The N=2: Tatertot Tim and Commenter Marie Test Potato Starch on Ketosis Part 1

What?

Starch…while in ketosis…on a ketogenic diet? It’s an oxymoronic contradiction in terms, right? After all, isn’t the LC catechism that even severely restricted amounts of starch or refined sugar can knock you out of ketosis? And now, with “nutritional ketosis,” the recognition that even protein can knock you out? After all again, “excessive” protein is the new carbohydrate in terms of staying in ketosis.

Here’s a crazy idea.

How about 30-40g of starch, plus a decently highish protein meal, and you STAY in ketosis, if that’s your goal? How about if the starch actually enhances the stability of your metabolic ketosis? I say ‘metabolic’ instead of ‘nutritional’, because replacing whole protein with isolated fats is not adding micronutrients. It’s actually taking them away in the hundreds of percent, replacing them with relatively empty calories that low carbers often see as virtuous because of desired metabolic effects, and not necessarily optimal cellular and hormonal feeding and function—save for the single of many hormones they seem to care about: INSULINZ!!!

That was commenter Marie’s quest. She has a family member with cancer and as a therapeutic measure—just as with neurological conditions—ketosis has both measured and theorized benefits. Also, for initial weight loss and “resetting metabolism” (enthusiast quotes, not scare quotes). I’m just not sure—and certainly not convinced—about using it as a whole lifestyle. That’s all.

Once I began putting together Tatertot and Marie’s N=2 collaboration (you know Tatertot Tim’s diligence with the science already; Marie is a PhD physical chemist who works at a well-known science institute) I noticed that I had saved Marie’s initial and more informal experiment she’d emailed about, and which served as the impetus for her collaboration with TT. I couldn’t let that go to waste or waist, so this is a 2-part series. Here we go. This is Marie.

~~~

I combined your genius with Greek cooking skillz (!) and “quantified self”, et voilà: a confirmed ketogenic Greek liver dish WITH Resistant Starch (potato starch).

Objective as I noted yesterday was to double-check for any effects while in ketosis and I needed an easy way for my dad to take the PS that wouldn’t disturb ketosis – PS itself shouldn’t have any BG effect, but what you mix it with could easily destroy ketosis (typical milk or kefir won’t do).

Liver
Liver (click for BIG, because yummy)

Heres how I verified ketosis is undisturbed.

Was fasted 48hrs tonight (happened to be fasting yesterday so this was good timing) and ketostix have been positive all day today (if you believe the scale on the bottle, I’m at around 40mg/dl – of course this is after fasting awhile, so likely not excreting as much acetoacetate).

I then measured BG = 79 mg/dl just before meal.

Took 10′ to eat, started measuring BG at 15′ after end of meal.

Baseline: 48hrs fasted BG = 79 mg/dl

Postprandial BG

15′ = 83
30′ = 81
1hr = 73 – ketostix = positive (~40)
1.5hr = 81
2hrs = 79
2.5hrs =74
3hrs = 74 – ketostix = positive (~80)

I went a long time with the measurements since both the fat load and the PS would slow digestion. No significant variations.

The Liver Dish

Richard, it’s the same 15′ recipe/process as before, but now using more fat, and half of it is Coconut oil (keto-enhancing) + 2 slices bacon. Because of the use of coconut oil, the calorie ratio of fat-to-carb/protein is allowed to fall to 2:1 for a typical ketogenic dish. Mine is 2.16, if excluding the PS from the carb count – this is justified as you’ll soon see.

The beauty of it: used the 4 Tablespoons Bob’s Red Mill PS [30 grams of starch – Ed]—That Tim was confident wouldn’t disturb BG—to soak up all the oils and juices. Drained the juices at the end into a small cup, waited 5 minutes until no longer hot but still warm, then stirred-in 4 T. This ‘gravy’ is poured back over the dish.

Taste-wise: d’après moi [‘according to me’; literally, ‘in my opinion’ colloquially, and in context – Ed], the dish is better without ‘gravy’. Flavors are muted with the PS and it’s still a bit chalky (of course, since one can’t cook it), though I think some extra Balsamic or Worcestershire would improve texture (I only used a splash) and certainly using only three T Bob’s instead of 4 would help.

However, it still worked well and it’s an easy way to incorporate Resistant Starch into a very healthy but ketogenic diet for those who need that, like my dad. Apart from the unparalleled nutrition from the liver, there’s even inulin here from the roasted garlic, onions and artichoke.

See breakdown (note that fiber is included in Carb counts, the ratio would be slightly better if I subtracted fiber but carb numbers are very small anyway)

Keto Liver Dish

Ingredients and Calories

2T coconut oil: 232
2T Butter: 200
160g veal calf liver: 224
2 Slices bacon: 54
1/4 Red bell pepper: 8
1/4 Onion: 12
3 Small mushrooms: 12
1 Small artichoke heart: 40
4 Cloves garlic: 16

Total protein + carbohydrate calories: 265.2

Total fat calories: 572.4

About 2:1 fat:protein/carbohydrate

[BUT IT HAS A BUNCH OF STARCH!!!Ed]

~~~

This first set of graphs show that 30 grams of potato starch carbohydrate in a single meal had no effect over 3 hours. She also did a control, mixing 30 grams of potato starch carbohydrate in water. Still no effect. So, did the starch mediate the glucose raising-protein, “”nutritional ketosis” fans? I don’t know; but neither do you, and I have suspicions. That’s because you make zero distinctions at times when making them is critical to understanding, as in: critical distinctions. “Starch is starch.” “It’s glucose.” And “all glucose raises insulin”…and is “converted to fat”…in one miraculous conflagration. And, and, then…”it gets stored”…and…”that’s why you get fat.”…It has nothing to do with eating too much fat that’s stored far more efficiently as fat, than glucose converted to fat, or food in general. Relax and pour on the added fat, so you can eat fewer carbohydrates [/sarcasm].

(Click for big.)

RS ketosis2
Read It and Weep, LC Ignorants

And here’s what happens, d’après Marrie (…’according to’, in the context), when you add 2T potato starch—just half the amount from the above results, into a regular cooked tater.

More Starch
With Rapidly Digesting Starch (In a Ketogenic Enviro)

I dunno. Have you been hoodwinked into assuming that if your BG ever goes over 120, you’re fucked for life? It’s nonsense, a completely unobtainable goal that, so long as your expectations hold, will keep you dependent upon those leading you to believe the lie. It’s tantamount to Original Sin. It’s about acute vs. chronic and I never, ever, ever see that critical distinction being made. All over, I see: SPIKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s like going out for a hike, jog—even some sprints—and getting freaked out that your heart rate went over 120 BPM. If your heart rate almost never goes under 120, then you surely have a critically distinctive problem…and you’re probably fucked for life. Know your distinctions.

One of the things I think that Part 2 of this series will demonstrate is that ketosis is really a double edged sword, if that’s your thang. I’ve shown above—thanks to Marie—that resistant starch in the form of unmodified potato starch won’t affect ketosis—and this makes sense, because you don’t digest it. Your colonic bacteria do. And they toss off saturated fat (SCFAs) in the trade. However, since you have trained your body to not be able to handle plain glucose or rapidly digesting starch while in ketosis, potato starch is probably not going to help you beyond feeding gut bacteria while in ketosis without cost, in terms of elevated blood sugar. It’s not nothing, just not the whole ball of wax carbohydrate adapted people get to enjoy. Your choice.

You’ll get to see what happens, however, if you are somewhat adapted to plain ‘ole carbohydrates. It’s a whole different story, and that’s the Canary in the Coal Mine, as far as I’m concerned. I’m going to suggest that it’s entirely possible that an LC, VLC, keto approach, while workable and obviously therapeutic in many instances may, in the end, prove to be a primitive approach that denies a lot of pleasures you could be enjoying, even as a diabetic.

36 Comments

  1. bornagain on September 12, 2013 at 03:43

    I just found this over at proteinpower.com: . Seems he doesn’t think too much of resistant starch. I don’t know who to believe anymore.

    I eat like the paleo people tell me to and I get fat. I eat like my doctor tells me to and I get fat. I pray to baby jesus and I still get fat. I shall eat raw potato smoothies and pray to baby jesus some more. I hear raw potatoes make for increased stool size. I like increased stool size!

  2. Raphael S on September 11, 2013 at 16:25

    This starch seems to talk, walk and act like fiber – insoluble but fermentable. Are we expecting it to act like other sugars that on the contrary, are actually absorbed by the body? Seems a bit like apple and oranges…

    I’m probably wrong – but how so?

  3. tatertot on September 11, 2013 at 17:11

    You are not wrong. Actually you are spot on. Their are some pretty big differences between RS and the typical fermentable fibers (inulin, pectin, mucins, gums) in that RS is targeted preferentially by butyrogenic gut microbes–the producers of SCFA. The other fermentable fibers are not known to produce as much butyrate as RS except for pectins, gums, and mucins–they are very similar to RS, but are hard to get in meaningful quantities. Inulin is called a prebiotic because it feeds friendly bacteria, but it also feeds other bacteria which give off lots of gasses. Anyone who’s eaten a lot of inulin will confirm that!

    The effect on blood sugar we have shown could also be repeated with other fermentable fibers in isolation or by eating beans–but not many whole foods show such a strong relationship with glucose regulation. Beans do, resistant starch does, and cinnamon is said to.

    Our goal was to explore the science behind RS. There are hundreds and hundreds of studies on RS, but almost zero anecdotal reports. One of the biggest strikes RS has against it is the word ‘starch’ in it’s name. Foods that naturally contain RS are generally off-limits in paleo/LC diets. Lots of RS comes at a hefty calorie price, which is why we chose to experiment with the extracted starches.

  4. marie on September 11, 2013 at 19:27

    Yes, this is just a stark demonstration that the word ‘starch’ does not mean the same thing as usual when we are talking about Resistant Starch.

    Resistant Starch does not digest to glucose. You would see that immediately in a BG test after eating it. Dramatically in fact, if you had been fasting for 48 hrs and were ketogenic.

    Which is why taking RS when fasted for 48hrs and in easily demonstrable ketosis (ketones even show up continually on the ketostix) is the ultimate “stress-test” if you will for Resistant Starch.

  5. tatertot on September 12, 2013 at 09:28

    @bornagain – We talked about that article a bit in the first few posts on RS. It is a complete knee-jerk reaction on Eades’ part to the word ‘starch’. I doubt he was really condemning RS, but he didn’t like being told to eat more potato salad and rice.

    Mark Sisson made some equally scathing comments on RS at the same time:

    “On a different note, a quick word about that Yahoo! Shine article floating around. You know, the one telling you the eight ways carbs will make you lose weight. It’s silly and not worth a lot of typing, so I’ll make it short. The thing that jumps out at me is the author’s obsession with “Resistant Starch.” First of all, I’m not sure why it deserves repeated capitalization (maybe it’s some sort of deity?), and second, resistant starch is just another type of prebiotic whose fermentation by microbiota releases beneficial short chain fatty acids. You can get the same kind of reaction by eating other sources of soluble fiber, many of them decidedly low-carb. Think leafy greens, broccoli, berries, apples, jicama, onions, garlic, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes. And yes, if your activity levels and metabolic health permit, Primal starches are good sources of resistant starch and soluble fiber alike, but it’s not the carbs doing it. It’s the “carbs” that you literally cannot digest without your little microscopic friends’ assistance.

    Read more: “

  6. Richard Nikoley on September 11, 2013 at 19:46

    Marie

    Sorry, but now the means to falsify a negative result is the only way to have a positive result.

    That’s the basic line I’m getting from Jimmy, only the short, frank, honest version.

  7. marie on September 11, 2013 at 20:57

    Oh dear!
    I’m not sure how else to explain it than what you said, but here’s a long version:

    Ketostix measure one of the ketones excreted in pee, the acetoacetate one.
    Pee cannot contain acetoacetate continually if your liver isn’t making it.
    So a Positive result measured continually with ketostix (every couple of hours or whenever you pee) does prove you are in ketosis.

    However, a negative result does NOT prove you are Not in ketosis, because there are a few known reasons you might not be Excreting much acetoacetate, even if there’s some ketones in your blood.
    For same reasons, ketostix might measure too Low a level, compared to what you’d get from blood measurement.

    So, Pee cannot prove “no” state, but it can prove “yes” state if ketostix are continually positive.

    In the case here, there’s something else that should be glaring :
    How in the world does one Avoid going into ketosis after fasting for48 hrs? Other than by liver failure, that is.

    Most people hit ketosis after 20-24 hrs fasting. Some of us metabolically healthy types who’ve been doing structured fasts for many years and/or never carry much glycogen stores to begin with, can often start it just by fasting 16-17hrs.

  8. marie on September 11, 2013 at 21:05

    edit (4 lines into above comment):
    “Pee cannot contain acetoacetate continually if your liver isn’t making it to begin with and your kidneys aren’t excreting it”
    (maybe that’s being excruciatingly clear, but I don’t want any misunderstandings here!)

  9. JerseyGirl on September 12, 2013 at 01:07

    Richard, Tatertot, Marie,
    am I reading this right? If you can stay in ketosis and still feed the good gut bugs that we’ve been hearing about all over the place lately, I can stay VLC and still feed them? I’m lost without VLC and I try to keep my protein controlled too. I’m badly T2 diabetic and I don’t want to take insulin all the time. I’d still like to have better immunity and all the other gut benefits that come from happy bugs though.

    So you are saying I can get the best of both worlds by taking only resistant starch, skipping all the other starch that comes with it in normal food?
    Just looking for that confirmation before I try it myself. I prick my fingers pretty often anyway.

    I’ve been following the series and tried reading some of the references, but it’s great to see results up close like this.

    Tatertot and Richard, thanks for all the research and explanations.
    Marie, did the ketogenic crowd pay you to try this? I mean really, bless you! Two full days fasting? Because what, you wanted to be really really sure? That’s being tough. Your dad is lucky to have you. Thank you for sharing and all the best to him.

  10. Raphael S on September 12, 2013 at 01:42

    So, granted the plasma BG lowering effects of RS are what they seem to be in these many N=1’s …How to best use RS and in what situations? And how to not misuse it, as the corollary I guess.

    So if an overweight diabetic with an autoimmune presentation of arthritis is having difficulty getting sub 100mg/dL fasted plasma BG values despite adhering to the whole shtick (good sleep, whole foods, sun exposure, tried <70 g total carbs p/day but hasn't improved further)…we might try RS extracts from raw potatoes and not obtain it from whole, cooked and cooled beans which can, arguably, be problematic for someone with some sort of autoimmune issue.

    Is this a good attempt at discriminating between the use of RS itself and the use whole foods containing RS?
    If so, then it seems like RS is more of a supplement rather than a 'whole foods' chunk of ones diet…(nothing wrong with that)

  11. Sean on September 12, 2013 at 03:45

    Someone ought to write a post about how there is no such thing as a macronutrient.

  12. bornagain on September 12, 2013 at 03:49

    @ Sean. You’ve got a blog Sean. You write the article and post it on your blog. I’m not sure anyone will read it over there but at least you’ll get your wish of someone writing a post about it.

  13. Matthew on September 12, 2013 at 05:30

    I can see the sarcasm dripping off Sean’s comment but for those Newb’s who haven’t seen the good Doctor’s writing:

    http://www.archevore.com/panu-weblog/2011/2/5/no-such-thing-as-a-macronutrient-part-ii-carbohydrates-revis.html

    Does KH post anywhere anymore, or has he retreated from the internet?

  14. Mark. on September 12, 2013 at 05:45

    I’ve been a type 1 diabetic since 1970. Sharply restricting carbohydrate is about the only thing that’s helped get my diabetes under control, but perhaps I overdo the fat calories. (I’m still overweight.) If only resistant starch tasted better… still, I’m tempted to try the raw potato starch and see if it has good effects. At least I would have no trouble chugging a glass of starch and water. If I try this I’ll report what happened.

  15. Richard Nikoley on September 12, 2013 at 07:14

    @sean

    Quickly followed by a post that there’s no such thing as an imaginary number. :)

  16. Sean on September 12, 2013 at 07:37

    Mathew, I’m pretty sure Kurt is not returning from the Fortress of Solitude.

    The light that burns twice as bright…

  17. Sean on September 12, 2013 at 07:41

    Richard,

    the square root of minus one compels you,

    the square root of minus one compels you,

    the square root of minus one compels you,

    ….

  18. Sean on September 12, 2013 at 07:43

    It’s been real and it’s been imaginary, but it hasn’t been complex.

    Thanks, I’ll just grab me coat.

  19. Sean on September 12, 2013 at 07:56

    Sean. You’ve got a blog Sean. You write the article and post it on your blog. I’m not sure anyone will read it over there but at least you’ll get your wish of someone writing a post about it.

    From the heart of hell you stab at me.

  20. tatertot on September 12, 2013 at 09:09

    @JerseyGirl, who asked: “Can I stay in ketosis and still feed the good gut bugs that we’ve been hearing about all over the place lately, I can stay VLC and still feed them?”

    Yes. This is exactly what we’ve been saying. You would be able to have as much RS as you want if it was in the form of raw starches (potato/tapioca) and also mostly green banana/plantain flour, and even dried plantain chips or raw potatoes. Cooked and cooled potatoes or rice and beans would probably knock you out of ketosis fairly quick.

  21. tatertot on September 12, 2013 at 09:22

    @Raphael S, who asked: “So if an overweight diabetic with an autoimmune presentation of arthritis is having difficulty getting sub 100mg/dL fasted plasma BG values despite adhering to the whole shtick (good sleep, whole foods, sun exposure, tried <70 g total carbs p/day but hasn't improved further)…we might try RS extracts from raw potatoes and not obtain it from whole, cooked and cooled beans which can, arguably, be problematic for someone with some sort of autoimmune issue.

    Is this a good attempt at discriminating between the use of RS itself and the use whole foods containing RS?"

    I think for the individual in question, using raw potato starch would be helpful in improving gut flora and hopefully help them with some of their problems caused by weakened immune system. It may or may not improve FBG. That's what N=1's are all about, but it will not knock them out of ketosis I can say with 100% certainty.

    http://suppversity.blogspot.com/2013/08/resitant-starches-resurface-in-diabetic.html?showComment=1378407939697#c2845355198377871756 This is an article about a type of RS called RS4, it's man-made from corn starch. It pretty much says exactly what we have shown–RS can lower blood glucose levels very effectively after a meal–but it won't cure diabetes.

  22. Bobert on September 12, 2013 at 11:58

    I have noticed as a result of t-tot, that cold beans add a more full effect and less fartage then beans warmed.

    Looks like Sisson would benefit from telling people to add 1/4 – 1/2 cup of cold beans to the Big Ass Salad, in addition to the 1 cup of olive oil

  23. Richard Nikoley on September 12, 2013 at 14:11

    I have developed a keen taste for cold beans right out of the fridge. So easy, too.

  24. marie on September 12, 2013 at 15:51

    JerseyGirl and Raphael S. :
    my ‘stress-test’ for RS in fasted ketosis does show exactly that it’s possible to stay VLC or even in ketosis when taking RS.

    In fact, the RS may have helped ketosis, since it provides fatty acids so that the true ratio of Fats compared to Others (others=carbs+proteins) may be even higher.

    For morning FBG numbers, like Tim, I can’t guess at all. That depends a lot on how each body responds to overnight fasting.

    As for whole food sources, Raphael, I like the discrimination you make in usage.
    Due to the RS content of some whole foods, it’s possible that diabetics or people with the metabolic syndrome may still be able to eat those whole foods and therefore get all the nutrition without simultaneously derailing BG regulation (due to a BG blunting effect of RS).
    Those RS-containing foods may even help long-term BG regulation.

    However, if there’s a need, as you describe, to avoid those whole foods that contain good quantities of RS or a need to keep strictly ketogenic, then eating only the extracted RS “as a supplement” is the way to go.

  25. marie on September 12, 2013 at 16:00

    Sean,
    or it’s been a complex conjugate all along, mixed back in. Voilà, that’s how “it’s been real“!

    Getting my manteau now :D

  26. Lauren on September 12, 2013 at 16:38

    I have been VLC/LC for 2 years now, but have never felt better than the past 3 months when adding 1T of potato starch to my daily fare. It has not impacted on blood sugar or ketosis and has improved my digestion and overall energy/health. Thank you to Richard and Tim for a great series of articles and experimentation.

  27. Steve W on September 12, 2013 at 17:57

    However, since you have trained your body to not be able to handle plain glucose or rapidly digesting starch while in ketosis, potato starch is probably not going to help you beyond feeding gut bacteria while in ketosis without cost, in terms of elevated blood sugar. It’s not nothing, just not the whole ball of wax carbohydrate adapted people get to enjoy. Your choice.

    Richard would you consider rewriting this section? It’s important yet the phrasing is a bit awkward.

  28. […] 2 of my series on the N=2 will be up early next week. In the meantime, here's a study, with full […]

  29. AJ on September 13, 2013 at 09:13

    This is great news.

    Perhaps I have missed it, but when is the best time to add RS to your daily routine?
    All at once or spread out over the day?
    Is morning, noon , or night the best time?

    This is fascinating and promising.

    Thanks

  30. marie on September 13, 2013 at 17:56

    AJ, the answer is yes :)
    No expert here, but from what I can see, anytime of day that’s convenient will give you the long-term health effects (gut lining health, immunity, metabolic health etc).

    Then, you can tweak timing for some immediate effect if you want, such as blunting the Blood Glucose rise from a hi-glycemic food like a cooked potato (blunting works if you’re used to eating at least some moderate amount of carbs regularly).
    To blunt the BG rise, you’d eat the RS together with that hi-g food or maybe an hour earlier. Up to four hours earlier can have an immediate effect, but you could play with that to see what works best for you?

  31. marie on September 13, 2013 at 18:03

    VLC and Ketogenic folks above, a Caveat :
    there’s precious little that RS (or anything) can do to blunt the BG rise from a hi-glycemic food if you’re in a fasted ketogenic state. This is because the normal and reversible “physiological insulin resistance” (with which many long-time VLC and ketogenic dieters are familiar) determines a rapid BG rise in that state if you eat a hi-glycemic food.
    A great series of posts on physiological insulin resistance is on Peter’s “Hyperlipid” blog, if you’re interested.

    Many VLC and ketogenic dieters, if they have to go for an OGTT, know to first eat moderate good carbs for a few days to reverse their glucose/insulin response in time for the test.

    IF folks :
    BTW, it’s also possible sometimes to get this response after a long enough IF interval. As usual, it’s reversible after a day or two of ‘normal’ carb eating. Yet from what I’ve seen on forums, a lot of IF’ers, if they’re not also LC or ketogenic, aren’t familiar with this normal “insulin resistance” response to fasting (maybe because not as many IF’ers need to use a BG meter?). So I thought I’d mention it :)

  32. AJ on September 13, 2013 at 20:59

    @Marie Thanks for the advice…it was just what I was looking for.

  33. Wenchypoo on September 19, 2013 at 02:58

    My husband is genetically diabetic–now in stages of pre-diabetes. The paternal half of his lineage is full of diabetics of both types. So far, he’s the only one who hasn’t become insulin-dependent (thanks to me with diligent cooking and supplementation).

    Something I learned just a few days ago: all BG meters are allowed to be at least 20% off up to 95% of the time–this is by federal regulation. So if our meters are allowed to be off (in either direction) by this much, how can there be ANY measure of accuracy with home metering?

    That said, I forged ahead and tried a Carb Night as touted on one of Jimmy Moore’s recent podcasts. The doctors interviewed said they had great results with endurance athletes lowering their overall and lingering blood sugars after a weekly spike to the system–I tried it on Hubby. I figured “what the hell?” and had the chromium standing by, and the chosen carb was salad. I’m planning another carb night this weekend to see if the same thing happens, only I’m going to ramp up the carb load a little to something beyond mere salad. After reading this, potato starch intrigues me immensely. I think I’ll try it and see if it had the same effect as salad.

    If we’re successful, the weekly starch stays in. After that, we test on ME–I’m post-menopausal, and BG has climbed to or near 100 in spite of me being VLC, and ultra-high-fat. I’m also taking some of Hubby’s sugar-killing supplements (just not in the same quantities).

    If this works out for both of us, tapioca starch is coming back into the diet–I’ve missed it in my baking!

  34. Richard Nikoley on September 19, 2013 at 07:34

    Wenchypoo:

    You might want to read up on some of the RS posts and comments. You can’t really use it in baking to get the effect. Heating destroys the RS properties and makes it fast digesting starch.

  35. […] in the world? Simply: honesty, far unlike a lot of others. She was the star of Part 1 of my yet-to-be-published Part 2 of the series on diligently controlled testing of resistant …. This kinda let's the cat out of the bag, but as I said yesterday, I'm waiting on that until I […]

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