To lose weight, should you eliminate starchy foods?

[Article updated on 19/09/2023]

So many diets advise giving up starchy foods. But, in the long term, it doesn’t work!

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.

What is a starch?

So, a starchy food contains carbohydrates, that is to say sugars, but it does not taste sweet like pasta, THE rice, semolina, quinoa, dried vegetables (lentils, dried beans, etc.) but also potatoes and peas and corn which are placed in this same family of starchy foods whereas the latter could be called “semi-starchy” because they are halfway between vegetables and starchy foods…

These sugars have long been considered and called “slow”.

This is the way we found to say that they diffuse their energy continuously in our body, which is different from the quick sugars in sweets for example.

In a balanced diet, carbohydrates are supposed to represent 45% to 50% of daily caloric intake and they are very present in starchy foods. Starchy foods are supposed to make you gain weight even though they contain as many calories as proteins!

And then when you try to lose weight, your body continues to function (and fortunately so!) so you need the energy that starchy foods provide! On the other hand, it is important to choose the right ones.

That is to say those which do not increase blood sugar levels (= blood sugar) suddenly, which promotes fat storage.

How to keep only the best starchy foods?

Here are 3 tips for keeping only the best starchy foods:

  • Favor whole-grain starchy foods such as whole-wheat bread and whole-grain rice, whole-wheat pasta rather than refined products (baguette, sandwich bread, etc.). Not only will they not spike your blood sugar levels, but they will also allow you to stock up on fiber! You will then be well positioned and this will allow you to eat less.
  • Distribute ¼ protein, 1/4 whole starchy foods on your plate, and the rest in vegetables but, I repeat, do not eliminate the starchy foods!
  • Pay attention to the seasoning! We often eat starchy foods with butter, cream, bacon, cheese…and it’s fatty! Prefer herbs and spices, tasty and almost calorie-free!

And the starchy foods in the evening?

Concerning the fact that eating starchy foods in the evening could cause difficulty falling asleep, you should know that this is especially true if the meal is taken late. This phenomenon “could” be due to the fact that the organism would start digestion phase instead of going to sleep.

These difficulties falling asleep may have a considerable impact on our sleep and, therefore, on our way of life and our weight management.

But paradoxically, starchy foods are also a source of Tryptophan, important for relaxation and sleep.

So, for quality sleep, there is no need to eliminate starchy foods, but simply consume them in adequate quantities and especially not with a ladle of crème fraîche!

We must, in fact, keep in mind that starchy foods remain foods essential to the functioning of our body. They represent a essential source of energy for our body. It would be detrimental to completely eliminate them from our diet.

Their absence could in particular lead to chronic states of fatigue, the body not having enough energy.


Any tips for consuming starchy foods in the evening?

Just for you, here are some tips for consuming starchy foods in the evening without inconvenience:

#1 Make sure to eat light in the evening: limit the quantities

To avoid the insomnia problems linked to a meal that is too copious and take care of your weight, make a lighter meal, that is to say especially low in fat.

So you can consume starchy foods in the evening if you want to, but limit yourself to a small portion (= the size of your fist) and above all just with a small knob of butter, not a big dish of Carbonara pasta for example!

#2 Avoid accumulating different types of starchy foods

Always with the aim of consuming starchy foods in reasonable quantity in the evening, avoid at all costsaccumulating starchy foods excessively if you pay attention to your figure.

In other words, choose within your meal only one type of starchy food : either bread, or rice, or potatoes, or pasta, for example, but not all at the same time!

#3 Eat earlier

Another tip for consuming starchy foods without harming your weight or your sleep: eat earlier. Indeed, a relatively early dinner will give your body enough time to digest the meal and therefore toavoid going to bed with a heavy stomach. This will allow a better sleep and one less storage of excess calories consumed.

#4 Pay special attention to cooking and seasoning

Also keep in mind that these are not the starchy foods in themselves which make you gain weight, but above all cooking (and especially adding fat during cooking) and this what you accompany them with (sauce, cheese, etc.).

Furthermore, “Al Dente” cooking, for example, will always be preferable because the sugars will penetrate your body less quickly and therefore be stored less!

Finally, I remind you that your food as a whole but still your physical activity are two other parameters that are even more important to take into account beyond the simple consumption of starchy foods to learn how to properly manage your weight.

To sum up

  • Starchy foods are rich in sugars essential to our body;
  • Starchy foods are allies in helping us lose weight;
  • Be especially careful about the quantities and what you put in them (like large quantities of butter, cheese or cream).