Starch is the white, generally tasteless carbohydrate found in the ordinary flour that's used to make bread dough, pasta dough, and pancake batter. It's made of glucose molecules and your body quickly breaks it down for caloric energy. Eat enough of it, though, and you too will start to look doughy.
However, researchers at Skidmore College found that they can use a modified type of indigestible starch known as "resistant starch" to make, in what seems to be definitive proof that there is a deity, a pancake that actually burns fat and builds muscle.
The Skidmore scientists recruited 70 women and split them into four groups. The women were each fed an isocaloric breakfast consisting of one of four types of pancakes:
- Pancakes made using ordinary starch
- Pancakes made using ordinary starch and protein powder
- Pancakes made using resistant starch
- Pancakes made using resistant starch and protein powder
After the women ate their flapjacks, researchers measured the amount of energy being produced, along with how much fat and carbohydrate was being burned. Caloric expenditure increased in all four groups, but particularly in the group that ate pancakes made with ordinary flour.
However, the group that ate the pancakes made with resistant starch and protein powder began to burn more fat. Additionally, the pancakes made with protein powder and resistant starch added to feelings of fullness, which is an important attribute of any successful fat-loss diet.
The results make perfect sense because resistant starch does the following four things:
- It increases fullness.
- It reduces the rise of blood sugar after a meal.
- It improves insulin sensitivity.
- It enhances fat burning.
While the researchers used whey protein in their experiment, a casein or casein and whey blend would have worked even better because whey is absorbed quickly and causes a rise in blood sugar. Casein, or a casein and whey blend, however, absorbs slowly, making it a far better choice for satiety, blood sugar levels, and fat burning.
The scientists concluded that the change in fat oxidation caused by the resistant starch plus protein pancakes was relevant and "could have important implications for body weight control if maintained under chronic conditions."
Here's how the scientists prepared their base pancake, as taken directly from their research paper:
"Pancakes were prepared following institutional guidelines using pre-gelatinized test starch, sugar, maltodextrin, vegetable oil, baking powder, egg, non-fat dry milk powder and water. All dry and wet ingredients were mixed together separately and then combined. Each meal consisted of three pancakes that were cooked on a non-stick griddle until golden brown."
Okay, so they're not Betty Crocker. Still, we can see that they used a traditional pancake recipe and merely manipulated the types of starch (regular or resistant) and either added protein or didn't, which doesn't help much if we're trying to duplicate their efforts.
However, it's easy to make your own version of a fat-burning, muscle-building pancake. If your recipe calls for 1.5 cups of flour, replace 1 cup of the flour with resistant starch (many types of which are available at places like Whole Foods or even through Amazon) and replace the other half cup of flour with two scoops of protein powder like Metabolic Drive® Protein.
- Christopher L. Gentile, Emery Ward, Jens Juul Holst, Arne Astrup, Michael J. Ormsbee, Scott Connelly and Paul J. Arciero. "Resistant starch and protein intake enhances fat oxidation and feelings of fullness in lean and overweight/obese women." Nutrition, 29 October 2015