4 Recipes That Use "Skinny Carbs" To Help You Lose Weight (2024)

Carbohydrates are making a comeback! Once again, dieters can enjoy pastas, potatoes, and pizzas without guilt. As nutrition research is showing, carbohydrates have their place in a healthy eating plan for weight loss--and one kind of carb, resistant starch, may enhance the body's natural fat-buringpower.

Researchers at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center found that eating just one daily meal containing 5 grams of resistant starch increased fat burning by 23%. The Skinny Carbs Diet shows you how to "resist" the pounds with your favorite foods.

Behind any effective weight loss plan—including this one—is a very simple equation: fewer calories in than calories out = weight loss. The question is whether a diet equips you to easily achieve that goal by allowing you to eat in a way that satisfies your taste buds and your appetite while delivering a good mix of essential nutrients. In other words, a diet that works has to be a diet you can live with.

The Skinny Carbs Diet is not just about increasing your resistant starch intake, though that's central to the plan. It's about getting more fiber, eating foods that energize you, and learning to make healthy choices that support your weight-loss efforts. And once you reach your goal, you'll continue eating this way not because you have to, but because you want to.

Because this diet will feel less restrictive, it will require less effort than most weight-loss plans. You'll be less likely to fall into a pattern of yo-yo dieting and instead make real lifestyle changes. Over time, this will become your natural eating style.

The Benefits of Eating Resistant Starches

The weight loss that comes from adding resistant starch to your diet is different from that of standard calorie-restrictive diets. In a 2004 study led by Janine Higgins, PhD, of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, people who consumed 5.4% of their total carbohydrate intake as resistant starch experienced a 20 to 25% increase in fat metabolism. This rate held steady throughout the day.

Resistant starch fuels weight loss by burning both body fat and visceral fat (aka belly fat), which surrounds your internal organs. This "hidden" fat has been shown in some studies to be a marker of increased disease risk. RS also enhances your body's ability to metabolize nutrients. Because it helps you feel full, you tend to consume fewer calories at each meal—and remember, taking in fewer calories than you burn is the key to weight-loss success.

But the benefits of RS don't stop with weight loss. There's compelling evidence that the starch can protect against insulin resistance and cancer, reduce chronic inflammation, improve digestion, and perhaps even relieve depression. So while you may follow the Skinny Carbs Diet for the weight-loss effects, you'll be doing your body good in other ways.

Now, this diet does require you to make changes to your eating and lifestyle habits. Study after study has demonstrated that achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is not a matter of sheer willpower. It's about consciously rethinking your food choices. A diet that emphasizes fresh, plant-based foods—fruits, vegetables, and whole grains—while limiting red meats, sweets, soft drinks, and processed foods can help us to better manage our biochemistry. It makes sense that the Skinny Carbs Diet would be designed around this same nutritional framework.

The beauty of incorporating more resistant starch (and fiber) into your meals is that you won't feel as though you're missing out on your favorite foods. And that alone is worth its weight in willpower.

How Does the Diet Work?

Much of what scientists have learned about resistant starch and its health effects has come from their efforts to understand why fiber and whole grains are so beneficial. Some researchers believed whole grains were little packages of discrete compounds that collectively provided protection from the diseases associated with diets low in whole grains. Others argued that some overarching quality of whole grains was at work. For example, since whole grains are harder to digest, they naturally reduce caloric absorption (by bulking, binding, and increasing transit time through the GI tract) and lower glycemicresponse. In fact, the benefits of whole grains and fiber are likely the product of the synergy of the properties described by these two ideas.

Here's where resistant starch comes into the picture. From a chemistry point of view, fiber is fiber and starch is starch. But about 25 years ago, scientists studying cereal grains discovered a starch that didn't act like a starch as much as it behaved like a fiber. Specifically, it was resistant to digestion and didn't break down until it reached the lower intestinal tract. The structure of these so-called resistant starch molecules, not their bonds, is the key to their ability to resist digestion.

Resistant starch takes three forms in nature:

The first, RS1, is prevalent in seeds, legumes (beans, lentils, and chickpeas), and unprocessed or partially processed whole grains.

RS2 contains a lot of the carbohydrate amylose. It is packed into dense granules, like RS1, but it is not gelatinized—that is, the starch has not begun to break down and absorb water. For this reason, it yields very slowly to the digestive process, remaining relatively intact until it reaches the lower GI tract. In addition, because amylose is a relatively linear starch, it has fewer branches subject to attack by amylase, so it digests more slowly. You'll find RS2 in potatoes, corn (especially varieties bred by starch manufacturers to have high levels of amylose), underripe bananas, and flour.

RS3 is another high-amylose starch, but the amylose forms during cooking. RS3 is not susceptible to being broken down by amylase and so is completely resistant. Among the common food sources of RS3 are potatoes, breads, and cereals (like cornflakes).

How to Lose Weight with Resistant Starch

The past quarter-century of research shows natural resistant starch can assist in weight loss and weight management in a few different ways.

First, RS lowers the caloric density of foods, delivering between 2 and 3 calories per gram versus 4 calories per gram for regular carbohydrates.

Secondly, RS encourages your body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates as its energy source. In fact, in a 2004 study, Janine Higgins, PhD, of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center found that eating one daily meal containing 5 grams of resistant starch increased the ability to burn fat by 23%.

The third way RS helps you lose weight is that it boosts your body's production of satiety hormones, those hormones that say to your brain, "I'm full!" This effect has been shown to be long-lasting, too—in some studies for as long as the whole day.

And, RS helps decrease deposits of body fat in several ways. As with fiber, it helps move fat molecules through your digestive tract faster, keeping the fat from being absorbed. But it also enhances the digestive tract's ability to better metabolize the fat that does get digested. Multiple studies show these effects, and a 2007 study of persons with diabetes found that eating foods made with 30 grams of resistant starch per day decreased total Body Mass Index. In addition, an animal study earlier this year demonstrated that resistant starch can have a direct effect on the hypothalamus gland (the metabolism and mood center in the brain) as well as hunger/fullness hormones. Importantly, the subjects showed weight loss and reduced visceral fat independent of the digestive tract's reaction to "feeling full."

The ability of RS to rev up overall energy metabolism while boosting satiety and fat-burning adds up to lasting weight loss.

See four delicious recipes that contain resistant starches on the following page.

Excerpted fromThe Skinny Carbs Dietby David Feder, RD, and the Editors ofPrevention. Recipes by David Bonom.


Potato, Red Pepper, and Parmesan Frittata

{Resistant Starch: 4 g}
PREP TIME: 15 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 28 minutes + 20 minutes to cool

1 baking potato(12 ounces), peeled and cut into ½" cubes
4 lg eggs, lightly beaten
4 lg egg whites, lightly beaten
⅓ c grated Parmesan cheese
¼ c water
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp olive oil
1 med onion, chopped
1 med red bell pepper, chopped
½ tsp dried marjoram

1. PREHEAT the oven to 475°F.
2. COMBINE the potato in a small saucepan with enough water to cover by 2". Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 8 to 9 minutes, or until the potato is tender but holds its shape. Drain and cool for 3 minutes.
3. COMBINE the eggs, egg whites, cheese, water, salt, and pepper. Stir in the slightly cooled potato and reserve.
4. HEAT the oil in a 10" ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and marjoram and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the onion starts to brown. Reduce the heat to medium, pour in the egg mixture, and stir until well distributed, 30 seconds. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until partially set.
5. REDUCE the oven temperature to 400°F. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the eggs are completely set. Cool for 20 minutes. Slide the frittata onto a cutting board and cut into 4 wedges to serve.

NUTRITION(per serving)214 calories, 15 g protein, 21 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 8 g fat (2.9 g saturated fat), 524 mg sodium


Chicken Soft Tacos with Fast Bean Salsa

{Resistant Starch: 4 g}
PREP TIME: 15 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 28 minutes
SERVINGS: 4 (2 tacos each)

12 oz boneless, skinless chickenthighs, trimmed
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp ground coriander
⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp salt
1 c rinsed and drained no-salt-added pinto beans
½ c chopped mango
¼c finely chopped white onion
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
8 corn tortillas (6" each)

1. COAT a grill pan with cooking spray and heat to medium-high. Sprinkle the chicken with the garlic powder, coriander, pepper, and¼teaspoon of the salt. Add the chicken to the grill pan and cook for 7 to 8 minutes per side, or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 175°F. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into thin strips.
2. MEANWHILE, combine the beans, mango, onion, cilantro, lime juice, and the remaining¼teaspoon salt in a bowl.
3. HEAT the tortillas per the package directions. Place 2 tortillas on each of 4 serving plates. Top with the chicken and salsa and serve immediately.

NUTRITION (per serving)257 calories, 20 g protein, 36 g carbohydrates, 6.7 g fiber, 4.1 g fat (0.9 g saturated fat), 380 mg sodium


Home-Style Macaroni and Cheese

{Resistant Starch: 4 g}
PREP TIME: 10 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 40 minutes + 5 minutes to stand

6 oz elbow macaroni
1 c fat-free milk
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
¼ tsp dry mustard
¼ tsp salt
⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 oz shredded low-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
¼ c grated Romano cheese
2 slices multigrain bread
2 tsp unsalted butter, melted

1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Coat a 6-cup baking dish with cooking spray.
2. BRING a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook per the package directions. Drain and transfer to a bowl.
3. COMBINE the milk, flour, mustard, salt, and pepper in a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring, for 4 to 6 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Stir in the Cheddar and Romano cheeses and cook for about 30 seconds, or until melted. Pour over the macaroni and toss well to coat. Pour into the prepared baking dish.
4. PLACE the bread in the bowl of a food processor and process to crumbs. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the butter. Sprinkle over the macaroni mixture.
5. BAKE in the center of the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the topping is browned and the pasta is hot. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

NUTRITION (per serving)398 calories, 20 g protein, 49 g carbohydrates, 2.6 g fiber, 13.9 g fat (8.2 g saturated fat), 542 mg sodium


Cranberry-Chocolate Chip Blondies

{Resistant Starch: 3 g}
PREP TIME: 15 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 40 minutes + 30 minutes to cool

1½ c all-purpose flour
½ c Hi-maize resistant starch
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1½ c packed light brown sugar
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 lg eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
⅓c dried cranberries
⅓c semisweet mini chocolate chips
2 Tbsp confectioners' sugar (optional)

1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9" x 9" baking pan with cooking spray, then lightly dust with flour.
2. COMBINE the flour, resistant starch, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Combine the sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla extract in a large bowl. Add to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in the cranberries and chocolate chips.
3. SPREAD or press the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 26 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs attached. Cool in the pan on a rack for 30 minutes. Cut into 12 bars and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, if desired.

NUTRITION (per serving)249 calories, 3 g protein, 44 g carbohydrates, 3.5 g fiber, 8 g fat (4.8 g saturated fat), 135 mg sodium

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4 Recipes That Use "Skinny Carbs" To Help You Lose Weight (2024)
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