The important role of starchy foods in weight loss or why shouldn’t you eliminate starchy foods to lose weight?

[Article updated on 19/09/2023]

They often have a bad reputation. We have all already heard “that starchy foods make you gain weight”, “that you have to eliminate them to lose weight”, “that they are bad for your health”, “that they are high in calories” but this is the point of preconceived ideas!!

Before reading on

I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.

The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.


Starchy foods, formerly called “ slow sugars ”, are foods rich in complex, unsweetened carbohydrates.

From a nutritional point of view, the following foods are classified in this category: bread, cereals (wheat, rice, corn, rye, oats, barley, sorghum, millet, spelt), flour, dough, rice, semolina, wheat, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, bulgur, potato, Yam, polenta, tapioca, lentils, chickpeas, broad beans, flageolet beans, split peas, whole beans.

What do starchy foods give us?

Starchy foods are our main source of complex carbohydrates (in the form of starch) which provide energy that the body is able to use gradually. The digestion of starch results in glucose within a few hours; this glucose is the first fuel used by our cells, particularly those of the muscles but also of the brain. It helps prevent the use of nitrogen (component of proteins) by our body, which helps avoid the use of structural proteins.

Carbohydrates are part of the constitution of all our cells and that of many molecules (ATP, connective tissue, membrane receptors).

Starchy foods have an interesting contribution of vegetable proteins, dietary fiber, B group vitamins and minerals, in particular: potassium, phosphorus, calcium.

It is for all these reasons that our carbohydrate needs are important: they represent 45 to 54% of daily energy intake, 2/3 of which are in the form of starch.

potatoes are starchy foods

Nutritional composition

FoodProteinsLipids (=fat)Carbohydrates
White bread8155
Whole wheat bread9250
Dry pasta, rice, potatoes, semolina, quinoa…6.5 to 130.5 to 1.560 to 75
Dried legumes251.350

Starchy foods are therefore very low in fat, they do not make you gain weight but it is the way we prepare them that can cost us dearly! : fatty sauces, frying, fat, cheese, butter…

What happens if we delete them?

Initially, we will lose weight because we reduce our calorie intake. When we deprive our body of a food group, it undergoes an attack and draws on its reserves to maintain itself but the effect is only temporary. The body being deprived of its carbohydrate needs, it will then store more during meals to take revenge and make reserves in order to always cover its carbohydrate needs (45 to 54% of daily caloric intake).

The goal of following a starchy diet is to burn stored fat, but our body doesn’t see it that way: it will slow down and block at some point, thus changing your metabolism and making you little by little. little gain weight.

Results :

  • weight gain, in the long term, more significant than the loss
  • a disturbed metabolism
  • a guaranteed yoyo effect

In the absence of carbohydrates, the brain will initiate an adaptation mode: it will increase appetite and the desire to eat carbohydrates. Indeed, starchy foods, thanks to their slow assimilation, help to avoid cravings, so by eliminating them, you either risk snacking or you will starve yourself and your body will take revenge by storing more from other meals.

In addition, it is dangerous for our health, this starchy deficiency can cause:

  • Intense fatigue: the body being deprived of energy, it will become exhausted.
  • A loss of muscle mass: the glucose intake being low, the body will therefore use its reserve proteins to provide energy and therefore draw on its muscle mass.
  • A loss of water
  • A risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar level)
  • A risk of increasing “bad” cholesterol (or LDL cholesterol): by eliminating starchy foods, we consume more animal proteins rich in saturated fatty acids and/or we increase our lipid intake.
  • A risk of ketoacidosis (excessive acidity of the blood): the breakdown of lipids causes a significant production of ketone bodies which unbalance the body and can cause serious complications for diabetics.

If your body has such a high need for carbohydrates and you provide it with less: it will become depleted and store. To avoid the constraints and monotony of a diet without starchy foods, it is better to adopt a diet limited in starchy foods, which is less tiring and less dangerous for your health.


Eat starchy foods to lose weight: yes! But focus on quality and quantity

To lose weight less quickly, sustainably and without frustration, you must therefore consume starchy foods at each meal in reasonable quantities. Refined starchy foods are more rich in sugarsIt is he who must be limited or even eliminated!

Also be wary of industrial products that are often rich in added sugars, hidden fats, salt, etc.

The right choice: whole starches and cereals, legumes, foods with a low glycemic index, etc.

The quantities of starchy foods are specific to each individual and depend on physical activity. It is recommended to consume starchy foods at each meal, in reasonable quantities, and to consume at least one whole food per day. Their fiber intake will reduce insulin secretion which promotes fat storage.

In conclusion

All diets which are based on the principle of favoring one food group to the detriment of another (in this case starchy foods) work at the beginning but maintaining this new weight in the long term is mission impossible. Over time, your brain will act as a barrier: it will increase appetite and reduce metabolism for a gradual weight gain. It is for this reason that some people often have to eat more to lose weight than what they eat daily by having to reduce their food intake too much.

To lose weight sustainably, you should not eliminate any food group. Starchy foods are essential for the functioning of our metabolism and our health.

If you want to lose weight: eat everything in reasonable quality and quantity. Our body needs all food groups.