Carbs Don't Have to Be the Enemy
When I think of carbohydrates, I get a little smile on my face. Potatoes, breads, pastas…these are my favorite foods, bar-none. The problem is that each time I eat something from this food group, I can’t help but feel guilty. My tummy is nice and full, but I know in my heart I’m only adding fat to my waist line.
Not the Devil After All?
But what if I've been wrong all along? What if eating the right carbohydrates can actually help you get slim and stay that way for life? Now that would be a reason to reach for potatoes and pastas.
Scientists now suggest that not all carbohydrates are created equally, and some are far superior than others in terms of health benefits. These are known as resistant starch carbs (RSC), which have tightly packed sugar molecules not as easily broken down by enzymes in your mouth and intestines. The end result is a food that may help you reduce fat accumulation, particularly when you replace 5 to 6 percent of your overall daily carbohydrate intake with RSC.
Hundreds of studies conducted at respected universities and research centers have shown resistant starch helps you eat less, burn more calories, feel more energized and less stressed, and lower cholesterol. For instance, Harvard University researchers analyzed the diets of more than 27,000 people over eight years and discovered those who ate whole grains daily weighed 2.5 pounds less than those who ate only refined grain foods.
It’s important to note, however, that just because the label says “whole grain” doesn’t mean the food is healthy. A product only needs to be made of 51 percent whole grain flour in order to carry this label. For the most nutritious options, you should look for the word “whole” next to every type of flour in the ingredients list.
So, what foods should you eat from the RSC group? You might start with bananas, which are the richest source of resistant starch. Ripe ones offer 4.7 grams of the fat flusher, while less ripe (slightly green) bananas contain a whopping 12.5 grams. They are also rich in appetite-suppressing fiber (three grams per one medium banana) and contain the amino acid tryptophan, which is converted into the calming brain chemical serotonin to relax and improve your mood.
Oatmeal for breakfast might help you eat less all day. In a series of experiments, researchers in Italy replaced the flour in bread and pasta with oats. They found that even when these foods had identical calorie counts, oat eaters consumed fewer calories over the course of the day. One option to try is mixing banana slices into your oatmeal for a nutritious, power-packed meal.
Using a half-cup of beans or lentils in your diet may add between 2 and 4 grams of resistant starch. A daily intake of around 25 grams from different sources may be adequate. Among the list are chickpeas, black-eyed peas, black beans, butter beans, cannellini beans, lentils, lima beans, kidney beans, soy beans, split peas and navy and pinto beans. These types of beans cannot be digested by the small intestine, but instead ferment in the color – or large intestine – to provide energy.
Other foods rich in RSC include corn, yams, 100 percent whole grain pasta, brown rice, barley, bulgur wheat, and shirataki noodles. To start eating more RSCs:
- Stock your pantry and fridge with the foods listed above and avoid buying white bread, cerea,l and pastas. If they’re right in front of your face, you’re more likely to work them into a meal.
- Resolve to eat one RSC with at least two meals per day.
- Keep a food diary with a plan for working one new RSC or recipe with an RSC food into your diet each week. Experts suggest any smart weight-loss plan requires pre-planning.