If you're dieting, don't let your first instinct be to avoid all carbs. While many refined carbs break down quickly in your body—causing you to accumulate belly fat and leaving you hungry all the time—if you choose the right starchy foods, it turns out they can actually help you trim down and finally tip that scale in your favor.
We're talking about resistant starches, one of the most powerful waist-whittlers of them all. This class of carb acts in a similar way that soluble fibers do. By just looking at the name, we can glean what's going on in your gut: these carbs actually resist digestion, passing through your gut without being broken down, leading to prolonged feelings of fullness. Instead of feeding you, these resistant starches fuel the healthy gut bacteria in our small intestine, which ferment the fuel into butyrate, a fatty acid that encourages the body to burn fat as fuel instead of glucose. Higher levels of butyrate reduce inflammation in your body and help reduce insulin resistance as well. Less inflammation means less bloating and a slimmer you.
On top of encouraging more efficient fat oxidation, studies also suggest that resistant starch can boost immunity, improve blood sugar control, and lower cancer risk. And that's not all—resistant starches may also play a role in controlling your hunger hormones. One study found that including resistant starch with an evening meal increased the satiety hormone leptin by 51 percent and suppressed the hunger hormone ghrelin by 15 percent, as compared to a meal that included a simple carbohydrate like white bread.
Besides just knowing what kinds of resistant starches are out there, it'll be easier to get these nutrients into your diet with some resistant-starch-rich recipes. Keep reading to find out how to add these carbs to your diet. Then, start eating and watch the pounds melt away!
Orchard Bircher Muesli
Nutrition: 472 calories, 11.9 g fat, 10.3 g fiber, 9.7 g sugar, 12.5 g protein (calculated with honey and 2 Tbsp each of dried apricots and prunes)
Even though it's served cold, the spices and bold flavors in this breakfast will warm and wake you right up. Muesli is a traditional European-inspired cereal made from a blend of whole grains, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. To keep the oats raw—which preserves their resistant starches and helps you burn more fat—but still edible, the cereal is left soaking in the refrigerator, just like overnight oats! The healthy and satisfying combination of rolled oats, chopped hazelnuts, apricots and cherries will satisfy your taste buds and keep your belly from rumbling before lunchtime, too.
Get the recipe from Happy Hearted Kitchen.
Potato Salad with Green Beans and Asparagus
Nutrition: 200 calories, 12.9 g fat (1.7 g saturated fat), 32 mg sodium, 20 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 5 g protein (calculated without added salt)
When potatoes are roasted and then cooled in the refrigerator, their digestible starches convert into resistant starch through a process called retrogradation, which results in one of the highest resistant starch contents out of all the starchy foods. In fact, one European Journal of Clinical Nutrition study reported a 57 percent increase in resistant starch after refrigerating their spuds for 24 hours! This chilled potato salad with crunchy asparagus spears and green beans all dressed in a tangy dijon mustard vinaigrette is the perfect dish to bring to a summer barbecue.
Get the recipe from Green Valley Kitchen.
Nutrition: 192 calories, 9 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 397 mg sodium, 25 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 2.5 g sugar, 3 g protein (calculated with an additional white onion)
We like this recipe a latke. A rosti is basically just a supersized, Swiss version of fried potato latkes. And as it turns out, fried potatoes (as opposed to boiled or steamed) have one of the highest resistant starch contents out there—they don't even need to be cooled! In the spring, we like adding a vidalia onion to our rosti to sweeten it up and provide some extra probiotics to munch on those resistant starches. Just make sure to drain the onion after shredding it—a wet onion means a soggy, not crisp, pancake.
Get the recipe from Recipe Tin Eats.
Chickpea Bowl With Roasted Veggies and Cashew Cream
Nutrition: 463 calories, 18 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 239 mg sodium, 43 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 16 g protein (calculated with low-sodium soy sauce, 2 tbsp cashew cream and 1/4 cup quinoa for serving)
You may know that chickpeas are a source of resistant starch (they're packed with gut-healthy insoluble and soluble fibers), but did you know cashews were as well? This magnesium-rich nut is not only a great source of RS, but it also helps to decrease the glycemic index of carbs like the quinoa in this veggie bowl—helping to keep your body running longer on just one meal. According to a study in the International Journal of Food Properties, adding cashews to quinoa decreased the ancient grain's glycemic index by a whopping 15 percent! Meaning you'll be able to get over that mid-day hump without a gut-busting diet soda.
Get the recipe from Naturally Ella.
Banana Bread Smoothie
Nutrition: 280 calories, 8.6 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 110 mg sodium, 43 g carbs, 5.5 g fiber, 22 g sugar, 9 g protein (calculated with cashew milk instead of almond milk and full-fat greek yogurt)
Extending your blood sugar control is extra important when it comes to your breakfast meal, but even more so when that breakfast is a smoothie. "Smoothies can be large whacks of carbs and sugar, especially if there's no protein or healthy fat that acts similarly to fiber to slow digestion and prevent blood sugar from spiking," says Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN, which can cause your body to start looking for more carbs sooner—which can widen your waist. What's the solution? Make a resistant-starch-rich drink! This smoothie combines three sources of resistant starch: unripened, green bananas (yes, green! The yellow ones have already started converting the resistant starches into sugar), raw oats, and cashew milk.
Get the recipe from Gimme Some Oven.
Fried Polenta, Avocado & Poached Egg
Nutrition: 327 calories, 18 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 217 mg sodium, 31 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 10 g protein (calculated without kale salad and with 35 g organic corn polenta, 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, and 1/4 avocado)
You'll never look at corn the same way again! While many think of it as a nutrient-lacking food, it's actually a great source of resistant starches! (It all makes sense now.) When picking up polenta—also sold as corn meal—make sure you go organic, as these grains are GMO-free (which means they're more likely to be pesticide-free and less likely to give you man boobs).
Get the recipe from The Kitchen Paper.
Very Veggie Fried Rice
Nutrition: 293 calories, 11 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 308 mg sodium, 37 g carbs, 4.5 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 9 g protein
This fried rice recipe is the most underrated weight-loss food out there because it utilizes two cooking methods that boost nutrients. For starters, the hot rice is first cooled, which changes the starches into resistant starches through a process called retrogradation (adding to the resistant starches found in the corn and peas). Then, it's fried up with oil, a fat that acts as a barrier against rapid digestion. According to researchers from the College of Chemical Sciences in Sri Lanka, your best bet is chilling the rice overnight (or just use leftovers), as this method has been found to increase the amount of resistant starch 10 times more than traditionally cooked rice, and it has 10-15 percent fewer calories. The best news: this low-carb hack is safe even for freshly cooked fried rice, as reheating the rice wasn't found to affect the resistant starch levels.
Get the recipe from Cooking Classy.
Chewy Almond Butter Power Bars
Nutrition: 230 calories, 10 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 16 mg sodium, 30 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 12 g sugar, 6 g protein (calculated with raw oats and 1/4 cup honey)
No bake power bars are a great snack to refuel after your workout. They're full of carbs to replenish lost energy stores, protein to build muscle, and (this one is particular) resistant starches to boost your fat burn. Made of raw oats along with puffed millet, quinoa, and rice, you won't have to worry about the sugar from the dried fruits as these resistant starches have been found to reduce your glycemic response to sugars, keeping your blood sugar even-keeled.
Get the recipe from Foodie Crush.
Black Bean & Tempeh Tacos with Cashew Sauce
Serves: 6 (3 tacos each)
Nutrition: 486 calories, 21 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 45 g carbs, 18 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 20 g protein (calculated with 2 tbsp cashew cream and 3 extra thin yellow corn tortillas per serving)
These tacos are packed with flavor and easy to toss together in a pinch. Mashed black beans and tempeh are tossed with jalapeno, swiss chard, cabbage, lime juice and warm spices like cumin, turmeric, paprika. It's all topped off with a squeeze of a deliciously tasty spicy cashew cheese sauce before being nestled into taco shells and garnished with avocado and cilantro. Don't be afraid to eat all 3. These tacos are bursting with resistant starches in the corn tortillas, cashew cream sauce, and black beans to help your gut probiotics (which are also provided via the tempeh) produce butyrate, the compound which deactivates genes that cause insulin sensitivity.
Get the recipe from Oh Lady Cakes.
Indian Spiced Rice & Lentil Salad
Nutrition: 377 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 653 mg sodium, 55 g carbs, 14 g fiber, 13 g sugar, 15 g protein (calculated with no added sugar and brown instead of white rice)
Who said you need lettuce to have a salad? If the mellow, earthy colors from the tomatoes, cucumbers, ginger, jalapeno, mint and cilantro didn't attract your attention enough, maybe the fiber count will. (Yes, that's 14 grams!) This super-nutrient fills you up with fewer calories and slows the rate at which you digest, keeping you satiated longer and significantly aiding in your weight loss efforts. Add that fiber boost to the resistant starches in the chilled rice and lentils and you'll start to see the pounds melt off.
Get the recipe from Host the Toast.
Fiesta Corn & Bean Salsa
Yields: 4 cups
Nutrition (per ½ cup): 214 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 296 mg sodium, 31 g carbs, 8 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 9 g protein (calculated with optional jalapeno pepper)
One half-cup serving of black beans packs a whopping 11 grams of inflammation-reducing resistant starch. But if that's not reason enough to dip a chip in, the addicting textures and pops of flavor will. One bite will offer you a taste of everything from black beans to corn to diced tomatoes, red onion, lime juice, cilantro, and plenty of avocado.
Get the recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction.
Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Date Energy Bites
Yields: 12 bites
Nutrition (per bite): 120 calories, 6 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 24 mg sodium, 16 g carbs, 1.5 g fiber, 6.5 g sugar, 3 g protein (calculated with old-fashioned rolled oats, cashew butter, 100% dark cacao nibs, pinch of salt, and no added honey)
Yet another way to eat the highest resistant starch food, raw oats, is in these energy bites. Raw oats combine with two other sources of the belly-fat-burning carb, crispy rice cereal, and cashew nut butter. These healthy snacks will soon be your go-to when you want to prep something that will get you through the afternoon…or even as appetizers or desserts for if you're hosting a party!
Get the recipe from Running With Spoons.
Barley Risotto With Peas and Parmesan
Nutrition: 306 calories, 5.6 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 104 mg sodium, 55 g carbs, 13 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 11 g protein (calculated with 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese)
Shh. We won't let the Italians know you're making risotto without arborio rice. They might forgive you once you let them know that barley has two times the amount of resistant starch than what they're using. And it doesn't just end there. This bright dish gets its vibrant green color from sweet peas, one of the few vegetables to also contain this wonder starch. Say arrivederci to that muffin top!
Get the recipe from The Little Things.
Yields: 18, 2-tbsp (28 g) servings
Nutrition (per serving): 52 calories, 3.1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 45 mg sodium, 5 g carbs, 1 g sugar, 1.5 g protein (calculated without extra salt)
Yep, your favorite Mediterranean dip is teeming with resistant starches! No wonder why it's one of the healthiest dips for weight loss. While you can always grab this chickpea spread in stores, this recipe is super easy to make and only uses 7 ingredients.
Get the recipe from Gimme Some Oven.
Sweet Potato Noodles with Cashew Sauce
Nutrition: 369 calories, 18 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 400 mg sodium, 45 g carbs, 7 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 9.5 g protein
Wipe the dust off of that spiralizer and churn up this resistant starchy dish! Even though sweet potatoes have their own RS's, they're still a source of glycemic carbs, which the cashews will help your body digest even more slowly. What better way to say sayonara to that gut-busting fettuccine alfredo, than with this carotenoid-rich dish?
Get the recipe from Pinch of Yum.
Lentil & Chickpea Salad Sandwiches
Nutrition: 336 calories, 4 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 768 mg sodium, 60 g carbs, 13 g fiber, 4.5 g sugar, 16 g protein (calculated with 3/4 cup chickpeas, 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, 3 tbsp vegan mayo)
You saw that correctly—you can even eat bread on a diet! Oprah would be so proud! Pumpernickel, specifically, boasts the highest resistant starch content of all of the bread, which makes it the perfect way to sandwich this lentil and chickpea spread.
Get the recipe from I Love Vegan.
Mediterranean Pasta Salad
Nutrition: 343 calories, 15 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 454 mg sodium, 42 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 10 g protein
Just like potatoes, the starches in pasta convert to resistant starches when chilled. And don't let the thought of cold pasta turn you off. This recipe is bright, crisp, and refreshing—the perfect salad on a hot summer day. And one you won't have to feel guilty about when you shuffle back to the beach in your bikini—by helping you burn fat, the resistant starches may actually leave you feeling leaner! For more tips on how to get a fab bod, check out these 35 Foods To Get You Bikini Ready.
Get the recipe from Gimme Some Oven.
Sweet Potato Chickpea Tots
Serves: 8 (5 tots each)
Nutrition: 229 calories, 3 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 141 mg sodium, 41 g carbs, 11 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 11 g protein
We could have stopped at sweet potatoes — their nutritional credentials are impressive enough carrying 11 times the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, a nutrient that aids immune function, vision, reproduction and cellular communication — but this blogger took these sweet potato tots one step further: she added chickpeas. And that means you're getting not one, but two sources of resistant starch to help improve your gut health and maximize fat burning. Just five tiny tots serve up 11 grams each of protein and fiber, accounting for 20 percent of your DV of protein and 44 percent for fiber.
Get the recipe from My Whole Food Life.
Slow Cooker Red Lentil Dal
Nutrition: 349 calories, 2 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 173 mg sodium, 70 g carbs, 18 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 17 g protein (calculated with ¼ cup brown rice per serving)
Dal is a traditional Indian stew prepared most commonly from red lentils, but you can use any pulse; this recipe recommends a combination of lentils, yellow split peas, and mung beans—all three are sources of resistant starch. It's full of warming spices like turmeric, cardamom, fennel, cumin, and mustard seeds. Turmeric, a classic addition to many Indian foods, is one of the healthiest spices on the planet because it's full of curcumin—a powerful antioxidant shown to release its anti-inflammatory goodness to almost every cell in the body, boosting the immune system and treating a host of maladies from indigestion to cancer.
Get the recipe from Cafe Johnsonia.
White Bean Caprese Salad
Nutrition: 142 calories, 4.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 127 mg sodium, 18 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 8 g protein
Second to raw oats in terms of highest resistant starch contents, white beans (also known as cannellini beans) are the star in this chilled Caprese salad. It's the perfect dish for the Italian bean, combining cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and a decadent balsamic glaze. This small serving will have you wondering how your stomach is so full on only 142 calories.
Get the recipe from Skinny Taste.