Corn Starch & Weight Loss

Side view of woman weighing on scale
Corn starch can interfere with your attempts to lose weight. (Image: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc../Blend Images/Getty Images)

Weight loss is at its most basic an exercise in applied physics. The more calories you burn, the more weight you lose. Different foods can help or hinder your efforts to lose weight, depending on their nutritional content and calorie composition. Corn starch, a common ingredient in many foods, is a food that falls on the hindering side of this equation.

Weight Loss Basics

Your body takes in calories every time you eat food. It burns those calories through activity over the course of each day. If you take in more calories than you burn, your body stores those extra calories as fat and you gain weight. If you burn more than you take in, your body accesses the stored calories to make up the difference. You burn fat and lose weight.

Calories and Weight Loss

Despite many fad diets that promise results without it, counting calories is at the heart of healthy weight loss. In order to lose weight, says Oregon fitness coach Ben Cohn, you need to create a caloric deficit by intentionally eating fewer calories than you burn. Health counselor Maya Paul recommends a deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories per day for fast but safe weight loss.

Good Calories, Bad Calories

When you're operating on a restricted-calorie diet, it's important to make the most of the calories you can take in. According to Harvard nutritionist Walter Willett in "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy," the first foods to cut out should be those that are high in calories but low in nutrition. USDA statistics show that corn starch carries 100 calories per ounce, yet delivers no appreciable content of vitamins, minerals or protein.

Starch and Blood Sugar

Willett reports that starches such as corn starch can be as bad as pure sugar when it comes to health and losing weight. Starches break down quickly, flooding your bloodstream with the sugars they contain. In response, your pancreas releases a flood of insulin to process the sugar. Unfortunately, your pancreas will continue releasing insulin at that rate for some time after it has processed all the sugar from the starch. Your body will respond to the excess insulin by craving more sugar-leading to feelings of hunger and diet-killing between meal snacks.

Corn Starch and Weight Loss

Corn starch is a dose of high-sugar, low-nutrient calories that your body can do without. Willett recommends avoiding foods like corn starch entirely whether or not you're on a diet. While this might be an overreaction, the nutrition data definitely point to corn starch as a food to be avoided for best weight-loss results.

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