When prepared the right way, foods like grains, beans, and potatoes can actually turn you into a fat-burning machine. Here's how.
Here's what you need to know...
- Resistant starch is a starch that isn't fully broken down and absorbed. It has several benefits to humans, including better digestion, reduced appetite, better insulin sensitivity, and fat loss.
- Resistant starch also improves gut health. It feeds healthy bacteria, reduces risk of bowel disease, and even enhances nutrient absorption from food.
- We typically ingest far less than the recommend dose. Experts recommend 6 grams per meal, but most Americans only take in a total of 5 grams per day.
- It's easy to increase the amount of resistant starch in foods. You simply cook certain foods like beans, grains, or potatoes and then allow them to cool.
Starchy Foods That Are Good For You
Many athletes, lifters, and health-conscious people are conflicted about starchy carbs. Starchy foods include things like rice, grains, bread, pasta, and potatoes. When we eat these foods, a small amount passes untouched through the small intestine. It then passes to the colon to be fermented by microbiota and transformed into resistant starch, which functions in a similar way to fiber.
Several studies have shown that resistant starch has many benefits to humans, including fat loss, improved insulin sensitivity, gut health, better digestion, and reduced appetite. Best of all, you can take your favorite starchy carbs and increase their resistant starch content.
The 4 Types of Resistant Starch
- Type 1: Indigestible part of a plant's cell wall, such as beans, grains and seeds.
- Type 2: Indigestible in its raw, uncooked state, becomes digestible when cooked. Examples include potatoes and plantains.
- Type 3: Retrograded starch, when food is cooked and then cooled again. Think beans and most other starches.
- Type 4: Chemically modified starch, which doesn't occur naturally, like hi-maize resistant starch.
Most will be familiar with types 1 and 2, but it's type 3 that deserves special attention. It's the type that may significantly change the way you prepare your food.
How to Add Resistant Starch to Your Diet
Americans only take in about 5 grams per day, much less than the minimum of 6 grams per meal recommended for health benefits. However, by following some food preparation and planning, along with possible supplementation, you can easily reach the recommended daily intake of resistant starch. However, as with fiber, it's also important to build levels up slowly to avoid any digestive or gastrointestinal issues.
There are the two general ways to do it:
- Prepare starch-based food in advance and allow it to cool overnight. This will increase the resistant starch content. You can cook batches of potatoes, rice, beans, etc. in advance, meaning you can prepare food for the whole week and save both time and money. One particular favorite in the fitness community is overnight proats (protein and oatmeal), which provides a large amount of resistant starch.
- Daily supplementation with something similar to Bob's Red Mill Potato Starch (or any brand) is a simple way to reach your daily resistant starch goal. It can be added to shakes, yogurt, soups, and sauces.
- Increased satiety and reduced food intake over a 24-hour period. Like fiber and protein, resistant starch is very filling. Basing your diet around satiating foods will help you maintain a healthy body fat level with less effort. It'll also help you avoid overeating or binge eating and, of course, it'll help you lose fat. One study had participants eat either low-fat muffins or muffins high in resistant starch. The resistant-starch muffins improved satiety and the length of satiety. Another study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that adding 24g of resistant starch to two separate mixed meals resulted in test subjects ingesting 300 fewer calories over the following 24 hours.
- Reduced fasting blood glucose levels. One breakfast study with resistant starch found improved blood glucose and insulin levels at 90 and 120 minutes, along with greater perceived fullness and satisfaction. Interestingly, resistant starch may also provide the "second meal effect," meaning it helps decrease the glycemic response to a subsequent meal.
- Reduced blood glucose rise after a meal. Several studies have shown that the addition of resistant starch helps lower blood glucose response to a meal. This can be important for staying lean and even energy levels, especially in people with diabetes, obesity, or metabolic syndrome.
- Improved gut function & feeding of healthy gut bacteria. Resistant starch fuels our gut flora. Although research on this is still in its infancy, poor gut health has been linked to many serious health conditions, along with being important for body composition. Proper digestion is key for nutrient absorption, especially when eating a high amount of food during a bulking/high calorie period.
- Improved insulin sensitivity. Optimizing insulin sensitivity means you can partition nutrients more effectively and improve nutrient flow to the muscle, potentially adding more lean mass and reducing body fat accumulation.
- Enhanced nutrient absorption from foods. Initial studies show resistant starch may increase the absorption of important minerals such as magnesium and calcium.
- Reduced risk of inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer. The addition of resistant starch to the diet of rats reduced lesions, which are a risk factor for colorectal cancer. They also found an increase in cells that express a protein called IL-10, which helps regulate the body's inflammatory levels.
- Reduced risk of diabetes. Resistant starch helps improve glycemic control and the insulin response to food, two important factors in diabetes development and management. The extent of the role played by our gut on health, disease, and body composition is only just being discovered. However, research has already shown that resistant starch has a positive impact on glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), a potent anti-diabetic incretin. Furthermore, one study in an animal model found a positive effect of resistant starch in diabetic rats and over 20 human studies have found a positive effect on insulin and glucose management.
- Reduced dietary energy density. Portion size and the energy density of foods are hugely important to losing fat and staying lean. When replacing normal, easily digestible starch with resistant starch, it helps reduce the energy density of the diet.
- Enhanced fat burning. Based on the other benefits provided by resistant starch, it's not surprising that it may actually help you burn fat. The combination of improved satiety, reduced caloric intake, low energy density, and improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity makes it a perfect fat loss tool.
- Englyst, H. N., & Cummings, J. H. (1985). Digestion of the polysaccharides of some cereal foods in the human small intestine. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 42(5), 778-787.
- Birt, D. F., Boylston, T., Hendrich, S., Jane, J. L., Hollis, J., Li, L., ... & Whitley, E. M. (2013). Resistant starch: promise for improving human health. Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal, 4(6), 587-601.
- Thompson, D. B. (2000). Strategies for the manufacture of resistant starch. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 11(7), 245-253.
- Willis, H. J., Eldridge, A. L., Beiseigel, J., Thomas, W., & Slavin, J. L. (2009). Greater satiety response with resistant starch and corn bran in human subjects. Nutrition Research, 29(2), 100-105.
- Bodinham, C. L., Frost, G. S., & Robertson, M. D. (2010). Acute ingestion of resistant starch reduces food intake in healthy adults. British Journal of Nutrition, 103(06), 917-922.
- Kendall, C. W., Esfahani, A., Sanders, L. M., Potter, S. M., & Vidgen, E. (2010). The effect of a pre-load meal containing resistant starch on spontaneous food intake and glucose and insulin responses. J Food Technol, 8, 67-73.
- Brighenti, F., Benini, L., Del Rio, D., Casiraghi, C., Pellegrini, N., Scazzina, F., ... & Vantini, I. (2006). Colonic fermentation of indigestible carbohydrates contributes to the second-meal effect. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 83(4), 817-822.
- Raben, A., Tagliabue, A., Christensen, N. J., Madsen, J., Holst, J. J., & Astrup, A. (1994). Resistant starch: the effect on postprandial glycemia, hormonal response, and satiety. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 60(4), 544-551.
- Alexander, D. (2012). Postprandial effects of resistant starch corn porridges on blood glucose and satiety responses in non-overweight and overweight adults.
- Ludwig, D. S. (2002). The glycemic index: physiological mechanisms relating to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Jama, 287(18), 2414-2423.
- Guarner, F., & Malagelada, J. R. (2003). Gut flora in health and disease. The Lancet, 361(9356), 512-519.
- Jumpertz, R., Le, D. S., Turnbaugh, P. J., Trinidad, C., Bogardus, C., Gordon, J. I., & Krakoff, J. (2011). Energy-balance studies reveal associations between gut microbes, caloric load, and nutrient absorption in humans. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 94(1), 58-65.
- Johnston, K. L., Thomas, E. L., Bell, J. D., Frost, G. S., & Robertson, M. D. (2010). Resistant starch improves insulin sensitivity in metabolic syndrome. Diabetic Medicine, 27(4), 391-397.
- Schulz, A., Van Amelsvoort, J. M., & Beynen, A. C. (1993). Dietary native resistant starch but not retrograded resistant starch raises magnesium and calcium absorption in rats. The Journal of Nutrition, 123(10), 1724-1731.
- Higgins, J. A., & Brown, I. L. (2013). Resistant starch: a promising dietary agent for the prevention/treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and bowel cancer. Current Opinion in Gastroenterology, 29(2), 190-194.
- Shen, L., Keenan, M. J., Raggio, A., Williams, C., & Martin, R. J. (2011). Dietary-resistant starch improves maternal glycemic control in Goto-Kakizaki rat. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 55(10), 1499-1508.
- Nugent, A. P. (2005). Health properties of resistant starch. Nutrition Bulletin, 30(1), 27-54.
- Keenan, M. J., Zhou, J., McCutcheon, K. L., Raggio, A. M., Bateman, H. G., Todd, E., ... & Hegsted, M. (2006). Effects of Resistant Starch, A Non-digestible Fermentable Fiber, on Reducing Body Fat. Obesity, 14(9), 1523-1534.
- Zhou, J., Martin, R. J., Tulley, R. T., Raggio, A. M., McCutcheon, K. L., Shen, L., ... & Keenan, M. J. (2008). Dietary resistant starch upregulates total GLP-1 and PYY in a sustained day-long manner through fermentation in rodents. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, 295(5), E1160-E1166.
- Rolls, B. J., Roe, L. S., & Meengs, J. S. (2004). Salad and satiety: energy density and portion size of a first-course salad affect energy intake at lunch. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 104(10), 1570-1576.
- Yao, M., & Roberts, S. B. (2001). Dietary energy density and weight regulation. Nutrition Reviews, 59(8), 247-258.
- Elfhag, K., & Rössner, S. (2005). Who succeeds in maintaining weight loss? A conceptual review of factors associated with weight loss maintenance and weight regain. Obesity Reviews, 6(1), 67-85.
- Murphy, M. M., Douglass, J. S., & Birkett, A. (2008). Resistant starch intakes in the United States. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 108(1), 67-78.
Foods Rich and Potentially Rich in Resistant Starch
Resistant Starch Food Sources
|Food||Per 100g||Per Average Portion|
|Raw Potato Starch||75g||10 - 15g|
|Raw Plantain Starch||50g||5 - 10g|
|Green Banana||15g||15 -20g|
|Most beans cooked, drained, then cooled||5-10g||10g|
|Uncooked Oats / Oatmeal||10g||5 - 10g|
|Cooked, then cooled yams & potatoes||7g||10 - 15g|
|Pumpernickel Bread||6g||5 - 10g|
|Muesli & Cereals||3 - 5g||3 - 5g|