Potatoes, rice and pasta without calories? Starchy foods are supposed to lose calories when cooled and even become healthier for the intestines. At first glance, this sounds almost too good to be true. And yet it is true, at least in part. Learn the trick of resistant starch here and how you can use it to support your weight loss.
What is starch and where is it contained?
Starch is a carbohydrate composed of sugar building blocks. In starch, a large number of these building blocks are linked together in a complex structure (polysaccharide). This makes it an ideal energy store for plants. Starch-rich foods are thus always of plant origin. Examples are: Potatoes and rice, as well as other cereals.
For us humans, the energy from starch only becomes usable when we cook it. The water-soluble starch then swells. Once in the digestive tract, the starch is gradually broken down by enzymes into the individual sugar components. As a result, the blood sugar level rises slowly and the body can either use the energy directly or store it. Starchy foods are therefore a good source of carbohydrates because they are broken down only slowly. This keeps you full for a long time and prevents extreme blood sugar fluctuations and cravings.
You may also know starch as an ingredient in the kitchen. Starch is extracted from potatoes or corn and used as a powder to thicken sauces or to bake cakes.
What is resistant starch and how is it formed?
Resistant starch can be formed from starch. This changes the water solubility. The resistant starch can no longer swell and therefore cannot be utilized by the human body. However, our intestinal bacteria are able to draw energy from it. Resistant starch therefore belongs to the dietary fibers. These have some advantages for health and help to lose weight, because fiber fills the stomach without bringing many calories. So an optimal food for your calorie account.
Reading tip: How a high-fiber diet helps you lose weight
In principle, there are different types of resistant starch. As a dietary tip for losing weight, type 3, also called retrograded starch, is primarily interesting, because it is formed when starchy foods cool down
Caution: You have probably read modified starch in the ingredient list of foods. This is not resistant starch, but additives derived from starch. They are added to foods primarily to create a better bond that remains intact even when exposed to heat or cold. It is digested by the body in a similar way to normal starch. So this starch does not have fewer calories.
This is how resistant starch is produced from pasta, rice and co.
Resistant starch – what sounds so unnatural at first glance, however, is created during an everyday process in the kitchen. If cooked pasta, rice or potatoes are cooled for several hours, some of the starch molecules they contain are redeposited. The starch crystallizes. We humans do not have a digestive enzyme that can break down this starch, so the resistant starch reaches the large intestine undigested.
Useful effects on the intestine of resistant starch
Once in the large intestine, some of the beneficial intestinal bacteria are pleased with the resistant starch, because they can ferment this form of starch and extract energy from it. This process also produces the short-chain fatty acids propionate, acetate and butyratae. Butyrate in particular is very useful because it is a source of energy for our colon cells, ensures healthy intestinal flora, has an anti-inflammatory effect and is thus a good prevention against colon cancer.
How can you use resistant starch for weight loss?
Carbohydrates for weight loss: What sounds so absurd, especially in times of keto diets and low carb, is a real tip for weight loss. Your diet should contain high-quality carbohydrates, i.e. whole-grain pasta, whole-grain rice and the like, as well as vegetables. If you let potatoes, rice and pasta cool down, you can even lose up to 20 percent of their calories. So they are ideal to fill the stomach and have a low calorie density.
If the foods with resistant starch are reheated, then the resistant starch will remain. So a simple trick to saving calories is to cook ahead and plan ahead. Meal-prep dishes like salads made with potatoes, pasta or rice are good ideas. But sweet potatoes, grains like pearl barley or spelt rice, and legumes, especially peas, are also starchy foods that you can use as a weight loss trick when cooled.
What should you pay attention to?
- Several hours pass before resistant starch is formed. So cooking pasta or rice and rinsing with cold water does not work.
- Maintain the cold chain, because bacteria prefer to multiply at temperatures that prevail during cooling. Hygienic food handling is therefore doubly important. Cool down the food quickly and store it in the refrigerator.
- When reheating potatoes, rice or pasta from the day before, please make sure that you heat them through to kill potential germs.
- Do not allow food that has been reheated to cool again. Always heat only the amount that you can eat directly.
Conclusion: Resistant starch from cold potatoes and co. for weight loss
Resistant starch can support weight loss. However, they are not foods completely devoid of calories, but merely contain up to 20 percent less compared to conventional carbohydrates. For weight loss, the entire diet and exercise behavior always play a role. Unfortunately, it is not enough to turn only one adjusting screw. Therefore, resistant starch can help you, but it alone will not melt the excess kilos.
Where resistant starch excels, however, is in its benefits for the intestines. Just like other dietary fibers, resistant starch ensures a healthy intestinal flora and thus also a strong immune system. The breakdown of resistant starch by intestinal bacteria creates fatty acids that strengthen our intestinal barrier and reduce inflammation. Recent scientific studies even link intestinal flora to satiety and the feeling of hunger. In short, those who take care of their intestinal flora feel less hungry and thus resistant starch then again contributes to successful weight loss.
The yo-yo effect, ravenous appetite, stress - losing weight can be quite frustrating. But there is a way out for everyone. Together we will find the right solution for you. As a nutritionist at My Weight®, I support my patients individually and personally on their way to their desired weight. Losing weight can and should be fun...and we work on that together! 😊
Maren - Weight Buddy® and Nutritionist at My Weight®