Safe Starches and The Perfect Health Diet

Many thanks to Richard Nikoley, Tim “Tatertot” Steele and Grace Liu for not only giving comprehensive answers to my many questions about resistant starch, but for taking the time to answer questions in the comments section as well.  I appreciate your dedication, gang.

Speaking of the gang, Richard was the guest host for the latest episode of Jimmy Moore’s Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb show.  Tim and Grace were his primary guests.  I came on at the end.  The topic, of course, was resistant starch.

I started the three-part interview series by saying my next few posts should be filed under Stuff I Got Wrong or Stuff I Wish I Hadn’t Ignored.  Resistant starch was one.  Okay, got that one covered for now.  The other was “safe starch” as prescribed in Paul Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet.

I’ve already explained why I dismissed resistant starch when the topic first hit the media:  the people pushing it were the makers of an industrial corn product that’s used to add a little resistant starch to muffins and other baked goods that are still frankenfood garbage.  They’re still promoting resistant starch that way.

I mostly ignored the “safe starch” issue when it created a buzz in 2011 because I’d given up starchy foods and felt fine.  In fact, I didn’t even watch the Ancestral Health Symposium debate on safe starch until last week.  I say mostly ignored because the one time I commented on it was when Jimmy Moore wrote a blog post and asked for a comment.  I hadn’t read the Perfect Health Diet book, but knew Jaminet recommended a diet that included “safe starches” such as white rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams and plantains to avoid a glucose deficiency.  So I made a wisecrack about how my Irish ancestors died off from a glucose deficiency because they didn’t have access to white rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams and plantains – none of which are native to Ireland.  (Potatoes didn’t come to Ireland until they were brought from the New World.)  Then I went back to ignoring the topic.

I did, however, start adding sweet potatoes and squashes back into my diet here and there after I read more on paleo and ancestral diets and realized that tubers and other starchy plants have been part of the human diet for a long, long time.  Unlike wheat and other cereal grains, roots and tubers are not Neolithic foods that require farming and processing.  They’re ancient foods that can be (and were) gathered by hunter-gatherer societies.  In the book Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, the author cites research showing that humans began cooking meats and tubers hundreds of thousands of years ago.  It was these calorically-dense foods, easily digested after cooking, that allowed our big brains to develop.

So when we talk about Paleo Man with his tall stature and good bones and teeth, we’re talking about a man who gathered and ate some roots, tubers and other starchy plants to go along with his meat and fish.  My Irish ancestors didn’t eat rice or yams or plantains, but that’s not the point (or so I realize now).  Because the truth is, none of us eats exactly what our paleo ancestors ate.  We can’t.  They hunted animals that have gone extinct.  They gathered plants that have mutated or gone extinct.  When we shift towards what we now call a paleo diet, the best we can do is try to eat foods that provide the nutrients they consumed, not the same plants and animals that provided them with those nutrients.  My Irish ancestors didn’t eat yams, but they likely discovered species of edible roots and tubers while digging up the Guinness bushes to make themselves a yummy drink.

With all that in mind, I added small servings of sweet potatoes and squashes back into my diet, but considered them an acceptable real-food treat, not a necessary part of a healthy diet.  I figured I could just easily live without any starchy foods, and perhaps I can … but perhaps some people can’t, and perhaps I’m better off with those foods than without them.

As you know if you saw my most recent speech, I’m a fan of the Wisdom of Crowds effect: when people communicate what they know with each other, the answers bubble up.  In the cyberspace crowd of health-oriented blogs and Facebook groups, I noticed more and more people saying they developed problems on a strict very-low-carb diet – low thyroid function, cold hands and feet, high fasting glucose, dry eyes, etc. – which went away when they added some “safe starches” back into their diets as prescribed in the Perfect Health Diet.  In the same post about safe starches where I made the wisecrack about my Irish ancestors, in fact, Chris Kresser made this observation:

I see a fair number of patients in my practice struggling with symptoms like hair loss, cold hands and feet, plateaued weight loss, low energy and mood imbalances after following a VLC diet for several months. In many cases they adopted this approach to lose weight, which was successful – at least to a certain point. However, others were not overweight to begin with and simply chose to eat VLC because they got the impression that “carbs are bad”, even for people without metabolic problems. I believe many of these issues are related to the decrease in thyroid hormone levels seen on VLC diets.

In cases where there is no significant metabolic damage, when I have these folks increase their carbohydrate intake (with starch like tubers and white rice, and fruit) to closer to 150g a day, they almost always feel better. Their hair loss stops, their body temperature increases and their mood and energy improves.

So I figured there had to be something to it.  Kresser is a brilliant guy and treats a lot of patients.  That’s real-world experience talking.  But he followed with this:

For people that are overweight and are insulin/leptin resistant, it’s a bit trickier. In some cases increasing carbohydrate intake moderately, to approximately 100g per day, actually re-starts the weight loss again. In other cases, any increase in carbohydrate intake – in any form – will cause weight gain and other unpleasant symptoms. A different approach is required for these patients.

As always, there’s no simple answer and no one-size-fits-all approach. If I could leave your readers with one point, that would be it.

I agree completely.  We’re all different.  Some people may need starchy carbs in their diets, other people probably don’t.  Until recently, I put myself in the second camp.  I was doing fine without making safe starches a part of my daily diet.  I never developed any of the health problems people were saying they cured with safe starches.  Cold hands and feet?  Nope.  Dry eyes?  Nope.  Depressed thyroid?  Not according to the battery of lab tests I had when I turned 55.  So I figured if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and continued pretty much ignoring the safe-starch issue.

It was revisiting resistant starch that finally prompted me to revisit safe starches and read Paul Jaminet’s book.  Why?  Well, it’s all about gut health and the microbiome.  After Richard Nikoley beat me and thousands of other people over the head with a hundred or so posts on resistant starch, I decided to give it try.  Within two days, it solved the one issue I had not just with a low-carb diet, but with every diet I’ve ever tried:  slow digestion.  As I’ve mentioned in several posts, the worst digestion I ever had was back in my grain-eating vegetarian days.  I always had a bottle of Pepto-Bismal in my medicine cabinet and packed the chewable version when I traveled.  Going low-carb cured that.  No more stomach aches, no more irritable bowel, no more gastric reflux – probably because going low-carb meant giving up wheat and other gluten-containing grains.

But the slow digestion stuck around, so I either ate good-sized servings of almonds or swallowed psyllium-husk pills before bed.  That usually did the trick.  But after starting a protocol of resistant starch and probiotics, my digestion has been excellent – better than it’s ever been.  I’m also sleeping more deeply than I have in decades, which is quite a welcome development, since I’ve been prone to occasional bouts of insomnia for most of my life.  I feel clear-headed and alert soon after waking.  Normally it takes two big cups of coffee before I feel truly awake.

That’s when I decided my if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it confidence was misplaced.  Something was broken, or at least far from optimal.  My version of a near-paleo diet was controlling my blood sugar and keeping my weight down, but it wasn’t properly feeding my gut bacteria.

In an email exchange with Richard Nikoley, he told me he first learned about the benefits of resistant starch from Tim Steele.  In an email exchange with Tim Steele, he told me he first learned about the benefits of resistant starch from … wait for it … Paul Jaminet.  Okay, I thought to myself, it’s about time I read this guy’s book.

And so, with apologies to Jaminet for the longest preamble ever to a book review (and for that wisecrack about my Irish ancestors), I’ll explain why I believe it’s one of the best books on nutrition I’ve ever read.

In case you’re not familiar with his story, Paul Jaminet lived on a standard American diet for decades and paid for it with ill health.  His health improved on a very-low-carb paleo diet for awhile, but then he developed other problems – scurvy, to name one example.  So his low-carb paleo diet was better, but obviously still not good enough.  It was the desire to find a perfect diet that inspired all the research that eventually went into the first edition of the Perfect Health Diet book and the Perfect Health Diet website.

Among other careers, Paul Jaminet was once an astrophysicist at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.  His wife and co-author, Shou-Ching Jaminet, is a molecular biologist and cancer researcher at the Harvard Medical School.  So let’s just say they’re on the smart side of the bell curve and not afraid to delve into the heavy-duty science stuff.  Fortunately for the book’s readers, they explain it clearly.  In fact, I would describe their writing style as relentlessly logical – and I mean that as a compliment.

The relentless logic that underlies the Perfect Health Diet goes like this:  ill health is the result of pathogens, nutrient deficiencies and toxins.  So other than avoiding pathogens, the key to robust health is a diet that excludes toxins as much as possible while providing the optimal intake of all necessary nutrients.  Optimal intake means enough to derive the biological benefits, but not enough to become toxic – because almost anything can become toxic to humans at some level.  Not too little, not too much.

Among many other nutrients, the Jaminets make a case that there’s an optimal intake of glucose – otherwise known as starch.  (Fruits provide most of their calories as fructose, and sugar is roughly half fructose and half glucose.)  As the book explains:

For glucose, as for all other nutrients, our strategy is to find the peak health range – the intakes at which benefits have ended and there is still no toxicity.

That peak health range is the amount of glucose our bodies require on a daily basis — somewhere in the range of 100 to 150 grams. It’s this chapter of the book that started all the hubbub over “safe starches.”  Yes, your body will convert protein into glucose – even if it has to raid the protein stored in your muscles to do so – but the Jaminets argue that forcing your body to meet its daily glucose requirement through gluconeogenesis can eventually cause the health problems Chris Kresser described seeing in some of his patients: slow thyroid, dry eyes, cold hands and feet, low energy, weight-loss stalls, etc.

I don’t believe everyone on a very-low-carb diet will develop those problems, of course.  I didn’t.  But as I mentioned above, I’ve been including occasional servings of sweet potatoes and squashes in my diet for awhile now, plus I usually consume a high-carb Mexican meal on Saturday night.  Perhaps that made the difference.  Or it could just be that some of us are more efficient at producing glucose from protein than others and therefore avoid the glucose-deficiency problems the Jaminets describe.

The point is, just because a low-carb diet is beneficial for many people, it doesn’t mean a no-carb diet is even better.  If the optimal intake for most people is somewhere in the 100 to 150 gram range, which the Jaminets believe it is, then we need to obtain those carbohydrates from foods that also provide nutrients without tossing toxins into the mix.  That’s the logic behind what they call safe starches:  potatoes, sweet potatoes, taro, tapioca, white rice, plantains, yams and sago.  Those are low-toxin Paleolithic foods (with the possible exception of rice) that provide nutrients such as potassium, copper, vitamin A, resistant starch and fiber.

The Jaminets mention resistant starch specifically several times in the book.  Here’s an example from a section about the benefits of producing butyrate in the colon:

Although the fiber in cereal bran is harmful, two kinds of fiber seem to be highly beneficial:  resistant starch and pectin.  These also happen to be the types that generate the most butyrate.

“Resistant starch” is starch that is indigestible to human digestive enzymes.  Potatoes naturally come with high levels of resistant starch.  But all starchy foods can form resistant starch after cooking and cooling.  Cooking gelatinizes starch into a form that is readily digested by human amylase, but if it is allowed to cool, some of this gelatinized starch re-forms into resistant starch.

In a later chapter on meal planning, the Jaminets mention that they regularly cook several potatoes ahead of time and then store them in the refrigerator (a habit Chareva recently adopted as well).  That means a good chunk of their safe starch is also resistant starch, the kind that keeps our gut bugs fat and happy.

The Perfect Health Diet is not an invitation to go carb-crazy – not by a long shot.  The book specifically says starches should only be eaten as part of meal that includes plenty of fat to avoid glucose spikes.  Despite being dismissed or ignored by much of the low-carb world (including yours truly) because of the safe-starch issue, the Jaminets are essentially advocating a lowish-carb paleo diet.  It’s just not very-low-carb.  If you followed their advice and were at the lower end of the recommended starch intake, your diet would be roughly 20% carbohydrate, 15% protein and 65% fat.  Is that high-fat enough for you?

My Fat Head fast-food diet was 22% carbohydrate, by the way, with a lower proportion of fat (55%) than the Jaminets recommend.  Funny how I became known as a “fat head” low-carb advocate while the Jaminets didn’t, at least not in low-carb circles.  Of course, my 100 grams or so of starch were coming from hamburger buns and potatoes fried in vegetable oils, both of which the Jaminets advise against.  I guess we could call my experiment The Very Imperfect Health Diet.

So far I’ve been focusing on the safe-starch aspect of the Perfect Health Diet, since that’s the section that caused all the debate in the paleo and low-carb diet worlds.  But there’s way more to it than that.  The new paperback edition runs just over 400 pages and offers advice on the optimal levels and best sources for all three macronutrients and plenty of micronutrients.  The first chapter is titled Why We Start with an Evolutionary Perspective, so not surprisingly, almost everything in the book will have paleo enthusiasts nodding their heads in agreement.  (Mark Sisson wrote the forward for this edition.)

The chapter on grains is titled The Most Toxic Food: Cereal Grains.  (It’s like a Reader’s Digest version of Wheat Belly.  They could have titled it Wheat Is Murder.)  The chapter on vegetable oils is titled Liquid Devils: Vegetable Seed Oils.  Sugar takes a beating in a chapter titled The Sweet Toxin: Fructose.  (Dr. Robert Lustig would approve.)

There’s a ton of good information in the book, but since this will already be a long post, I’ll just give you a taste with some random quotes in no particular order:

Don’t be afraid to eat fat!  Hunter-gatherers flourished on a fat-rich diet.

Too often, experts dole out advice based on unproven hypotheses without ever looking at the scientific evidence from evolutionary selection.  In fact, evolution selected for a certain salt intake.  Anti-salt advice was not supported by reliable studies.

One often hears that glucose is the body’s primary fuel.  That is quite mistaken.  It’s true that all human cells can, if need be, metabolize glucose.  But mitochondria, the energy producers in most human cells, prefer to burn fat.  So in the body, fat is the preferred and primary fuel, except in specialist cells that lack mitochondria or ready access to fat.

Saturated and monounsaturated fats are the safest calorie source – indeed the only calorie source that is nontoxic even in very high doses – and should provide the bulk of calories.  Fish, shellfish, beef, lamb, and dairy fats such as butter and cream are the best animal sources; coconut milk and coconut oil are great plant sources.

Saturated fat improves lipid profiles in two ways:  it increases levels of protective HDL cholesterol, and it makes LDL particles larger and more buoyant, protecting them from glycation and oxidation.

Choline is abundant in liver and egg yolks — foods American eat less than ever before, thanks in part to the demonization of cholesterol… Get choline by eating three eggs yolks a day and liver once a week.

As our Paleolithic ancestors who dominated the globe were characterized by tall stature and healthy teeth and bones and their health deteriorated as soon as their diet was altered, we think it’s safe to say that such a low-carb, high-plant, starch-meat-and-fat-based diet is a healthful human diet.

When the obese try to eat less on a malnourishing diet, they sooner or later become hungry and weight loss stalls or reverses.

The long-term effects of eating less without improving the character of the diet are shockingly bad… efforts to eat less often lead to weighing more.

In their own version of what I’ve termed Character vs. Chemistry in several posts, the Jaminets explain that hunger is the body’s way of saying I need nutrients!  If your diet is deficient in a necessary nutrient, you’re going to be hungry, and eventually you’re going to give in and eat more. Nutrient deficiencies, in fact, may explain why people adopt a particular diet, feel great for awhile, then feel not-so-great, adopt a different diet, feel great for awhile, then feel not-so-great, lather, rinse, repeat.  To quote from the book:

Sometimes people alternate among extreme diets.  They do a low-fat diet, and it works great until a fat-associated nutrient becomes scare and hunger returns.  Weight starts to rebound due to hunger for the fat-associated nutrient.  Disturbed by the weight gain, they shift to the opposite diet – low-carb, high-protein, high-fat.  Now weight loss resumes until they become deficient in some plant-associated nutrient that, on their low-carb diet, they no longer obtain.  Then weight loss stops, hunger increases, and the weight comes back.

The key to long-term weight loss, then, is a diet that provides all the necessary nutrients without an overabundance of food. When you give your body what it needs, it stops ramping up your appetite in hopes that you’ll keep eating and eventually stumble across some actual nutrients.

Darned if that doesn’t make perfect sense.  That’s what I kept thinking to myself as I read the book:  Man, this is all so logical.  It just makes sense.

Like I said, the Jaminets are relentlessly logical. Their own health problems inspired them to undertake a seven-year, relentlessly logical review of the science and design a diet based on unprocessed whole foods, high in fat and low in carbohydrates … but not low enough to create a deficiency that could cause other problems, and with the carbohydrates coming from real foods that provide real nutrients, such as resistant starch to feed our gut bacteria.

Is the Perfect Health Diet truly the perfect diet?  I don’t know, but I was persuaded to move my own diet more in that direction.  I’ll describe what that looks like in a future post.

Meanwhile, I asked Paul Jaminet if he’d be up for a Q & A with the Fat Head audience, and he graciously agreed.  Ask your questions in the comments section for this post.  Put the phrase “Question for Paul Jaminet” at the beginning of the comment so I know it’s a question for him, not for me.  I won’t reply to those comments.  I’ll pick a dozen or so questions and forward them to Paul, then post his answers.

Perhaps you’ll be persuaded to eat a potato smothered in grass-fed butter.


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367 thoughts on “Safe Starches and The Perfect Health Diet

  1. Jeanne Wallace

    Thank you Tom. My question is, should we eat a serving of safe starch daily? And must a baked potato be cold in order to be healthful or is room temp okay?

    Reply
        1. Tom Naughton

          Sure, no problem. If you want to get into that range of 100 to 150 grams per day they recommend, you’d either have to eat a LOT of non-starchy vegetables or some safe starches. I’ve been going with two potatoes/sweet potatoes on most days, one with lunch and one with dinner. We’ve also been enjoying some “safe starch” in the form of Udi’s gluten-free bread, which is made from rice and tapioca flour. It toasts well and goes nicely with eggs.

          A potato doesn’t have to be cold to contain resistant starch. You can cook it, cool it in the fridge, and then reheat it — reheating even produces a bit more resistant starch. So that’s what we’ve been doing: cooking potatoes ahead of time, sticking in the fridge, reheating them as we want them with a meal.

          Reply
          1. Bryan Harris

            When re-heating potatoes, does the same rule of thumb about only re-heating to 140 degrees apply?

            Reply
    1. Anand Srivastava

      I have been a long time follower of PHD (but am not really following the diet, :-(.

      Anyway a cold baked potato will have both RS and safe starch. You need about 100-150gm of starch. But you cannot include RS in those 100-150gms, for obvious reasons.

      So if you are thinking about safe starches, you will get more if it is freshly baked.

      The other issue with freshly baked potato has a higher glycemic index, which requires more fat to bring down the spike. A cold baked potato will have a lower glycemic index because of the higher percentage of RS.

      Reply
        1. Tom Naughton

          The RS won’t digest into glucose. It will go to your colon and become short-chain fatty acids.

          Reply
    2. Bob Geary

      I’ve been making big batches of potato salad to use as a side dish – for some reason, a cold baked potato is thoroughly unappetizing to me (it won’t melt the butter, is probably why :-)), but potato salad? Yum.

      I haven’t really found a mayonnaise or a mayonnaise recipe that feels Paleo-ish to me – olive oil has too strong a taste, most seed/nut oils are way too high in omega-6s, and beef tallow hardens at room temperature. So my basic potato salad is cubed, boiled white potatoes, mixed with just salt, pepper, olive oil, and whatever fresh herbs I have lying around. Maybe a little mustard if that goes with the main course.

      Plenty of RS, delicious, good source of vitamin C (so I don’t get scurvy), and there’s even a non-trivial amount of protein in there.

      Reply
      1. Firebird7478

        Bob, I use to work outdoors and brought my lunch with me and it often included a baked potato that was cooked the night before. With no place to heat it up, I found it unappetizing and disgusting…soggy. Ugh.

        Reply
      2. Nate

        Bob, you might consider putting an egg yolk and a little lemon juice into your potato salad and make mayo right in your salad.

        Reply
      3. Donna

        I mash a ripe avocado with a little olive oil and lemon then some seasonings for potato salad. Also good for deviled eggs.

        Reply
  2. Eric Anondson

    The electronic version (bought mine from iBookstore) includes every single cited source. Perfect to pull up references!

    Reply
  3. Graham M.

    Tom,

    Thanks for the write up. I asked this same question last week on the Fathead Facebook page after pondering your write ups on resistant starch. If potatos reform their starch into resistant and/or safe starch after cooking and cooling, would it be possible to create a potato chip that could be considered somewhat acceptable? For example a chip cooked in EVCO or duck fat, cooled for at least 24 hours and then served with a sour cream based dip?

    Reply
  4. Teresa Grodi

    Hello, Tom (and Paul)!

    First of all, Tom, I want to thank you for your movie Fat Head. As a historian, I am usually weary of documentaries, but I was impressed by your logic and sources. It helped my husband and I dig further into Paleo and it has changed our lives! Our next life-changing Paleo moment was when we read Perfect Health Diet. Thank you to you three authors!!

    My question for Paul is regarding the “Candida Diet”. I know lots of people, especially postpartum women dealing with bad thrush, who are on the anti-candida diet, which prohibits what you would determine “safe starches”. I think I saw in passing that you had some problems with the anti-candida diets, regarding the prohibition of safe starches, and I thought maybe you could elaborate, with an eye to postpartum/breast feeding mothers. I would love to be able to help my fellow mothers.

    Thank you!!

    Reply
  5. tw

    Having read a good portion of the PHD website, it was the incredibly balanced responses they provided in comments section that convinced me to get the book. I hate dieting and diet books, but I was impressed with exactly what you were: a very balanced approach to a difficult subject. Even the subject of obesity was handled in a unique and thoughtful manner.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      I eventually read some of Paul Jaminet’s cyberspace back-and-forth with Dr. Rosedale after their AHS safe-starch debate. More relentless logic. I was impressed. He won the cyberspace debate in my opinion.

      Reply
  6. Anonymous RS Question

    Question for Paul Jaminet.

    I just wondered if you’ve heard of folks having a certain type of problem with bowel movements after starting up with RS. I am having movements that are much more solid (best word I could use would be play-dough) and therefore more difficult to pass. I hope that makes sense. Sorry it’s sort of a gross topic to bring up.

    Reply
  7. Lily

    Question for Paul Jaminet:
    I am sensitive to sugar, and have a huge addiction to it. Starches like white rice tend to raise my blood sugar too much and I end up binging (even if I have it with a fat source). Are there safe starches that I can eat that won’t raise my blood sugar so much? Potatoes seem to affect me the same way white rice does. I would eat potaotes with the peel, or try brown rice, but don’t those have anti-nutrients? Are there starches that are safe for me, a sugar addict with a body that doesn’t handle sugar very well?

    Reply
  8. Clint

    Hi Tom, I been reading a lot about the history of the Plains Indians, thier diet was mainly meat and fish, but contained starches like maze and potatoes. When the Europeans came to America that when wheat was introduce to America.
    Before then, the Indians were lean and fit, but once they were forced on reservation and weren’t allowed to hunt, fish, and travel, were given wheat flour and sugar supplied by our government, then the began to get obese and diabetic.
    Anyway, thier original diet, perhaps like the Paleolithic period, were meat, organs, fish, (non GMO) corn, fruit in the form of berries, and certain starchy root vegetables.
    The Native Americans had it right, the Europeans seem to have screwed it up.
    Thanks.

    Reply
  9. Lori Miller

    “In the book Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, the author cites research showing that humans began cooking meats and tubers hundreds of thousands of years ago. It was these calorically-dense foods, easily digested after cooking, that allowed our big brains to develop.”

    Our big brains started to develop around 2.5 million years ago, along with the short gut typical of predators. Richard Wrangham makes a good case for cooking giving our ancestors another boost, but big brains, tool-making and group hunting were already in place by the time cooking (and therefore tuber-eating) came along.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      If I recall correctly (it’s been awhile since I read the book), he notes two significant increases in brain size, one at the point you mentioned and another after cooking became common.

      Reply
  10. Chad

    Question for Paul Jaminet

    When weight lifting to gain muscle, most experts say you need to consume massive amounts of carbs in order to gain muscle. Then when you wish to slim down you reduce carbs.

    I prefer paleo style diets and it makes sense, but I also want to lose fat and gain muscle. The instructions to do so seem to directly conflict with the Paleo Diet idea.

    How do you induce your body to increase muscle size without consuming nothing but carbs only to go LC to get super lean later?

    Is increased insulin production necessary to increase muscle size? How do you do that and not become insulin resistant? Body builders get huge muscles and super lean all the time on this super high carb/super low carb cycle and its just so confusing.

    Reply
    1. Firebird7478

      Their diets only last 8-12 weeks and they’re not as low fat as they use to be. In fact, I recall a bodybuilder from the mid-80s named Jeff King, in an interview around 1987 where he talked about a lot of health issues he had preparing for a contest because he went high carb and zero fat for the short term, including joint pain and temporary hair loss. Also, keep in mind the steroid use, too.

      Prior to steroid use, the bodybuilders of the 1930s -1960s were high protein/high fat dieters that rarely touched carbs leading up to a contest.

      Reply
    2. Lori

      “Is increased insulin production necessary to increase muscle size? How do you do that and not become insulin resistant?”

      Some bodybuilders actually inject insulin. It’s a growth hormone, and if your muscles aren’t insulin resistant, they can use it to grow. Exercise like weightlifting helps your body stay sensitive to insulin, but I suppose some bodybuilders do become insulin resistant on certain regimens.

      Reply
  11. Ash Simmonds

    Not sure if you read the whole back and forth between Jaminet and Rosedale back in the day, it was pretty huge and in the end I was still unconvinced by the notion of “safe starches” – it’s still just an easy way to make excuses for modern life, social acceptance, and acculturation.

    Sure, keep them in the diet as one pleases, they’re not *that* bad for you and we all have different tolerance levels, but the concept of “safe starches” as a scientific argument to eat potatoes is just a fun way of pulling the wool over your own eyes.

    Reply
    1. Justin B

      I think Tom made it pretty clear that he had the exact same mindset as you when all this was going on. Have you tested your blood sugar before and after resistant starch? Its a very easy way to potentially lift back that wool. Do you believe in fiber? As in, the fact that it exists? Why is it so much of a leap to believe that another type of carb has similar, if not better, attributes?

      Reply
  12. Pierson

    A question for Paul Jaminet:

    Regarding fructose, what is his opinion on foods like fruit, honey, and sweet syrups? While it does make sense to avoid processed industrial anything, what about whole-foods sweeteners?

    Reply
  13. charles grashow

    Question for Paul Jaminet

    If LDL-P increases isn’t that bad regardless of the particle size? Larger particles can still get thru the endothelium and become oxidized it jut might take longer.

    Reply
    1. more or less

      The particle sizes that was supposed to protect you from athersclerosis was just more low carb gibberish. It’s been debunked. I credit him for introducing carbs to former die hard low carb proponents but still, he’s book still contains almost as much psuedoscience as the low carb and paleo books you’ll find today.

      Reply
      1. more or less

        Add in Legumes and oats. Are we to presume they are “unsafe starches” I’d like to read the studies showing that if he can find them. Population studies or controlled trials would be preferred to cherry picked constituents which the foods can contain like the dreaded “phytic acid”.

        Reply
      2. Bob Geary

        I’m not sure what you’re saying.

        Are you saying that the conventional-wisdom “High LDL Means You’ll Die” has been debunked? Because I’d agree with that, based on what I’ve read. Or are you saying that the newer counter-conventional-wisdom “High LDL Isn’t Good Or Bad It’s All About The Particle Sizes” has been debunked? I haven’t read anything suggesting the latter.

        Reply
      3. Dj Wizz / Dj 21

        > “The particle sizes that was supposed to protect you from athersclerosis was just more low carb gibberish. It’s been debunked”

        That’s a strong statement, care to bring at least SOME evidence instead of a mere claim? Where’s the debunking?

        Reply
  14. Jeanne Wallace

    Thank you Tom. My question is, should we eat a serving of safe starch daily? And must a baked potato be cold in order to be healthful or is room temp okay?

    Reply
        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          Sure, no problem. If you want to get into that range of 100 to 150 grams per day they recommend, you’d either have to eat a LOT of non-starchy vegetables or some safe starches. I’ve been going with two potatoes/sweet potatoes on most days, one with lunch and one with dinner. We’ve also been enjoying some “safe starch” in the form of Udi’s gluten-free bread, which is made from rice and tapioca flour. It toasts well and goes nicely with eggs.

          A potato doesn’t have to be cold to contain resistant starch. You can cook it, cool it in the fridge, and then reheat it — reheating even produces a bit more resistant starch. So that’s what we’ve been doing: cooking potatoes ahead of time, sticking in the fridge, reheating them as we want them with a meal.

          Reply
            1. Tom Naughton Post author

              I don’t believe it does. That’s the limit for the potato starch, not for a whole potato. From what the RS gang tells me, reheating a cooked-and-cooled potato actually increases the RS content.

    1. Anand Srivastava

      I have been a long time follower of PHD (but am not really following the diet, :-(.

      Anyway a cold baked potato will have both RS and safe starch. You need about 100-150gm of starch. But you cannot include RS in those 100-150gms, for obvious reasons.

      So if you are thinking about safe starches, you will get more if it is freshly baked.

      The other issue with freshly baked potato has a higher glycemic index, which requires more fat to bring down the spike. A cold baked potato will have a lower glycemic index because of the higher percentage of RS.

      Reply
        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          The RS won’t digest into glucose. It will go to your colon and become short-chain fatty acids.

          Reply
    2. Bob Geary

      I’ve been making big batches of potato salad to use as a side dish – for some reason, a cold baked potato is thoroughly unappetizing to me (it won’t melt the butter, is probably why :-)), but potato salad? Yum.

      I haven’t really found a mayonnaise or a mayonnaise recipe that feels Paleo-ish to me – olive oil has too strong a taste, most seed/nut oils are way too high in omega-6s, and beef tallow hardens at room temperature. So my basic potato salad is cubed, boiled white potatoes, mixed with just salt, pepper, olive oil, and whatever fresh herbs I have lying around. Maybe a little mustard if that goes with the main course.

      Plenty of RS, delicious, good source of vitamin C (so I don’t get scurvy), and there’s even a non-trivial amount of protein in there.

      Reply
      1. Firebird7478

        Bob, I use to work outdoors and brought my lunch with me and it often included a baked potato that was cooked the night before. With no place to heat it up, I found it unappetizing and disgusting…soggy. Ugh.

        Reply
      2. Nate

        Bob, you might consider putting an egg yolk and a little lemon juice into your potato salad and make mayo right in your salad.

        Reply
      3. Donna

        I mash a ripe avocado with a little olive oil and lemon then some seasonings for potato salad. Also good for deviled eggs.

        Reply
  15. Merlin

    I started supplementing with potato starch in the past while, and have noted an improvement in my gut.

    After reading about the Perfect Health Diet, I’ve added rice and potatoes back in – preferably cooked and cooled, though I do pre-boil potatoes and then fry them up the next day.

    One of the reasons I started looking at this was that my fasting BG levels seemed to be going up. After adding in the safe and or resistant starches, I’ve noted that my fasting BG is lower, and my post-prandial barely rises.

    Case in point – I test my BG before dinner at 92. An hour after a dinner of a pork chop, green beans with butter and a half cup of home fries (with a glass of red wine!) my BG was only 106!

    This is like the light going on all over again! Fat Head was one of the major life changers for me (along with Wheat Belly) and finding out about resistant and safe starches is the next great leap!

    Thanks Tom!

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      It’s the next great leap for me too. I believe the resistant-starch angle especially will be a game-changer for many people. Like I said, it improved my digestion almost immediately.

      The Jaminets explain in the book why a very-low-carb diet can eventually lead to higher fasting and post-meal glucose levels.

      Reply
    1. more or less

      They may have been a fall back food. When you having troubles acquiring food ANY food is good to keep you form starving. Anwyay, whether they were “fallback” foods or not what does that have to do with the fact that they are beneficial for us humans today.

      Reply
      1. js290

        Hmm… abundance of a non essential nutrient… Not sure when “non essential” became “beneficial” on the blogosphere.

        Seems like the diseases of civilization are caused by metabolic inflexibility stemming from broken fatfy acid metabolism. http://themedicalbiochemistrypage.org/fatty-acid-oxidation.php#cycle

        Hunter-gatherers in tune with Nature implicitly knew what was good for them, and it probably wasn’t starchy tubers. It would suffice until the next successful hunt, but it wasn’t going to replace hunting.

        Reply
        1. Tom Naughton

          It’s not a question of replacing hunting. It’s not an either/or situation. That’s why we refer to them as “hunter-gatherer” societies.

          Denise Minger makes the point in her book (review coming later) that people who lived in areas with no starchy plants available often traded for them. So apparently they valued those plants and didn’t view them as something you only eat when you can’t kill your prey.

          Reply
  16. Eric Anondson

    The electronic version (bought mine from iBookstore) includes every single cited source. Perfect to pull up references!

    Reply
  17. Graham M.

    Tom,

    Thanks for the write up. I asked this same question last week on the Fathead Facebook page after pondering your write ups on resistant starch. If potatos reform their starch into resistant and/or safe starch after cooking and cooling, would it be possible to create a potato chip that could be considered somewhat acceptable? For example a chip cooked in EVCO or duck fat, cooled for at least 24 hours and then served with a sour cream based dip?

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Richard Nikoley mentioned that properly-prepared potato chips do, in fact, contain a high level of resistant starch.

      Reply
      1. BeeTx

        I have avoided potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots like the plague and have already been rethinking this strict VLCHFMP WOE. My feet and legs feel frozen even on hot days. My hair is falling out. I have negative zero energy, depressed mood, not lost an ounce and in fact gained 8lbs since Jan and my blood sugars are still high so after reading this will add in a little starchy veg. Thanks for the info.

        Reply
  18. Teresa Grodi

    Hello, Tom (and Paul)!

    First of all, Tom, I want to thank you for your movie Fat Head. As a historian, I am usually weary of documentaries, but I was impressed by your logic and sources. It helped my husband and I dig further into Paleo and it has changed our lives! Our next life-changing Paleo moment was when we read Perfect Health Diet. Thank you to you three authors!!

    My question for Paul is regarding the “Candida Diet”. I know lots of people, especially postpartum women dealing with bad thrush, who are on the anti-candida diet, which prohibits what you would determine “safe starches”. I think I saw in passing that you had some problems with the anti-candida diets, regarding the prohibition of safe starches, and I thought maybe you could elaborate, with an eye to postpartum/breast feeding mothers. I would love to be able to help my fellow mothers.

    Thank you!!

    Reply
  19. Steve Parker, M.D.

    Questions for Paul Jaminet:

    The preface of the Scribner edition mentions your health issues while eating the standard Amercian diet: neuropathy, memory loss, impaired mood, physical sluggishness, and rosacea. You attribute your subsequent scurvy to the very-low-carb paleo diet you adopted to resolve the original issues.

    Did your personal physician(s) make the diagnoses and say they were diet-related?

    Uptodate.com says this about rosacea: “The pathways that lead to the development of rosacea are not well understood. Proposed contributing factors include abnormalities in innate immunity, inflammatory reactions to cutaneous microorganisms, ultraviolet damage, and vascular dysfunction.”

    Your other three SAD-related problems each have easily 10-20 things that can cause them, many of them unrelated to diet.

    By the way, I enjoyed the book and learned a fair amount from it. Folks eating the standard American diet should be better off switching to PHD.

    -Steve

    Reply
    1. Howard Lee Harkness

      “Folks eating the standard American diet should be better off switching to PHD.”

      Folks eating the SAD should be better off switching to *almost anything* else. Even an eating disorder like ultra-low-fat vegan. At least in the short term.

      Reply
    2. Phyllis Mueller

      My rosacea was greatly diminished when I quit eating soy and stopped using personal care products that contain any type of soy. (It’s everywhere!) I have since given up gluten. Rosacea is a thing of the past.

      Reply
  20. tony

    Question for Paul Jaminet:

    Dr. Jaminet’s phd proposes safe carbohydrates to replenish daily glucose stores. He proposes safe carbs because of the damaging health effects of grain carbs (except rice).

    If a subject occasionally (1,2,3 times a week?) consumed bad starches instead of good starches won’t these bad starches still replenish his glucose stores?

    Won’t the good fats blunt any insulin spike from the bad starches?

    In other words, phd with bad starches, wholly or partially, occasionally.

    Would subject’s health still go down the tubes?

    Would subject gain weight or stall a weight loss?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  21. tw

    Having read a good portion of the PHD website, it was the incredibly balanced responses they provided in comments section that convinced me to get the book. I hate dieting and diet books, but I was impressed with exactly what you were: a very balanced approach to a difficult subject. Even the subject of obesity was handled in a unique and thoughtful manner.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I eventually read some of Paul Jaminet’s cyberspace back-and-forth with Dr. Rosedale after their AHS safe-starch debate. More relentless logic. I was impressed. He won the cyberspace debate in my opinion.

      Reply
  22. Firebird7478

    It’s interesting what is happening. Within the past three weeks, I’ve read the Calorie Myth and now The Perfect Health Diet. In fact, Jonathon Bailor’s latest podcast addresses RS and he still considers rice and potatoes “InSANE” foods. I don’t think he understands RS. While Jaminet has concerns about gluconeogenesis, Bailor, who prescribes a much higher protein content, doesn’t address it at all. In “In Search of the Perfect Human Diet”, one of the doctor’s interviewed described gluconeogenesis as “time released carbs” and said that was “a good thing”. So, there is some debate even in the lower/low carb community on that subject.

    I’ve been Zone/Low-Carb for many years and a couple of years ago ditched all grains, fruits, potatoes, rice, etc. from my diet, lost a mere 7 lbs. and have regained all of that plus another 7 lbs. A friend of mine (a nutritionist) is trying to convince me that it is muscle gain and the extra fat I feel is not more fat, just muscle under that layer of fat pushing the fat out further…tough to convince me of that one.

    Nevertheless, removing rice, potatoes, etc. from my diet didn’t do a thing, so I guess putting them back in can’t do much harm.

    Wondering about tapioca pudding…guessing it can be done with some creative sweetening.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      Debate in the low/lower carb crowd is a good thing. We should never adopt the attitude that we’ve got it all figured out and there’s nothing new to learn.

      Reply
  23. Anonymous RS Question

    Question for Paul Jaminet.

    I just wondered if you’ve heard of folks having a certain type of problem with bowel movements after starting up with RS. I am having movements that are much more solid (best word I could use would be play-dough) and therefore more difficult to pass. I hope that makes sense. Sorry it’s sort of a gross topic to bring up.

    Reply
  24. Lily

    Question for Paul Jaminet:
    I am sensitive to sugar, and have a huge addiction to it. Starches like white rice tend to raise my blood sugar too much and I end up binging (even if I have it with a fat source). Are there safe starches that I can eat that won’t raise my blood sugar so much? Potatoes seem to affect me the same way white rice does. I would eat potaotes with the peel, or try brown rice, but don’t those have anti-nutrients? Are there starches that are safe for me, a sugar addict with a body that doesn’t handle sugar very well?

    Reply
    1. BeeTx

      Will be watching this because I’m suffering the same thing and have tried keto, paleo very low carb no grains and sugar and still find myself craving sweets so badly I added back a couple tiny pieces of very dark chocolate and find I am not craving sweets so bad..

      Reply
      1. Carnivore

        Question for Paul Jaminet:

        I am in the same boat. And very sorry chocolate is not a safe starch.

        My dilemma is when on a VLC diet my blood sugar (A1C test) very good, fasting glucose very high (I am diabetic) When I start some safe starches (tried potatoes and beans) morning fasting glucose excellent – blood sugar throughout the day – way too high after the meals – and even with medication is coming down in a few hours (too slow) I did not have enough experimentation time to check AIC with starches – I assume it will be a bigger number.

        So, my question is: how can one detemine how much safe starch is safe? (for a female diabetic approching the retirement age) and what kind of starch: potatoes, beans, sweet potatoes? I assume rice is out of question for diabetics like me.

        Reply
            1. Tom Naughton Post author

              Okay, I added “Question for Paul Jaminet” at the top. That’s how he and I know it’s a question for him, not me.

  25. Clint

    Hi Tom, I been reading a lot about the history of the Plains Indians, thier diet was mainly meat and fish, but contained starches like maze and potatoes. When the Europeans came to America that when wheat was introduce to America.
    Before then, the Indians were lean and fit, but once they were forced on reservation and weren’t allowed to hunt, fish, and travel, were given wheat flour and sugar supplied by our government, then the began to get obese and diabetic.
    Anyway, thier original diet, perhaps like the Paleolithic period, were meat, organs, fish, (non GMO) corn, fruit in the form of berries, and certain starchy root vegetables.
    The Native Americans had it right, the Europeans seem to have screwed it up.
    Thanks.

    Reply
  26. Lori Miller

    “In the book Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, the author cites research showing that humans began cooking meats and tubers hundreds of thousands of years ago. It was these calorically-dense foods, easily digested after cooking, that allowed our big brains to develop.”

    Our big brains started to develop around 2.5 million years ago, along with the short gut typical of predators. Richard Wrangham makes a good case for cooking giving our ancestors another boost, but big brains, tool-making and group hunting were already in place by the time cooking (and therefore tuber-eating) came along.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      If I recall correctly (it’s been awhile since I read the book), he notes two significant increases in brain size, one at the point you mentioned and another after cooking became common.

      Reply
  27. Ryan H.

    Question for Paul Jaminet

    In your book you explain that fats and acids (ex: vinegar, lemon/lime juice) blunt the insulin spike of starches. To my knowledge you do not mention or recommend cinnamon doing the same . I am just wondering what your take on cinnamon is? I have heard that it lowers blood glucose levels.

    P.S. Cinnamon on a sweet potato is pretty good!

    Reply
    1. Firebird7478

      My mom would simply slice one in half, add a bit of salt to it then braise it with a little olive oil then broil it in a toaster oven. Incredible!

      Reply
  28. Mike W

    Question for Paul Jaminet

    Do you make any distinction, health-wise, between short-chain saturated fats and long-chain?

    The reason I ask is that foods heavy in short-chain sat fats (bovine milk, coconut oil, palm kernel oil) seem to give me clogged pores and acne, so I avoid them. This is no hardship for me, I was never big on cheese, butter, or coconut anyway. The fatty foods I do eat – eggs, meat, nuts, chocolate – don’t bother my skin at all, and in my research I’ve found their sat fats are almost exclusively 14-carbons or longer.

    Besides keeping my skin clear, I can justify my short-chain avoidance from an ancestral standpoint. I doubt my distant ancestors had access to coconuts, and as I understand it, human milk has a lot less short-chain fats than bovine milk.

    So… are short-chain saturated fatty acids an essential nutrient? Am I missing something by avoiding them?

    Reply
  29. Ryan H.

    Question for Paul Jaminet

    You advise if one needs to consume something during a fast (for hunger reasons), a spoonful of coconut oil or mct oil is allowed without it hindering the fast. What is your take on butter or cream during a fast (like in coffee)? Will it break the fast and autophagy. I am just wondering since some LC people recommend it and say you are still reaping the benefits of fasting since you’re not consuming protein or carbs.

    Reply
  30. Chad

    Question for Paul Jaminet

    When weight lifting to gain muscle, most experts say you need to consume massive amounts of carbs in order to gain muscle. Then when you wish to slim down you reduce carbs.

    I prefer paleo style diets and it makes sense, but I also want to lose fat and gain muscle. The instructions to do so seem to directly conflict with the Paleo Diet idea.

    How do you induce your body to increase muscle size without consuming nothing but carbs only to go LC to get super lean later?

    Is increased insulin production necessary to increase muscle size? How do you do that and not become insulin resistant? Body builders get huge muscles and super lean all the time on this super high carb/super low carb cycle and its just so confusing.

    Reply
    1. Firebird7478

      Their diets only last 8-12 weeks and they’re not as low fat as they use to be. In fact, I recall a bodybuilder from the mid-80s named Jeff King, in an interview around 1987 where he talked about a lot of health issues he had preparing for a contest because he went high carb and zero fat for the short term, including joint pain and temporary hair loss. Also, keep in mind the steroid use, too.

      Prior to steroid use, the bodybuilders of the 1930s -1960s were high protein/high fat dieters that rarely touched carbs leading up to a contest.

      Reply
    2. Lori

      “Is increased insulin production necessary to increase muscle size? How do you do that and not become insulin resistant?”

      Some bodybuilders actually inject insulin. It’s a growth hormone, and if your muscles aren’t insulin resistant, they can use it to grow. Exercise like weightlifting helps your body stay sensitive to insulin, but I suppose some bodybuilders do become insulin resistant on certain regimens.

      Reply
  31. Ryan H.

    This is a question for Richard, Tim, Grace and you Tom about RS.

    It’s just a theory I have so bear with me. Let’s say you make cup of coffee and then let it cool in the fridge for 24 hours. Will it contain RS if you reheat it the next day or have it as an ice coffee?

    Reply
  32. Ash Simmonds

    Not sure if you read the whole back and forth between Jaminet and Rosedale back in the day, it was pretty huge and in the end I was still unconvinced by the notion of “safe starches” – it’s still just an easy way to make excuses for modern life, social acceptance, and acculturation.

    Sure, keep them in the diet as one pleases, they’re not *that* bad for you and we all have different tolerance levels, but the concept of “safe starches” as a scientific argument to eat potatoes is just a fun way of pulling the wool over your own eyes.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I did read some of the back and forth (not all of it), and I found Jaminet’s arguments to be more logical and convincing. Since our bodies will produce 100 grams or more of glucose even if we don’t eat carbs, I don’t buy Rosedale’s argument that all glucose is toxic. Our bodies wouldn’t have a fallback system for producing a toxin. I also don’t believe that eating roots and tubers — as our ancestors have for hundreds of thousands of years — is giving in to modern convenience or social acceptance. Again, I’ve heard from lots of people that health problems they experienced when going too low in carbs disappeared when they added a bit of starch to their diets. I believe them, and I certainly don’t want to act like a vegan and tell them it must just mean they’re not doing a ketogenic diet correctly.

      Reply
      1. BeeTx

        (Y) (Y) 2 thumbs up on this! I am one of those who have been berated into thinking I am just not eating low enough carbs or too much protein after I was told eat all the protein you can. So confusing . Your blog post makes more sense to me than anything I’ve read in a while.
        Thanks

        Reply
        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          That’s what I mean about avoiding the vegan mentality. Some people feel great after going vegan, but most people don’t, which is why the dropout rate is so high. But to the zealots, it simply HAS TO BE the right diet for everyone, and anyone who doesn’t feel great as a vegan simply isn’t doing it “right.”

          Utter nonsense, whether we’re talking vegan, ketogenic, paleo, whatever. There is no diet that’s ideal for everyone. So I’m a fan of experimenting and finding the diet that’s ideal for you.

          Reply
          1. Firebird7478

            Recall John Nicholson in “The Meat Fix”. He blamed all his health issues on everything but his vegan diet.

            Curiously, I have a contact on Facebook who is an NPC bodybuilding competitor, 55 years of age who JUST NOW decided it would be best to become a vegetarian. When I pointed out that he is missing key nutrients that can only be found in meat, he pointed out that ONLY B-12 was missing, but he was getting it in a fortified breakfast cereal with some “plant milk”. Head bang on desk moment.

            Reply
            1. Walter

              There is *no such thing* as plant milk. Only mammals have tits.

              AFAIK, the only vegetarian source of K2 is natto.

    2. Justin B

      I think Tom made it pretty clear that he had the exact same mindset as you when all this was going on. Have you tested your blood sugar before and after resistant starch? Its a very easy way to potentially lift back that wool. Do you believe in fiber? As in, the fact that it exists? Why is it so much of a leap to believe that another type of carb has similar, if not better, attributes?

      Reply
  33. Becky

    Question for Paul Jaminet: For the nightshade avoiders among us: Does packaged tapioca starch serve as a resistant starch? If so, can it be eaten like potato starch … in water, raw? I use it to make baked biscuits. Will they, cooled, provide resistant starch?

    Cassava, sago and taro are not available here. I like to keep rice to a minimum. Plantains, green bananas and sweet potatoes are my starches. I got diverticulitis on VLC and am enormously vested in getting my gut biome fed with resistant starch.

    I am the Becky quoted in your book, in the thyroid discussion. To update, Hashimoto’s antibodies DISAPPEARED from my TPO blood tests, and my doctor says I no longer have Hashimoto’s. He thinks it was probably giving up wheat.

    Reply
  34. Pierson

    A question for Paul Jaminet:

    Regarding fructose, what is his opinion on foods like fruit, honey, and sweet syrups? While it does make sense to avoid processed industrial anything, what about whole-foods sweeteners?

    Reply
  35. charles grashow

    Question for Paul Jaminet

    If LDL-P increases isn’t that bad regardless of the particle size? Larger particles can still get thru the endothelium and become oxidized it jut might take longer.

    Reply
    1. more or less

      The particle sizes that was supposed to protect you from athersclerosis was just more low carb gibberish. It’s been debunked. I credit him for introducing carbs to former die hard low carb proponents but still, he’s book still contains almost as much psuedoscience as the low carb and paleo books you’ll find today.

      Reply
      1. more or less

        Add in Legumes and oats. Are we to presume they are “unsafe starches” I’d like to read the studies showing that if he can find them. Population studies or controlled trials would be preferred to cherry picked constituents which the foods can contain like the dreaded “phytic acid”.

        Reply
      2. Bob Geary

        I’m not sure what you’re saying.

        Are you saying that the conventional-wisdom “High LDL Means You’ll Die” has been debunked? Because I’d agree with that, based on what I’ve read. Or are you saying that the newer counter-conventional-wisdom “High LDL Isn’t Good Or Bad It’s All About The Particle Sizes” has been debunked? I haven’t read anything suggesting the latter.

        Reply
      3. Dj Wizz / Dj 21

        > “The particle sizes that was supposed to protect you from athersclerosis was just more low carb gibberish. It’s been debunked”

        That’s a strong statement, care to bring at least SOME evidence instead of a mere claim? Where’s the debunking?

        Reply
  36. Merlin

    I started supplementing with potato starch in the past while, and have noted an improvement in my gut.

    After reading about the Perfect Health Diet, I’ve added rice and potatoes back in – preferably cooked and cooled, though I do pre-boil potatoes and then fry them up the next day.

    One of the reasons I started looking at this was that my fasting BG levels seemed to be going up. After adding in the safe and or resistant starches, I’ve noted that my fasting BG is lower, and my post-prandial barely rises.

    Case in point – I test my BG before dinner at 92. An hour after a dinner of a pork chop, green beans with butter and a half cup of home fries (with a glass of red wine!) my BG was only 106!

    This is like the light going on all over again! Fat Head was one of the major life changers for me (along with Wheat Belly) and finding out about resistant and safe starches is the next great leap!

    Thanks Tom!

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      It’s the next great leap for me too. I believe the resistant-starch angle especially will be a game-changer for many people. Like I said, it improved my digestion almost immediately.

      The Jaminets explain in the book why a very-low-carb diet can eventually lead to higher fasting and post-meal glucose levels.

      Reply
    1. more or less

      They may have been a fall back food. When you having troubles acquiring food ANY food is good to keep you form starving. Anwyay, whether they were “fallback” foods or not what does that have to do with the fact that they are beneficial for us humans today.

      Reply
      1. js290

        Hmm… abundance of a non essential nutrient… Not sure when “non essential” became “beneficial” on the blogosphere.

        Seems like the diseases of civilization are caused by metabolic inflexibility stemming from broken fatfy acid metabolism. http://themedicalbiochemistrypage.org/fatty-acid-oxidation.php#cycle

        Hunter-gatherers in tune with Nature implicitly knew what was good for them, and it probably wasn’t starchy tubers. It would suffice until the next successful hunt, but it wasn’t going to replace hunting.

        Reply
        1. Tom Naughton Post author

          It’s not a question of replacing hunting. It’s not an either/or situation. That’s why we refer to them as “hunter-gatherer” societies.

          Denise Minger makes the point in her book (review coming later) that people who lived in areas with no starchy plants available often traded for them. So apparently they valued those plants and didn’t view them as something you only eat when you can’t kill your prey.

          Reply
  37. Steve Parker, M.D.

    Questions for Paul Jaminet:

    The preface of the Scribner edition mentions your health issues while eating the standard Amercian diet: neuropathy, memory loss, impaired mood, physical sluggishness, and rosacea. You attribute your subsequent scurvy to the very-low-carb paleo diet you adopted to resolve the original issues.

    Did your personal physician(s) make the diagnoses and say they were diet-related?

    Uptodate.com says this about rosacea: “The pathways that lead to the development of rosacea are not well understood. Proposed contributing factors include abnormalities in innate immunity, inflammatory reactions to cutaneous microorganisms, ultraviolet damage, and vascular dysfunction.”

    Your other three SAD-related problems each have easily 10-20 things that can cause them, many of them unrelated to diet.

    By the way, I enjoyed the book and learned a fair amount from it. Folks eating the standard American diet should be better off switching to PHD.

    -Steve

    Reply
    1. Howard Lee Harkness

      “Folks eating the standard American diet should be better off switching to PHD.”

      Folks eating the SAD should be better off switching to *almost anything* else. Even an eating disorder like ultra-low-fat vegan. At least in the short term.

      Reply
    2. Phyllis Mueller

      My rosacea was greatly diminished when I quit eating soy and stopped using personal care products that contain any type of soy. (It’s everywhere!) I have since given up gluten. Rosacea is a thing of the past.

      Reply
  38. Firebird7478

    It’s interesting what is happening. Within the past three weeks, I’ve read the Calorie Myth and now The Perfect Health Diet. In fact, Jonathon Bailor’s latest podcast addresses RS and he still considers rice and potatoes “InSANE” foods. I don’t think he understands RS. While Jaminet has concerns about gluconeogenesis, Bailor, who prescribes a much higher protein content, doesn’t address it at all. In “In Search of the Perfect Human Diet”, one of the doctor’s interviewed described gluconeogenesis as “time released carbs” and said that was “a good thing”. So, there is some debate even in the lower/low carb community on that subject.

    I’ve been Zone/Low-Carb for many years and a couple of years ago ditched all grains, fruits, potatoes, rice, etc. from my diet, lost a mere 7 lbs. and have regained all of that plus another 7 lbs. A friend of mine (a nutritionist) is trying to convince me that it is muscle gain and the extra fat I feel is not more fat, just muscle under that layer of fat pushing the fat out further…tough to convince me of that one.

    Nevertheless, removing rice, potatoes, etc. from my diet didn’t do a thing, so I guess putting them back in can’t do much harm.

    Wondering about tapioca pudding…guessing it can be done with some creative sweetening.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Debate in the low/lower carb crowd is a good thing. We should never adopt the attitude that we’ve got it all figured out and there’s nothing new to learn.

      Reply
  39. Ryan H.

    Question for Paul Jaminet

    In your book you explain that fats and acids (ex: vinegar, lemon/lime juice) blunt the insulin spike of starches. To my knowledge you do not mention or recommend cinnamon doing the same . I am just wondering what your take on cinnamon is? I have heard that it lowers blood glucose levels.

    P.S. Cinnamon on a sweet potato is pretty good!

    Reply
    1. Firebird7478

      My mom would simply slice one in half, add a bit of salt to it then braise it with a little olive oil then broil it in a toaster oven. Incredible!

      Reply
  40. Mike W

    Question for Paul Jaminet

    Do you make any distinction, health-wise, between short-chain saturated fats and long-chain?

    The reason I ask is that foods heavy in short-chain sat fats (bovine milk, coconut oil, palm kernel oil) seem to give me clogged pores and acne, so I avoid them. This is no hardship for me, I was never big on cheese, butter, or coconut anyway. The fatty foods I do eat – eggs, meat, nuts, chocolate – don’t bother my skin at all, and in my research I’ve found their sat fats are almost exclusively 14-carbons or longer.

    Besides keeping my skin clear, I can justify my short-chain avoidance from an ancestral standpoint. I doubt my distant ancestors had access to coconuts, and as I understand it, human milk has a lot less short-chain fats than bovine milk.

    So… are short-chain saturated fatty acids an essential nutrient? Am I missing something by avoiding them?

    Reply
  41. Ryan H.

    Question for Paul Jaminet

    You advise if one needs to consume something during a fast (for hunger reasons), a spoonful of coconut oil or mct oil is allowed without it hindering the fast. What is your take on butter or cream during a fast (like in coffee)? Will it break the fast and autophagy. I am just wondering since some LC people recommend it and say you are still reaping the benefits of fasting since you’re not consuming protein or carbs.

    Reply
  42. Ryan H.

    This is a question for Richard, Tim, Grace and you Tom about RS.

    It’s just a theory I have so bear with me. Let’s say you make cup of coffee and then let it cool in the fridge for 24 hours. Will it contain RS if you reheat it the next day or have it as an ice coffee?

    Reply
  43. erik van altena

    Hair loss, icy cold hands and feet, mood swings and especially temper problems. That’s been me the last few months. I thought it was work-related stress causing all that.

    And since the secret of RS has been revealed I’ve been adding starches back in a controlled manner through cold rice, potato salad and fruits and things have already improved dramatically for me in only a week. I’m more cheerful and don’t anger so easily anymore and I can feel heat being constantly regulated to my limbs now, what a relief. But of course the hair is not growing back, that’s a runaway train 😉

    That just goes to show that you shouldn’t ignore your history and genes. Being Dutch I come from a long line of potato eaters, shame on me for breaking with that tradition!

    I’m definitely going to read perfect health diet, that looks like an awesome addition to the Good Calories Bad Calories tome of wisdom.

    Reply
  44. Becky

    Question for Paul Jaminet: For the nightshade avoiders among us: Does packaged tapioca starch serve as a resistant starch? If so, can it be eaten like potato starch … in water, raw? I use it to make baked biscuits. Will they, cooled, provide resistant starch?

    Cassava, sago and taro are not available here. I like to keep rice to a minimum. Plantains, green bananas and sweet potatoes are my starches. I got diverticulitis on VLC and am enormously vested in getting my gut biome fed with resistant starch.

    I am the Becky quoted in your book, in the thyroid discussion. To update, Hashimoto’s antibodies DISAPPEARED from my TPO blood tests, and my doctor says I no longer have Hashimoto’s. He thinks it was probably giving up wheat.

    Reply
  45. Mark

    I love how you and your tribe of people are pretty much saying: “Look, here are the problems you’re facing. These problems might be caused by this, this or this. Let’s try and fix it by changing this, this or this”. It’s pretty damn refreshing to not be getting brow-beaten with a particular ideology.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      I never thought of them as a tribe. Now I want to find fancy headdress designating me as the tribal chief.

      Reply
  46. Norm

    Question for Paul and Tom,

    1. Why do hunger and cravings for carbs increase for some people by introducing rice and potatoes whereas most of the people do not have that being low carb?

    2. How do we know that symptoms associated with low carb like cold hands and feet, low thyroid etc are NOT from eating less as hunger is dramatically reduced on a low carb diet?

    3. Paul highly recommends 16 hours of fasting, would PHD provide the same benefits especially weight loss without 16 hours of fasting? Probably standard American diet would be a lot healthier with 16 hours of fasting? If calorie restriction is not good or creates problem for people especially in term of weight loss then why calorie restriction is achieved via intermittent fasting on PHD?

    Thanks

    Reply
  47. Gerard Pinzone (@GerardPinzone

    Question for Paul Jaminet

    I’m interested in trying this out to see what difference it might make. I’ve heard that there may be an initial period of weight gain. If true, why? Can you provide a recommended schedule? Something like, “1 tablespoon of potato starch in the morning for one week, then increase by 1 tablespoon each week until you reach 4 tablespoons.” Is it better in the morning than night? Also, what issues are signs that we should stop and which should we grin and bear? Can we start/continue to take a probiotic? Should we?

    Tom,
    I’ll throw this out to you, too. Did you monitor your weight during your initial break-in period? How fast did you increase your dose?

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton

      I don’t have a scale at home, so I weigh myself once per week at the gym. When I first added potatoes back into my diet, I picked up three pounds. Then I snapped back to my previous weight and have stayed there.

      Reply
      1. Erica

        I’m sitting at around the same weight, and I’ve been doing the RS since about April 15th. Added in a probiotic about 4-5 days ago. Eating black beans (a beloved recipe I thought I’d never have again!), potatoes, and white rice. Having to be careful because of my blood sugar, but loving this. My body is very happy with me.

        Here’s a question: Why do we have to eat white rice instead of brown/whole grain? I LOVE brown rice.

        Reply
        1. Tom Naughton

          The brown rice contains some of the toxins on the Jamimets’ no-no list. Plants surround themselves with toxins to protect themselves from being eaten out of existence. It’s the same reason we peel potatoes. The toxins are in the skin.

          Reply
  48. erik van altena

    Hair loss, icy cold hands and feet, mood swings and especially temper problems. That’s been me the last few months. I thought it was work-related stress causing all that.

    And since the secret of RS has been revealed I’ve been adding starches back in a controlled manner through cold rice, potato salad and fruits and things have already improved dramatically for me in only a week. I’m more cheerful and don’t anger so easily anymore and I can feel heat being constantly regulated to my limbs now, what a relief. But of course the hair is not growing back, that’s a runaway train 😉

    That just goes to show that you shouldn’t ignore your history and genes. Being Dutch I come from a long line of potato eaters, shame on me for breaking with that tradition!

    I’m definitely going to read perfect health diet, that looks like an awesome addition to the Good Calories Bad Calories tome of wisdom.

    Reply

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