How Carbohydrates Could Help You Lose Weight

Tofu Stir Fry
Tofu Stir Fry
(Image credit: Rex Features (Shutterstock))

Pasta could be good for your waistline, according to new research. A study examining the dietary habits of more than 23,000 people has found that moderate pasta consumption is associated with a slimmer waistline and healthier waist to hip ratio.

Want to supercharge the benefits of your favourite carb? Cool it. It's all to do with creating resistant starch. Whilst refined carbohydrates, found in white bread, cookies and cakes, are easily absorbed by the body - enabling their associated calories to be all-too-easily stored as fat - resistant starches (so-called thanks to their resistance to digestion) are turned into short-chain fatty acids, which are much more readily burned as energy.

Wholegrains, beans, cashew nuts, raw oats and unripe bananas are packed with resistant starch but so, believe it or not, are potatoes, white pasta and rice - as long as they've been cooked and cooled, that is. Incredibly, allowing cooked potatoes, rice or pasta to cool in the fridge enables resistant starch to form as the food's molecular bonds reform. Once cooled, they can be eaten cold or reheated. Potato starch is also an excellent source of resistant starch - try using it in place of cornstarch to thicken sauces, pie fillings and soups.

Combining a source of resistant starch with a source of protein has been found to accelerate fat burning when compared with either resistant starch or protein alone, so pop an egg or two into your potato salad, and top your leftover rice with a low-fat chicken or tofu stir fry or curry dish. This combination will not only rev up your metabolism, but also help to keep you fuller for longer.

And that's not all. Resistant starch has also been found to act as a powerful prebiotic, enhancing gut health. It appears to reduce inflammation, enhance the absorption of certain minerals and decrease insulin resistance. Early research indicates that the wonder molecule may even help to prevent type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer. "Certain populations and cultures have been benefiting from resistant starches for a long time," researcher Paul Arciero told TIME magazine. "In my belief, that's what's protected them against some of the ravages of the more modern-day high carbohydrate diet."

Now, where did that takeaway menu get to?