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The Effects of Too Much Starch in a Diet

author image Aglaee Jacob
Aglaee Jacob is a registered dietitian. She has experience working with people who have diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and obesity issues. Jacob obtained a bachelor of science and a master of science, both in nutrition, from Laval University in Quebec City, Canada.
The Effects of Too Much Starch in a Diet
a baked potato with sour cream and cheddar cheese. Photo Credit: cobraphoto/iStock/Getty Images

Starch is part of the total carbohydrates, along with sugars and dietary fiber. Although starch used to be referred to as complex carbs and sugars as simple carbs, both sugar and starch contributes calories and have the potential of rising your blood sugar levels, but dietary fiber does not. Eating more fiber can help you feel fuller longer between your meals that will prevent cravings and snack attacks that can ruin your diet. However, eating too much starch has the same effect as eating too much sugar.

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Starchy Foods

Starchy foods are found in large amounts in the standard American diet. At breakfast, breakfast cereals, toasts, bagels, English muffins, muffins, croissants and oatmeal are the most commonly eaten starchy foods. At lunch and dinner, french fries, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, rice, pasta, couscous, beans and lentils, pizza dough, buns, tortillas, taco shells and corn are rich in starch. Many snack foods are also very starchy, such as pretzels, crackers, rice cakes, potato chips and granola bars.

Blood Sugar Levels

Although most people believe that only sugar can raise your blood sugar levels, starch can produce the same results. Starch is made of a long molecule of glucose, or sugar, and when it is digested, it is broken down into sugar. Eating a lot of starchy foods can therefore create large variations in your blood sugar levels, making them rise quickly and then drop. These fluctuations are associated with varying energy levels, hunger and cravings, which can prompt you to overeat. Moreover, if you have prediabetes, diabetes or reactive hypoglycemia, eating starchy foods can exacerbate your blood sugar roller coaster and make it more difficult to manage your condition.

Weight Gain

Eating too much of anything, including starch, can result in weight gain. Starch is a carbohydrates and contain 4 calories per gram. Moreover, many starchy foods, especially the processed and refined ones, can be addictive and make you want to eat more than you need while you pack on the pounds. Excess starch and sugar are easily converted to fat, especially when accompanied with the high insulin levels that result from increasing blood sugar levels. After being converted to fat, excess starch is then stored in your body fat stores for later use and you may notice that your clothes are getting tighter.

Reduce Your Starch Intake

Try reducing your starch intake, as well as your sugar intake for maximum benefits, to see how it influences your health and well-being. Start by eliminating all processed foods and foods made from refined grains, which include most of the pre-packaged and convenience foods found at your grocery store. Get the small amount of carbs you need from fruits, milk, yogurt, nuts, seeds and their butter. Follow this low-starch or no-starch diet for a few weeks and see if you notice any improvements in your energy levels and body weight.

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