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How Resistant Starch Can Help You Lose Weight

More than 2/3 of US adults (70.2%) are classified as overweight or obese[1], and the forecasts indicate that this trend will only continue to increase in the coming years. Moreover, obesity is associated with several comorbidities, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, which are among the leading causes of death in the Western world.


In light of this epidemic, researchers are constantly searching for effective tools to help everyday individuals lose weight and keep it off.


As you likely know, losing weight ultimately boils down to achieving a consistent (daily) negative energy balance whereby an individual consumes fewer calories than their body requires to maintain his/her weight.


On the flip side, consuming more calories than you burn in a day (i.e. positive energy balance) leads to weight gain.


The area where most individuals struggle with fat loss is dieting.


It could be that the diet makes them feel restricted and/or deprived, and it could also be that the diet is leaving them feeling hungry all the time.


Whatever the reason may be, in order for any weight loss venture to be successful (and by “successful”, we mean that an individual loses weight and keeps it off), an individual’s diet and exercise plan has to be sustainable.


Today, we discuss one simple food you can add to your diet that can help boost satiety, improve blood glucose regulation, and enhance fat burning.


That food is a form of carbohydrate known as resistant starch.


What is Resistant Starch?


As the name implies, resistant starch is a form of starch (complex carbohydrate) that resists digestion in the small intestine and undergoes fermentation in the large intestine. In this sense, you can think of resistant starch as a form of dietary fiber.


As these starches ferment, they act as a prebiotic, feeding the “good” bacteria in the gut.


There are several types of resistant starch.


What Are the Different Types of Resistant Starch?


While the concept resistant starch seems pretty straightforward, there is an added layer of complexity to resistant starches as there isn’t one type of resistant starch, but four (or five) different types depending on which studies you read.[3,4]






Type I

Physically inaccessible starch

Coarsely ground or whole-kernel grains

Type II

Granular starch with the B- or C-polymorph

Raw potato, high-amylose maize starch, raw banana starch

Type III

Retrograded starch

Cooked and cooled starchy foods (cooked and cooled potatoes or rice, for example)

Type IV

Chemically modified starches (man-made)

Cross-linked starch and octenyl succinate starch

Type V

Amylose-lipid complex

Stearic acid-complexed high-amylose starch



Adding yet another layer of complexity to the situation is the fact that different types of resistant starch can be present simultaneously in the same food. Moreover, how a food is cooked can also impact its resistant starch content.


For example, if you purchase a green banana at the grocery on Monday and allow it to ripen over the course of the week, the resistant starches present when the banana was green will decline as the banana ripens due to the resistant starches converting into regular starches and sugars.


Now, most of you reading this aren’t looking for a college-level course in resistant starch, more likely you’re interested in the benefits of adding resistant starch to your diet. So, we’ll forego any further deep diving into resistant starch and discuss the four big benefits of adding it into your diet.


4 Big Reasons to Eat Resistant Starch


Supports Weight Loss


Resistant starch has a number of properties that make it appealing for those to enhance their chances of weight loss success.


Research has found that consumption of resistant starch can increase the release of gut satiety hormones (leptin) and increase fasting levels of another satiety hormone in PYY.[2]


Other studies indicate that ingesting 30 grams of resistant starch per day for six weeks can help decrease hunger hormones like ghrelin and reduce snack -- both of which help boost weight loss.


Resistant also contains fewer calories per gram than regular starch -- resistant starch contains ~two calories per gram while regular starch contains four calories per gram.


In other words, the greater the amount of resistant starch a food has, the few calories it will contain.


Finally, resistant starch also behaves as a soluble fiber, and a number of studies have found that a higher fiber intake helps reduce appetite and increase satiety.[6,7]


Improves Insulin Sensitivity


Hyperglycemia and insulin resistance are hallmark features of Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome -- three of the biggest health epidemics today.


Since resistant starch is not digested in the small intestine, it doesn’t raise blood glucose levels to the same degree that eating regular carbohydrates or simple sugars do.


Research has found that consumption of resistant starch may improve insulin sensitivity (independent of gut bacteria)[8, and decrease postprandial (after a meal) blood glucose levels.[9]


Other studies find that ingesting 15 and 30 grams per day of resistant starch led to improved insulin sensitivity in overweight and obese men, on par with what would occur if the subjects had lost 10% of their respective body weight.[10]


To top it off, resistant starch may also help you stabilize blood sugar levels throughout the day, thanks to something called the “second meal effect”.


Basically, this means that not only does resistant starch help lower an individual’s blood sugar response following the meal immediately ingested, but it also helps lower blood sugar and insulin levels in the following meal, too![11]


Enhances Fat Burning


As if greater satiety, blood sugar regulation, and weight loss support weren’t enough for you to consider upping your intake of resistant starch, consider this -- it has also been noted to increase fat oxidation and reduce fat storage in adipocytes![2]


In other words, research finds that consuming resistant start can increase the body’s ability to burn fat for fuel while also reducing how much fat is stored in fat cells (adipocytes).


Promotes Gut Health


Gut health is a huge buzzword (term) these days, as research continues to show just how important the health of the gut is to all facets of existence, including skin health, mood, immune function, and physical performance.


Basically, if your gut health is in order, it’s more likely than not that everything else is as well.


As we mentioned above, resistant starch acts as a type of “food” for the cells in your gut.


A by-product of its fermentation is a compound called butyrate -- a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) that serves as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and fortifies the gut lining, thereby decreasing intestinal permeability (a.k.a. “leaky gut”).


Ultimately, this helps prevent assorted toxins and other microscopic ne’er-do-wells from entering into the bloodstream, helping keep individuals free from illness and disease.[12,13]

Foods High in Resistant Starch


Now that you understand what resistant starch is as well as the benefits to be had from including it in the diet, let’s now see which foods have the highest concentrations:



Resistant Starch

Glycemic Index

Grain and cereal products

g/100 g 





 Bread (white)



 Bread (wholemeal)






 Rice (brown)



 Rice (white)



 Spaghetti (wholemeal)



 Spaghetti (white)



Breakfast cereals



 All-Bran (Kellogg's)









 Porridge oats



 Shredded wheat









 Broad beans



 Potatoes (white)



 Potatoes (sweet)












 Beans (baked)



 Beans (kidney)









Table 2: Comparison of resistant starch content and glycemic index for commonly consumed starchy foods[3]




As powerful as resistant starch can be, research indicates that the average American consumes less than 10 grams of resistant starch each day.[14]


If you’re looking to enhance your weight loss journey and/or dominate an upcoming transformation challenge, consider adding more resistant starch-rich foods into your diet, such as cold potatoes or rice, oats, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), or lentils.


As is the case with fiber, if you’re looking to increase your intake of resistant starch, do it slow and steady.


Going from very little resistant starch (and/or fiber) to a lot of it can lead to adverse gastrointestinal side effects such as cramping, gas or bloating.



  1. Overweight & obesity statistics. (2017, August 9). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/overweight-obesity
  2. Higgins JA. Resistant starch and energy balance: impact on weight loss and maintenance. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2014;54(9):1158-1166. doi:10.1080/10408398.2011.629352
  3. Birt DF, Boylston T, Hendrich S, et al. Resistant Starch: Promise for Improving Human Health. Advances in Nutrition. 2013;4(6):587-601. doi:10.3945/an.113.004325.
  4. Sajilata, M. , Singhal, R. S. and Kulkarni, P. R. (2006), Resistant Starch–A Review. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 5: 1-17. doi:10.1111/j.1541-4337.2006.tb00076.x
  5. Maziarz MP, Preisendanz S, Juma S, Imrhan V, Prasad C, Vijayagopal P. Resistant starch lowers postprandial glucose and leptin in overweight adults consuming a moderate-to-high-fat diet: a randomized-controlled trial. Nutr J. 2017;16(1):14. Published 2017 Feb 21. doi:10.1186/s12937-017-0235-8
  6. Ramos SC, Fonseca FA, Kasmas SH, et al. The role of soluble fiber intake in patients under highly effective lipid-lowering therapy. Nutrition Journal. 2011;10:80. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-80.
  7. Salas-Salvado, J., Farres, X., Luque, X., Narejos, S., Borrell, M., Basora, J., … Balanza, R. (2008). Effect of two doses of a mixture of soluble fibres on body weight and metabolic variables in overweight or obese patients: a randomised trial. The British Journal of Nutrition, 99(6), 1380–1387.
  8. Bindels LB, Segura Munoz RR, Gomes-Neto JC, et al. Resistant starch can improve insulin sensitivity independently of the gut microbiota. Microbiome. 2017;5:12. doi:10.1186/s40168-017-0230-5.
  9. A Raben, A Tagliabue, N J Christensen, J Madsen, J J Holst, A Astrup; Resistant starch: the effect on postprandial glycemia, hormonal response, and satiety, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 60, Issue 4, 1 October 1994, Pages 544–551,
  10. Kevin C. Maki, Christine L. Pelkman, E. Terry Finocchiaro, Kathleen M. Kelley, Andrea L. Lawless, Arianne L. Schild, Tia M. Rains; Resistant Starch from High-Amylose Maize Increases Insulin Sensitivity in Overweight and Obese Men, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 142, Issue 4, 1 April 2012, Pages 717–723
  11. Brighenti, F., Benini, L., Del Rio, D., Casiraghi, C., Pellegrini, N., Scazzina, F., Vantini, I. (2006). Colonic fermentation of indigestible carbohydrates contributes to the second-meal effect. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 83(4), 817–822.
  12. Saemann, M. D., Bohmig, G. A., Osterreicher, C. H., Burtscher, H., Parolini, O., Diakos, C., … Zlabinger, G. J. (2000). Anti-inflammatory effects of sodium butyrate on human monocytes: potent inhibition of IL-12 and up-regulation of IL-10 production. FASEB Journal : Official Publication of the Federation of American Societies for  Experimental Biology, 14(15), 2380–2382.
  13. Kanauchi, O., Iwanaga, T., Mitsuyama, K., Saiki, T., Tsuruta, O., Noguchi, K., & Toyonaga, A. (1999).Butyrate from bacterial fermentation of germinated barley foodstuff preserves intestinal barrier function in experimental colitis in the rat model. Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 14(9), 880–888.
  14. Zhang, L., Ouyang, Y., Li, H. et al. Metabolic phenotypes and the gut microbiota in response to dietary resistant starch type 2 in normal-weight subjects: a randomized crossover trial. Sci Rep 9, 4736 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-38216-9

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