How to Add Resistant Starch to Your Diet
A slimming starch? Yes!
It’s no secret that cutting down on starchy foods like potatoes and pasta is a big key to slimming your waistline. However, once you reach your goal weight, there’s a type of starch that may actually help you keep that belly fat off. It’s called resistant starch, and today I’ll tell you why it’s one of the hottest new food trends—but read on before jumping on the resistant starch bandwagon, because I have a few cautions as well.
What is resistant starch—and why is it good for you?
Resistant starch is a type of starch that resists being digested in your small intestine. (That explains its name.) Instead, it’s fermented in your large intestine. There are four types of resistant starch, but only three of them occur naturally. They’re type 1 (found in grains, seeds, and legumes), type 2 (found in green bananas, green plantains, and raw potatoes), and type 3 (created in certain starchy foods when you cook and then chill them). If you eat a typical diet, you’re already getting some resistant starch—but many experts recommend eating more. Here are some of the ways in which eating resistant starch can benefit you:
- Because it doesn’t break down and get turned into sugar in the small intestine, resistant starch doesn’t hike your blood sugar and insulin levels like non-resistant starch does. In fact, research shows that resistant starch improves insulin sensitivity, helping you to lose weight and protecting against diabetes.
- The fermentation process that breaks down resistant starch in your lower intestine creates beneficial molecules including butyrate—a short-chain fatty acid that lowers your inflammation, helps you burn more fat, and fights cancer.
- Resistant starch acts as “fertilizer” for your gut bugs, fostering a healthy microbiome.
- Because it’s high in fiber, resistant starch fills you up so you’re less likely to overeat.
- Resistant starch can improve your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
How to add resistant starch to your diet—and a few cautions before you do
Once you’re reached your goal weight, there are easy ways to increase your intake of resistant starch. Beans and seeds (and grains, if they’re a part of your diet—see my post here) contain a significant level of resistant starch when you cook them in the normal way. A green banana tossed into a shake or a handful of green plantain chips will also give you a good dose of this starch.
However, to get the benefits of resistant starch from foods like potatoes and rice, you need to cook them and then chill them—preferably for at least 24 hours. Cooking causes the starch to swell and absorb water, while chilling it causes it to crystallize into a form that resists the digestive process.
The easiest way to use chilled potatoes or rice is in salads—for instance, a classic potato salad made with avocado mayo, or rice tossed with veggies and an olive oil dressing. By the way, beans develop even more resistant starch when they’re cooled, so don’t just eat them hot—also toss them into cold salads. Before you go crazy over resistant starch, however, I do have some cautions:
- If you’ve been diagnosed with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), resistant starch could worsen the condition. Be sure you heal your gut before adding this starch to your diet.
- Also limit resistant starch if you have irritable bowel syndrome, because it could aggravate your symptoms.
- Go slowly. Overloading your gut with resistant starch can cause gas and bloating.
- Get your resistant starch from whole foods, not potato starch. Resistant starch appears to be more beneficial when it’s combined with other soluble and non-soluble fibers, and there’s some evidence that resistant starch eaten in isolated form can actually be bad for you.
And, as always, listen to the wisdom of your own body. As I always say, every person—and every body—is unique, and what works for someone else might not work for you. So keeping my cautions in mind, try adding a little extra resistant starch to your diet and keep close track of your results. Here’s a recipe from my Bone Broth Cookbook to get you started—enjoy!
TOSTONES WITH GARLIC AND LIME
Prep Time: 5 Minutes • Cook Time: 15 Minutes • Yield: 4 Servings
Tostones are twice-fried plantains. They’re crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside, and the garlic and lime in this recipe give them extra flavor.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 green plantains, peeled and cut into 1-inch-thick slices
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- ¼ teaspoon Celtic or pink Himalayan salt
- Lime wedges, for serving
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the plantains and cook until they begin to brown, turning once, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a cutting board. Use the flat bottom of a mug, a can of beans, or a small skillet to press and flatten the plantain slices.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and garlic to the skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Return the plantains to the skillet and cook, turning once, until they are crisped and brown, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and serve with lime wedges.
Keep thinking big and living BOLD!