Carb Back-Loading, Resistant Starch, and Cholesterol

BRM Potato StarchCarb Back-Loading, Resistant Starch, and Cholesterol

While continuing my Carb Back-Loading experiment (results at 4 weeks, results at 8 weeks), I was a bit disheartened after receiving my latest NMR cholesterol results.  Despite losing almost 5 lbs and 1.25 inches off my weight, while increasing the amounts I was lifting on Stronglifts 5×5, my LDL-P particles were still high (LDL-C was high as well).

I had heard a couple podcasts where Robb Wolf mentioned that he was able to get his cholesterol in check while using resistant starch and a few other reports I’ve seen around the internets of people with a smiliar response that I wanted to try it out again.

I experimented with this stuff before in the past for a 2 week span, primarily to see if it would help me with my sleep (which is pretty crappy, especially on the weeks when I’m working over night).  After titrating up to the recommended 4 tbsp of Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch, I didn’t detect any real difference in my sleep quality… which was still crappy.  I did however develop pretty terrible gas, and for the sake of my coworkers, my wife, and my own olfactory bulbs, I aborted the experiment.

This time around I hypothesized that the combination of resistant starch AND the increased carb intake with Carb Back-Loading would provide the answer to my continuously high LDL-P.

Background on Resistant Starch

The basic idea is that resistant starches are carbohydrates that ‘resist’ being digested as it passes through our stomach and small intestine.  Once they reach our large intestine, they encounter our colonic bacteria which actually have the tools to digest resistant starch.  When they break these down, the products they release (such as butyric acid) are beneficial to both our good gut bacteria and our intestinal cells.

Here is a video that does a good job of summarizing it:

If you want to read a little more here are few more resources:

One more thing I wanted to add before moving on is that Kiefer has stated multiple times that he doesn’t buy into he whole resistant starch thing, and that if he DID want to try to improve his gut flora, he would use fructo or galacto-oligosacharides… but he mainly believes that your gut flora will change with you.  If you get healthy, your gut flora will then get healthy, if you are unhealthy, then your gut flora will be unhealthy.

In a few of Kiefer’s podcasts, Dr. Rocky Patel has also mentioned that he’s played around with resistant starch and didn’t notice any difference.  He uses a continuous glucose monitor and didn’t detect any differences in his blood sugars, (one of the purported benefits is supposedly improved blood sugar control).

I also started taking the Garden of Life Primal Defense Probiotics which is one of the recommended brands.

CBL and Resistant Starch


I started off with 2 tbsp of Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch, seemed to do ok, then upped it to 3 tbsp the next night and then 4 tbsp the day after that.  Well it seems that I acclereted the dosage a bit too fast because I developed pretty bad bloating and gas, so I had to cut things back down to 2 tbsp for a while, slowly titrating back up to 3 tbsp.

It’s interesting to see that my blood sugars stayed in the 90s the entire time.

I had a bit of bloating and some pretty stinky gas the entire time, not unlike my first foray with this stuff.  You can see that my abdominal circumference increased from 34 to 34.75, which I primarily attribute to all the bloating.

Things were just not comfortable for me all around… I imagined that I was surrounded by this malodorous, farty, cloud that followed me around everywhere I went.  The BJJ Cavewife and I once again agreed that it was time to pull the plug on this experiment.


CBL RS Cholesterol

It was a big fat NO CHANGE.  LDL-C remained the same (I opted not to repeat the NMR for the sake of cost.  NMRs cost $100 while standard cholesterol tests cost $29 on

Doesn’t look like resistant starch was the answer to my cholesterol woes… at least not in the span of 2 weeks.

Not sure what I can conclude from this especially given the limited duration.  Perhaps it’s something that I needed to stick to longer.  Maybe it’s because I didn’t take the full spectrum of probiotics that Richard Nikoley and Co recommend:

In retrospect it’s clear that I probably shouldn’t have been so aggressive in advancing the dosage of the RS… not sure why I felt the rush to do it, but I guess part of me really wanted to reach that ideal 4 tbsp that everyone keeps talking about.

Maybe I’ll mess around with this stuff again in the future… but as of now I’m going to give my microbiome and my nose a break.

21 Responses to Carb Back-Loading, Resistant Starch, and Cholesterol

  1. Mike says:

    Not knowing your actual numbers, do you need actually to be concerned? The consensus seems to be that LDL and HDL could rise on a low carb high fat diet. Usually HDL rises much more than LDL, all while the trigs drop. The ratio of trigs to HDL is what matters more than any single LDL number or total CHO number, as far as cardio risk factors.

    Also, the more intensive CHO tests can weed out if it truly is the damaging LDL particles raising total LDL. I could be wrong, but I thought even LDL can be broken down into sub categories.

    I have also heard that health blogging can raise LDL…sarcasm.

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being super freak out, my concern with my LDL-P and LDL-C is a 3.

      You’re right in that my Trig/HDL ratio is optimal, my CRP is low, and my insulin levels are low, so my overall risk factors are low.

      While we still don’t know what the heck a high LDL-P means in the setting of a low carb diet, and in fact it may not mean anything… but a high LDL-P has been shown to be a cardiac risk factor in the general population… so I would still feel better if I could bring it down.

      The BJJ Cavewife for example is pretty much following a low carb diet (50-100 gm) and has a picture perfect lipid profile with a high HDL, low trig, and low LDL-C, that I’m super envious of!

      You’re right that LDL is broken down into subcategories. The two main tests are the NMR lipoprofile (which I got previously) and the VAP that you mentioned.

      Peter Attia wrote a post in which he said the NMR is more accurate, so I’ve been going with that one.

  2. Dale says:

    I look forward to the day when we can get a readout on our gut microbiome as easily as we can get blood lipids tests. And of course we’d need to be able to interpret it. I have a feeling that just as a body takes time to become keto adapted (probably by a shift in the microbiome), is would take time to get RS adapted. Perhaps a ‘cleanse’ before the next RS experiement, as unpleasant as that might sound, might provide a quicker shift in the gut bacteria to better handle the RS without the side effects.

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      I completely agree.

      While the gut biome is becoming more and more popular now.. the scope of what we don’t know is still breathtaking. Would be great to have a convenient test that would categorize the gut biome population that is also reproducible.

      My understanding is that even with the current tests available, there is still high variability.

      Also on my wish list is a convenient cortisol test, that would be as easy to test as a blood sugar.

      And also cheaper blood ketone strips!

  3. Ken says:

    I think you can get results of your gut microbe. Here’s a podcast from Cris Kresser’s site that I found pretty helpful:

    IMO you were a little too aggressive in the administration of the BRMPS. I’ve been using 1 tbsp daily the last month, and only occassionaly up it to 2. However, I’m also eating a green banana pretty much every day. I do get a little gas, but its improved as time has passed.


    • BJJ Caveman says:

      I think you’re right… definitely too aggressive with my ramp up. Next go around I’ll do it slower.

  4. Hemming says:

    If you need inspiration for another experiment I think it could be interesting how increasing your fiber intake affects your cholesterol numbers. It has been mentioned as an effective method for binding the cholesterol by several sources.
    That said, I don’t think your LDL number is any problem, its more CRP and small LDL-P that seem a little too high.

    I still can’t get my head around how cheap blood tests are in the US. If I were to get a standard cholesterol panel in Denmark if would be close to $1000.

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      You know what.. .that’s actually a good idea. What kind of fiber would you suggest?

      • Hemming says:

        I think there are several ways. What I’m doing at the moment is eating more coconut flakes and meat, flax seeds, cocoa nibs/beans and nuts (I don’t eat big amounts just more than I use to which was very little).
        You could take a fiber supplement like (recommended by Kiefer) which is derived from flax, oat bran and acacia. Like many other, I’m not sure psyllium is the way to go as it sucks up so much water possibly leading to dehydration, bloating and constipation.

        I don’t know when I’ll be able to check my numbers again but I would be very curious to see if the fiber, some weight gain (my high cholesterol might just be due to excessive weight loss) and some more resistance training can make a difference. That said, my dad has always had high cholesterol despite looking and performing stellar so just like you I’m not sure I can ever change it that much. Even four years ago when I was on the supposedly cholesterol lowering low fat diet my LDL was not that much lower. On the other hand my HDL has increased to 97 and my triglycerides are unchanged at 79.

  5. DL says:

    Firstly, thanks for blogging – I enjoy the topics.

    As another datapoint, I’ve been on RS for over 2 months – 48g/day (4 tbsp) of Bob’s Red Mill along with Prescript-Assist. I ramped up to 4 tbsp pretty quickly and the bloating and gas does go away after a few weeks. My goal was to improve overall gut health, which seems to be directionally-positive, although that could easily be the PA vs. the RS. As far as BG levels and blood lipids/cholesterol, I did before and after panels, and there weren’t any statistically significant changes for me either over the 2 month period. Fasting BG (lab tests) as well as post-prandial measurements with a handheld glucometer were similar throughout.

    As further background, my normal protocol is a mix of 16/8 IF with CBL and fasted morning training. I know Keifer’s stance on IF, but I find that it works well for me.

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      Thanks for sharing. Are you going to try the whole protocol with Prescript assist, Garden of life and AOR?

      Any changes in mood etc?

      What does directionally positively improved gut health feel like? So I know what to watch out for.

      • DL says:

        I’m tempted to try the trio of probiotics, but also trying to balance keeping things simple. I decided on PA mainly because it seemed to be have the broadest spectrum of the three.

        Can’t say that I noticed any significant changes in mood, energy levels, or physical performance due to the RS. Maybe it’s an obvious statement, but I do find that there’s some appetite regulating effects as I usually take 2 tbsp of RS before lunch & dinner. I’m guessing that it’s possible that could blunt a high insulin response if you’re CBL, but with early-morning training, I only have a moderate carb intake for dinner and not going for the high spike anyway. At this point, I’m lowering my RS intake to 4 tbsp every other day and may consider dropping it for a while to experiment, perhaps just incorporating other whole-food sources.

        In my case, improved gut health was just more frequent/predictable bowel movements & less constipation.

        • BJJ Caveman says:

          I see.

          My main reasons for trying RS again would be to see if there were any better benefit for glucose control, cholesterol lowering, and improved sleep.

          I’m doing very well on the bowel movement front.

    • Hemming says:


      Do you mind sharing the exact before and after numbers of both BG and cholesterol?

      • BJJ Caveman says:

        Sure. Pretty much all my labs in the past few years have been posted up here sometime or another.

        For reference – My blood glucose levels during nutritional ketosis can be seen here and here

        Numbers during Carb Nite here

        Numbers during Carb Back-Loading here

        Is this what you meant?

      • DL says:

        @Hemming, here are my numbers over the 2-month period, for additional reference points:

        4/24/14 > 6/20/14
        Total Cholesterol: 192 > 193
        Triglycerides: 56 > 46
        HDL: 64 > 66
        LDL: 117 > 118
        VLDL: N/A > 9
        Trig/HDL: 0.88 > 0.70
        Fasting BG: 95 > 96

      • BJJ Caveman says:

        oops.. sorry didn’t realize it was directed to the other commenter!

  6. Richard says:

    If you check out more recent articles on Animalpharm and Free the animal
    They make the point that they are not really recommending a potato starch and probiotic protocol but a fibre and resistant starch + probiotic protocol.

    If you are having problems with lots of smelly gas I think Grace from Animalpharm would strongly recommend the probiotics, because prebiotics are only good if the right microbes are around to eat them. In particular, as I understand it if you do not fee a strong sense of warmth in your gut several hours after having the potato starch (or some other source of RS2) without any fibre you probably don’t have Clostridium butyricum that is contained in the AOR probiotic 3. The fibre taken with the RS2 leads to a longer cooler less localised fermentation, which is a good idea for everyday use, but this is intended as a test.

    I have taken some of the probiotics they recommended (AOR and Prescript Assist) and a lot of fermented veges and drinks. I take some potato starch, psyllium and green banana flour daily but I am also eating roasted and cooled potatoes and sweet potatoes, raw sweet potatoes and carrots; and lots of greens and other low carb veges. The idea being to transition onto a diet in which I get all of the fibre from real food.

    What I find strange is that I am now eating much higher carb 100g – 180g daily and still blowing Red on the Ketonix in one third to half an exhalation. I suspect that it is partly because most of these carbs are not readily digestible, and partly because the figures are out: e.g. I ferment yoghurt for at least 1 1/2 days so it is probably much lower in carbs than the tables suggest.

    • BJJ Caveman says:

      Thanks for the links. I will go check them out.

      When I experiment with this stuff in the future, I think I’ll go the route of using all three probiotics.

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