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List Of Starches That Are Worse Than Sugar

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 09/30/2018

Let me give you the list of starches that are worse than sugar so you can avoid them in your ketogenic diet. 

RELATED: What Is Excess Carbs

In this article:

  1. The Thought of Being Okay to Consume Popcorn on a Regular Basis

  2. What Is the Glycemic Index (GI)?

  3. The List of Starches and Their GI

  4. The List of Starches Is Worse Than Sugar Because of the High GI

  5. Focus on Eating Vegetable Carbs

  6. How to Incorporate Vegetables in Your Ketogenic Diet

List of Starches to Avoid in Your Diet

The Thought of Being Okay to Consume Popcorn on a Regular Basis

I want to talk about the list of starches or carbs that are worse than sugar because I just had a conversation about this with a few people.

They were consuming popcorn, which is basically a type of starch because of the corn. In their minds, popcorn is a carb and not sugar, thus, it is healthier than sugar. So, it made it okay for them to consume popcorn regularly.

How true is this?

Let’s look at the glycemic index of popcorn below.

What Is the Glycemic Index (GI)?

Glycemic index Fitness and weight loss concept | List Of Starches That Are Worse Than Sugar | worst carbs

Let me tell you about the GI. What does that mean? The GI is a scale of how fast carbs break down, get absorbed, and raise blood sugar levels in your body. If there is an excess of carbs, it's going to turn into fat, cholesterol, or triglycerides.

That is what this index is. A high GI means the food is not good for your body.

Generally, low, medium, and high GI is 55 or less, 56-69, and 70 and higher, respectively. 

Triglycerides Definition: A type of fat common in the body and comes from foods and extra calories.

The List of Starches and Their GI

Take a look at this list of starches and their GI: 

  • Table sugar - 63

  • Rice - 69

  • Popcorn - 70-90 (depending on the type and on whatever you put in it)

  • Bread - between 75 and 85 (depending on its kind)

  • Refined bread, for example, is from refined grains, and this type of grain does not have fiber. Dietary fiber is basically carbs but has the potential to slow down the effect of blood sugar in the body.  

  • Potatoes can also range because the more you cook them, the more sugar molecules break down and the higher their GI is. So, raw potato is way down 30 GI, but who is going to consume a raw potato? People typically cook, boil, or mash it, and it becomes an instant potato, which has a pretty high GI at 90. Maltodextrin is really high in GI, probably one of the highest, and it's in many types of food.

RELATED: Why We Really Love Carbs

The List of Starches Is Worse Than Sugar Because of the High GI

Paper bags with different types of flour  | List Of Starches That Are Worse Than Sugar | carbs vs sugar

The point here is this list of starches (potato starch, corn starch, tapioca starch, wheat flour, rice, and grains) is worse than sugar because these carbs rank high in the GI, which can cause more damage to your health. Just because certain foods are carbs and not sugar does not mean they are healthier. You have to understand the GI and its relation to carbs and sugar. 

When there is a constant immediate rise in your blood sugar levels, your body does not like it. As a result, your pancreas produces more Fat Storing Hormone that converts sugar to other forms for storage.

High Fat Storing Hormone levels in the blood can cause your glucose to crash, which makes you feel hungry even if you just ate your meal. This can lead to weight gain because of the eat-hunger-eat-hunger cycle.


Aside from that, you also cause stress to your pancreas, which can lead to degenerative conditions, like diabetes, over time. The frequent sudden rise of blood sugar levels can also cause oxidative heart damage that can result in the development of heart disease.

This is why avoiding this list of starches in your low-carb diet is important.  

Focus on Eating Vegetable Carbs

Broccoli vegetable soup | List Of Starches That Are Worse Than Sugar | what are starches

You can still get carbohydrates from healthy sources, though. The carbs you want to focus on are from leafy greens and other vegetables because they are rich in grams of fiber that feeds your colon bacteria, which will help fuel your body.

Your body cannot digest fiber, but the microbes can. These microbes, when fed with fiber, can give your body butyric acid that helps regulate blood sugar.    

Butyric Acid Definition: A saturated short-chain fatty acid that helps stimulate the growth and differentiation of the colon's epithelial cells (colonocytes).

Aside from fiber, veggies are low in sugar and have a lot of vitamins and minerals as well.

You should focus on veggies only and not fruits because they have too much sugar. Some veggies and beans you can try as ingredients to your recipes that are also low in GI are as follows:

  • Zucchini

  • Tomatoes

  • Spinach

  • Soybeans

  • Peas

  • Lettuce, all varieties

  • Green beans

  • Cucumber

  • Cherries

  • Celery

  • Cauliflower

  • Broccoli

  • Asparagus

  • Artichoke 

How to Incorporate Vegetables in Your Ketogenic Diet

Two white bowls one containing spinach leaves and one containing chopped kale leaves | List Of Starches That Are Worse Than Sugar | complex carbs

If you have been watching my other videos, you might have known that I always recommend adding 7-10 cups of vegetables a day in your diet. I just want to show you here the breakdown of grams per cup if you include these common veggies in your diet. This will allow you to be "safe" under the 50-g threshold of carbs a day.

  • Tomatoes (10 grams)

  • Spinach (1 gram)

  • Peppers (4-6 grams)

  • Lettuce (2 grams)

  • Kohlrabi (8-11 grams)

  • Kale (6 grams)

  • Cucumber (3 grams)

  • Chard (6 grams)

  • Cabbage (5-8 grams)

  • Brussels sprouts (7 grams)

  • Broccoli (7 grams)

Although I mentioned earlier not to consume fruits, berries can be an exemption because they’re low in GI than other types of fruits. You can occasionally eat a small number of berries to minimize your carb consumption but still get essential nutrients.

Berries are rich in antioxidants, which are great for neutralizing free radicals. Half a cup of berries has 6-8 g of carbs but is high in phytonutrients. You can think of it as an occasional nutritious substitute for your popcorn.


The list of starches I mentioned here is one of the things you might want to stay away from to not break your ketogenic diet. They are high in GI, which does not only cause harm to your blood glucose but may also cause other health complications.

Instead of eating these starchy foods, you can focus your attention on loading your meals with veggies as they are healthy, low in sugar, and can help you feel full longer.       

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Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.

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