Pack on the Carbs ... Lose Weight?


I have a healthy skepticism of any and all dietary plans and weight loss “experts”. As I’ve mentioned before, my diet book would be so clear and simple that it would consist of only three pages:

1. Eat less.

2. Exercise more.

3. Repeat.

In reality, I could then fill up the book with how to accomplish that fourth, all-important step: Have willpower. I haven’t cracked that one, yet.

Although those steps will work, it’s also true that you can tweak both diet and exercise in ways that help you lose weight faster. It’s also true that losing weight alone doesn’t make a person healthy: I give you as a famished example rail-thin, malnourished supermodels. At the beginning of last winter I was close to thirty pounds overweight (although I’ve somehow lost some since), and was still more healthy than any number of skinny people who I could snap like a twig.

Better to meet in the middle – or, for you vegans, to vegetate in the middle. That’s all well and good, but who do you believe? Eat all protein; eat all veggies; eat nothing but cabbage soup. (I actually tried the cabbage soup diet, and did lose weight even though it was winter. Plus, fringe benefit, once it worked its way through my system nobody wanted to be around me.)

Now I’ve discovered a new twist, on the website Packing on the carbs.

Oh. Really?

What this article is talking about is Resistant Starch, which is what happens when your dry cleaner goes overboard with your suit and it won’t bend to fit your body, and is also apparently a kind of food. Starches would be that stuff people are always telling me not to eat. Like baked potatoes. Yum …

Resistant starches apparently include bananas and oatmeal, beans, potatoes, and plantains, which are like plantations only built under mountains. Also included is Pearl Barley, who you might know as a singer made immortal in the song, “Won’t you come home, Pearl Barley?” Pearl Barley, as I recall, was a very large woman, which makes me question her diet and wonder if she didn’t come home because she was at a fast food place.

(Oh my gosh – I just checked, and Pearly Bailey died twenty years ago! Is part of getting older having to explain your jokes to younger people? Also, it was her brother, Bill Bailey, you didn’t come home – possibly because she sent him for take out.)

But according to this article, which is written with all the authority of someone with a website of their very own, resistant starches are cool, which makes them hot. The reasons:

1. Carbs fill you up.

That makes them appetite suppressants, more filling than protein or fat and digested more slowly. I usually accomplish the same goal of losing my appetite by watching disgusting TV shows: The Biggest Loser, Dirty Jobs, or … well, with Olbermann gone from MSNBC, I might have to try the baked potatoes.

2.Carbs curb your hunger.

Researchers say that when dieters go from a low-carb diet to one high in fiber and resistant starches, their cravings go to the curb.

Not unless they make resistant starch chocolate bars, bub.

3. Carbs control blood sugar and diabetes.

One study indicated a 38% improvement in blood sugar and insulin response, if carbs were eaten in certain combinations. Which is actually an idea I can’t make much fun of.

4. Carbs speed up metabolism.

In other words, the body fires up its natural fat burners. Usually, when I burn fat, I have to run for a fire extinguisher. In this case the body releases fatty acids, which sounds disgusting but kicks your metabolism right in its overly padded butt.

5. Carbs make you lose belly fat faster than other foods.

Even when the same number of calories is consumed this is true – calories, keep in mind, are a unit of
measurement, so in theory one calorie is the same as another. In actual practice, with carbs the calories are the same, but the body burns them faster. Imagine the federal government maintaining the same income but decreasing spending. No, seriously, imagine it. Just try. Stop laughing.

6. Carbs keep you satisfied.

Foods high in resistant starch trigger your body’s fullness signals. Your brain says, “Gee, I’m full – I don’t want to eat anymore”. You’ll no longer crave foods, and can then go on to craving other stuff, like brains. Carbs will start the zombie apocalypse!

7. Carbs make you feel good about you.

That’s because dieters can lose weight without doing something really unhealthy, such as cutting out food groups, crash dieting, or cutting off a limb. They feel empowered by the results, although be warned: You’ll never be a runway supermodel.

The main problem I have with this article is that there’s a dearth of sources quoted. Dearth is more than an evil Sith Lord, by the way. Is this a big study, or the result of a poll taken after a big family reunion?

I’ll consider that one over dinner.


  1. I'm always cautious about these articles unless they are written by a doctor (like Dr. Oz) or a nutrition expert. there are a lot of contradictory things. Sometimes it is best to ask your own doctor or got to a licensed nutritionist. Every body is different and may require a different approach. Some people are just overweight while others are diabetic. Anyway, I don't like strict diets, but only guidelines. I've had some experience throughout the years and read things; we do need a balanced diet (protein and carbs). Some articles actually say that oatmeal is good for diabetics (as long as you leave off the sugar! just add cinnamon on top). Potatoes can be good but not fried (that is the worst) because and not too many (if mashed leave off the butter; I know that one is hard, but I just add skim milk with salt and pepper; you get used to it). And no sodas (full of sugar)! So, if there were general guidelines it would be easy to say: lowfat foods when possible, low sugar foods, no or rarely fried foods, and once a week reward yourself with your favorite food. And it is important to take a multi-vitamin daily (to have good energy and nutrition) and to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day (and yes, this is very important). What some people get fooled into is no carbs; if you don't have carbs at all your body switches over to starvation mode and slows down its metabolism. You can eat quite a bit as long as you eat the right foods and that would require lots of fresh vegetables and fruits. Salads are great esp if you change the type of salad and add different veggies or tuna to it. I sometimes use tuna with a dash of curry powder in a salad with vinegar and olive oil. Once you find things that are healthy and taste good to you, then it will be easier to stay on a diet. And really diet is the wrong word to use; you need to decide to make a lifestyle change that will stick. And exercise is important, too. Not too much or too hard, but consistent. Hope I'm not too long-winded, but I've been through this a few times; takes years of experience to learn. Good luck Mark on healthy choices! Take care!

  2. A balanced diet and guidelines is definitely the way to go; fad diets and being too strict are killers. Oatmeal is one of the things I'm eating for my cholesterol, but I need my brown sugar in it! If my blood sugar level becomes a problem, I'll deal.. meanwhile Emily's very good at reading labels and picking out the right foods to eat, so generally I follow her lead.

  3. I don't cook a lot for myself, but I do make a point of making sure I'm getting the right foods that I need, and everything in moderation too. Add to that the amount of exercise I get in, and I manage to keep myself in shape.

    1. It's something that just plain has to be as we get older -- especially these days, when most of us aren't working 16 hour days on farms anymore. Especially the exercise part.