Fill up on Resistant Starch without really trying

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Resistant Starch – The Science

Disclaimer: Eat Less, Move More and you will lose weight.

However, if you wish to shift a few kilos sooner rather than later and still remain a functioning and welcome member of Society rather than a finnicky, fatuous fossicking Faddist then you need to find a Way Of Eating, rather than follow a “diet”.

The best way to understand how what you shove down your neck gets to your under-bra-strap fat deposits is to look at the way the human digestive system works;


1. Your food is basically fat, protein and carbohydrates. The only carbohydrate your body can digest is starch which is the generic name for chains of glucose joined together by glycosidic bonds.


2. The amylase enzymes in your spit begin breaking those bonds in your mouth as you chew food, or chyme as it known by the time you are ready to swallow.


3. Your stomach has a pH of 2 which is pretty much industrial strength acid. Any remaining glycosidic bonds are further broken down and the glucose is transformed in to glycogen and stored as energy thanks to various offal-type organs.


4. The chyme passes through a number of beautiful, velvety fleshy pouches, such as the jejunum where acid is neutralised for instance, and in to the top of the small intestine. Digestion is through, now comes Absorption.


5. 90% of your nutrients are absorbed here in the small intestine before the mass passes in peristaltic waves to the large intestine where the magical process of Fermentation begins.


Types of Dietary Fibre:  It is not just the coconut matting type bought in bulk at healthfood stores in the 80s and injudiciously added to everything from custard to macaroons. Fibre comes in many types: The American Association of Cereal Chemists defines Dietary Fibre as “the edible parts of plant or analagous carbohydrates that are resistant to digestion and absorption in the human small intestine.” aka polysaccharide, oligosaccharide, lignin (an aromatic polymer found in plant cell walls), cellulose, hydrocolloids and Resistant Starch. Some are soluble, some are insoluble but none are taken in by the body as nutrients.




How does it do its thing? We all know dietary fibre is hairy and brushes out your guts, precipitating laxation and preventing colon cancer. But did you know that it also ferments in your gut? It is actually fermented by the myriad of useful and benign flora in your guts and a further raft of micro-nutrients are then absorbed. (Vitamin B12 is produced quite a way down your tubes. Pretty near the end point. And that is why the children of hardcore vegans do not often show a deficency in Vitamin B12, which either comes from meat or via fermentation of yeasts, until they are fully toilet trained. You do the math).



What makes Resistant Starch Special?: Resistant Starch escapes digestion and therefore absorption, by hiding. It can be in the form of tight, tight granules of starch safe from digestive enzymes and is unaffected by gelation – or cooking in water. Digestible starch is made accessible in most foods when it is heated in water until it bursts from the particular food matrix in which it lies; think boiled potatoes – starchy tubers uneatable in their raw state but when boiled and drained and sprinkled with butter and chives, utterly eatable. And yet that dish would still contain Resistant Starch, which if you were to be patient and let them cool the Resistant Starch content would increase because it retrogrades: so you could eat MORE cold pasta/potatoes/pulses/polenta/porridge.  The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council recommends you eat 20g of Resistant Starch per day. And that is not difficult to do. And very good for you.



Good for you because it keeps you full and stops you snacking, it keeps you regular, it usually contains a high level of micronutrients such minerals and, the best bit I feel, is that it is available EVERYWHERE.  Adopting a Way of Eating high in Resistant Starch never stops you from having a meal or snack in any place you might find yourself (with the exception of an Australian Outback roadhouse). Sure, you plan like a demon for your meals and snacks at home, but if you find yourself at your mates’ house to pick up the kids from a play-over and are offered a glass of something and a quick bite, you CAN eat crisps, (the thicker cut the better and not more than 25g), or guacamole and corn chips or flapjacks or popcorn or dark chocolate or pasta salad. Just don’t pick at cold fishfingers (off other people’s kids’ plates)* or snatch a bag of Haribo from a passing toddler*.



 Available anywhere: Similarly, lunchtimes need never be a time to scupper your “diet” (chiefly because you are not on a diet, you follow a Way Of Eating); find yourself in the Highstreet? Go for anything with a wholemeal option, even a felafal with brown pita bread or a burger on a brown bun. Don’t fill your boots with it and balance out the high fat content with a lean dinner when you get home and you’ll be right. You can eat out too, choose dahl and other pulse dishes at an Indian restaurant and wholemeal naan or roti, or ask for your pasta very al dente and avoid a creamy sauces at an Italian restaurant.



Balance out off-piste choices: And because your bowels and body are now regular and your glycogen levels are fairly self-regulating  you may eat anything you fancy for lunch or dinner once or twice a week, you do not have to make a big fuss in restaurants or wear a pained expression of martydom as though two of your toenails were hanging off and your shoes were too tight if you are hungry and offered a Snickers or a slice of full-fat white-flour birthday cake*. Your fit as a fiddle non-resistant starch absorbing large intestine will cope, it will not convert the “normal” food in to another chin by Tuesday. Although this Way of Eating differs from a Low GI one because it is not linked to the glycemic load of foods but the physical properties in terms of starch, you can share any food from your Low GI dieting fellows and probably pick up some recipe ideas while you’re at it.




To loose or maintain weight one should be consistent rather than binge and then feel the chill dread of guilt and panic triggered by an unkind reading from the bathroom scales*. Short term diets bring no joy. The tricks are:



Enjoy your food

don’t go crazy on butter and cream and trans fats

stay away from sweets and junk food and pop,

be sensible about portion size,

drink in moderation (probably not beer),

plan your week’s menu as far as possible

take moderate exercise at the very least

And NEVER find yourself absolutely starving and ready to eat  chicken nugget or jam tarts  just to fill your stomach and lose the rabid zombie feeling*.



Stocking up on Resistant Starch rich foods: Next time you go shopping add some of these items to your trolley to get your Resistant Starch Storecupboad started:



Wholegrain Pasta


Black beans – lots of ultra-trendy Mexican food is high in Resistant Starch see for recipes

Brown rice – you can cut your usual basmati with it if all brown rice makes you think you’re in a commune in 1986

Rye bread

Crispbreads with a variety of grains and seeds and wholemeal flour

lean protein like nice ham and chicken and beef

Oily fish in cans such as anchovies, sardines, tuna and salmon

Uncoated Fish of any kind, keep portions in the freezer for quick dinners if you get the out to defrost at lunchtime


Dark Chocolate

Firm, not mushy Bananas


Leafy greens


Berries, fresh and frozen

Greek yogurt


Here is a three day menu plan, do take the two snacks per day, you don’t want to get hungry and find you’ve stuffed sausage roll in your face as you drive away from the petrol station. *




porridge with frozen raspberries, sunflower seeds, walnuts and greek yogurt or

Baked beans on granary toast or

Cornflakes, half a banana.




Ham sandwich with salad and cream cheese on rye bread, fruit or

Crispbread with smoked salmon and cream cheese, dressed with lemon juice, olive oil and black pepper, fruit yogurt or

Minestrone soup with  cannelini beans, parmesan cheese and crackers




Pasta putanesca: olives, anchovies, garlic and tomato sauce, side salad or

Beefburgers on grainy bread rolls with mushrooms, pickles and lettuce or

Salad of bulghur wheat with lemon vinaigrette, spring onions and tomatoes or

Carrot and pumpkin soup, grilled salmon and green beans and new potatoes and tartar sauce




Slightly under-ripe banana and a couple of squares of dark chocolate or

Pecan nuts and an apple or

Houmous and carrots and cucumber or

Flapjack made with oats and seeds.


* we’ve all done it


Crackling recipes rich in resistant starch archive

Tabbuleh using bulgur wheat





  • Brian | Feb 6, 2014 at 00:45

    Nice post but eating pasta and potatoes for dinner will not provide hardly any resistant starch. Surprised you didn’t recommend raw potato starch. It’s the highest and easy to ingest.

    • Crackling | Feb 6, 2014 at 09:36

      Hello Brian,

      Thank you so much for making a comment, it makes my day when someone does.

      I have tried, by mistake, raw potato starch. I coat fish fillets with it before I fry them. I won’t be trying it again but I agree with you completely it is one of the richest source of resistant starch.

      In the article I do suggest people choose al dente stage pasta and are patient and let their potatoes cool slightly or at least to room temperature before eating them.

      Resistant starch can be divided in to four categories:
      Physically Trapped – inaccessible to digestive enzymes,
      granular – tightly bonded,
      chemically modified
      and retrograded.

      The retrograded kind is found in cool cooked potatoes and al dente pasta still has some granular starch.

      The question is, how long can you wait before you tuck in?

      Thanks so much for the comment, you have inspired me to write some summer-time cool food recipes. Cheers!


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