These “Healthy Carbs” Can Help You Lose Weight

Say hello to major fat-burning potential.


Kate Wills |

Recent research points to the powers of resistant starches – a specific type of complex carb – to help you lose weight. Say hi to healthy carbs…

WTF is resistant starch?

“Resistant starches (RS) are not completely digested by the human body in the small intestine and therefore pass into the large intestine (the colon), where they undergo fermentation and form short-chain fatty acids, such as butyrate,” explains Dr Paul Arciero, professor of health and exercise sciences at Skidmore College in the US.

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The link between RS and fat burn

It’s the role of these fatty acids that is so intriguing. Arciero led a study, published in the journal Nutrition, exploring the link between RS and fat burn. The researchers cooked a series of four pancake breakfasts for 70 women (our invite got lost in the post, hey?) and monitored them for three hours after each meal. They found that after they ate pancakes containing RS plus protein, they experienced a greater increase in fat burning compared with the other varieties of pancakes.

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Um… pancakes for the win?

“It was quite fascinating that by eating a carbohydrate food, in this case, pancakes, the body actually increased its ability to burn fat,” adds Arciero. “This is very unusual, but clearly demonstrates the ability of RS to be converted into fatty acids, instead of turning into blood glucose and being stored as glycogen.”

Wait a second…

If the idea of chowing down on pancakes every morning and losing weight sounds a little far-fetched, you’re a clever one; it isn’t quite that simple. “The long-term efficacy of RS to aid weight loss is less clear, although a growing body of scientific evidence is showing promising results,” continues Arciero.

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The conclusion

“What is clear is that RS enhances fat-burning (oxidation) and increases good bacteria in the colon, which have been shown to facilitate weight loss and promote a healthy body composition.” If your goal is to shed kilos and then maintain a healthy weight, then the science suggests consuming complex carbs can help you do that.

Not used to scanning labels for resistant starch content? We hear you, so try these for starters…

Bananas

Unripe green bananas contain 34g RS per 100g. This lowers to 6.2g when they’re very ripe.

Oats

Oats contain 3.6g RS per 100g, but soak them overnight to boost levels further. Win.

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Oats have a low glycaemic index, so they give you a sustained release of energy without spiking your blood sugar levels. They’re also high in essential minerals and dietary fibre.

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Pasta

Just-cooked pasta = a rise in blood sugar, but reheat it and the RS content halves the blood-glucose increase.

Potatoes

When cooked and then cooled, you’ll benefit from a RS content hike from 0.5g to 3.2g per 100g, plus a rise in vitamins C and B6.

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