There’s been a whole lot of talk lately, especially from our friends in the Paleo community, about a concept you may or may not have heard about before called “resistant starch.” There’s a really fantastic column by Ryan Andrews that gives you lots of basic information about this fascinating topic at Precision Nutrition. On the past two Low-Carb Cruise events, there have been questions submitted during the Q&A Session by attendees about resistant starches. So this is obviously something people are thinking about and wondering whether they should be adding them to their diet or not.
Here’s the basic gist of resistant starches: they are consumed by the bacteria in the gut and not fully digested with all the typical post-prandial carbohydrate impact on your blood sugar, for example. Instead, resistant starches ferment in the large intestine to produce short-chain fatty acids and to provide fuel for the bacteria in your colon. You can find resistant starches in foods such as beans, legumes, starchy fruits like bananas, grains, starchy vegetables, and (most interestingly!) cool potatoes and rice (apparently cooking these for too long or at high temperatures make them a lot less resistant). If you’re interested in finding out more about resistant starches, then you can glean from the wisdom and knowledge shared by Mark Sisson, Laura Dolson, Monica Reinagel, Norm Robillard, Dr. Oz, Adel Moussa, Dave Asprey, Steve Cooksey, Kevin Geary, and even at a web site called (oddly enough!) ResistantStarch.com.
In 2011, a book extolling the virtues of resistant starches was released called The Carb Lovers Diet: Eat What You Love, Get Slim for Life! by Health magazine editors Ellen Kunes and Frances Largeman-Roth. I attempted to have these authors on “The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show” podcast at the time and they responded that they weren’t interested. Too bad. I was sincerely curious about hearing their thoughts about how starch and grains can be a part of a healthy diet. The most vocal proponent of resistant starches in the Paleo community in 2013 has been hands down Richard Nikoley from the “Free The Animal” blog and you can catch up on all of his posts about this subject here. Richard asked to be on my podcast recently, but I was already booked up for the rest of the year when he asked (and now I’m away researching and writing my next book and will not be returning to do new interviews until April 2014). I told Richard in a Twitter exchange this week that I’m definitely keen on doing a panel on one of my podcasts about resistant starch when I return:
@rnikoley Not interested in debating right now, but I'm happy you're sharing your info on this. Wish I had time to do RS podcast roundtable.
— Jimmy Moore (@livinlowcarbman) December 14, 2013
When I finish writing Keto Clarity and get back into the groove of podcasting regularly again, I will DEFINITELY do a show about resistant starches. A panel discussion with people who are both for and against resistant starches will be an important debate for the low-carb community to be exposed to. Closing our minds about something that may seem to be the antithesis of everything we believe to be true is the fastest way to fall into the same trap that the vegan proponents have cornered themselves into–what they believe is the final word and nothing is going to change that. That’s so shortsighted and we must continue to add to the knowledge we have now with the new information that the science is showing us.
You may recall this controversial blog post I wrote from October 2011 where I discussed whether there is any such thing as “safe starches” on a low-carb diet and this examination of resistant starches certainly adds another wrinkle to consider in our nutritional thinking. There are a few skeptics of this concept, though–namely Dr. Mike Eades, Mr. Heisenbug, Dr. Anastasia Boulais, members of the Active Low-Carber Forum, and this June 2010 Los Angeles Times column. I’m happy to see this being openly discussed and investigated. This is a net positive in the greater discussion of healthy living.
I know you’re probably wondering what my position on resistant starches is, right? Long-time followers will be abundantly aware of my general motto regarding diet and health: find the plan that will work for you, follow that plan exactly as prescribed and keep doing that plan as long as it is still working for you. Despite the fact that the name of my brand is “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb,” I have ALWAYS held the position that people should stick with what’s working for them to keep them happy and healthy. Whether that’s vegan, Paleo, ketogenic, or whatever floats your boat, if you’re doing well on your preferred way of eating then who am I to say you should do anything differently? The answer is I wouldn’t. Right now I am doing exceedingly well staying in a constant state of nutritional ketosis (listen or watch my lecture about the results of my one-year experiment of testing blood ketones and other health markers from the 2013 Low-Carb Cruise here). Because of that, I have no first-hand experience with resistant starches. But if someone wants to try it, test it out for themselves to see how they do, and report their findings, I think that’s totally AWESOME!!!
In fact, there’s a guy named Allan Folz who has started an Indiegogo campaign to raise $850 for his family of four in Portland, Oregon to test resistant starch and to see the impact on their gut microbiota (using the test kits from the American Gut Project) over a 6-week period. Very creative Allan! You can follow along with their experiment at this special blog set up just for this “Family Science Project of Resistant Starch on Gut Biome.” It’ll be great to see the results they get from this intriguing experiment. Definitely help fund their Indiegogo campaign here. Even beyond that, if you’re interested in testing resistant starch, go for it. My bud Tom Naughton said in a Twitter post this week that he’ll be trying it after the holidays–with a funnyman bent to his purpose in doing so:
— Tom Naughton (@TomDNaughton) December 17, 2013
If you listen to the proponents of resistant starch, then you’d think it MIGHT cure baldness. Just kidding. As for me, I think with my past struggles that have been resolved by nutritional ketosis, it wouldn’t be wise for me to try this at this time. Could it help me even more? Perhaps. Am I interested in learning more about it? Absolutely. Do I think I MUST try resistant starch right now? No. I’ll play “wait and see” to watch it all play out in others and continue to follow the research that is sure to continue pouring in about this in the years to come. Let me know if you decide to give this a test for yourself or why you wouldn’t try this. Share your thoughts about it in the comments section below.