If you hate extreme diets but love extreme results, a resistant starch diet may be right for you. Created by the authors of the bestselling book The Carb Lovers Diet, this -much-buzzed-about, seven-day “cleanse” uses only ordinary, inexpensive, family-friendly filling foods — and experts say it still has the power to rejuvenate your body’s get-slim systems, melting up to 10 pounds in a week. Reader Bethany Kelley even lost 13 pounds in just seven days. “Every other cleanse I’ve tried had lots of strange ingredients and tiny portions. So when I saw this one, it didn’t seem strict enough,” says the 49-year-old Rhode Island mom. “But I actually ended up dropping weight faster than ever. It was energizing and exciting.”
Resistant Starch Diet: Why It Works
By all accounts, this particular diet approach has a lot going for it — including balanced meals, high doses of fat-fighting antioxidants, and reduced sodium content to help flush away water weight.
But there is a key factor that sets the Carb Lovers’ cleanse apart from other healthy options: Its meals and snacks are all loaded with a special type of fiber called “resistant starch.” Found in yummy sources like bananas, oatmeal, rye bread, and potatoes, resistant starch actually ferments during the digestive process, “releasing compounds into the body that cause all of these wonderful things to happen,” explains The Carb Lovers Diet co-author Frances Largeman-Roth, R.D.
Though resistant starch itself is not new, scientists’ understanding of the stuff has grown dramatically in recent years. There are now dozens of large university studies demonstrating that “with resistant starch, you get reduced hunger, fewer cravings, more energy, greater fat burning.” Adds co-author Ellen Kunes: “It even encourages your liver to switch into a fat-burning state.”
Resistant Starch Diet Plan
On average, a woman eats over 2,000 calories and gets just 4.8 grams of resistant starch a day. During the Carb Lovers’ cleanse, calories shrink to 1,200 a day while resistant starch intake triples. “Many of us struggle to stick to low-carb diets, so we were looking for an alternative that would still get fast results. Because everybody loves fast results,” says Kunes. “We experimented with resistant starch because we saw incredible research. And it turned out to be even more effective in the real world than we imagined.”
More "Gastric-Bypass" Hormones
British researchers discovered that when folks had a resistant-starch-rich meal, they ate 10 percent fewer calories afterward. Why? Slow-digesting resistant starch lingers in your system, keeping you full longer. “It also releases fatty acids that boost anti-hunger hormones,” adds Largeman-Roth. Exciting preliminary evidence even suggests resistant starch boosts hormones called PYY and GLP-1 — two hunger killers that rise dramatically after a person has had gastric bypass surgery — meaning this could quite possibly be one of the best diets for longevity.
Fewer Belly-Fat Hormones
Largeman-Roth notes that because resistant starch breaks down very slowly, it reduces production of the hormone insulin — a very good thing, since insulin blocks fat burning and promotes fat storage. In one new study, folks who got lots of resistant starch slashed fattening insulin levels by up to 73 percent.
The same fatty acids that boost anti-hunger hormones also trigger extra fat burning. In fact, University of Colorado research has shown that eating just one meal rich in resistant starch will increase fat burning by 20 to 25 percent all day long. Meanwhile, a Chinese study found that getting more resistant starch increased weight loss by up to 300 percent.
“There are so many wacky diets out there that don’t work nearly as well as this one,” says Largeman-Roth. Just try it for yourself and see, she urges. With a few small tweaks, the plan — which was designed to kick-start weight loss — can be used for long-term slimming, too. “This is a simple, very safe, very effective way to help your body get itself lean.”
Resistant Starch Foods: What You'll Eat
Designed to motivate you with big initial results and prime your body for long-term weight loss, this plan features 1,200 calories and 10 to 15 grams of resistant starch daily. During week one, stick to the menus closely (though it’s fine to swap equal-calorie portions of similar foods, such as cauliflower for broccoli or chicken for pork).
To use long-term: Continue to enjoy any of the meals and snacks here, adding one extra snack daily. Check out The Carb Lovers Diet or the new Carb Lovers Cookbook for more ideas. To create your own meals, simply fill 25 percent of a plate with resistant-starch-rich foods; 25 percent with lean protein and/or low-fat dairy; the rest with fruit and vegetables; finish with a drizzle of good fat.
On any phase of this diet, drink as much water as you like. Add other ultra-low-cal beverages and seasonings (herbs, spices, mustard, vinegar) as desired. A daily multivitamin is recommended. As always, get a doctor’s OK to try any new plan.
Breakfast (choose one option)
Options 1: 1 cup oatmeal made with 1/2 cup fat-free milk and 1 medium banana
Option 2: 1 slice rye toast with 4 tsp. peanut butter and 1 medium banana
Lunch (choose one option)
Option 1: 1/4 cup hummus, 4 rye crispbread crackers, 1 cup bell pepper slices, 1 1/2 oz. cubed feta cheese
Option 2: 1 1/2 cup reduced-sodium split pea, bean, or minestrone soup (up to 275 calories) with 1 hard-boiled egg
Option 3: 1/3 cup cubed chicken breast, 1 1/4 oz. reduced-fat cheese, 2 cups salad, 1 cup cooked and cooled whole-wheat pasta, 1 1/2 Tbsp. lite Italian dressing
Dinner (choose one option)
Option 1: 2 1/2 oz. burgers (lean beef, turkey, or veggie) on whole-grain bun with mustard and veggies to taste; 3-Bean Salad: 1/4 cup each of cooked green beans, canned white beans, canned kidney beans, and grated carrot tossed with 1 Tbsp. lite dressing
Option 2: 3 1/2 oz. fish or chicken, splash of soy sauce with 2 cups steamed broccoli, 1/4 tsp. toasted sesame seeds and 3/4 cup steamed brown rice, 1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
Option 3: 3 oz. lean pork tenderloin, 2 tsp. honey mustard with 1 cup steamed spinach or green beans with a side of Potato Salad: 1 cup cooked and cooled potato, cubed, 1 minced scallion, 2 tsp. Each mayo, plain fat-free Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard
Snacks (choose one option)
Option 1: 1 packet oatmeal, any flavor, prepared with fat-free milk
Option 2: 3/4 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt mixed with 2 tsp. honey and 2 Tbsp. rolled oats
Option 3: 1/4 cup Newman’s Own black bean and corn salsa, 8 corn tortilla chips
Option 4: Trail mix: 1/2 cup cornflakes, 2 Tbsp. sliced almonds, and 2 Tbsp. dried cherries
Option 5: 1/4 cup hummus with 1 sliced cucumber
Resistant Starch Foods List: Top Picks
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.