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).
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).
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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!
- Han, Anna, et al. “Butyrate decreases its own oxidation in colorectal cancer cells through inhibition of histone deacetylases.” Oncotarget9.43 (2018): 27280.
- “Cancer of the Colon and Rectum – Cancer Stat Facts.” SEER, National Cancer Institute, seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/colorect.html.
- 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.
- 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.
- Johnston, K. L., et al. “Resistant starch improves insulin sensitivity in metabolic syndrome.” Diabetic Medicine 27.4 (2010): 391-397.
- 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.