Food With No Starch

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Our mission is to help people eat real food without the starch. We provide a wide range of information and recipes based around concepts such as real, whole foods and Paleo, primal or ketogenic diets. The focus is education through a series of articles written by our team members who are certified health professionals or students completing their studies in the health sciences. Other bloggers submit their ideas as well so readers get a chance to see what other people are experiencing in their own lives while eating whole foods- free from grains, sugars and processed foods.”

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Food With No Starch

Starch is a type of carbohydrate that occurs naturally in grains, root vegetables, green bananas and most types of beans. There are plenty of delicious, healthy foods with no sugar or starch.

Tip

Except for animals foods, such as meat, fish, seafood and eggs, most foods contain small amounts of carbs, including sugars and/or starches. However, this doesn’t mean they’re unhealthy.

All About Starch

High-carb diets are often associated with weight gain, elevated blood sugar, diabetes and other health concerns. However, the link between carbs and obesity is subject to debate, according to a February 2018 review in the ​BMJ Open​.

Most researchers agree, however, that certain types of carbs, especially simple sugars, can increase body weight. A low-carb diet, on the other hand, can help you slim down and improve your health. This eating pattern has been linked to fat loss, reduced blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels.

A recent study published in the ​Journal of Hepatology​ in May 2019 shows that people who switched to a low-carb Mediterranean diet experienced significant reductions in visceral fat mass and liver fat content. The benefits were even greater for those who committed to regular exercise.

As the study authors point out, high liver fat content is a major risk factor for diabetes, metabolic disorders and heart disease. Cutting back on carbs may help reduce body weight, visceral fat mass and liver fat, leading to improved cardiometabolic health.

Not all carbs are created equal, though. The study in the ​Journal of Hepatology,​ for example, was based on a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, which are all high in carbs. Furthermore, a diet rich in carbs can be just as effective as a low-carb diet in terms of weight loss, depending on the types of carbohydrates consumed, per a January 2017 ​Nutrients​ study.

Carbs with a low glycemic index (GI), such as leafy greens, nonstarchy vegetables, oat bran and most fruits, have a negligible impact on blood sugar levels and may aid in diabetes management, per the Mayo Clinic.

Starches are not necessarily harmful, but they may contribute to weight gain and increase blood sugar levels when consumed in large amounts. Health organizations worldwide recommend eating whole grains, boiled or baked potatoes, whole-wheat or whole-grain pasta and other high-fiber starchy foods. Dietary fiber slows sugar absorption into the bloodstream and helps prevent insulin spikes.

Foods Without Starch and Sugar

As you see, starches have their place in a healthy diet. However, if you’re trying to lose weight, you might benefit from limiting carbs, including sugary and starchy foods. The good news is that you can still enjoy a varied diet and cook your favorite meals. Just remember to substitute sugar and starches with low-carb ingredients.

A no-starch diet may include:

  • unprocessed meat
  • fish
  • eggs
  • dairy products
  • green vegetables
  • oils
  • avocado

With a few exceptions, most fruits are starch-free, but they do contain quite a lot of sugar.

Fructose​, the sugar in honey and fruits, may contribute to metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, oxidative stress and impaired organ function when consumed in excess, according to a March 2017 review featured in ​Nutrients​.

This sugar also increases triglycerides and cholesterol levels, leading to a greater risk of heart disease. The review indicates that it may cause inflammation in the brain and internal organs, including the heart, liver and kidneys.

These side effects, though, are due to ​high​ fructose consumption, so if you eat fruits and drink fruit juices in moderation, you have nothing to worry about.

Soft drinks and processed foods, such as energy bars, candy, breakfast cereals, granola, frozen dinners, flavored yogurt and most desserts, contain large amounts of fructose.

Unprocessed Meat and Animal Products

Except for processed meat, all types of meat and poultry are carb-free. The same goes for eggs, milk, cheese, fish and seafood.

Milk and its derivatives contain small amounts of carbs, but not all carbs are starches. Beware, though, that deli meats and processed dairy foods, such as fruit-flavored yogurt, may contain starch.

Pay attention to how you cook these foods. Lean ground beef, for example, has zero carbs. However, if you roll it in flour to make meatballs or meat patties, the carb count will go up. Flour, breadcrumbs, oats and other popular ingredients are high in starch.

Steam, boil, grill or roast meat and fish. Serve them with nonstarchy vegetables like celery, cucumbers, asparagus, spinach, kale, zucchini, artichokes or eggplant. Some veggies, though, may contain small amounts of sugars. Eggplant, for instance, provides 4.8 grams of carbs, including 2.8 grams of sugars and 2.5 grams of fiber per serving (1 cup). If you’re on a strict low-carb diet, make a list of “safe” foods to use in your recipes.

Tip

If you’re trying to lose weight, aim to get at least 25 to 30 grams of protein at each meal, as this amount was shown to help people limit their appetite and manage their weight, reports a study published in the ​American Journal of Clinical Nutrition​ in April 2015.

Non-Starchy Fruits and Vegetables

As mentioned earlier, not all carbs are starches. Most fruits are high in carbs and sugars, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they contain starch. Plantains, bananas, dates, figs and other high-sugar fruits are typically high in starch, so it’s better to avoid them while on a low-carb diet. Opt for low-sugar fruits, such as:

  • Avocado​: 80 calories and 0.3 grams of sugars per serving
  • Strawberries​: 47 calories and 7.1 grams of sugars per serving
  • Blueberries​: 84 calories and 9.9 grams of sugars per serving
  • Cantaloupe​: 46 calories and 10.5 grams of sugars per serving
  • Lemon​: 17 calories and 1.4 grams of sugars per serving
  • Coconut meat​: 283 calories and 4.9 grams of sugars per serving

When it comes to vegetables, you have a lot more options. Most veggies contain little or no sugar and can be easily incorporated into a low-carb diet, per the American Diabetes Association. Some non-starchy veggies include:

  • Asparagus
  • Arugula
  • Leeks
  • Mushrooms
  • Cauliflower
  • Turnips
  • Carrots
  • Mustard greens
  • Collard greens
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Radishes
  • Watercress
  • Tomatoes

These vegetables, though, may contain carbs and sugars. Tomatoes, for example, provide 27 calories, 5.7 grams of carbs and 3.8 grams of sugars per serving (5.2 ounces). There are 52 calories, 12.2 grams of carbs and 6 grams of sugars in 1 cup of chopped carrots.

Except for meat and other animal products, most foods contain small amounts of sugars or starches. Keep a food journal and write down what you eat at every meal. Your daily carb intake will depend largely on your diet. Ketogenic diets, for instance, limit carbs to 20 to 50 grams per day, while traditional low-carb diets are less restrictive, per Harvard Health Publishing.

What Goes Into a Starch-Free Diet Plan?

On a starch-free or reduced-starch diet, you’ll need to give up grains, peas, corn, potatoes, lima beans and all types of legumes, including dried beans and lentils, as all of these foods are significant sources of starch. This means no pasta, rice, oatmeal, bread, cake or cookies.

Starchy foods are broken down into sugars during digestion, which is why some diets recommend limiting or avoiding them. When a lot of sugar is quickly released into the bloodstream, it can cause your body to release a large amount of insulin to bring blood sugar levels back down. This can cause you to feel hungry again and make it harder to lose weight.

When avoiding starchy foods, your diet will consist mainly of nonstarchy vegetables, fruits, lean protein foods, dairy products, nuts and seeds. The fruits and vegetables will help provide you with dietary fiber, which slows down the emptying of the stomach so you feel full for longer.

Potential Benefits of a Starch-Free Diet

A study published in ​Mayo Clinic Proceedings​ in November 2003 found that following a starch-free diet high in saturated fat for six weeks resulted in weight loss without adversely affecting cholesterol levels.

Some starchy foods, such as potatoes in any form and refined grains, were associated with weight gain in a study published in the ​New England Journal of Medicine​ in 2011, so eating fewer servings of these foods may help with weight loss.

Another study published in the ​New England Journal of Medicine​ in November 2010 found that a diet high in protein and low on the glycemic index may be helpful for weight loss. The glycemic index estimates how quickly foods containing carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels after you eat them.

Diets that eliminate all starches can be low on the glycemic index, as long as they also eliminate sugary foods, and may be high in protein depending on what you decide to eat to replace the starchy foods you aren’t eating.

Potential Drawbacks of a Starch-Free Diet

Some starchy foods are significant sources of nutrients, so avoiding them may mean you lose some of the potential health benefits associated with these foods. For example, whole grains provide iron, B vitamins, selenium, magnesium and fiber and may help reduce the risk of heart disease and help you manage your weight.

A study published in ​Public Health Nutrition​ in December 2011 found that eating at least three servings of whole grains per day was linked to lowering heart disease and type 2 diabetes risk up to 30 percent. Cereal fiber is also associated with weight loss and fat loss, according to a review article published in ​Nutrients​ in May 2013.

Beans are also nutritional powerhouses, providing fiber, protein, magnesium, iron, potassium and folate.

No Starch Diet Plan

Starch is a complex carbohydrate made of long chains of sugar molecules. Starch is naturally abundant in certain fruits and vegetables. When you eat starch, enzymes in your body break it down into simple sugar, raising your blood-glucose level, inducing an insulin response. Excess sugar that is not used for energy will be stored in your body as fat. Therefore, reduced starch consumption may lead to better control of insulin level, better weight management and overall wellness.

Features

Developed by Jerry Sobieraj, M.D., in 2000, the no-starch diet is based on the effect of starch content in food on blood sugar and insulin level. The focus of the diet is to help with management of insulin level, making it beneficial for individuals who are diabetic or insulin-resistant. Sobieraj stressed that the no-starch diet is not the same as other low-carb diets such as the Atkins diet. The no-starch diet does not specifically limit your caloric intake. Instead, it focuses on cutting consumption to relieve stress on insulin and blood-sugar level. The no-starch diet allows you to eat fruits, most vegetables, legumes and most dairy, which are forbidden in other low-carb diets.

  • Developed by Jerry Sobieraj, M.D., in 2000, the no-starch diet is based on the effect of starch content in food on blood sugar and insulin level.
  • The no-starch diet allows you to eat fruits, most vegetables, legumes and most dairy, which are forbidden in other low-carb diets.

Glycemic Index, Starch and Blood Sugar

Glycemic index is the measure of the effect of sugar in a food on blood-sugar level. High-GI foods are usually richer in starch, have a more dramatic increase on blood-sugar level and require maximum insulin functioning to normalize blood sugar. For example, starchy foods such as rice, bread, potatoes and noodles have a high GI and can lead to blood-sugar spike, whereas non-starchy foods such as leafy greens, meats, nuts and milk, have a low GI and are safer on blood-sugar level.

Foods to Eat and Avoid

In the no-starch diet, you need to reduce consumption of starchy foods and processed foods, including rice, potatoes, yams, turnips, corn, peas, potatoes, crackers, cakes, cookies, rolls, biscuits, cereals, pasta and noodles. Replace these foods with healthy fats, protein and carbohydrates such as seafoods, lean meats, chicken, turkey, low-fat dairy products except cheese, fruits of all kinds except canned fruits, legumes, eggs and nuts with the limitation of one ounce per day.

Benefits

Since starch is broken down into sugars in your body, excess consumption can lead to sugar accumulation and eventually weight gain. According to Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the no-starch diet can lead to weight loss and accompanied improvement in insulin sensitivity.The no-starch diet, and a low-GI diet, is not only beneficial to insulin level, but might also help to increase cardiovascular health by creating a more favorable lipid profile, according to the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism.

Warning

As with all other diets, consult your doctor before you begin the no-starch diet.

What Is a High Insulin Level?

Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas to help regulate blood sugar levels. High insulin, or hyperinsulinemia, is when insulin levels remain elevated as opposed to the normal fluctuations of insulin necessary to lower blood sugar in relation to eating. It is often associated with type 2 diabetes, which is diet-related, as opposed to type 1 diabetes, which is not, and is considered a pre-diabetic condition.

Insulin Function

Food provides proteins, carbohydrates and fats, the macronutrients, which are broken down during digestion into the amino acids, simple sugars and triglycerides your cells need. Of these three major nutrients, carbohydrates have by far the greatest effect on blood sugar levels. Simple carbohydrates are rapidly absorbed, while complex carbohydrates are absorbed more slowly because of their more complex structure. Under normal circumstances, your pancreas secretes insulin in response to the elevation in blood sugar levels caused by the foods you eat.

High Insulin

High insulin is due primarily to a diet high in sugar and simple carbohydrates. When you eat carbohydrates, your body uses insulin to transport the resulting glucose into your cells for conversion into energy. When you are not eating, your pancreas releases enough insulin to prevent low blood sugar. When your cells stop responding to insulin, your body produces more of it to provoke the necessary response, which leads to high insulin levels in your blood.

Implications

High insulin levels can affect your weight and body composition. In addition, the heavier a person gets, the more insulin is needed, which further complicates the situation. Elevated insulin can cause salt and water retention. Over a prolonged period of time, high insulin levels can raise cholesterol and increase the risk for heart disease, such as atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, heart attack and stroke.

Symptoms

Symptoms of high insulin include weight gain, sugar cravings, weakness, intense hunger and a need for frequent meals. Other symptoms include fatigue, memory loss and lack of focus. High insulin levels can also lead to low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, with symptoms including weakness and confusion. Treatment of hyperinsulinemia is directed at the underlying problem. If diet is the cause, your doctor may recommend changes to your diet.

Foods Containing Glucose or Fructose

Glucose and fructose are simple sugars or monosaccharides. Monosaccharides are the simplest form of carbohydrates and can be combined to form more complex carbohydrates like disaccharides and polysaccharides. Examples of disaccharides and polysaccharides are sucrose (table sugar), lactose (milk sugar) and starch. Most foods contain glucose, fructose or both. Carbohydrates like glucose and fructose are the body’s main source of energy.

Fruits and Vegetables

Glucose and fructose are naturally found in fresh fruits and vegetables. They are also in fruit and vegetable products made with added sugar because glucose and fructose combine to form common table sugar. Examples include jams, jellies, chutneys, canned fruits and vegetables, dried or candied fruits and vegetables, frozen fruit concentrates, fruit pie fillings, fruit drinks, ketchup, pickled sweet cucumbers and relish.

Grains

Grains contain glucose but do not naturally contain fructose. However, grain products that are made with sugar will contain both glucose and fructose. This includes bread, baked goods, desserts, snack foods like chips and crackers, instant oatmeal, cereal, granola, frozen pastry dough and instant rice and pasta.

Dairy

Plain dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese are a natural source of glucose because glucose is a building block for lactose, the sugar found in milk. Dairy products that contain glucose and fructose include chocolate milk, flavored yogurt and yogurt with fruit on the bottom, ice cream, whipped cream, sherbet, frozen yogurt and sweetened cream cheese.

Beverages

Fresh fruit and vegetable juices naturally contain glucose and fructose. Fruit drinks contain glucose and fructose because sugar has been added for flavor and sweetness. Other sugary beverages that contain glucose and fructose include soft drinks, energy drinks, sweetened iced tea, sweetened coffee, smoothies, milkshakes, blended beverages, alcohol and alcoholic mixers. Beverages that do not contain glucose or fructose include water, carbonated soda water, diet soda, and plain coffee and tea.

Other Foods

Honey is a natural source of fructose. All commercially processed foods made with added sugar will contain glucose and fructose. The American Diabetes Association says ingredients that may indicate the presence of glucose or fructose include white sugar, brown sugar, confectioner’s sugar, powdered sugar, sucrose, maltose, high-fructose corn syrup, beet sugar, sugar cane, cane sugar, molasses, raw sugar, turbinado, maple syrup and agave.

Do All Fruits & Vegetables Have Fructose?

Fructose is a natural simple sugar found in varying quantities in all fruits, fruit juices and vegetables. For many people, even a small amount of fructose may cause malabsorption, or intestinal discomfort. Fresh or fresh frozen fruits and vegetables may be better tolerated than processed canned food to eliminate gas, bloating, abdominal cramping and diarrhea that can be caused by high levels of fructose.

Fruits

Foods with the highest fructose content that may cause intestinal problems include prunes, pears, cherries, peaches, apples, plums, applesauce, apple juice, pear juice, apple cider, grapes and dates. Easily digested fruits that have a minimal effect on the digestive tract are pineapples, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, lemons, limes, avocado, bananas, rhubarb and oranges, according to the University of Virginia Health System.

Vegetables

Heat causes loss of fructose so cooked vegetables may be tolerated better than raw. Foods with fructose include asparagus, cauliflower, green peppers, broccoli, leafy greens, celery, mushrooms, cucumber, beans and root vegetables. Tomatoes, corn, carrot and sweet potatoes contain the most fructose, according to the University of Virginia Health System.

Fructose Intolerance

Thirty percent of people have fructose malabsorption, a sugar sensitivity caused by the inability of the small intestine to break down or absorb sugars, according to Food Intol, a website devoted to food intolerance. Fructose sensitivities can cause sugar cravings, mood disturbances and depression. Fructose malabsorption inhibits the absorption of nutrients, which can lead to long-term effects such as anemia, unhealthy skin and hair, and osteoporosis. Hereditary fructose intolerance is a rare genetic condition that lasts for life, according to Food Intol. It creates an inability in the body to produce enzymes for breaking down fructose. Without a restricted fructose-free diet, there is risk of serious diseases including liver failure.

  • Thirty percent of people have fructose malabsorption, a sugar sensitivity caused by the inability of the small intestine to break down or absorb sugars, according to Food Intol, a website devoted to food intolerance.

Health

According to a report in the Journal of Nutrition, high fructose consumption may increase risk of gout and kidney stones. Excessive fructose may raise triglycerides, so large fructose intake is not recommended. A study by the Department of Medicine at the University of Minnesota found that fructose in fruits and vegetables should not be a concern to diabetics in modest consumption. Dr, John P. Bantle, professor of Medicine, Endocrinology and Diabetes division at the University of Minnesota, said fructose occurring naturally in fruits and vegetables is a component of energy intake and, although large amounts of fructose are undesirable, these healthy foods should be included in the diet for diabetics.

  • According to a report in the Journal of Nutrition, high fructose consumption may increase risk of gout and kidney stones.
  • A study by the Department of Medicine at the University of Minnesota found that fructose in fruits and vegetables should not be a concern to diabetics in modest consumption.

Weight Gain

Fructose in excessive amounts can induce leptin resistance, which could contribute to weight gain when combined with a high-at, high-calorie diet. A six-month study at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville and published in the American Journal of Physiology, used two groups of rats and found that a high-fructose diet produced higher blood levels of triglycerides. Rats on the no-fructose diet responded normally to leptin by eating less.

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