Absorb less carbsYes 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 more and also remind you that you still have to balance your carb intake with adequate protein, fat, fiber and fluid, or what I call PF3.  I’ll be talking more about PF3 in my next free callfeel free to join and ask me some questions.

So how is it possible to lower the carb load of pasta, rice and potatoes? 

It’s all about cooking these often forbidden favorites so that some of the carbohydrates in them convert to resistant starches. To do that you simply cook and cool them before eating them. If you want to further lessen the glycemic spike from pasta, rice and potatoes be sure to implement my PF3 nutrition guidelines.

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 and that 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 this small study that showed cooked, cooled then reheated pasta actually reduced 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?
  • Cold pasta salad
  • Potato salad
  • Sushi
  • Rice pudding
  • Leftover rice, pasta or potatoes
  • Lentils
  • Black beans
  • Dry oatmeal

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 which will result in a lot of gas. Here is a list of different foods and their content of resistant starch if you want to read a little more.

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. In the mean time I plan to increase my intake of resistant starch by eating pasta, rice & potatoes that have been cook and cooled or eaten as leftovers.

A very important point: Regardless of the RS3 content of a food it is still important to make sure your meal is balanced with protein, fat, fiber and fluid or PF3 for short. 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 a small portion of pasta that’s been cooked, cooled and reheated (1/2-1 cup), mixed with vegetables (1-2 cups), a few ounces of protein like chicken or shrimp with some fat mixed in like 1/2 Tbsp of olive oil and fresh grated Romano cheese.

If you want to learn more about my PF3 approach to balanced eating and find some easy tips on how to incorporate RS3 into your diet sign up for my free call.  Even if you can’t make it live, sign up and I’ll send you the recording plus some great handouts to get you started.

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Dina Garcia, RD, LDN

Dina is a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist and mindful eating coach based out of Miami, FL or anywhere online.After reversing her own pre-diabetes through healthier lifestyle choices she has a real passion for helping others live a happy, healthier life.
Dina Garcia, RD, LDN
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