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 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!You can think of resistant starch like insoluble fiber—it goes straight through you. Click To Tweet
There are five types of resistant starch (1) (2):
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 is 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.Eating resistant starch increases insulin sensitivity—can you see why that’s awesome?! Click To Tweet
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.
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!
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!
LEARN HOW TO DROP 20 POUNDS IN 40 DAYS WITH REAL FOOD
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.
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!
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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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If you’d like to join us, you can try everything for free for the first 7 days.
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What’s your favorite way to get resistant starch in your diet? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
Larry Gibson says
Excellent post!!. The paleo community warming up to some healthy starches and even beans and legumes is very refreshing!!
Although the aboiled-and-cooled sweet potato, passes through your stomach and small intestine mostly intact, the chockful of nutrients will benefit your body. Sweet potatoes contain a wealth of orange-hued carotenoid pigments. In some studies, sweet potatoes have been shown to be a better source of bioavailable beta-carotene than green leafy vegetables.
Yet beta-carotene only begins to tell the story of sweet potato antioxidants. Particularly in purple-fleshed sweet potato, antioxidant anthocyanin pigments are abundant. Cyanidins and peonidins are concentrated in the starchy core of part of purple-fleshed sweet potatoes, and these antioxidant nutrients may be even more concentrated in the flesh than in the skin. That’s sweet potatoes have genes (IbMYB1 and IbMYB2) that are specialized for the production of anthocyanin pigments in the fleshy part of the tuber. Ordinary, we have to rely on the skins of foods for this same level of anthocyanin antioxidants. But not in the case of sweet potatoes! Extracts from the highly pigmented and colorful purple-fleshed and purple-skinned sweet potatoes have been shown in research studies to increased the activity of two key antioxidant enzymes—copper/zinc superoxide dismutase (Cu/Zn-SOD) and catalase (CAT).
Recent research has shown that particularly when passing through our digestive tract, sweet potato cyanidins and peonidins and other color-related phytonutrients may be able to lower the potential health risk posed by heavy metals and oxygen radicals. That risk reduction might be important not only for individuals at risk of digestive tract problems but for all persons wanting to reduce the potential risk posed by the presence of heavy metal residues (like small amounts of mercury or cadmium or arsenic) in their diet.
Storage proteins in sweet potato also have important antioxidant properties. These storage proteins—called sporamins—get produced by sweet potato plants whenever the plants are subjected to physical damage. Their ability to help the plants heal from this damage is significantly related to their role as antioxidants. Especially when sweet potato is being digested inside of our gastrointestinal tract, we may get some of these same antioxidant benefits.
Now, as for curbing appetite, I think of the thousands of tons of food we waste each day and the additional billions we spend on losing the weight gained by our own overeating while there are children starving in so many parts of the world. Just that thought helps me curb my appetite. Each time I spend $3 on a Kombucha or $25 on a piece of grass fed meat, I think about how many weeks it could feed these children.
Abel James says
Thanks for the background, Larry! I LOVE purple-fleshed sweet potatoes. 🙂
And you’re right about the curbing appetite issue – with so many people overeating – and starving – at the same time, it’s more important to ever to help real food scale.
Hello. Questions about your black beans recipe: (1) What’s the tangible resulting difference between soaking the beans in (cold) water—i.e., 99% of recipes out there—and soaking them in hot water with the vinegar? (2) How much resistant starch or other benefits are gained by cooling them for 24+ hours? (3) Is it best to eat them cold, too? (4) For the cooking phase, when you’re simmering the beans for 60-90 minutes, shouldn’t that say to make sure they’re covered that whole time? Thanks very much.
Joan Michka says
There are 5 of what’s called Blue Zones through out the world where people live longer than any where else: Okinawa Japan, Sardinia Italy, Nicoya Peninsula Costa Rica, Icaria Greece and the 7th Day Adventists who live in Loma Linda California. The people who live in Okinawa eat a purple sweet potatoe. Also all of these people eat legumes. There is much in the internet if you care to research.
Thanks for this informative article. As for food wast, if more people would make and grow some of their foods and eat at home most of the time that would cause food prices to come down. I am in NJ and have a small garden, 90% of the time I prepare healthy meals at home and I also make things like my own Kombucha which costs pennies. We can’t solve world hunger because most times it is the result of greedy governments and or leaders. If we practiced many of the principles outlined in Abel’s book and blogs we would be eating less, cooking at home more and closing down many, large restaurants that throw out tons of food. Then maybe we would see people return to better health.
janell a hartman says
I use Tigernut flour, It’s awesome. I make these little raw nut/seed butter + tigernut flour balls (containing 1 tbsp of tahini, sunflower seed butter, almond butter, etc, and 1 heaping tsp of Tigernut flour. Sometimes I add a little raw honey and cinnamon. That’s my daily RS “pill” and dang, is it yummy to boot! Gotta love food medicine.
CAN YOU PLEASE SEND ME THE RECIPE…thanks
I tested tiger nut flour and it does NOT contain resistant starch. If there was resistant starch in the plant, it’s gone and is no longer in the flour.
I just saw this site and I really need to lose weight, very helpful information here.
Charles Richardson says
Just FYI, you can create RS5 resistant starch yourself. You don’t have to wait for scientists to do it for you. Just add some coconut oil to rice when you cook it. A study out of Indonesia, I believe, discovered that doing so creates some RS5, the lipid/startch structure, and reduces the glycemic load of the rice.
I am confused to why adding resistance starches to heal a leaky gut could possibly be possible.because sugars cause over growth of bad bacteria,known as Candidiasis or Candida and if the food containing a R.S. isn’t fermented by the time it gets to the colon which is said to be true by a lot of doctors and other functional medicine specialists.that resistance starches are not digested and are intact when they get to the large intestine.So, that is incorrect that the starch is fermented by the time it gets to the large intestine and does all its supposed to if you have severe Candida growth. I’m hearing from Cynthia Perkins that resistant starches cause more problems, but I’m wondering if it has to be eaten the way you say further down in the reading that I didn’t get to read if you have suggested of how often to eat them soaked and then boiled. But, I did try sprouted Quinoa and sprouted beans, but I was eating peanut butter,fruit and quinoa a lot.so maybe it wasn’t the quinoa and sprouted beans.and I need a balance of how much quinoa in my daily diet along with no soymilk,tofoo, and fruit~
I would like to hear your feedback and I am eager to know if there is a way to eat resistant starches that don’t feed my Candida over growth.rice,armalase and others seem to.
Thank you for sharing this information it seems to be helpful.
Does taking a daily Probiotic with 30 billion CFU’s, 10 strains provide any benefit?
I have been following and using some of the resistant starch techniques for the past year or so. One thing to pass on to you: Bob’s Red Mill denies that their potato starch includes Resistant Starch. They say, due to the way it is processed. I have seen reference to their product many places. You may want to contact them, as I have and hear what they say.
Any idea how cooking a Sweet Potato in an Instant Pot compares to boiling one? Curious if it has a similar effect on the GI.
Instant pot white potatoes have higher resistant starch
Hi would you recommend potato resistance starch powder with a meal, prior or post?
I am a type 2 diabetic desperate to lose body fat.
Please can you advise
How is the RS retained in green banana if you cook it (in pancakes) if it is not retained in potatoes when they are heated?
Cooking green bananas and plaintains destroys the resistant starch. Sad, but true.
Hi, what about the resistant starch of oven baked parsnips? Thank you!!
Great article! I just tried eating nothing but boiled then refrigerated red potatoes all day yesterday. Inthink I ate 4 or 5 medium ones. I wasn’t hungry. Today my scale said I am 3.2 lbs lighter. Holy cow. Also…I was perfectly comfortable. I’m still comfortable. I’m doing it again today. This can’t be real…can it?
Hayat pektus says
It is Very helpful information here and very effective for losing weight… Thanks for giving knowledge about losing fat diet
Am I correct to say microwaving potatoes is as good as boiling them?
BOB’s Redmill is NOT a resistant starch… you guys need to stop sabotaging people diets with these articles. This comes from Bob’s Redmill RIGHT ON THEIR WEBSITE.
It contains NO resistant starch!
Please stop…. lol
So how much of any given food soutof resistant starch should a person consume per day? I don’t have any problems with sny food but I am on a lean snd green diet to lose weight so I don’t get much resistant starch food in my diet. Thanks
Google potato starch vs potato flour and you’ll get to a healthyhomeeconomist article called ‘Potato Starch vs Potato Flour’. Might clear up the confusion! They’re not the same and only potato starch has RS.
Thanks for your valuable resources keep share the information like this…
If you boil a purple sweet potato, allow it to cool, Then roast it (and potentially allow it to cool again and be reheated) will you lose the benefits of the lower GI / resistant starch? Or does the roasting negate all benefits? Very interesting article Able, Thank you!