Resistant starch: 8 things they never tell you
Potatoes have experienced somewhat of a renaissance in the last few years, thanks in no small part to yours truly, but also to the wonders of a little-known yet much hyped component of potatoes called resistant starch. Fitness and health bloggers, Youtubers and influencers everywhere have been shouting from the rooftops about the miracle of resistant starch. Even low-carb and paleo advocates are rejoicing because they don’t have to keep their dirty little secrets hidden any more. Now they can eat spuds in public and share them on instagram because resistant starch makes it ok.
The internet abounds with “listicles” teaching you the 17 best ways to maximise your resistant starch intake and 45 reasons why those 17 techniques are not enough. I’ve resisted joining the bro-scientists for so long now but finally I’m giving in. So here it is, my clickbait article on resistant starch. You will definitely have killer abs by the time you finish reading! *
- The first thing you should know is that resistant starch is a small component of many starchy foods. It is a kind of starch that is not fully absorbed by your digestive system and instead acts a lot like fibre. It helps keep food moving through your system and it ferments in the gut to provide excellent food for good bacteria to flourish.
- Potatoes are a great source of resistant starch! If you eat them raw, steamed, boiled, microwaved, baked, air fried, pressure cooked, campfire jacket potatoes or wrapped in foil and nestled next to the hottest part of your car engine (I have done this while 4-wheel driving in the Australian outback, delicious), spuds always give you a great serve of resistant starch.
- Other starchy whole foods like beans, lentils and other legumes, rice, oats and other grains are also great for resistant starch. However these foods do contain slightly less resistant starch than potatoes and since our culture always wants more, more, MORE of anything perceived to be good, people everywhere will gloss over the fact that spuds aren’t the only great source.
- If you cook and then cool these starchy foods before you eat them, you can slightly increase their level of resistant starch. The best thing about this increase in resistant starch is not the fact that it can reduce your daily caloric intake by an unnoticeably small amount, it’s that you can make instagram posts sharing this little known secret and blow its benefits way out of proportion. Your followers will love you and thank you for giving them permission to never eat delicious, fresh, piping hot spuds straight out of the oven ever again because “resistant starch, bro!” **
- Green bananas are a great source of resistant starch too. This is great because now you don’t have to wait for them to get ripe and delicious before you eat them. Oh I can just taste the sticky, dry, floury goodness. Urgh.
- You can now get isolated resistant starch in powdered form from “health food” shops as well as Barry’s Barbells and Biceps Barn. This is great because now you can forgo all the useless vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and macronutrients that would come packaged with it if you just ate your cooked (and cooled!) potatoes! I’ll bet resistant starch powder tastes especially great mixed with a nice cold glass of kool aid!
- Resistant starch will do absolutely nothing to cancel out the box of cookies you ate in the car on the way home from the supermarket before hiding the wrapper in the bin so your partner wouldn’t ask any questions (yes, I’ve done that too).
- Eating more potatoes will significantly increase your ability to subtly deploy dangerous levels of sarcasm and wit in writing blog posts that help people to understand that potatoes (and all whole plant foods) are greater than the sum of their parts.
The truth is that resistant starch really is great! But it’s not better or more important than fibre, iron, vitamin c, complex carbohydrates, fats, proteins, calcium or any of the other myriad components that combine and interact in a dance perfectly choreographed by mother nature.
We do not need to do anything special to our food and we do not need to break it down and isolate its individual parts. Just eat it the way you like to eat it, the way that’s convenient and tasty to you and everything will work out just fine. The next time you hear of some weird and wonderful secret to optimising, boosting, maximizing or betterising your your intake of X, Y, or Z component or ingredient, please be skeptical. This relentless focus on getting MORE of whatever is the latest trend in nutrition only serves to create more pressure, more stress, more overthinking and ultimately more giving up. Worst of all it creates a distraction from what’s really important - changing your relationship with food and realising that there is no pill, powder, potion or potato that can absolve you of responsibility for your own health.
Don’t major in the minor details, good health is exceedingly simple. Just eat plants and move on. Focus less on what you can get out of your food and more on what you can get out of this great big experience we call life.
* You already had killer abs before you started reading this article, they do so many great things for you every day!
** To learn more, see this article/video explanation on the truth about cooling potatoes for resistant starch.