Did you know that 9 out of 10 of the cells in and on your body right now aren’t technically human, but are actually bacteria?
Recent science has revealed that this bacteria – your microbiome – helps us digest food and assimilate nutrients.
So whenever you feed yourself, remember that you’re actually feeding an ecosystem.
If you’re looking to lose fat, controlling your consumption of sugars, starches, and other carbs can speed progress.
But there’s a “newly discovered” type of carb called “Resistant Starch” that’s taking the health world by storm.
Resistant starch isn’t completely broken down and absorbed by the body, but rather turned into short-chain fatty acids by intestinal bacteria.
Recent studies show that resistant starch can actually boost weight loss by regulating insulin, promoting gut health, and helping you feel fuller longer.
Resistant starch is found in a wide range of natural foods—you just have to know how to cook them. In fact, you probably have some of these starches in your kitchen right now.
WHAT IS RESISTANT STARCH, EXACTLY?
Starches are long chains of glucose found in grains (like wheat and rice), potatoes, pasta, bread, and corn.
When you digest regular starches, the glucose sets off a signal to your brain to release insulin—the fat-storing hormone. The amount of insulin you release depends on your sensitivity to insulin. If you eat Wild and and are highly sensitive, you’ll just release a small amount of insulin. But if you’re carrying extra weight, you may have a metabolic issue where eating carbs causes your body to release too much insulin, which results in a greater level of fat storage.
That is one of the major reasons to limit starches and stick to The Wild Diet Plate—full of low-starch veggies, protein, and fat.
However, some starches mosey right on through the digestive tract without being processed. They are resistant to digestion. Yep, that’s resistant starch!
Type 1 (RS1) can’t be digested because its cell walls are still intact. This is found in whole or very coarsely ground uncooked grains.
Type 2 (RS2) has a granule structure that simply makes it indigestible. This includes such oddities as raw potatoes, unripe bananas, and green plantains.
Type 3 (RS3) is a specific type of starch that has been boiled and cooled, such as potatoes or rice. The science behind this gets a little sticky (pun intended), but it’s essentially this: When these starches hit a certain temperature and then cool, the water (hence, boiling vs. baking or frying) turns gelatinous. There’s an exchange process going on there, called retrogradation, which makes the starch indigestible.
Type 4 (RS4) is made in a lab. It’s a starch that’s treated with several different chemicals to promote branching and cross-linking of polymers which block digestion of the starch.
Type 5 (RS5) is being created by food scientists by mixing an RS3 with a lipid such as palmitic acid to make that starch even less digestible (3).
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I EAT RESISTANT STARCH?
When you consume a resistant starch, like a boiled-and-cooled sweet potato, it passes through your stomach and small intestine mostly intact. By the time it reaches your colon, the starch fermented and it feeds your gut bacteria.
What happens next is pretty neat: The trillions of bacteria (that make up about 90% of our bodies) begin to break down resistant starch and and produce short-chain fatty acids, including the superfood of the colon – butyrate.
Boosting levels of butyrate promotes cell health in the colon, reduces inflammation, and decreases your risk for colon cancer.
Plus, the excess short-chain fatty acids are dumped into the bloodstream where studies show that it can increase insulin sensitivity (4).
Okay, go back to where we talked about insulin sensitivity… the more insulin sensitive you are, the less insulin you’ll secrete when you consumes glucose (sugar/carbs), and the less fat you’ll store.
But that’s just the start. There are a host of health benefits to including resistant starch in your diet.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF RESISTANT STARCH
The science is definitely building to support the inclusion of resistant starch in your diet. Here are a few of the ways it contributes to weight-loss and overall health:
- Improves gut health – reduces your risk for diseases like diabetes, colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis, Crohn’s Disease, and obesity.
- Increases insulin sensitivity – reduces the amount of insulin released when you eat, thus reducing the amount of fat stored in your body.
Heals leaky gut – promotes a healthy immune system and reduces low-grade chronic inflammation.
- Increases satiety – helps you feel fuller and thus consume fewer calories.
HOW TO ADD RESISTANT STARCH TO THE WILD DIET
If you’re on a low-carb diet, you might push back against adding in starch. But I assure you, it’s okay to add some of these low GI, high-resistant starch foods into your plan either once a week for a carb refeed, or a few times a week if you’ve already reached your goal weight (50 – 100 grams carbs per day).
Cooked and Cooled Potatoes & Yams: These are Type 3 resistant starches, and the cool thing is that they can be reheated without changing the digestibility. Actually, the more you heat and cool them the more the resistant starch increases (5).
Plus, if you boil your sweet potatoes instead of baking or roasting them, you’ll reduce the glycemic load by roughly half.
Properly Prepared Legumes: If you soak, boil, cool and reheat your dried beans they can be a decent source of resistant starch.
Here’s a recipe for preparing black beans:
- 1 cup dried black beans
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- filtered water
- Sea salt to taste
- Pour 1 cup dried black beans (or other beans) into a strainer and rinse thoroughly under cold water, removing any stones or other debris.
- Add 4 cups filtered water to a pot and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and add beans along with ¼ cup apple cider vinegar.
- Cover the pot with a dish towel and let soak at room temperature for 18 - 24 hours.
- Drain and thoroughly rinse the beans.
- Fill the pot with fresh filtered water to at least three-quarters full (enough to cover beans by a couple inches) and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Return the beans to the pot and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer.
- Simmer until the beans are soft, about 1 - 1½ hours. Check the tenderness of the bean by removing one with a spoon and pressing it with the side of a butter knife. The bean is done when it mashes easily.
- Drain water, salt to taste, and cool in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
- Enjoy cold or reheat on the stove.
By soaking the beans overnight with an acidic medium like apple cider vinegar, you’ll be removing the oligosaccharides present in black beans which cause digestive stress (and are responsible for intestinal gas). And refrigerating the beans for 24 hours after cooking will increase the level of resistant starch in the beans.
Raw Potato Starch and Cassava Starch: These are both quite high in resistant starch. Bob’s Red Mill Raw Potato Starch is a popular brand. It’s cheap and can be added to smoothies or just mixed into water, providing 8 grams of resistant starch per tablespoon. I don’t totally trust eating raw potatoes (since potatoes are a problematic nightshade for many), but I have tried raw potato starch and didn’t seem to experience bloating or other negative side-effects.
Green Plantains: We love making Green Plantain Pancakes on Saturday mornings, and they’re an absolutely delicious way to get those resistant starches into the diet. We’ll be posting that recipe in an upcoming blog—stay tuned! In the meantime, we’ve got a recipe for plantain buns in The Wild Diet… a super-YUM way to stack up Pulled Pork Sliders!
Here’s a link to a list of food and their resistant starch levels. Keep in mind, not all of the foods on the list are Wild or necessarily nutritious. Go for whole foods that are on the Wild approved list.
HOW TO EAT RESISTANT STARCH WITHOUT GETTING BLOATED
Start slow by adding 1 tablespoon of raw potato starch to your morning smoothie or some boiled-and-cooled potatoes to your evening meal. Increase the dosage over the next week and monitor how you feel – make notes of your hunger, energy, and mood.
You might experience bloating and gas as your body ferments that resistant starch in the large intestine. If that happens, try eating a bit less. But if the cramping or bloating is severe, you might want to consider improving the health of your gut bacteria.
To make sure your gut-health is top notch, add a probiotic to your diet (you can’t feed good “bugs” if you don’t have any), get plenty of prebiotics before your meals (like raw celery), and drink bone broth most days of the week.
If you’re stuck in a weight-loss plateau, suffer from low insulin sensitivity, or leaky gut, give resistant starches a try!
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BEFORE YOU GO…
This article about resistant starch spawned from a question posted by a member of our Fat-Burning Tribe.
The biggest thing most people are missing when they start eating real food and transforming their bodies is support from like-minded people. That’s where the Fat-Burning Tribe comes in—it’s an awesome group of people sharing their journey, inspiring each other, and tapping into life-changing knowledge about health and wellness.
We update the members area at least 3 times a week with a new video, recipe, article, challenge, or exclusive giveaway. We’ve also got an extensive library of resources just for Tribe members.
Plus, there’s something new that our Tribe members are raving about—Monthly Meal Plans complete with full recipes, shopping lists, and meal prep. These include at least a dozen new Wild fat-melting recipes every month—like Carne Asada Bowls and Chewy Chocolate Cookies!
Here’s a comment from one of the Tribe members, Cheryl:
I have been following the Tribe for a little over a week and want to let everyone know I think you all are an amazing group! Everyone is so encouraging and informative, supportive and compassionate to others struggles. I am so fortunate to belong to this group. I have finished my first week feeling great, with a weight loss of 6.6 pounds following the Wild Diet!
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What’s your favorite way to get resistant starch in your diet? Let us know by leaving a comment below.