Clear And Unbiased Facts About Starch-Based Diet (Without All The Hype)

starch-based diet components

The word diet is concretized with the idea that one has to go hungry if on a diet, at least not with a starch-based diet. It prohibits us from eating stomach full.

It is not valid with all diets. Be surprised to know that this diet allows you to each as much as you want and whenever you want. And yes, you can lose weight, get healthy and kick off that nasty illness (associated with obesity).

Don’t believe it? Too good to be true? But it is true. In short, the starch diet is not a hunger diet, and it gives all benefits of a diet.

Want to know how this is possible? Read further and find out.

What Is Starch-Based Diet?

It is a unique diet developed by Dr. A McDougall some forty years ago. Furthermore, he observed and researched ancient cultures and their descendants today.

These ancient tribes consumed lots of starch as their staple diet. However, Dr. McDougall found them healthy and free of severe health disorders. Surprisingly, they were not obese despite consuming so many carbohydrates.

The longest living people in the world from Okinawa, Japan, consume about 80% of carbohydrates in their meals. Furthermore, sweet potato is their staple. They not only live longer, but they are also healthy too.

Corn and Yucca constituted the principal diet of native Americans and they live quite healthy.

Africa thrived on millet. South Americans gorge on potatoes, while Asians cannot live without rice.

All these ancient cultures had a considerable amount of starch in their regular diet, and it did not harm them. Moreover, diabetes, obesity, heart attacks were unknown in these civilizations.

bag of potatoes- part of the starch-based diet

The Concept Of Starch-Based Diet

It led Dr. McDougall to think of an all starch or heavily loaded starch diet. Consequently, he developed such a diet some forty years ago. In all these years, good positive results of his starch diet made it a popular diet. Equally, many people all around the world have adopted this diet.

Essentially, it is a plant-based, purely vegan diet. Nevertheless, dairy and non-vegetarian food are entirely off the list. Being a strictly vegan diet is loved by many and detested by many at the same time.

Among the various benefits of this diet, a low incidence of serious ailments is a prominent incentive to try it. It does cut down weight and fat as well. Nevertheless, it is not a starvation diet. We can eat stomach full.

How Does Starch-Based Diet Works?

The underlying premise of the diet is that packaged food and fat should be avoided. Even low-fat oil like olive oil is not a part of this diet.

Excessive sugar, salt, and preservatives in the packages of ready to eat food play havoc with the body. It not only tends to bloat the body, but the internal organs are also harmed to a great extent. The result is a range of severe disorders. Starting from obesity, it goes right up to heart and liver/kidney fatal disorder.

The second major feature of this diet is a strict no to non-vegetarian food. Dr. McDougall has enough reasons to believe that non-vegetarian food results in lots of inflammation in the body. Hence, it is necessary to do away with non-vegetarian food and adopt a plant-based healthy diet or a velocity diet.

Even dairy is restricted. Dr. McDougall believes the body does not need anything other than plant produce to remain fit and healthy.

A Significant Difference

A significant part of the diet is starch. That may form up to 70% of the total intake. It may set us to think, does not the starch add bulk to the body? Make us fat? Let us see how this works.

Generally, we eat refined carbohydrates in the form of white bread or cookies. The body quickly absorbs carbohydrates. Excessive carbohydrates get stored in the body and lead to obesity.

But that is not the case with ‘resistant starch.’ They are not digested in the small intestine and hence, do not get absorbed in the body directly. They travel to the large intestine where it transforms into short-chain fatty acids. These are used up immediately by the body as energy. Thus, the issue of accumulation and storage of fat in the body is avoided altogether.

In the starch diet, ‘resistant starch’ is consumed. It does not add to the body bulk. Instead, it gets converted into energy directly.

The Crux

The whole essence of the diet revolves around the fact that we consume a maximum of resistant starch, as it keeps us full. But does not add inches to the waistline. It provides energy but is light on the digestive system. Resistant starch also helps the propagation of healthy gastrointestinal flora.

A typical starch diet comprises of 70% starch, 20% vegetables, and 10% fruits. The nutritional requirement of the body is met.

This composition is ideal for the body. It provides all the essential nutrients in the required quantity.

If someone is targeting a steeper weight loss, the composition can be tweaked a bit. The starch percentage takes a dip, and more vegetable finds room on the plate. So effectively, the diet fine-tunes to 45% starch, 45% vegetable, and 10% fruits.

We can eat as much as we want and whenever we want. The interesting fact is that the resistant starch in the diet will keep us feeling full. So, the intake is automatically regulated.

What Kind Of Foods Can Be Eaten?

The broad guideline on food allows resistant starch, starchy vegetable, and some fruits. Specifically, the following can be a part of the starch diet:

  • Legumes

These are wonder foods as far as the starch diet is concerned. It is an excellent source of plant-based protein. It is equally rich in resistant starch, minerals and vitamins in reasonable amounts are present in legumes. Examples of this category are red lentils, black beans, red kidney beans.

  • Grains

Rice, mainly brown rice, is excellent to have with lentils. Quinoa, bulgur wheat are some other examples of grains. We need them for energy. They give us vitamin B, which is essential for converting food to energy. Grains add fiber to the feed which keeps the digestive system healthy.

  • Vegetables

Being a plant-based diet, vegetable forms a prominent part of the diet. However, starch vegetables are preferred over others. Potatoes, squash, corn are favored.

Potatoes, a great source of energy, are a favorite of this diet. It manages inflammation of the body if used along with the skin.

It is rich in vitamins and keeps the liver in good condition. The chances of heart attack and stroke are minimized.

Squash is anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant, anti-oxidant and anti-cancer. It maintains the heart healthy and regulates blood sugar. Starch diet includes broccoli, spinach, and mushroom for their health-enhancing qualities.

  • Fruits

It is a significant category of food in the diet. The minerals and the micronutrients come from fruits. They also maintain the balance of the diet. Since sugar is prohibited, fruits substitute as desserts.

To a limited extent, soya bean and tofu are permitted. It can be sparingly used.

  • Spices

The food is made exciting and palatable by adding some spices. We can go for paprika, garlic, cumin, onion powder, or chili powder.

A Typical Daily Meal According To Starch-Based Diet

The daily meal can comprise breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

  • Breakfast – It can be a cereal porridge with fruits. The cereal ideally should be whole grain instead of white flour.
  • Lunch – The ideal midday meal would be brown rice with lentils or beans. Garnish it with a choice of spices. As an alternative, baked potato with skin is another good choice. We can make it tasty with spices.
  • Dinner – We can have rice at night too, but if we need a change, we can go for the wholemeal bread or seeded bread.

We just have to remember to eat only the allowed food in the diet. Keep your taste buds and cravings under control.

What Is Prohibited?

meat - prohibited in starch-based diet

A starch diet is a strict diet. There are specific categories of prohibited food. These prohibited foods are:

1. Animal products – No meat and no poultry are a part of the diet. The diet plan excludes fish and all types of seafood. Even milk and dairy products are off the list. Dr. McDougall firmly believed the high saturated fats increase cholesterol. This results in a disease like hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes.

2. Oil/fat – All types of oils and fats are totally out of the diet. Even low fat and supposedly healthy oil, like olive oil and the likes, cannot be used.

3. Sugar in any form is not allowed. Sugar, brown sugar, jaggery, sugar cubes, and such kinds of sugar is totally barred.

4. The starch diet of Dr. McDougall is strictly against eating any form of processed or packaged food. Certainly, they do contain a lot of salt and sugar. Notably, both these components are unhealthy beyond a limit.

Advantages And Disadvantages

Every diet, therapy, or health procedure has its share of advantages and disadvantages.

This diet plan is on a roll for the last couple of decades and has benefited the dieters in several ways.


  • It helps in weight loss.

The fat and oil are cut off. Additionally, animal products are barred. The primary food category, which is eaten, is resistant starch. As we saw earlier, resistance starch does not aid fat accumulation. Also, animal food is not allowed. All these add up to the effect of weight loss. However, weight loss is not drastic. Gradually, the weight starts decreasing. Specifically, weight management is one of the essential reasons for doing a diet.

  • Low risk of getting sick

Since most of the food eaten in the diet is anti-inflammatory, the internal system is perfectly fine-tuned. In the same way, the internal system is perfectly cleansed, and toxins flushed out. The vegetable and fruits provide necessary nutrition. Subsequently, in some cases, immunity is also boosted. So overall, the body becomes healthy.

  • Energy increase

A light and disease-free body are more energetic and bouncing with life. As a result, the mood also gets positive.

  • Better digestion

Because of the fiber content and fat less food, the digestive systems improve a lot. In other words, it means better assimilation of nutrients and efficient toxin disposal.

  • No restriction on the quantity

There is no restriction on the servings as long as we eat only the recommended food. So hunger does not bother us when we are on a diet.

  • Trio under control

This diet keeps arthritis, cholesterol, and blood pressure under control. As most of the overweight people suffer from one or more of these. In effect, if these disorders are managed well, life becomes easy.


  • Limited variety

The allowed food groups are finite. Equally important the restriction on non-vegetarian food and dairy products is not taken well by many of the dieters. Hence, they tend to stop the diet in between because of extreme craving for non-vegetarian food.

  • Low in dietary fat

Some nutritionists opine that deficient dietary fat is not suitable for the heart. Moreover, in the long run, it may pose problems.

  • Unbalanced diet

Strong tilt towards starch and not accommodating other food groups are taken as a sign of an unbalanced diet. Notably, one should always have a balanced diet for all-round body and mental well-being. But this diet is biased towards starchy food.

  • Unsatisfied taste buds

The same type of food gets boring, and longing for other types of food increases. In that case, some people are not able to resist this craving, and unfortunately, the diet breaks.

A Word From The Healthy Zoom

There are many diet plans available these days. But most of them are either a hunger diet or a close to hunger diet. However, the starch diet is different. A practicing medical doctor developed it. In other words based on his observation, research, and analysis, this diet evolved.

One is free to have a stomach full of stipulated food. Incidentally, this diet also addresses some widespread ailments like arthritis, stress, high blood pressure, and poor digestion.

It is a little different in approach, but the results nevertheless are encouraging and commendable.

More and more people look forward to adopting the starch diet.


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