Low Starch Eating Plan

By Mim Beim

Maintaining or losing weight is a concern for many people. Quick fix diets don’t work. Studies have found that over 95% of dieters who lose weight, will regain the lost kilograms plus extra within one year.

Clearly, we need a life-long way of eating that maintains our desired body weight without feeling deprived.

Mim Beim's Low Starch Eating Plan helps you lose excess kilos while maintaining good health. This is a long-term eating program rather than a quick fix diet, although positive changes may occur within days. Most people feel more energy, notice better concentration and improved general health.

Why it works

The Low Starch Eating Plan works because it is easy.   Once you understand the 3 simple rules, it makes losing and maintaining your weight a breeze.

The Low Starch Eating Plan allows you freedom to socialise, eat at restaurants and generally enjoy yourself without being obsessed about what to eat, and what not to eat.

Most starchy foods have a high glycaemic index (GI). High GI foods cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels, which in turn causes an increase in the amount of insulin. High amounts of insulin in the bloodstream increase fat storage. Not good!

For this reason, it is best to reduce starchy foods including; potatoes, pasta, bread, biscuits and rice. Sorry!! But most fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, legumes and seeds are fine.

The Low Starch Eating Plan recommends you eat some protein with each meal or snack.  The reason for this is a little protein will keep you satiated, or feeling fuller for longer, reducing any temptation for snacking and choosing to eat food that you might later regret.

In my practice, I recommend the Low Starch Eating Plan to patients who are at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. If this is relevant to you, find out more on how to manage pre and early diabetes.

The 3 Rules of the Low Starch Eating Plan

No processed sugar

Look at food labels. Anything over 5g of sugar per 100g is most likely ADDED sugar. Avoid.

Protein with each meal or snack

Protein food the size and thickness of a pack of cards for a main meal, half this for snacks

Zero to two starchy foods a day

Zero starchy foods if you are pushing hard to lose weight, one to two serves daily for slower weight loss and maintenance.

 

Other Interesting Bits

Evolution

Our body (and digestive tract) has remained essentially unchanged for hundreds of thousands of years, yet the food we eat has changed substantially. Grains (including rice, rye, wheat, barley and corn) have only been cultivated for the last ten thousand years - the beginning of agriculture and civilisation - long after our digestive systems were up and running. In the modern diet, there is an overemphasis on grains such as wheat, appearing in bread, pasta, biscuits and most breakfast cereals. For thousands of years humans adapted to grains, however, it was the processing of grains into refined flours, with the addition of sugar that has spelt disaster for our health. This is not to suggest we go back to prehistoric times and eat cockroaches and dinosaur dung, but a return to the kind of foods our bodies were evolved to thrive on; Leaves, seeds, nuts, fruits, meat, eggs, vegetables, fish, the occasional flower and insects.

Recent history

Over 30 years ago the western world was swept up in Pritikin fever. Nathan Pritikin wowed the experts with evidence that fat was a major cause of heart disease, the then No. 1 killer of Americans. Pritikin recommended a diet severely restricted in all kinds of fat. Fried chips and chops were out, boiled potatoes and pasta were in.

Lots of people lost weight and lots of people avoided heart disease on the Pritikin diet. However, the news wasn’t all good. By focusing on processed carbohydrate foods (at the expense of ‘good’ fat and protein), this ultimately causes a shift in the way the body deals with glucose. Encouraging weight gain and even a tendency towards diabetes, a disease that is now epidemic. Additionally, by eliminating fats from the diet the fat soluble vitamins including D, E, A and K were also in short supply, and we make hormones and other important molecules in the body from fat. 

After Pritikin came along the Atkins Diet.Turning Pritikin on it's head, the Atkins protocol was no carbohydrate and plenty of fat and protein. Again, this works in the short term, however, there are long term health risks, overloading the kidneys as well as vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

Are there any side effects to the Low Starch Eating Plan?

Most people feel fantastic eating this way. However, by removing breads, pasta and cereals, inadvertently we are also removing a certain amount of fibre, which may result in constipation. So, it’s important to ensure that you drink plenty of water (1.5-2l daily which can include tea, herbal tea, hot water and lemon or ginger) and eat plenty of vegetables and to increase fibre. If this is still not enough, supplement with 2 teaspoons of linseeds and 2 teaspoons chia seeds daily.

This eating plan is easy, you only need to stick to a few simple rules.

  • Avoid added sugar absolutely (in processed or packaged foods, sugar should be no more than 5g per 100g of product)
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners. Although they contain no sugar and very few calories, they keep your sweet tooth active. A few days without sugar and you'll not be craving Satan's Crystals. I promise!
  • Eat only two small servings of starchy food a day, preferably not at the evening meal
  • Eat no more than 3 pieces of fruit daily and, although not ‘starchy’, avoid the sweeter melons, grapes and dried fruits
  • Eat protein with every meal. The rule of thumb is that for each main meal, the portion of protein should be about the size of your open palm, and for snacks, about the size of half your palm. Beef, lamb, chicken, kangaroo, fish, eggs, cheese
  • Legumes: lentils, chickpeas, baked beans, kidney beans etc. Legumes are a good source of protein as well as carbohydrate. As a protein source eat 1 cup of cooked legumes for a serve.
  • Milk (cow, soy, almond) one cup daily maximum
  • Alcohol. Many people's preferred drug, excess alcohol is not going to do you or your weight any favours.  A glass or two of dry red or white wine, low carbohydrate beer, or a nip or two of spirits. Avoid sweetened mixers.

    Unrestricted Foods

  • All fruit except bananas, sweet melons, grapes, dried fruit
  • All vegetables except: potatoes
  • All protein foods: meat, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, cheese, legumes, tofu
  • Protein powders: pea protein, soy protein, rice protein, whey protein
  • Fats and oils: walnut oil, sesame oil, cold pressed olive oil, macadamia oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil
  • All spices and herbs, soy sauce

Starchy (and Sweet) Foods - Restricted

Zero to 2 small serves of starchy food per day (preferably not at the evening meal)

Grains - One serving of starch equivalents

  • Bread - one slice
  • Rice - 3/4 cup cooked
  • Pasta - 3/4 cup cooked
  • Oats - 3/4 cup cooked
  • Quinoa - 3/4 cup cooked
  • Crackers - (eg Vita-Weat, rice cakes) two pieces

Fruit - One serving of starch equivalents

  • Banana - one average

Vegetables

  • Potatoes - 3 chat, one medium

Alcohol

  • Beer, sweet or fortified wine
  • Meal Suggestions

    Following are some basic ideas for meals and snacks. Depending on your culinary skills and predilections, you can scour cookery books and online recipe sites for recipes that appeal to you. Look at sites that cater for ketogenic and or paleo diets... then add some vegetables! 

    There are also plenty of delicious low starch recipes on this website

    Breakfast

    • Scrambled, poached, boiled or baked eggs on a bed of spinach, and/or mushrooms, and/or tomato, and/or fetta or chevre cheese
    • Smoothie (soy milk/ cow’s milk/ orange juice/ yoghurt and or other fruit. Try adding an egg and LSA**)
    • Combination of chopped almonds, walnuts, cashews together with sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, linseeds and pumpkin seeds. (add or subtract any nuts or seeds you particularly like or dislike), mixed with a spoonful of milk or yoghurt
    • A cup of ricotta mixed with fruit eg apricots, kiwi fruit, berries

    If you wish to have starch at this meal (e.g. toast, porridge, baked beans, banana)

    **LSA is a mixture of ground linseeds, sunflower seeds and almonds. You can buy this blend ready-made from health food shop or supermarkets

    Lunch/Dinner

    • Meat or chicken casserole and vegetables
    • Fish, meat, or chicken and salad
    • Meat, chicken or tofu and vegetable soup
    • Stir-fry vegetables with meat, chicken, fish or tofu
    • Fish (canned or fresh) and salad (e.g. canned tuna with grated beetroot and carrot)

    If you wish to have starch at this meal (e.g. bread, rice, pasta)

    Snacks

    • Meat, chicken or tofu and vegetable soup
    • Almonds, walnuts, etc.
    • Small can of tuna with lettuce or salad
    • Small can of baked beans
    • Fruit and cheese

    If you wish to have starch at this meal (e.g. crackers, baked beans, bread, banana)