Resistant starches are probably one of the most overlooked and misunderstood nutrients of our time, next to Iodine and Vitamin D. Two weeks prior to this post, I had no clue what they were myself.
It’s very likely that you aren’t getting very many resistant starches in your diet. The “Standard American Diet” has almost none due to processing and refinement of certain foods. Even paleo dieters may overlook these, as it’s easier to remember “meat = good, seeds = bad”
What is resistant starch?
So your digestive tract is basically: stomach, small intestine, large intestine. Most components of food are digested and absorbed before they get to the large intestine, ultimately to end up in a septic tank or floating miles out into the ocean. However, resistant starches “resist” digestion in the stomach and small intestine, hence their name.
In my opinion, all that you need to know is that resistant starches are in unripened green bananas, cold cooked potatoes, brown rice, and certain legumes like lentils and navy beans.
No, it’s not just “fiber” either. There’s more to it than just easy turds.
What makes resistant starch so special?
These resistant starches are picked up by beneficial bacteria in the large intestines and broken down there. Often as a result of these processes, there are beneficial byproducts of resistant starch such as small chain fatty acids (SFCA). Butyrate is a big one, as this SFCA is associated with a reduction in the incidence of colon cancer.
Here are the absolute, researched benefits of resistant starches
- Balanced blood glucose (and consequently, balanced energy levels)
- RS leads to satiety, and consequently weight loss
- “Second-meal effect” – previous meal contains RS → Subsequent meal does not cause glucose spike
If I’m not fat, how do resistant starches benefit me?
Because it slows the spiking or falling of glucose, getting RS in your diet keeps your energy levels steady, whether you have to sit at a desk all day or you’re cranking out reps at the gym. It slows fatigue.
Because of this recent “discovery” for myself, I’ve been eating more resistant starches this past week in the form of lentils, brown rice and cold potatoes (RS is formed during cooling of potatoes), and foregoing the high-fat diet I was aiming for before. Supposedly high fats can cause “leaky gut” so I am exploring this right now for that reason as well.
So far, for myself there has been a gradual balancing-out of my energy level throughout the day, provided that I don’t overeat in a single meal. This may be the number one benefit for me, as I’d like to have a good deal of energy throughout the day to get things done without having to rely on stimulants like caffeine as heavily as I used to.
Plus there are the purported benefits that resistant starches may help the absorption and assimilation of minerals like zinc, magnesium and selenium in the diet. This may explain why properly-prepared grain or legume dishes would be nutritious regardless of any phytic content — the nutrients were not stripped away due to manufacturing and/or convenience. At least as the Weston Price Foundation reports it.
Last but not least, the gut flora is benefited by resistant starch. RS is associated with an increase in the beneficial critters such as bifidobacteria. Not enough is known about them to say how important they are, but they produce most of the serotonin in your body as well as several key vitamins.
What if I want to do keto/paleo and get some resistant starch in my diet?
Whether or not you do keto or paleo dieting, you may want to get some RS in your diet whenever you come into contact with carbs. The cheapest and easiest way to do it is Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch. If you’re so inclined to get it at a store, go to the baking section, often under “gluten free.”
According to Free The Animal, the potato starch is 80% RS by weight, and mixes well with various foods and beverages, even water or juice.
Don’t fall for the Hi-Maize bullshit, it’s GMO corn marketing buzz. Resistant starch in other forms is the real deal however, and unmodified potato starch is the cheapest and easiest way to get some of that in your diet.
Also, a warning: RS will make you farty at first. This issue seems to have largely subsided though, and has a lot to do with soaking the legumes in advance or preparing them correctly (boil your water before adding lentils).
If you want to get your resistant starches in a minimalist fashion, I recommend seeing the last link from Selfhacked.com.
More resistant starch literature
Free the Animal – Prepare for the “Resistant Starch” Assimilation; Resistance is Futile
Free the Animal – Resistant Starch: Now We’re Getting Somewhere
Free the Animal – Resistant Starch: 4-Letter Word? Nope. Goal: Create Mashed Potatoes A Diabetic Can Eat Every Day
Selfhacked.com – The Resistant Starch Diet: The Most Effective Diet for Weight Loss, Insulin Resistance and Optimum Health