Resistant Starch The Carb That Aids Weight Loss

By John Diaz

If you are like me and well frankly like most people I know you probably have an occasional and maybe, not so occasional craving for carbs. Who doesn’t enjoy the texture, the flavor and the sheer joy of eating a plate of pasta, or bread or potatoes, I definitely do.  It’s unfortunate that those same delicious comfort foods are also leading us to higher levels of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity. If you are on a low carbohydrate diet, for better or worse, you probably already swore these off. Well, what if I was to tell you that you can still enjoy these foods and not only would they improve immune function and digestive health, but also help you lose weight. Yes, carbs helping you lose weight. There is a catch though, all be it a doable one, you have to change the way you eat them.

What is Resistant Starch?

Resistant starch comes in 4 forms.

1)       RS1 is a fiber that is indigestible.

2)       RS2 resists digestion due to its granule nature such as raw potato, and under cooked legumes.

3)       RS3 is produced during the cooking and cooling process called retrogradation.

4)       RS4 is chemically modified food starch.

Benefits of Resistant Starch

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Starches that resist digestion pass right through the small intestine and into the colon. There they are treated like a type of fiber and begin fermentation through the action of bacteria. Resistant starch is actually a prebiotic which means healthy bacteria feed on it. The byproduct is the production of short chain fatty acids. One in particular butyrate has been proven to have anti-inflammatory, immunoregulatory and possibly antitumor effects.  The Colorado Cancer Center suggests that RS promotes the growth of healthy bacteria while keeping the bad bacteria at bay helping to resist colorectal cancer. RS also has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity (insulin resistance causes high blood sugar levels) thus reducing the risk of diabetes and heart disease.  

For those who suffer from Irritable Bowel Disease, IBS or Leaky Gut Syndrome (weakness in the tight junctions of the intestine allowing toxins, microbes or food particles to leak through leading to various potential systemic illnesses) the action of butyrate is of particular benefit leading to a significant decrease of symptoms.  In addition RS helps increase circulation and tone of the intestinal wall.  

Potential Weight Loss Benefits

First - How The Body Stores Fat

There are essentially 2 types of fat, brown adipose tissue and white adipose tissue. Brown fat cells are used by the body to produce heat and are generally found around vascular tissue, critical organs and in muscle tissue. They are brown because of the large number of mitochondria inside and are therefore highly metabolic burning fat for fuel.

White fat cells store fat in a single droplet that is in a semi liquid state. Fat cell proliferation (gaining of fat cells) occurs predominantly in childhood and adolescence. When we lose fat we don’t reduce the number of fat cells rather the cells shrink. It is believed that the larger the numbers of fat cells you have the more difficult it is to lose or maintain weight loss. When we gain weight the fat cells grow up to 4 times their size before dividing.  Adults rarely gain more fat cells even in obesity, the cells, all 30 billion on average; just get bigger like an overstuffed Glad bag.

RS and Weight Loss

It is well documented that RS influences greater fat oxidation (breakdown of large fatty acids into smaller units for energy use), increases release of appetite satiety peptides (appetite suppression has been seen to carry over even into the subsequent meal later that day)  and lower fat storage into fat cells. Add to this that the fiber like properties increases the thermic effect of food meaning more energy expenditure. RS also aids in the retention of lean body mass which preserves metabolism even with weight loss.  RS supplementation may be of high value for post diet weight loss maintenance.

Ways to Supplement with RS

You can increase your RS intake by replacing traditional flour with HI-Maze starch in baked foods or adding a tablespoon or two of potato starch to a beverage.  My personal choice would be to eat those carbs and as I mentioned early the trick is in the way you consume them and that trick is to eat them cold. The heating and cooling process produces RS by retrogradation which means the native starch forms crystalline structures as it cools that function like fiber. Here are a few ideas.                                                                        

High RS Foods:

Banana (must be greenish) 6 grams of RS.                                                                                                                                                                                          You can cut it up and mix it into plain Greek yogurt or add it into a smoothie for instance.

Potato (cooked then chilled) 9.5 grams of RS per average potato.                                                                                                                                                    Cut into chunks and make into potato salad or add to a green salad.

Beans, Lentils: (cooked then chilled) 5-10 grams per ½ cup serving.                                                                                                                                          Make a lentil salad or add to a green salad. How about a cold bean dip?                    

Cashews: 4 grams per 1oz serving

Hummus: 4.1 grams per ½ cup.

Pasta: (cooked then chilled) 2 grams per ½ cup.                                                                                                                                                                               Cook first (obviously) then let chill; add to a salad or dress with room temp pasta sauce.

Rice: (cooked then cooled) 5.48 grams per ½ cup.                                                                                                                                                                           Think sushi. 

Getting Started

Start by adding about 5 grams of RS per week and work your way up to around 20 grams daily. Gas is a byproduct of fermentation, but unlike fructose and other sugars RS ferments slowly and is usually very well tolerated. You already likely eat 5+ grams of RS in the foods you consume now. Let your body adjust by adding 3-5 grams of RS to your daily total over the course of a week. Continue until you reach around 20 grams daily. Remember these foods are still high in other forms of starch and should be limited to keep overall carbohydrate consumption at your targeted number.

Bon appetite.

References: - Resistant starch and energy balance: impact on weight loss and maintenance – Resistant starch – a promising dietary agent for the prevention and treatment of inflammatory bowel disease and bowel cancer - Resistant Starch – Nature’s Fat Burning Breakthrough

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