Sabudana, or tapioca pearls, is a staple in Indian households. It is a popular food that people prefer during fasts. But can this starchy food help lose weight? Many people are sceptical, given the myths surrounding sabudana’s potential to make you gain weight. However, others believe that tapioca pearls can be a part of a weight-loss diet.
Weight loss is a complex journey; one critical factor determining weight loss success is the foods we eat. However, knowing what to eat and avoid can be overwhelming with so many food options available. Sabudana is one of those foods that people often have contradicting opinions about in the weight loss context. Some people believe sabudana can make one gain weight due to its high carbohydrate content, while others swear by its weight loss benefits.
This article aims to provide information on this topic and help you decide whether or not to include sabudana in your weight loss diet. Furthermore, it will delve into the nutritional profile of sabudana, explore its potential benefits for weight loss, and provide tips on how to use it effectively. So, whether you’re a sabudana sceptic or a seasoned fan, read on to discover the truth about this versatile ingredient and how it can help you achieve your weight loss goals.
Tapioca pearls or sabudana come from the cassava plant, originally from South America. However, people cultivate it widely in Asia as well. Besides being a fasting food, people use it in various dishes, from breakfast porridge to desserts, often replacing rice.
Sabudana is high in carbs and low in fat. It’s also gluten-free, making it popular for those with gluten sensitivities.
It is interesting to note that tapioca pearls were initially not used as a food source. Historically, people used them to produce starch and adhesive. However, with the rise of vegetarianism in India, sabudana became a popular ingredient for fasting meals. The primary reason for this was its high carbohydrate content, which acts as an energy source while not containing non-vegetarian ingredients.
Nutritional Profile of Sabudana
Sabudana is low in protein and fat. Furthermore, it contains high amounts of carbohydrates, making it a decent energy source. However, the vitamin profile of sabudana is not that great. Moreover, it is also low in fibre, which can sometimes lead to blood sugar spikes.
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According to the USDA, the nutritional profile of 100g of sabudana is as follows:
- Energy: 358 Kcal
- Protein: 0.19g
- Carbohydrate: 88.7g
- Fat: 0.02g
- Fibre: 0.9g
- Calcium: 20mg
- Iron: 1.58mg
- Magnesium: 1mg
- Potassium: 11mg
As aforementioned, sabudana is gluten-free. Hence, it is an option for those with gluten intolerance.
Is Sabudana Good for Weight Loss?
Reducing weight involves regulating your food portions. The idea is to create a calorie deficit, exercise regularly, and include foods and nutrients that keep you fuller for longer. Eating sabudana regularly when losing weight may be unsuitable due to its high-calorie content. Excessive sabudana consumption can induce weight gain.
Sabudana is high in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are known to raise insulin levels, and when insulin levels rise, some people become hungrier. And thus, the added sugar may make you eat more than you otherwise would.
You can still, however, incorporate sabudana into your diet occasionally. It is better not to eat a preparation made with sabudana only. Instead, combine a small portion of sabudana with other vegetables and nuts. For example, add more green veggies and less sabudana when making a sabudana khichdi to achieve weight loss goals.
Sabudana and Weight Loss
Traditionally sabudana is a fasting food. Therefore, if you are on a one-meal-a-day plan, sabudana khichdi or a kheer may be ok from a calorie perspective. However, it must be nutritionally rich and not adversely affect your weight loss journey.
Suppose you eat sabudana as part of a three-main meal plan and as a breakfast or snack option. In that case, you are piling on empty calories as the grain is high in carbohydrates and low in fat and protein.
Can I Consume Sabudana When Trying to Lose Weight?
The crucial word here is moderation. To quantify, you can limit yourself to ½ cup of sabudana in your weight loss regimen once in a while. Therefore, if you follow an active lifestyle and ensure a calorie deficit by having a sabudana-based preparation occasionally, please go for it.
Calorie calculation is not the only parameter to watch when one wants to lose weight healthily. The nutritional aspect of food plays a crucial role in long-term weight management. Consequently, eating one meal consisting of sabudana may not be a sustainable solution for weight loss. Instead, make sabudana a part of your well-balanced diet. You can prepare dishes with sabudana by combining them with vegetables and nuts to make them nutritious and enriching.
Health Benefits of Sabudana
Sabudana is low in protein and free of casein and gluten. As a result, people eat it as a non-allergic food.
According to research, ingesting gluten might induce bloating, stomach pain, and diarrhoea if you have Celiac disease or a gluten allergy. However, Sabudana is a gluten-free ingredient that one can consume without an allergic reaction.
Source of Energy
Since it is high in carbs, sabudana gives you instant energy. That makes it an ideal food for active long days. In addition, research shows that eating starch foods before a workout may help boost athletic performance, while eating them afterwards may help speed up recovery.
May Improve Digestion
This popular Indian fasting dish is also a source of resistant starch, which can enhance digestive health. The resistant starch is transferred undigested from the stomach to the colon, where it aids in the formation of beneficial gut bacteria. As a result, it helps in the bulking of the stool and the prevention of constipation.
Whether Sabudana helps you lose weight or not depends on how you consume it and the quantity of consumption. However, sabudana offers health benefits like improving digestion while being a gluten-free energy source to those who consume it right along with a healthy lifestyle. If you want to consume Sabudana during your weight loss journey, it is best to consult a healthcare professional or certified nutritionist.
Healthy Ways to Eat Sabudana for Weight Loss: Recipes to Try
Whether savoury khichdi or sweet kheer, dishes created using sabudana can be healthy and tasty. For example, people add sabudana starch paste to the bread, biscuits, and pancake batter. In some cultures, sabudana and milk are staples. It is also popular as a culinary thickener in southern India. Sabdana is also commonly used to make cooling summer desserts with additives like custard, rose syrup, and sabja.
The meal made of these tiny pearls is filling and easy to prepare. But if you are attempting to lose weight, you need to be mindful of portion size and how you add sabudana into your diet.
Sabudana Vegetable Khichdi
Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
- Sabudana: 1 cup
- Carrot, finely chopped: ¼ cup
- Green beans, finely chopped: ¼ cup
- Green peas – ¼ cup
- Green Chilli, finely chopped: 1 piece
- Cloves (pounded): 2 piece
- Cardamom (pounded): 2 pods
- Bay leaves, torn: 1 piece
- Whole jeera: 1 tsp for tadka
- Whole peanuts, boiled, peeled and sliced: 2 tbsp
- Cashew nuts, toasted: 4-5 pieces
- Salt to taste
- Ghee required for cooking: 1 tbsp
- Black Pepper Powder: 1 tbsp
- Soak the sabudana in water for 4 to 6 hours. Drain and set aside.
- Heat ghee in a heavy-bottomed kadai, add the jeera, cardamom and clove, and saute until a sweet aroma is released.
- Add chopped vegetables and sauté until tender.
- Mix spices and cook for a couple more minutes.
- Add the soaked sabudana and nuts and stir well. Cook for 10 minutes more or until the sabudana cooks and separates.
- Serve hot.
Preparation time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins
- Sabudana: ½ cup
- Water: 2 cups
- Choice of low-fat milk: 2 cups
- Dates puree: 1 tbsp
- Green cardamom powder: ½ tsp
- Cashews: 5-8
- Raisin: 5
- Soak the sabudana pearls in water for 15-20 minutes.
- Keep the pan on the hob and start cooking the sabudana pearls along with water.
- Meanwhile, heat or warm the milk. There is no need to boil the milk.
- After 4 to 5 minutes, add the milk to the pan and continue to simmer.
- Cook until the sabudana has softened, around 20 to 25 minutes, over low to medium heat.
(After cooking thoroughly, the sabudana pearls should be soft and translucent.)
- Stir frequently to prevent the kheer from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Turn off the flame and add the cashews, raisins, dates puree and cardamom powder. Mix well.
- Simply add less or more milk to modify the consistency of the kheer. Remember that the consistency thickens as it cools.
- One can serve your Sabudana Kheer hot, warm, or chilled.
If you want a healthier alternative to sabudana, try replacing it with quinoa. Quinoa is a protein-packed grain that is an excellent source of essential amino acids and dietary fibre. In addition, like sabudana, quinoa is also gluten-free, making it a perfect option for those with gluten intolerance or digestive problems. To make a dish similar to sabudana khichdi, replace sabudana with quinoa and add vegetables like carrots, peas, and bell peppers. Furthermore, you can add nuts and seeds like almonds and chia seeds to make the dish more filling and nutritious.
The Final Word
Sabudana is abundant in carbohydrates and gluten-free. Hence, it can provide for our body’s energy requirements.
The quantity of calories one consumes, and the portion size are vital in any weight loss journey. Furthermore, regular physical activity for at least 30-45 minutes every day should be a priority to achieve a decent effect. In addition, one should also prioritise proper sleep for a healthy and slim body.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is just to disperse knowledge and raise awareness. It does not intend to replace medical advice from professionals. For further information, please contact our certified nutritionists Here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is sabudana?
A: Sabudana, tapioca pearl or sago, is a starch derived from tapioca roots and processed into pearl-like spears. It has a high carbohydrate content, making it a quick energy booster.
Q: Is sabudana good for weight loss?
A: Sabudana is not the most incredible option for weight loss. On the contrary, it may cause weight gain if not consumed in moderation. It is classified as “high-carbohydrate” and “high-calorie” food.
Q: How many calories are in sabudana?
A: According to the USDA, sabudana is a high-calorie food. One cup (152g) of sabudana has 544 calories, 135 g of carbs, 1.37 grams of fibre, 0.29 grams of protein, 0.03 grams of fat, and 30.4 mg of calcium.
Q: Is sabudana a low-carb food?
A: No, sabudana has a high carbohydrate content containing 88.7g per 100g.
Q: Can sabudana be included in a low-fat diet?
A: Indeed, sabudana is low in fat but high in calories and carbohydrates. As a result, it may be a workable option for persons on a low-fat diet once in a while.
Q: How much sabudana should one consume for weight loss?
A: If you are trying to lose weight, do not eat sabudana daily. It is a high-carbohydrate and high-calorie food with low to minimal protein content. One should consume at most ½ cup occasionally. Furthermore, it’s advisable to sabudana preparations include good-quality protein, nuts, and vegetables to enhance its nutritional potential
Q: What are the nutritional benefits of sabudana?
A: Sabudana is high in energy because it contains carbohydrates and simple sugars that get easily digested by the body.
Sabudana’s extensive nutritional profile makes it ideal for satisfying a growing child’s ever-increasing nutrient requirements. In addition, sabudana, due to its starchy component, promotes good weight gain in young children.
Q: Does sabudana aid in digestion?
A: Foods high in fibre content help improve digestion. Since sabudana does not contain high amounts of fibre, there is no conclusive evidence to prove that it aids in digestion. However, the resistant starch in sabudana may help facilitate digestion to an extent.
Q: Are there any side effects of consuming sabudana?
A: Sabudana has no harmful side effects in most healthy people. However, it is best to consult a dietician before eating it regularly because it is high in calories and carbohydrates.
Q: Can sabudana be consumed by people with diabetes?
A: Sabudana is a gluten-free carbohydrate that provides an energy boost. Nevertheless, if you have diabetes, unregulated consumption of it can damage your health. Hence, while sabudana is safe to consume if you have diabetes, moderation is essential.
1. U S Department of Agriculture
2. National Institute of Health
3. Ormsbee MJ, Bach CW, Baur DA. Pre-exercise nutrition: the role of macronutrients, modified starches and supplements on metabolism and endurance performance. Nutrients. 2014 Apr 29;6(5):1782-808. doi: 10.3390/nu6051782. PMID: 24787031; PMCID: PMC4042570.