    • Luke says:

      Hey AJ,
      Awesome!! Great t to have you on board. Please let me know how it goes and keep me updated – drop me a link through the Contact page if you like!

  • Blair Alavin says:

    Tim said in a separate interview that beans replacing simple carbs was an alternative. In fact he said that he would’ve gotten rid of the beans and just done the Paleo diet instead as being the most effective. The beans were because they kept you feeling full the longest. I believe he also mentioned peas were extremely high in protein. Also he said although he couldn’t prove it, the red lentil seemed to have the best effects towards fat loss, and easy to digest if you had trouble with beans. I tend to cook my own beans and there is no end to the variety and taste for me and my diet.

    • Luke says:

      Hey Blair,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Those are some interesting ideas – I know Paleo is a great method to follow as well, but I found it to be a little onerous in terms of food lists, etc. I haven’t found anything that beats slow carb for simplicity, but of course this may not be everyone’s number one priority.
      I’ve been recommending red lentils for a while now, so it’s great to hear that information backs up my thoughts too.
      If you cook your own food in general, I think this kind of lifestyle is much more easy to follow! Good on you!!
      Cheers and all the best,

  • Richard says:

    Frozen peas are much nicer than tinned and pretty much as good as fresh, they are one vegetable that freezes very well. There isn’t a food store that doesn’t sell frozen peas in the UK.

    • Luke says:

      Hey Richard, you’re right! Just double check the nutrition panel to ensure the nutrition content is similar (very close) to beans, if you plan on using them instead often.

  • Laura Corkell says:

    This is hardly surprising as peas, beans and lentils are part of the legume family. to quote Wikipedia – ” Well-known legumes include alfalfa, clover, peas, beans, lentils, lupins, mesquite, carob, soy, and peanuts. Locust trees (Gleditsia or Robinia), wisteria, and the Kentucky coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus) are also legumes.”

  • Robert Fraser says:

    Hi Luke, that’s very interesting and a potential worthy addition to the cupboard.

    Would the “quite different nutrition panel” on the other brands relate solely to the sugar content?

    • Luke says:

      Hey Fraser – the differences include sugar content, protein content and fiber content! Seems like peas can vary quite a lot. Perhaps this has to do with sub-varieties/growing conditions/how old they are?

  • Graham B says:

    Hi Luke and welcome to “Downunder” – I hope you enjoy your stay!

    I agree about the tinned green peas, but I prefer the frozen ones, as well as the frozen green beans.

    What’s also handy is Woolworth’s generic frozen spinach – it’s from Holland (as opposed China) and a 250g box contains around 12 separate pieces which makes it easier to serve up whatever quantity you want.


    PS: I’ve been living in Sydney for the last 55 years or so (my whole life, that is).

    • Luke says:

      Hey Graham I’ll tell you a secret – I’m originally from Aus! So it’s welcome back in fact!
      The generic frozen spinach in my local Woolie’s is actually from China – so double check yours! Thanks for the recommendation. Coles also has frozen spinach which is very nicely flaked and very easy to use. But it’s from China also.

      • Billie Rose says:

        Hi Luke and thanks for the post. I have been semi-avoiding peas but that will now change. What can you tell us about frozen corn? I am really interested in finding out some parameters regarding what’s acceptable and unacceptable on a nutrition panel on this diet.

        I found some baked beans at Woolies in their “macro wholefoods market” brand (Woolies “health” brand). They are Organic beans in tomato sauce and while they are only .9% sugar, they are 14.3% carbs. What do you think?

        I buy frozen spinach from Aldi and they come is segments of six also. The Aldi one is from New Zealand.

        Thanks again and hello Graham (fellow Sydneysider!)


        • Luke says:

          Hey Billie, great to hear from you!

          The corn is definitely still off the cards – peas are technically a legume, whereas corn is very starchy.
          The organic baked beans would still not be a great choice – stick with just beans in cans, with no sauce. Or red split lentils that you boil!
          The spinach sounds good – I’ll have a look for it :)

          Cheers and all the best,

  • Tanja says:

    Maybe there is a difference in response in your blood sugar level? Didn’t Tim Ferris walk around with one of those machines for quite some time? I thought peas have less fibers…

    • Luke says:

      Hi Tanja,

      He did use a blood glucose monitor. With regards to fiber, the nutrition panel doesn’t lie! See the photos I’ve included to see how close these are.

  • Miichael says:

    I’d be willing to give it a shot if I can find some with a similar profile here in the U.S. My diet isn’t strictly 4HB as outlined in the book — I’ve had better results eating fewer carbs than Tim recommends, and I use a floating cheat day (I go off-plan only when results stall for more than a couple days) — but I’m consistent in what I do, so it’s easy to tell when something’s working for me or not.

    • Luke says:

      Hey Michael,
      Awesome! I’d love to hear how you do switching, for example, 50% of your beans for green peas that match this kind of nutrition profile.

  • Graham B says:

    Hi Luke

    While you’re in Australia, see if you can check out a bread and cereal that you can eat which will still keep you close to “low carb”.

    The bread is “Burgen-Wholemeal and Seeds” with a GI=36 (Protein 13.1%, Fat 7.3% & Carbs 20.9%)

    The cereal is “Goodness Superfoods Protein” with a GI=39 (Protein 19.3%, Fat 9.3% & Carbs 38%)


    • Luke says:

      Hey Graham,
      The Low GI push with foods in Australia is interesting – it’s not seen in North America, in fact you’d rarely ever find a GI rating on a food item for sale. So, it’s hard to say if Aussies are ahead of the curve, or if GI was just the fad that ‘made it’ in terms of marketing, much like ‘trans fats’ did in North America. If this is or isn’t the case, regardless I find Low GI breads interesting, and probably worth testing for people who’s regular nutrient partitioning leaves them only slightly overweight when they eat a moderate amount of carbohydrates. For these people, using low GI breads may make the difference between gaining a couple of pounds each year and not. For those who’s nutrient partitioning favors fat storage more strongly, I doubt these breads would have much effect.
      Along with this, its important to remember that eating a whole meal, with protein and good fats, plus carbs with fiber, will lower the Glycemic Load (the GL) of the meal, and thereby bring down GI ratings of individual foods – in theory.
      All the best!

  • Thanks for the tip Luke and all the feedback all of you have provided. I will definitely be looking into this. I do eat a lot of peas now but for my vegetable not as a bean replacement. And most times I do have a hard time digesting beans – mild heartburn. That being said, the slow carb diet has helped me in many ways so it’s worth it for me at least to look into switching some beans for peas. Will try it and let you know.

  • Kerryn says:

    Hi Luke,

    In your opinion, which are the vegetables that are ‘safe’ to use on a slow carb diet? Tim mentions in the book such vegetables as asparagus, broccoli, beans etc, but he also says that almost all vegetables are ok. I would have thought that vegetables such as potato would be a no-go, and so would corn (which you mentioned above), sweet potato (carbs), and the like. Cauliflower, broccoli, beans, spinach, asparagus is ok, but what else is good in your opinion? We also eat cabbage, which is low in carbs and cals, and I would have thought things like sprouts (mung bean, snow pea, alfalfa, etc), brussels sprouts and cucumbers would be ok. What are your thoughts?

    • Luke says:

      Hi Kerryn,

      Thanks for your question. This is a topic that creates quite a bit of confusion. In my course, Complete Bodyfat Control, I suggest using green vegetables mainly, during the rapid fat loss phase, which uses slow carb as it’s foundation. Generally these vegetables have the least starch, higher protein and more fiber. But of course there are some others that are quite good too. I normally try to moderate or exclude onions, carrots and tomatoes.
      You’re right that potatoes are out, as are sweet potatoes, yams, pumpkins, squash, corn too.
      Cabbage is a great option, and red cabbage has some pretty awesome nutrients if you enjoy it. sprouts are OK, but some are higher in sugar. brussels sprouts are a great choice, and cucumbers are ok, though don’t have as much protein or fiber as other options (like spinach).

      I hope that helps you out!

      All the best,

  • Larry says:

    Peas and beans are both members of the legume family, so they are both alterntaive types of legumes.


    The protein in beans (black variety) is rated as complete, whereas peas are just 80%.

    • Luke says:

      Hey Larry,

      Thanks for the links. Considering this, it’s funny that peas weren’t mentioned in the book. I think it’s because there’s a great amount of variability in their nutrition content, depending on how they’re grown/when they’re picked and how they’re prepared. I’ve seen some nutrition panels on peas that were nothing like the same protein/fiber as beans.

      It sounds like the black beans are still a better choice, due to their complete protiein.


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