A common denominator in many dieting plans is the limitation of carbohydrates. Started with the Atkins diet and adapted by other diet plans, a diet without carbs is meant to result in a more level insulin level throughout the day and more satisfaction with less caloric intake. This carbohydrate squeeze not only applies to sweets but also to starches and grains which have often been viewed as beneficial to your health. However what this dieting strategy fails to recognize is that carbs can play a defining role in weight loss. While I do not advocate sugars for any diet with goals of health or weight loss, complex carbohydrates such as starches can be very beneficial to promote fullness. One category of starches especially can lead to maximal satiety with very low calories. What I am referring to is resistant starch.
What is it?
Resistant starch in simple terms is starches that are unable to be digested. Their chemical structure is bound in such a way that our digestive system cannot absorb them as carbohydrates. Thus they end up taking on a role of fiber in our bodies. That doesn’t necessarily sound like a good thing though, why would we eat food we can’t digest? We might as well be eating cardboard right? Well the simple answer is no. Resistant starch acts like fiber but it is actually more beneficial than fiber. While it does go undigested through our stomach and small intestine, it plays a crucial role in the large intestine. It goes to feed and nourish that healthy bacteria, or flora, that leads to efficient and healthy digestion. Furthermore, resistant starch is not some powder or pill, it is present in the foods you eat everyday, if prepared correctly.
How it can lead to weight loss?
So where does the weight loss come in? Since resistant starch does not get digested it does not contribute to our caloric intake. However, it is more efficient than other foods at making us feel full. Therefore, we will consume low levels of calories yet lack that hunger feeling throughout the day. It is a dangerous game though with resistant starches as dieters will often get greedy and eat only those starches throughout the day. In those cases they will lack other nutrients and have too large of a caloric deficit–in short, lose weight too quickly for what is healthy. Therefore, be sure to include other nutrient rich foods along with your resistant starches.
So how do I add this resistant starch into my diet? Well it may surprise you that it is present in many of the foods we already consume everyday, it just takes a little tweaking in the preparation to get the most out of it. White potatoes for instance are a good example. When baked, potatoes are not very nutritious as they can be rapidly digested and lead to insulin spikes. However if you bake them and then cool them in the refrigerator afterwards their starches change their structure. They are still soft and able to be eaten, as opposed to hard raw potatoes, however they now contain resistant starches. The same can be done with rice and pasta. Warm they are a carbohydrate bomb that will cause your insulin to rise, yet cold they are filled with resistant starches. Other sources are green, unripe bananas and raw oatmeal. While there are several supplements on the market of concentrated resistant starch, I say you should save your money and go to the natural sources that are readily available.
Resistant starch is a somewhat new concept in the dieting world. While dieters have always seemed to flock to fiber and protein for their weight loss they have missed out on this great aid. I do not think you need to change your diet completely to experience the benefits of resistant starch but adding it to your current diet plan may just give you the edge you need to attain your diet goals.