Even though we know not all carbs are created equal, carbohydrates as a class have attracted a pretty bad rep over the years. But before you cut them out of your diet completely, there might be a reason to give starchy foods a second chance—especially if you’re watching your waistline. (Check out The Best Carbs for Weight Loss.) A class of carbohydrates known as “resistant starches” might actually help control your weight
The problem with most starches is that they’re refined (think white bread or an addictive batch of sugar cookies), which means your body absorbs them super quickly—an issue we don’t see with whole grains that digest more slowly. When you eat a lot of refined carbs, rather than convert them to energy, your body stores them as fat. Hence the doughy middle you might find yourself with on a high-carb diet.
But there’s a type of carbs that might actually be good for your middle. According to research published in 2015, carbs known as “resistant starches” might actually help you control weight, not just start a binge on baguettes. The study found that not only do these carbs increase energy, they also help to increase feelings of fullness. (Get The Lowdown on Resistant Starch.) That’s because resistant starches, like whole grains, digest much slower. They skip the small intestine entirely and head straight for the large intestine, where they’re converted into energy, not fat. And as a bonus, they also serve as a powerful prebiotic, helping to boost your gut health.
Resistant starches include whole grains, but the category also expands to legumes, seeds, and some outliers like uncooked potatoes and unripe bananas. (See 7 Foods You Never Knew Were Loaded with Carbs.) But the number one place you’ll find them is in those takeout containers in the fridge. Surprisingly enough, normally “bad” carbs like rice and pasta actually develop resistant starches when they’re cooled. So those leftovers could actually be better for you than the original meal was. Consider this a case for batch meal making and brown bagging all week. (We’ve got Genius Meal Planning Ideas for a Healthy Week.)