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As an “all foods fit” RD you will never hear me advise people to cut out carbs. I will, however, teach them ways to eat carbs that will help prevent blood sugar spikes. Especially for those that are having issues with insulin resistance or used to be prediabetic like me.

Did you know that you can absorb less carbs from the rice, pasta & potatoes that you eat just by cooking them a different way?

Yes, you read that right. 

There is a way to cook pasta, rice, and potatoes that lowers the amount of carbs that are digested and absorbed in the small intestine!

But before you go all carb crazy for dinner tonight let me explain a little bit more and also remind you that for optimal health you still have to balance your carb intake with adequate protein, fat, fiber, and fluid, or what I call PF3®.   

How to Take Carbs Out of Rice, Pasta, and PotatoesSo, how Is It Possible to Take Carbs out of Rice, Pasta, and Potatoes? 

Here’s the secret:

First, you aren’t actually taking the carbs out, you are just reducing how much of them your body digests and absorbs.

Second, You have to cook these often forbidden favorites in a way that some of the carbohydrates in them convert to resistant starches

To do that, you simply cook and cool them before eating them.

So easy, right? 

If you want to further lessen the glycemic spike from pasta, rice, and potatoes and eat a healthier diet, be sure to implement my PF3® nutrition guidelines and practice mindful eating.

What Are Resistant Starches?

To keep it really simple, resistant starches are starches that pass through the small intestine undigested (similar to soluble fiber) but are later broken down into short-chain fatty acids by the bacteria in the large intestine. 

Intake of resistant starches has been linked to improved insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar levels after meals, and increased satiety.

There are 4 main types of resistant starch, but I’m going to keep it simple and focus on one type for the purpose of this article.

That type is type 3, or RS3. RS3 is formed when certain starchy foods, including pasta, potatoes, and rice, are cooked and then cooled. 

The cooling process turns some of the digestible starches in the food into resistant starch via a process called retrogradation.

What About Reheating Type 3 Resistant Starch?

There is mixed information here. 

Some experts say that reheating breaks down the resistant starch, but I couldn’t find any citations proving that to be the case. 

However, I did find a small study that showed cooked, cooled, then reheated pasta actually reduces the rise in blood sugar by 50% compared to freshly cooked pasta. 

To the researcher’s surprise, this was a greater reduction in blood sugar elevation than participants saw with just the cooked and cooled pasta.

Leftovers anyone?

How Can I Get More Resistant Starch (RS3) in My Diet?

There are all sorts of foods with resistant starch. Here are some of them: 

  • Cold pasta salad
  • Potato salad
  • Sushi
  • Rice pudding
  • Leftover rice, pasta or potatoes
  • Lentils
  • Black beans
  • Dry oatmeal
  • Bananas (the greener the better)

There is no standard recommendation on resistant starch intake, but given current research, I think a good place to start is about 20 grams per day

If you aren’t used to eating resistant starch then you will want to increase your intake slowly, or you risk overwhelming the gut bacteria. This can result in a lot of gas. 

The Bottom Line

At this point, more research is needed to figure out the precise cooking and cooling techniques that will optimize levels of RS3 and take carbs out of rice, pasta, and potatoes. 

In the meantime, I plan to increase my intake of resistant starch by eating pasta, rice & potatoes that have been cooked and cooled or eaten as leftovers. Another great reason to batch cook. 

A very important point: Regardless of the RS3 content of food, if you are looking for balanced blood sugar levels, it is still important to make sure your meal is balanced with protein, fat, fiber, and fluid, or PF3® for short. Getting the right amount of veggies is extremely important as well, but it can be hard to make sure you’re getting the necessary intake every day. If you struggle with this, this helpful blog post can help give you some ideas on easy ways to incorporate veggies into your diet.

The Importance of PF3 Balanced Eating

PF3 balanced eating will help keep you satisfied, your blood sugars stable, and your energy levels up. 

In other words, I still don’t recommend a whole plate of pasta, regardless of how it was cooked.  To follow my PF3 guidelines, try this:

  • PROTEIN:  a few ounces of protein like chicken or shrimp
  • FIBER: One small portion of pasta that’s been cooked, cooled and reheated (1/2-1 cup) + 1-2 cups veggies
  • FAT- 1-2 tbsp of pesto sauce + fresh grated Romano cheese

If you want to learn more about my services as well as my PF3 approach to balanced eating and find some easy tips on how to incorporate RS3 into your diet, contact me today, or schedule a Free Strategy Call. You can also join my free, private, Online Wellness Support Community: End Emotional Eating with Dietitian Dina

And for more tips on some of the easiest ways to cook a healthy dinner, read this blog post.

Enjoyed this article? Here are a few more popular articles!

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This article was originally published on June 1, 2016 and has been updated.


Dina Garcia, RD, LDN
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