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Sabudana, also known as tapioca pearl or sago, is a starch extracted from the roots of tapioca and processed into pearl-like spears.

It contains a high amount of carbohydrates, making it a fast energy booster. Due to its neutral flavor, it can also add texture to breads and soups without affecting the taste.

Sabudana is satisfying, so the starch is sometimes consumed on fasting days in some cultures. It’s an ingredient in dishes like sabudana khichdi, which consists of sabudana, potatoes, sugar, and peanuts.

Since sabudana can increase satiety, you might eat it when trying to lose weight. But this starch isn’t always the best choice for weight loss. In fact, it might lead to weight gain.

To understand why sabudana isn’t good for weight loss, it’s important to understand what it is.

Sabudana is a type of carbohydrate like potatoes, bread, rice, and pasta. Carbohydrates provide the body with energy, so these foods are important to any diet. But you must eat carbohydrates in moderation, especially when you’re trying to lose weight.

It also helps you limit your consumption of high-carbohydrate foods and high-calorie foods.

Sabudana falls into the category of “high-carb” and “high-calorie,” as it contains a lot of calories per cup.

Per information provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one cup of sabudana has:

  • Calories: 544
  • Carbohydrates: 135 g
  • Fiber: 1.37 g
  • Protein: 0.29 g
  • Fat: 0.03 g
  • Calcium: 30.4 mg
  • Iron: 2.4 mg
  • Magnesium: 1.52 mg
  • Potassium: 16.7 mg

If you’re trying to lose weight and looking for ingredients to eat on a regular basis, sabudana isn’t an ideal choice.

Losing weight involves reducing your food portions and eating low-calorie foods to create a calorie deficit. Eating foods and ingredients that keep you full longer helps achieve this goal.

If you’re full and satisfied, you’re less likely to overeat.

In this regard, eating sabudana might seem like a good choice, especially since it’s eaten during fasting seasons.

But this plan can potentially backfire due to the risk of overconsumption.

This starch isn’t eaten alone. Rather it’s an added ingredient in recipes, so it can be difficult to gauge how much you’re actually eating.

Because of the high-calorie nature of sabudana, eating more than you realize can hinder your weight loss efforts and potentially cause weight gain.

And since sabudana contains a high amount of carbohydrates, instead of feeling full longer, the extra sugar could make you hungrier.

Carbohydrates are known to cause a spike in insulin levels, and when insulin increases, some people feel hungry and eat more.

Eating more fat and protein helps curb hunger. Unfortunately, sabudana contains a smaller amount of both nutrients.

Although sabudana isn’t an ideal choice for weight loss, the starch does offer other health benefits. For example:

1. Energy source

As a high-calorie, high-carb food source, sabudana can give a fast energy boost. This helps you feel less tired and provides energy to push through a workout.

One study investigated the use of tapioca pearl and a soy protein in improving endurance during moderate-intensity cycling exercises.

Researchers found that a sabudana and soy supplement increased endurance in cyclists by 84 percent, compared with the placebo, and delayed fatigue.

2. Gluten-free

Another benefit of eating sabudana is that it doesn’t contain gluten, which is a protein found in grains.

If you have Celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, eating gluten can cause:

  • bloating
  • stomach pain
  • diarrhea
  • unexplained weight loss
  • fatigue

As a gluten-free ingredient, you can eat sabudana without a reaction.

3. Improves digestion

Sabudana also contains dietary fiber. This contributes to digestive health and helps improve issues like bloating, constipation, and indigestion.

4. Increases weight gain

While sabudana may not be good for weight loss, it’s good for gaining weight.

It’s high in carbs, yet low in fat, making it a healthier choice for weight gain. It helps you to avoid adverse effects associated with eating too much fat, such as the increased risk of heart disease.

5. Reduces blood pressure

Sabudana is also a source of potassium, containing approximately 16.7 milligrams per cup.

According to a 2005 study, short-term supplementation of potassium can have a blood pressure lowering effect.

In fact, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends increasing potassium through diet if you have a blood pressure above 120/80, and if you’re otherwise healthy.

Aim for no more than 4,700 milligrams of potassium per day. Potassium helps the body flush out excess sodium through urination, which eases stress on blood vessels.

6. Promotes strong bones

Sabudana is also a source of calcium, which promotes stronger bones. Eating calcium can reduce the likelihood of developing osteoporosis.

Even though sabudana isn’t a great source for weight loss, it’s possible to lose weight while eating it. The key is moderation.

Weight loss involves creating a calorie deficit. In other words, you must burn more calories than you take in. A calorie deficit of 3,500 equals 1 pound of fat loss.

If you eat sabudana while losing weight, don’t eat it every day. As a suggestion, you might limit yourself to no more than 1 1/2 cups per serving.

It’s also important to increase physical activity and burn excess calories. Good workouts can include:

  • walking
  • jogging
  • biking
  • aerobics
  • swimming
  • playing sports

Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate-intensity activity at least 3 to 5 days a week.

If you want to lose weight, consider other alternative foods, too.

You don’t have to cut out carbs completely to lose weight, but you should watch your intake.

Some carbs are better for weight loss than others because they’re filling, high in dietary fiber, and low in sugar. Options include:

  • whole wheat pasta
  • legumes
  • whole wheat bread
  • oatmeal
  • black beans
  • quinoa
  • bananas
  • apples
  • broccoli
  • wheat bran

In addition to eating the right kind of carbs, consume more fruits and vegetables, which are lower in calories.

Eating more protein also aids weight loss efforts, as well as eating healthy fats in moderation. Healthy fats include:

  • avocados
  • nuts
  • peanut butter
  • olives
  • fatty fish

Sabudana is a starch that’s commonly included in breads, sauces, and soups as a thickener or to add texture.

It can provide an energy boost and offers other health benefits, but it’s also high in calories and carbs, so it’s not the best choice for weight loss.

If you eat sabudana, eat it in moderation—and make sure you increase your physical activity to burn off any excess calories.