I have many clients on some type of carbohydrate restricted diet for one reason or another to improve health. Some clients want to loose weight others need to improve health conditions such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome or fatty liver disease. Whenever I recommend a carbohydrate restricted diet for one of my clients most people want to know if they have to give up rice and or potatoes. The short answer is, No! You do not have to give up rice or potatoes but there are is a caveat. The rice and potatoes must be cooked and then refrigerated for at least 24hrs before consumption.
Carbohydrates are organic molecules typically classified according to their structure. There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are smaller, more easily processed molecules known as mono- and disaccharides since they contain either one sugar molecule or two sugar molecules linked together. They include things like glucose, fructose and sucrose.
Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are called polysaccharides since they have more than two sugar groups linked together. Polysaccharides include things like starch, glycogen, cellulose and pectin. We are going to focus on the starches. All starches are composed of two types of polysaccharides: amylose and amylopectin.
Amylopectin is highly branched, leaving more surface area available for digestion. It’s broken down quickly, which means it produces a larger rise in blood sugar (glucose) and subsequently, a large rise in insulin.
Amylose is a straight chain, which limits the amount of surface area exposed for digestion. Foods high in amylose are digested more slowly. They’re less likely to spike blood glucose or insulin. Thus, resistant starch is so named because it resists digestion. Since resistant starch is incompletely digested, we only extract about 2 calories of energy per gram (versus about 4 calories per gram from other starches). That means 100 grams of resistant starch is actually only worth 200 calories, while 100 grams of other starch gives us 400 calories. High-Resistant Starch foods fill you up, without filling you out. Resistant starch acts more like a prebiotic than a typical starch. A prebiotic is what your good gut bacteria eat. So once the resistant starch arrives in the colon, your good bacteria feeds on the starch, producing something called butyrate (butyric acid). Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) that strengthens your brain and your gut.
Along with strengthening the gut by feeding all that good bacteria, resistant starch has many other benefits, including:
Protects against colon cancer: Resistant starch could kill precancerous cells in the gut and shrink cancerous lesions in the bowel. A 2013 study found that mice fed resistant starch showed a decrease in the number and size of lesions tied to colon cancer. They also showed an increase in an antiinflammatory protein called IL-10.
Reduces insulin resistance: Since resistant starch isn’t digested, your insulin doesn’t rise like other starches and cause blood sugar problems. A 2012 study found that obese men who were given 15 – 30 grams of resistant starch a day for four weeks showed increased insulin sensitivity compared to a control group who took zero resistant starch. Insulin sensitivity (aka low insulin resistance) is a good thing. If you have high insulin resistance, you’re at risk of serious conditions like type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and obesity.
Burns fat and curbs hunger: Resistant starch could help you control your weight. One study found that women who ate pancakes made with a resistant starch plus protein burned more fat after the meal than women who ate pancakes without resistant starch. Another study found that adding resistant starch to meals could make you feel fuller quicker, causing you to eat fewer calories.
Resistant Starch is found in starchy plant foods such as:
- starchy fruits and vegetables (such as bananas)
- whole grains
- some types of cooked then cooled foods (such as potatoes and rice)
The longer and hotter a starch is cooked, the less RS it tends to have — except for Type 3 resistant starch.
Carbohydrates have been villainized by many in the medical and nutritional community. I would agree when it comes to processed and simple carbohydrates. Not all starches are bad and in fact some have health benefits. Resistant starch offers many benefits and should be included in any healthy nutritional program. Resistant starch may be a way have your cake and eat it too. Yes, you can have rice and potatoes on a carbohydrate restricted diet as long as you cook them first and then refrigerate them for at least 24 hrs. This changes the molecular structure. You can heat them up before consuming them in a meal without loosing any health benefits. That does not however mean you can eat as much as you want. You must pay attention to serving size. As always I recommend eating whole foods, real foods avoiding anything that comes in a bag or a box. Try to eat the colors of the rainbow.
Health and happiness,