Eat This Carb and You Won't Gain Weight

Carbohydrates sound so innocent: mere starches, sugar and fiber that the body uses for energy. Yet health-conscious Americans despise them, designing entire diets just to cut them out.

Weight Loss Guide

Rice Calories Can Be Cut in Half With This Trick
healthiest foods, health food, diet, nutrition, stock, bananas, fruit
Are Bananas Really Worth the Calories?
Close-Up Of Milk Bottle On Table
The Case Against Low-fat Milk Is Stronger Than Ever
This Is the Best Type of Exercise for Weight Loss
How to Feel Thinner in 30 Minutes
You Asked: Is Hot Yoga Good For You—And For Weight Loss?

But out of the pile of cast-off carbs, there are some you should keep. New research around a certain kind of carb, called “resistant starch,” suggests that they could be a key way to help control weight.

When we eat refined carbohydrates, like white bread and cookies, our bodies absorb them very quickly, and the hormone insulin ushers them into our cells. Eat a lot of them, and the body will store most of those calories instead of burning them—which is why we gain weight on high-carb diets.

But that's not the case with resistant starches, so named because they resist digestion. These kinds of carbs bypass the small intestine (where most food is digested) and head to the large intestine (also known as the colon) to be metabolized. There, they're fermented and turned into short-chain fatty acids, which the body burns as energy. Resistant starches also serve as powerful prebiotics—food for intestinal bacteria in the colon.

TIME HealthGet the latest health and science news, plus: burning questions and expert tips. View Sample
TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.