3 Foods You Have Been Eating Wrong Your Whole Life

Written by Tim Skwiat

Resistant Starch Foods

What if I told you that simply changing how you eat three common heathy foods (foods you’re probably already eating, or should be eating) could turn them into “weight-loss-wonder” foods? Would that be interesting to you?

That’s what I thought.

Here’s the deal. Not all carbs are created equal. Sure, you know there’s a difference between sugar and fiber. Most people are familiar with distinctions like “simple” versus “complex” carbs. But have you heard of “resistant starch”?

Don’t worry, most people haven’t, but that’s why we’re here.

Resistant starch is aptly named because it’s a type of carbohydrate that “escapes” digestion. That is, we don’t have the ability to digest resistant starch in the small intestine (like other carbs). That also means we don’t absorb any calories from it. Calorie-free carb? Yessir!

Not only does it reduce the calorie content of a food, it also reduces the insulin response to a meal and improves insulin sensitivity. Boom! But that’s not even the half of it. There’s a literal laundry list of benefits attributed to resistant starch.

Because I’m a science geek fascinated by this stuff, I was going to go study by study and spell them out, but I know not all of us “got time for that.” Instead, I’m just going to lay them out in a bulleted list because, well, there’s a good chance that will catch your eye, and believe me, resistant starch is quite the catch.

So, here’s that list… Resistant starch has been shown to:1

  • Increase metabolic rate and energy expenditure
  • Reduce the caloric density of food
  • Decrease the glycemic response to a meal
  • Reduce the insulin response to a meal
  • Improve insulin sensitivity
  • Increase satiety or satisfaction
  • Reduce hunger
  • Decrease food intake
  • Increase fat burning
  • Decrease fat storage
  • Preserve calorie-burning muscle mass
  • Promote weight loss
  • Enhance laxation
  • Increase the uptake of minerals (e.g., calcium)

Wowzers! “Anything else?” you might be thinking. Yes, there’s actually more.

Resistant starch also acts as a “prebiotic” fiber. Because it’s not digested in the small intestine, it passes along to the colon where it is fermented by gut bacteria. In other words, resistant starch serves as “food” for the good bacteria in the digestive tract. That’s a good thing—a really good thing.

For instance, a byproduct of this fermentation process is the production of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid, and this bad boy does a ton for overall health. For instance, it serves as fuel for our immune system, helps promote a healthy inflammatory response, supports a healthy intestinal lining, and get this, it stimulates the release of appetite-crushing hormones.

So, naturally, the question becomes…where do you go about finding resistant starch? Great question.

Here are my top 3 sources of resistant starch. As you’ll see, chances are you may have been eating them the “wrong” way all along. But that’s okay; I’ll let the cat out of the bag, giving you the skinny on exactly how you should eat them to unleash their hidden potential.

1. Green, unripe bananas. A single unripe green banana contains as much as 6 grams of resistant starch.2 In fact, unripe bananas are known to be the non-manufactured food with the highest resistant starch content.3 During the ripening process, however, enzymes convert resistant starch into sugar. To get the most resistant starch, choose green, unripe bananas.

2. Potatoes that have been cooked and then cooled. Generally speaking, cooking foods makes starches more digestible, and that’s the case for potatoes. However, when potatoes are cooked (e.g., boiled) and then cooled, those starches become resistant to digestion (resistant starch). Raw potatoes are also rich in resistant starch, but eating cold potato salad is much tastier.4

3. Raw, uncooked oats. Like I said, cooking foods dramatically increases the digestible starch. That’s true for oats. In fact, raw, uncooked oats contain about 55 times more resistant starch than cooked oats.2,5

So, there you have it, friends. Change the way you eat these three foods and unleash the metabolism-boosting, hunger-busting, fat-burning power of resistant starch!

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More From Tim Skwiat

  • David Wong

    So Tim, I am intrigued about the idea of adding green bananas to my diet for the RS benefits. Would cooking the green bananas or consuming them in powdered form affect the RS content?

    • Hey David,

      I hope this finds you doing well! Great questions; thanks for sharing.

      You know, I haven’t seen data on how cooking green bananas affects their RS content. So, I can’t speak to that specifically. However, given that we know that cooking reduces the RS content of other foods (e.g., oats, potatoes), we may be able to speculate the same fate for the RS content in green bananas.

      Having said that, we also know that cooling cooked foods (such as potatoes) can increase the RS content. However, it does appear that the raw versions of these foods typically have more RS than the cooked, then cooled preparations. In other words, even if cooked, then cooled green bananas have RS, it’s likely that raw green bananas have more. And for what it’s worth, these would technically be different types of RS (e.g., type 2 versus type 3), although I’m not sure that we know how much that matters.

      You certainly could opt for green banana flour (i.e., powdered supplement of green banana RS). In fact, that would be the route that studies take so they can standardize for RS. I haven’t really looked to see what’s out there, so I can’t provide a recommendation.

      Also, I can’t say for certain how the products are labeled. In other words, while resistant starch acts like a fiber, it isn’t technically classified as one on the Supplement/Nutrition Facts Panel. In other words, the resistant starch content would likely be captured as a non-fiber carbohydrate, which are calculated into the calorie estimate provided. But since RS is not digested like a typical starch or sugar, you could discount it from the carb count, and RS is also not going to contribute as many calories (if any) as a typical starch or sugar.

      Hope that helps, David!

      • David Wong

        Yes, Tim. This helps a great deal. Thanks for the detailed insight!

        • Sagradia Ortiz

          Hi Tim.
          I enjoy reading all your messages. I learn how to manage my foods. Thanks 🚩

          • HI Sagradia,

            Thank you so much for taking the time to share such kind, encouraging words. That means more to me than you know. If there’s anything that you’d like to see us cover in the future, please don’t hesitate to let me know. Thank you, Sagradia!

        • Ify Eze

          green plantain are the member of banana family the best full of (iron) am not sure of fiber in green but ripes plantains
          has starch and very sweet for person that likes sweets. ripe nor unripe there are all good.

  • Tarjei T. Jensen

    What happens when you reheat the potatos? e.g. by frying them.

    • Cristina

      Great question, Tarjei. As Coach Tim has discussed, the process of cooking and cooling potatoes forms resistant starches.

      When you reheat a cooled potato, a retrograde resistant starch forms, which remains intact regardless of how the food is reheated. Some would argue that by reheating a previously cooked and cooled starch, the resistant starch increases, as this process drives more water out of the retrograded structure.

      This is somewhat promising news for me, because I rarely eat any of my meals the day I cook them, as I do all my meal prep on Sundays. But for most folks, I would assume the preference lies more in consuming foods as they are cooked.

      The following is a fairly comprehensive list of resistant starch in common foods:

      Resistant Starch Food Guide

      I hope I was successful in addressing your question, Tarjei. If there is anything else I can do for you, or if you have any other questions, feel free to drop by anytime!

  • Stephanie C

    Question regarding oats. How do overnight oats fair retaining RS when soaked overnight?

  • Stephanie C

    Tim,
    I would be thrilled to add these for back into my diet. How is the RS in oats affected when prepared as overnight oats?

    • Hi Stephanie,

      Great question; thanks for sharing! Since you’re using raw oats—and not cooking them—I think it’s safe to conclude that the oats will still contain RS. Thanks, Stephanie!

  • Connie Judd

    If I make mashed (boiled) potatoes let them cool or refrigerate them ahead of time, then reheat in microwave before serving is that better than eating immediately?

    • Cristina

      Hi Connie,

      Excellent question. Another reader had asked a similar question about frying previously cooked and cooled potatoes. When you reheat a cooled potato, a retrograde resistant starch forms, which remains intact regardless of how the food is reheated (e.g. microwave, stove top, oven).

      Some would argue that by reheating a previously cooked and cooled starch, the resistant starch increases, as this process drives more water out of the retrograded structure.

      Cold potatoes are great in a potato salad, however cold French fries, or mashed potatoes are not as appealing to me. I am not a huge fan of reheated French fries, but reheated mashed potatoes may not be terrible.

      The following are some rough estimates for the resistant starch content in various stages of potatoes:

      Raw Potato Starch: 8g/TBS
      Raw Potato: 25g per 100g
      Cooked Potato: 2-5g per 100g
      Cooked and cooled potato: 5-10g per 100g

      I hope this information helps in addressing your inquiry, Connie. Please visit us again soon!

  • Thefort

    Tim, this is fascinating! My question is if you lightly toasted the raw oats (as in homemade granola) does that dramatically reduce the RS content? I’m sure it would reduce it some, but it would be great if there was still a significant RS content after toasting it!

  • CFK

    I just saw a Smoothie Recipe blending the whole banana sliced “with the peel”. What good is the peel?

    • Cristina

      Hi CFK. Excellent question, and I would love to see this recipe if you have the chance to post it for me!

      So what’s good about the banana peel? I think the question may be what’s NOT good about the banana peel?

      It may be hard to believe but much like the fleshy part of the banana, which is known for it’s potassium, the peel also contains potassium and even more fiber than the banana itself. Banana peels also contain tryptophan, which increases serotonin levels (think feel good chemical). The peels also contain lutein, which is known as a powerful antioxidant.

      Unlike the US, people who live in India and Southeast Asia value the peels of fruits almost as much as the fruit itself. The peels of apples, oranges, kiwis, and bananas are usually eaten along with the fruits.

      Some folks may find that the ripening of the banana peel is easier to consume, as it tends to get softer and less stringy. This often leads people to boil unripened banana peels to allow them to be easier to consume.

      I would love to hear how you incorporate these into your smoothie and what your thoughts are on them.

  • randy Howard

    I believe that cooked and cooled white rice is also a resistant starch–like potatoes.

    • Cristina

      Hi Randy. Thank you for taking the time to contribute to the knowledge dropped by Coach Tim in this article.

      You are absolutely correct in that cooking and cooling rice would result in the creation of a resistant starch. This same process can occur with pasta, as well. I may be taking it a bit to the extreme, but I would consider resistant starches to be a superfood of sorts for the digestive system. I tend to lean this way because they function like soluble fiber, which is essentially like feeding the friendly bacteria in your gut.

      Back to the topic you originally mentioned, if you have an interest in learning more about rice, I posted an article on benefits of rice which can be found here:

      White Rice vs. Brown Rice</a

      We appreciate you taking the time to read our blog. Please visit us again soon!

  • Tanja Dobeš

    Hello
    How do you eat raw uncooked oats?

    • Linda A.

      The only way I know is to make “No Bake Cookies”. They are yummy, but unfortunately, they require sugar so I’m not sure if that negates the uncooked oats benefit.

    • Hi Tanja,

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your question; it’s a great one!

      Check out this delicious recipe for Overnight Oats from Coach Cristina. Also, here’s a recipe for some homemade energy bites made with raw oats.

      Ingredients:

      *1 ½ cups rolled oats
      *5 scoops BioTrust Low Carb (I typically use Vanilla Cream, but you
      can mix and match flavors to find the perfect combo for your palette)
      *½ cup pumpkin seeds (you can swap other seeds, nuts, or dried
      fruit)
      *½ tbsp cinnamon
      *½ cup organic creamy peanut butter (or nut butter of your choice)
      *1 tbsp MCT oil (optional)
      *3 tbsp honey (you can substitute maple syrup or other sweetener if you like)
      *6 tbsp unsweetened vanilla almond milk (you can use water or liquid of your choice)

      Directions:

      1. In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients: oats, BioTrust Low Carb, seeds, and cinnamon.
      2. Add all wet ingredients (i.e.,nut butter, MCT oil, honey, almond milk).
      3. Using your hands (yep, we’re doingthis old-school), mix the wet and dry ingredients until well combined. It should be a moist and a little sticky. If it’s too dry, just add a little more liquid (e.g., almond milk) one tablespoon at a time. If it’s too wet, start over. Just kidding. You could try adding a little bit more BioTrust Low Carb and/or oats, about one tablespoon at a time to absorb some of the moisture.
      4. After it’s all mixed, you can either roll into small bite-sized balls, or you can take the lazy man’s approach (that’s my preference) and press the “dough” into a square- or rectangle-shaped pan, cutting the into squares.

      Enjoy!

  • Mary E Em

    I make overnight oats – uncooked oats with equal amount of almond milk – softens them. I do add banana, cinnamon and honey when I eat them. Would this be acceptable way for RS?

    • Hi Mary,

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your question!

      Yes, as long as the oats are not cooked, they’ll be a good source of resistant starch. Now, if you throw in a green, unripe banana, you’ll have a double-whammy of RS. 🙂

  • Hey David,

    Thanks for the feedback on your “n = 1” experimentation. I love how you’re so committed to testing things out. And although it’s just your experience (and to your point, it’s early in the trial period), I know that you tightly control as many independent variables as possible allowing you to really see how new strategies and tools are affecting you.

    Like you said, it’s pretty early in the process. However, one thing that we can highlight is that calorie counting is a very inexact science—both calories in and calories out. For example, since resistance starch goes undigested, the calories are not absorbed. (Well, there’s a likelihood that there will be some calories indirectly absorbed via fermentation and the production of short-chain fatty acids.) Precision Nutrition has some great infographics on the topic:

    The Surprising Problem with Counting Calories

    Please keep us posted on how things go and keep up the awesome work!

  • Great feedback, Katherine; thanks for sharing!

    That’s interesting that you enjoy raw potatoes thinly sliced with salt and vinegar. My wife likes them (sans vinegar) as well, and like you, that’s just how she’s eaten them since she was a child—nothing to do with me teaching her about resistant starch. 🙂

    I’d be interested to hear more about what you men about oats countering lactose intolerance. Would you care to expand on that a little bit? I’d love to better understand your experiences.

    Thanks, Katherine; have a great day!

  • Hi Katherine,

    It’s great to hear from you; thank you so much for taking the time to shed some light on your experiences. What I love most is that you’ve taken so much time to do the detective work to find out what works—or doesn’t—best for you. The importance of that can’t be overstated.

    Having said that, I’d be interested to hear more about what types of digestive enzyme supplements you’ve used. Have you focused solely on lactose/lactase, or have you tried a broad-spectrum digestive enzyme product that also contains protein-digesting enzymes (e.g., proteases)?

    The reason that I ask is that I’ve found that some people who have dairy sensitivities (self-diagnosed as lactose intolerance) may actually have difficulty digesting some of the proteins (e.g., casein) in milk-based foods. That’s not to dismiss lactose as a probable suspect. It’s a FODMAP, and there is certainly a subset of folks who take issue with these.

    Considering that yogurt seems to be problematic (and a properly fermented yogurt is typically a bit easier on the digestive system for someone with lactose-related issues), I wonder if it may be worth trying a digestive enzyme supplement like AbsorbMax, which contains an array of proteases as well as lactase for a dual-pronged approach.

    Speaking of FODMAPs, do you happen to notice any digestive-related issues with other FODMAP-containing foods, like those listed in the link above? That could be pretty insightful as well.

    Going back to the oats, however, that is a really interesting, keen observation. Certainly, plant-based foods contain naturally-occurring enzymes, and generally speaking, those enzymes are related to the nutrients stored in those foods. Since oats don’t contain lactose, I wouldn’t suspect that they have any lactase activity.

    Having said that, oats do contain proteases, which assist with the breakdown of proteins, and that lends more credence to the thought that there may be issues with the protein components of dairy. It may also be worth mentioning that oats contain soluble fiber, which may slow the digestion process. So, if lactose is an issue and there is some lactase present, perhaps slowly down the transit time may increase the effectiveness of lactase. That’s another theory.

    Be that as it may, what’s important is that you’ve found what works for you, Katherine, and you’ve also identified what doesn’t. Like I said from the beginning, the importance of that detective work can’t be overstated. We can talk until the cows come home about what’s “good” and “bad” in a general sense, but all that is intended to be a guide. And the true recipe for an individual’s success involves honing into your own personal preferences and responses to find what truly works.

    Keep up the good work, Katherine!

  • Hi David,

    Thanks a ton for taking the time to share the results of your ongoing resistant starch experiment; very intriguing! As I mentioned, even though this is a “n = 1” experiment, I find your reporting to be particularly reliable given your strict attention to details and calculated manipulation of variables. In other words, if there’s someone who could tease out the effects of a newly implemented strategy, I have confidence that it would be you.

    Having said that, I’m glad that you mentioned your recent mouth surgery. I mean, I’m not glad that you had to have the surgery. Rather, I think it’s a point worth noting. It’s pretty common for surgical trauma to result in an increase in metabolic rate. While I’ve seen figures ranging from 15 – 30%, the metabolic response tends to be proportionate to the degree of surgical trauma. Although I’m not intimately familiar with the procedure you had done, I wouldn’t expect that it would be that large of an increase; however, I do think we have to expect at least a slight metabolic response. Although it would be hard to measure this without sophisticated equipment, it’s possible that core temperature and heart rate may be somewhat indicative of a change from baseline.

    Having said that, I’m still very intrigued by your experiment and success, David. I hope that you keep it up, and please keep reporting. Being a science nerd, I’d love to keep seeing the data. Keep up the great work, buddy!