A Good Carb for Keto Dieters? Resistant Starch

is resistant starch good for keto diets

A Good Carb for Keto Dieters? Resistant Starch

When you start a keto or low-carb diet the first thing to cut back on are starchy foods. But when prepared properly, some of the starch in these foods can resist digestion.

It is these resistant starches that are important to you as a low-carb or keto dieter. In this blog post, I explain what resistant starch is, how you can benefit from it, and how you may be able to work it into your healthy keto diet without compromising weight loss.

A Good Carb for Keto Dieters? Resistant Starch [Video]

In this video, you’ll learn…

  • What is resistant starch?
  • How you can benefit from it.
  • How to work it into your diet without compromising your weight loss.

What is resistant starch?

Starch is a form of carbohydrate. Resistant starch is the portion of starch that resists digestion. In a way, it acts much like fiber in that it makes it past the onslaught of enzymes in your small intestine and end up in the large intestine where good gut bacteria feed on it. This feeding frenzy results in the creation of beneficial end products called short-chain fatty acids.

Benefits of resistant starch!

It is likely these short-chain fatty acids from which we derive most of the health benefits of resistant starch. From an overall health standpoint, short-chain fatty acids play a key role in the prevention of colorectal cancer, which is the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States (1)(2).

colon cancer

They may also help you improve your cholesterol profile. While this study was performed on rats, not humans, it found that resistant starch was significantly more effective in lowering blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels than a commonly prescribed cholesterol drug (3).


Resistant starch and weight loss!

From a weight loss and diet standpoint, short-chain fatty acids have many benefits.

They have been shown to improve blood sugar control by increasing the activity of enzymes in your liver and muscle tissues (4).

They also improve insulin sensitivity, which is very important because the more insulin sensitive your body is, the easier it is for your body to release fat from storage and burn it for energy. (5)

This study showed that 15 to 30 grams of resistant starch per day improved insulin sensitivity in obese men to the same degree that losing 10% of their body weight would have (6).

resistant starch and increased insulin sensitivity

In other words, a 200-pound man would have gotten as much of a bump up in his insulin sensitivity from the daily dose of resistant starch as he would have if he had lost 20 pounds.

Adding resistant starch to your diet!

How do you work this resistant form of starch into a keto or low carb diet?

There are two ways: by eating foods that contain resistant starch or from a food supplement.

There is a portion of resistant starch in all starchy foods, but not all of the starch in these foods is the resistant, hard-to-digest, type. If you are following a strict keto diet, it will be hard to get enough resistant starch from food without getting too many digestible carbohydrate grams. (I’ll share a food supplement that is more keto-friendly in a moment.)

low-carb vs keto diet

If you are eating a less-strict, low-carb diet where you have more of an allowance of carbs in your day, then you can afford to add some starchy foods such as potatoes, grains, beans, and green bananas.

Foods that provide resistant starch

You’ll notice from the list that how the starch is prepared will influence the amount of resistant starch that gets inside you.

For instance, when potatoes are cooked the crystalline parts of the molecules melt, which breaks down the resistant starch. When the potato cools, the crystals reform making them resistant to the digestive enzymes in your small intestine.

Using food supplements!

If you are following a ketogenic diet and interested in reaping the benefits of resistant starch, you’ll be better served by using a food supplement like raw potato starch. It is the most concentrated source of resistant starch. Bob’s Red Mill unmodified potato starch is a good choice that is easy to find. I found this in the health food aisle of my local grocery store and it is also available on Amazon.

raw potato starch

One tablespoon of potato starch has 10 grams of carbs, which feels like a red flag for keto dieters, but eight of those grams are a resistant starch, so there is very little digestible carbohydrate in a serving. If you take in two tablespoons, you’ve reached the level where many of the studies show benefits, which is 15 to 30 grams of resistant starch per day. To maximize the benefits of short-chain fatty acid production, you’ll want to take that daily dose for a few weeks in a row.

While it is okay to include raw potato starch in a recipe, to get the full benefit of the resistant starch, you want to use it uncooked. It has very little taste. You can mix it into yogurt or a smoothie or simply stir it into a glass of water and drink it with a meal. This will also help you feel full longer.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a natural way to prevent colon cancer, support gut health, improve your cholesterol profile, blood sugar regulation, and insulin sensitivity, you may want to consider supplementing your keto diet with raw potato starch.

Thanks so much for reading! I will see you back here next week with another post that will help you reach your goal!


  1. Han, Anna, et al. “Butyrate decreases its own oxidation in colorectal cancer cells through inhibition of histone deacetylases.” Oncotarget9.43 (2018): 27280.
  2. “Cancer of the Colon and Rectum – Cancer Stat Facts.” SEER, National Cancer Institute, seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/colorect.html.
  3. Younes, Hassan, et al. “Resistant starch is more effective than cholestyramine as a lipid-lowering agent in the rat.” Lipids 30.9 (1995): 847-853.
  4. Brown, Mary J. “How Short-Chain Fatty Acids Affect Health and Weight.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 2 Apr. 2016, www.healthline.com/nutrition/short-chain-fatty-acids-101.
  5. Johnston, K. L., et al. “Resistant starch improves insulin sensitivity in metabolic syndrome.” Diabetic Medicine 27.4 (2010): 391-397.
  6. Maki, Kevin C., et al. “Resistant starch from high-amylose maize increases insulin sensitivity in overweight and obese men.” The Journal of nutrition 142.4 (2012): 717-723.

About the Author

Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.

3 thoughts on “A Good Carb for Keto Dieters? Resistant Starch

  1. Thank you! My own previously-big guy brought home a bag of potato starch, but the carb label spooked me a bit.

    We’ve been keto for almost two years, and LC for 18 months before that. Meanwhile, our resident predator’s default diet has been prey-model raw and whole prey for all of her ten years. So when we sporadically watch various ketovangelists on YouTube, we can’t help noticing all the cameos of kibble. It was delightful to see your recent video about your dog going keto, and we hope you share more throughout your (dog’s) journey.

  2. One more idea for you – Nutraceuticals World just published an article that I just wrote on the latest resistant starch research. You can find it at https://www.nutraceuticalsworld.com/contents/view_online-exclusives/2019-05-29/resistant-starch-research-roundup/.

  3. Great article! Your explanations are easy to understand and will help a lot of people!

    You might consider adding unprocessed grains to your list of recommended foods. I regularly eat muesli cereal that is as unprocessed as possible – it contains much more resistant starch than cooked and cooled starchy foods (which have minimal quantities). One study reported only 5.4% resistant starch in a cooked and cooled baked potato (at best) while a hot baked potato contained 3.8% resistant starch (at best). http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814616305052. It would be simply impossible to get enough resistant starch from cooked and cooled starchy foods to see the health benefits, while the accompanying high glycemic starch would trigger overwhelming insulin response.

    I have a couple of questions – where did you get the quantity of resistant starch in Bob’s Red Mill raw potato starch? They do not test for it, nor do they report the resistant starch content. I have seen test results that reported 57-60% resistant starch (as yet unpublished but confirmed through multiple test methods). I have never seen test results reporting 80% resistant starch in Bob’s Red Mill potato starch. My guess is that it is a theoretical amount based upon the percentage of raw starch and might be what is available in a raw potato, but some of it is degraded when the starch is dried into a powder. The highest I’ve seen has been MSPrebiotic’s raw potato starch product, which reports 70% resistant starch content.

    Are you aware of the newer resistant banana starches now available? I helped to develop NuBana Green Banana Flour, which contains a minimum of 60% resistant starch and is sold by Jonnys Good Nature at a reasonable price. It also contains potassium, magnesium and manganese naturally present in the green bananas and will give your readers an alternate, high quality source.

    Did you know that the Food & Drug Administration approved a qualified health claim for resistant corn starch reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes? There are now 21 clinical trials on resistant starch and insulin sensitivity and while resistant corn starch has the most evidence, resistant banana starch and resistant potato starch have also shown improved insulin sensitivity as well. The one I’m most impressed with right now is a new Chinese study that has links to the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30894560) One of the authors (Li Shen) did her postdoc at LSU and showed that resistant starch changed the production of hormones related to energy balance in the hypothalmus as well as the impact of resistant starch in aged animals. Even though she is a young researcher, she used all of her experience to design a wonderful study. They showed reductions in body fat as well as changes in the SCFAs, insulin and GLP-1 secretion. I can send you additional references if you are interested.

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