The short answer is yes. Raw, unmodified potato starch powder, for example, typically has zero impact on blood sugar or ketone levels. Even though most starch is frowned upon when you’re on the ketogenic diet, resistant starch is resistant to digestion and doesn’t raise blood sugar.
Is resistant starch keto?
What a controversial topic. The word “starch” is a dirty word for those on a ketogenic diet. Normally starch means simple carbohydrates and that means high blood sugar and high insulin. This is exactly what you don’t want if you’re trying to maintain healthy body weight. High blood sugar signals insulin secretion which in turn signals your body to store fat.
Table of contents
- Is resistant starch keto?
- Resistant starch is different, it doesn’t get digested and turned to sugar.
- Here are some of the benefits of short-chain fatty acids:
- The resistant starch keto miracle.
- The science on resistant starch is still emerging.
- Why is resistant starch on keto important?
- So what’s the controversy with resistant starch and keto?
- Why is the science on resistance starch and keto inconsistent?
- Cooked and cooled potatoes/rice are probably not keto friendly.
- How should you take resistant starch for keto?
Resistant starch is different, it doesn’t get digested and turned to sugar.
When you chew white bread, for example, the starch begins to turn to sugar in the mouth as you are chewing it. The digestive enzymes in your saliva can act on the starch quickly. I have seen a 40+ spike in blood sugar within 10 minutes after eating one piece of white bread.
Resistant starch (RS) isn’t broken down by enzymes or stomach acid and it passes right through the small intestine. When you take resistant starch on keto, it travels to your large intestine and colon. That’s where the magic happens. The resistant starch is fermented by your bacteria and improves the diversity of your gut microbiome. The fermentation process also produces beneficial short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).
The most abundant short-chain fatty acids that are produced during the fermentation of resistant starch are acetate, propionate, and butyrate.
Here are some of the benefits of short-chain fatty acids:
- Reduces the risk of colorectal cancer
- Activates brown adipose tissue
- Regulates the liver mitochondrial function
- Improves sleep
- Controls appetite
- Provides energy (approximately 10% of the daily calorie requirement)
- Maintains the integrity of the intestinal barrier
- Produces mucus
- Prevents inflammation
“Butyrate may serve as a bacterial-derived sleep-promoting signal.”Butyrate, a metabolite of intestinal bacteria, enhances sleep
It seems new research emerges almost daily on the benefits of a healthy gut microbiome. This study just came out that shows that the gut bacteria may influence the disease severity of the COVID-19 virus.
When I explain the keto diet to people I always stress that it’s a healing process. Healing the digestive system is part of the process. Keto with resistant starch can speed up the healing process while you’re on keto.
The resistant starch keto miracle.
When discussing the downsides to the ketogenic diet, keto constipation is always on the shortlist. I have an entire article and YouTube video that focuses on how to prevent keto constipation, but one of the primary causes is poor intestinal bacteria.
That’s the miracle of resistant starch and keto. The massive beneficial bacteria colony in your gut love to feed on resistant starch. There is still a lot we don’t know about the symbiotic relationship with our internal bacteria and how it relates to our overall health.
One thing that becomes more clear every day is if we keep our little friends (gut microbiome) happy, they will in turn help improve our overall health. There are actually more bacterial cells in our body than human cells. It’s kind of weird to think that we share our bodies with other organisms.
Microbes existed here on Earth long before humans; we actually co-evolved with them.
“The mammalian intestine harbors one of the largest microbial densities on Earth.”Metabolites: messengers between the microbiota and the immune system
The science on resistant starch is still emerging.
So if we are sharing our body with other organisms that are helping us, why are we starving them and poisoning them? Antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, antacid drugs, processed foods, alcohol, and others are poisoning them.
Furthermore, not ingesting enough prebiotic and probiotic foods are starving our beneficial bacteria. Resistant starch falls into the category of prebiotics.
If you’re interested in the gut microbiome, here is an in-depth article on how to improve digestion. Improving your gut microbiome will also strengthen your immune system.
“The intestinal microbiome can be linked to a growing number of over 25 diseases or syndromes.”Role of the intestinal microbiome in health and disease: from correlation to causation
Why is resistant starch on keto important?
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Quite often those of us on a ketogenic diet don’t eat enough prebiotic and probiotic foods. Many of the foods that are the most beneficial are not commonly eaten or are too high in carbohydrates. For example, beans have a lot of resistant starch but are too high in carbohydrates.
Furthermore, most people following a ketogenic diet are trying to lower their body fat ratio. This study published on PubMed shows that keto and resistant starch (RS) are a match made in heaven because RS improves insulin sensitivity.
Additionally, if you improve the diversity of the beneficial bacteria inside your body, you will likely increase your life expectancy and healthspan.
So what’s the controversy with resistant starch and keto?
Dr. Ken Berry has publicly come out against resistant starch. I’m not totally disagreeing with him, if you’re not careful and consume the wrong type, it can raise blood sugar, spike insulin, and sabotage your ketogenic diet.
However, we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. As you can see in the chart above and video below, pure unheated, resistant potato starch powder is absolutely keto-friendly.
The problem is unless you are drinking raw potato starch powder dissolved in cold water you are probably getting regular starch with your resistant starch. The theory is you can cook rice or potatoes and then store it overnight in the refrigerator and the regular starch will be converted to resistant starch as it cools.
Why is the science on resistance starch and keto inconsistent?
For resistant starch or other prebiotics to work, it must be acted on by the intestinal bacteria (microflora). This diverse microflora is extremely diverse and varies from person to person. So far, science has only been able to identify approximately 400 bacterial species.
Some people might not have enough, or enough of the right type of microflora to properly digest restart starch. There are a lot of things in modern life that can harm our beneficial bacteria. This is also why some people get keto constipation and some people don’t.
Cooked and cooled potatoes/rice are probably not keto friendly.
I am still doing some tests, but it looks like only about 50-60 % of the starch is converted to resistant starch. So if you’re not doing strict keto you might be able to get away with eating a little cold potato salad once in a while. But be careful, get with your doctor and try to check your A1C levels every three months.
However you serve it up, do some tests because everyone is different. Monitor your blood sugar and ketone levels, sleep quality, and body weight. The best way to measure your body fat besides the scale is the circumference.
For a man, measure the circumference around the waist parallel with the belly button. For a woman, measure the hips at the widest point. How tight your jeans feel is also a good barometer of keto success. If resistant starch is not keto-friendly for you, then stop taking it or cut back.
How should you take resistant starch for keto?
Start out slow with one small tablespoon of potato starch powder mixed in cold water. You can work up to two tablespoons. You can take it every night, but 3-4 times a week should be enough to obtain a benefit.
Take it before bed as it has shown to help improve sleep. But you can take it anytime. Additionally, taking some resistant starch 20 minutes before meals can suppress your appetite.
Remember, resistant starch on keto is just food for your beneficial bacteria. You still have to eat healthily and seed your gut with probiotic bacteria. Eat fermented foods and/or take a probiotic supplement. Here is a list of the healthiest keto superfoods on the planet.
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